Windsor to Brooklyn – the Hawkesbury River ride

Day 1: Windsor to Wiseman’s Ferry

Date: 2nd April 2010

We planned this Easter weekend ride with our friends Bel and Dan in 2010. From Sydney we caught the train to Windsor and left about midday towards the Sackville ferry. Not long after the ferry we turned left onto River Road which followed the Hawkesbury until Wiseman’s Ferry. It’s a nice ride (as most riverside routes are); undulating but no daunting climbs. There’s a lot of waterskiing in this part of the river, and the riverside is dotted with caravan parks if you want to camp anywhere along there.

The Sackville Ferry

The Sackville Ferry

A man who was chatting to us over his front fence recommended we go to Del Rio, which is a “riverside resort” with camping and a bar, not far over the river from the Webbs Creek ferry. It wasn’t the most peaceful location, but it did have hot showers and a bar. We were cooking our own, but the bar also did food. I wouldn’t really recommend it if you are looking for something peaceful.

Day 2: Wiseman’s Ferry to Mangrove Mountain

Date: 3rd April 2010

In the morning we went back over the river on the Webbs Creek ferry, then again on Wiseman’s ferry. Wiseman’s Ferry Road follows the river downstream for a while until Spencer where we had lunch. Then it leaves the river and heads up Mangrove Creek. This is an OK ride until the road leaves the creek and heads up towards Mangrove Mountain. There are a few kilometres of a constant hard climb before it settles into a bit of an easier climb. Check the elevation profile at the top of the post from about 95km – it’s steep.

Even though the distance covered was short for a day of riding it did take us most of the day, although we regularly stopping for coffee breaks and the like in the morning.

There’s a shop at Mangrove Mountain where we bought a drink and some water and asked about camping. There are no caravan parks or campsites around, but she recommended the football field which was a short ride up the road. This turned out to be ideal – nice grass to pitch on, quiet, and fairly secluded. After a good meal, some wine, and some very tasty scotch supplied by Dan we slept well.

Day 3: Mangrove Mountain to Brooklyn

Date: 4th April 2010

We had camped quite close to the top of the hill. It’s about 4km to Central Mangrove, then almost all downhill from there for the rest of the way. We stopped at Peats Ridge for delicious hot crossed buns and a bad chai latte, then enjoyed a quick downhill run (some of it quite fun) to the Pacific Highway and on down to Brooklyn. At Brooklyn we had a couple of celebratory beers and fish and chips for lunch, before catching the train home.

Dan, Bel and Wally on Wiseman's Ferry

Dan, Bel and Wally on Wiseman's Ferry

The route we took for this ride came from http://www.cycleaustralia.info/cycling/hawkesbury.htm. It also marks a side trip to St Albans, which would probably be worth it. There’s an excellent pub there.

Even though there were shops along the route we took most of our food with us as it was Easter, but there wasn’t really a need as most shops seemed to be open even on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. I would recommend carrying a fair bit of water. We had no problems refilling in cafes generally, but at Mangrove Mountain (at the top of a long climb) the only water to be found was bought at the shop.

For camping, there are a plethora of caravan parks along the Hawkesbury, but after that not much. There is the Mill Creek campsite in Dharug National Park which is nice, but I would recommend the football field we used at Mangrove Mountain, as Mill Creek is a few kilometres off the route. The football field is on a side road, but signposted from the main road. Other than that there are probably a heap of places you can free camp in Ourimbah State Forest and the like.

It was quite scenic for nearly the entire way. Where we weren’t following the river we were either too busy climbing to notice anything, or going through state forest or national parks. There were some great views from the Pacific Highway.

With an early start and a late finish you could easily do this as a two day trip.