Small holiday destination on the Hawkesbury River
Known as the gateway to the Hawkesbury River, Brooklyn is a small riverside settlement occupying the narrow strip of land between the river's southern bank and the extensive and attractive bushland to the south (Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park) and west (Muogamarra Nature Reserve). Just offshore, running parallel to Brooklyn's east-west span and equally narrow, is Long Island, a nature reserve (untouched but for the trainline which bisects its western edge), and off Flat Rock Pt, at Brooklyn's north-eastern tip, is the very attractive Dangar Island, which, although much shorter than Long Island, has a jetty, wharf, post office, general store, some roads and a reserve where there are some Aboriginal rock carvings. This scenic and very pleasant piece of real estate is to be found 47 km north of Sydney via the Newcastle Freeway (the exit ramp is on the northern side of the bridge).
Virtually all of Brooklyn is located along Brooklyn Rd which heads off the Pacific Highway just before Peats Ferry Bridge and runs westwards alongside the riverbank out to Flat Rock Pt.
If you turn into Brooklyn Rd then, to the immediate left, is Dolphins Boatshed Marina with a boat ramp and a picturesque flotilla offshore. Just past it is a large roadside sign with a map of Brooklyn outlining where to find the main businesses. Boating is the major drawcard. There are houseboats, hire boats, ferries, water taxis, boat ramps and marinas. One of the boat ramps is located at Kangaroo Point, on the south-eastern side of the bridge (the access road departs from the highway just beyond Brooklyn Rd).
Governor Phillip and party entered Broken Bay in a whaleboat as early as March 1788. They sailed past the mouth of Brisbane Water. Apparently the indigenous peoples were impressed with the fact that he had a missing front tooth, as it was an initiation rite amongst them to knock out the front tooth of young men. The party camped on Dangar Island, which Phillip named Mullet Island after making a substantial catch offshore.
George Peat was the first European settler, receiving a land grant in 1836 at what is now known as Peats Bight. As he resided in Sydney he hacked out a track from Pennant Hills to the river which was used as the basis for a road to the north in 1847. A punt forded the river from Peats Bight to present-day Mooney Mooney, hence the name Peats Ferry Bridge.
The railway arrived in 1877, making it less than an hour's journey from Hornsby. A ferry service then conveyed passengers to Gosford.
Brooklyn was created in 1884 when the Fagan Brothers subdivided their 100-acre grant. The township was apparently named after a town in Holland called Breucklen. America's Union Bridge Company built the first railway bridge across the Hawkesbury in 1889.
Oyster farming subsequently became a major feature of the local economy and the Hawkesbury area today supplies 10 per cent of NSW's oysters.
By the early twentieth century the Hawkesbury had become a major destination of holiday-making Sydneysiders and Brooklyn soon became heavily reliant on the tourism industry. Visitors travelled upriver in fishing boats armed with fishing rods and prawn bait. This led to the development of the prawning industry, particularly as it was outlawed in Brisbane Water.
Hawkesbury River Marina
The main, and virtually only, place to go in Brooklyn, other than to a specific boating service, is McKell Park at the north-eastern tip of the settlement. Drive to the end of Brooklyn Rd and turn to the left into Dangar Rd by the Hawkesbury River train station. A driveway leads from here to the park, past the major marina in town, the Hawkesbury River Marina where there are wharves, two slipways, a chandlery, holiday apartments, a restaurant, a water taxi service, a ferry service, a handicrafts shop, a cafe, bottle shop, deli, laundromat and hire-boat outlet (02-9985 7252).
Hawkesbury River Ferries
These wharves are the launching point for Australia's last riverboat mail and groceries delivery service along the Hawkesbury, a reminder of the days when the Hawkesbury was the means of connecting the farming communities inland to the settlement at Sydney which relied upon their supplies. It is possible to hitch a ride by contacting Hawkesbury River Ferries on (02) 9985 7566. It departs Monday to Friday at 9.30 a.m. (returning at 1.15 p.m.). There are afternoon runs on Wednesdays and Fridays at 1.30 p.m. There are also 'coffee cruises' from 1.30 p.m. - 3.30 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and at 11 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. This service will ferry passengers to Patonga.
Dangar Ferry Service
The Dangar Ferry Service also departs from here at regular intervals on a daily basis and, in addition to providing access to the offshore island there are 2.5-hour cruises of the waterways for groups of 20 or more, with historical commentary, and charters for special functions, contact (02) 9985 7605.
Beyond the marina is a large carpark adjacent McKell Park which has two tiers. Walk up the steps to the upper level. On the southern side is a view down to Parsley Bay where there is a good concrete boat ramp and car park (at the end of George St). Also on the upper level are picnic, barbecue and playground facilities and, at the eastern end, a short walk to a modest lookout over the Hawkesbury and across to Dangar Island. Walk down the steps by the lookout to the bottom tier where there are also picnic, barbecue and playground facilities.
Great North Walk
Brooklyn is on the route of the 250-km Great North Walk from Sydney to Newcastle, a 14-day walk taking in a wide range of environments and attractions, both natural and man-made. It can be broken down into smaller subsections. For more information contact the Dept of Lands on (02) 9228 6111.