Oxley Boatshed, Hawkesbury River review: Along the riverbank

Read our writer's views on this property below

Alexandra Smith and her family relish the isolation of a cottage accessible only by boat.

I'm doing my best not to laugh as my husband and his father try to manoeuvre a battered runabout on to the river. I cover my eyes as they head nail-bitingly close to an expensive boat moored nearby.

The men have enthusiastically volunteered to take the runabout to the only convenience store within reach to replenish stocks during our three-night stay at a former boatshed at Bar Point on the Hawkesbury River.

The only way to reach the Oxley Boatshed is by boat. We arrive mid-afternoon by water taxi, which is groaning under the weight of all our food, drink and the kind of baby paraphernalia only a first-time mother would bother with.

It's our first family holiday with our 10-week-old baby boy and my in-laws, who are visiting from Britain and eager for Aussie experiences. The former boatshed, with its original wooden floor (and splinters) and huge barn doors, doesn't take long to deliver. It is surrounded by bush so it isn't surprising that a large huntsman spider greets my mother-in-law in the bathroom just hours after our arrival. She is less than thrilled.

Dating back to 1924, the boatshed has been converted into a two-bedroom waterfront weekender, furnished with antiques and the odd piece of modern Italian furniture. Stained-glass windows have been installed, tea light candles are placed around the house and a sandstone fireplace is a feature in the oversized living room.

The walls are adorned with Aboriginal art and a television is in a cupboard, which we don't bother to open. Children are usually not welcome but an exception is made for our new arrival.

A pile of out-of-date magazines is on the coffee table and a bookcase of even older books and board games appears to be more part of the rustic decor than for entertainment.

The boatshed is all about relaxation and is not a place for those wanting to do much more than read, eat and sleep. There are no walking tracks and while you could swim, I am surprised to discover the water is murky. You could take the boatshed's two kayaks out or use a runabout hired from the water taxi company but otherwise you are marooned. This suits me just fine.

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The boatshed is designed for romantic getaways or weekends away for a few friends, so its eight-metre dining table is incongruous. But the owners are clearly entertainers and the kitchen is bulging with every cooking utensil imaginable and enough crockery to cater for a small army.

To the disappointment of our visitors, the gas barbecue is in the kitchen and although it can be wheeled outside to the decking that sweeps around the house, it proves more hassle than it is worth. So we barbecue inside, which seems odd and un-Australian on a hot day.

A few cooking necessities are provided: balsamic vinegar, olive oil, sea salt, ground coffee and a selection of teas. The rest is BYO, which means your meals have to be planned before you set off from the wharf at Kangaroo Point, just off the F3 at Brooklyn. Unless, of course, you are happy to use the boatshed's runabout, which is exactly what our seamen are keen to do.

After a rocky start, the father-and-son team manage to find reverse and they are away, puttering along the river to the waterside village of Spencer, the site of the only shop within cooee of the boatshed. It sells everything from fruit and vegetables to bait and (thankfully) wine and beer.

I stand on the jetty as the pair disappears slowly into the distance and decide not to hold my breath for the ice-cream I've requested. Instead, I check on my sleeping baby and settle into a deckchair to watch the water lap at the doorstep.

Weekends Away are reviewed anonymously and paid for by Traveller.

VISITORS' BOOK

Oxley Boatshed 

Address Bar Point, Hawkesbury River.

The verdict A great place to while away a lazy long weekend.

Price $890 for two for a two-night weekend stay. Cheaper rates midweek.

Bookings Phone 0401 308 888, see www.hawkesburyriver.com.

Getting there Boat access only. Water taxis leave from Kangaroo Point, about an hour's drive north of Sydney. Hawkesbury Cruises provides a return water taxi transfer to Oxley Boatshed and use of a runabout with full tank of petrol for 48 hours for $270; bookings on 0400 600 111.

Perfect for Complete relaxation.

Wheelchair access No.

While you're there Kayak to the river beaches; take a runabout to one of the riverside restaurants; explore the river by boat; visit Spencer village.