Located on the Hawkesbury River at the northern extremity of the Sydney metro area, Brooklyn is a charming, easy going fishing and holiday village that is an ideal base or starting point from which to explore or otherwise enjoy the central Hawkesbury River region. It has become a focal centre for both holidaymakers and daytrippers in seach of the peace and tranquility afforded by this picturesque section of the river. Brooklyn is accessible by road (Old Pacific Highway) or train (alight at Hawkesbury River Station on the Central Coast line). Ferries to Patonga, Dangar Island and the River Postman leave from Brooklyn. Hire boats are available here.
The town's station is in the middle of the town's tourist facilities which include accommodation, restaurants, ferries, tours and houseboats, making exploration of the river easy. Boating and fishing are the major attractions on the Hawkesbury; there is a good boat launching facility at the eastern end of the suburb in Parsley Bay and several local marinas offer boat and houseboat hire. If your schedule does not allow a longer stay, there is plenty to do to fill a day in and around Brooklyn.
McKell Park is a pleasant and popular spot for weekend picknickers with superb river views and an enclosed tidal swimming pool. A shark net (yes, there are sharks this far up the Hawkesbury River!) provides a safe haven for swimming to the east of the township of Brooklyn on Flat Rock Point. If you have a boat, you might like to travel around the point and down to dead Horse Bay. Access is only by boat so it rarely gets overcrowded except on long weekends and the summer holidays.
If you are coming by motor vehicle, head north towards Hornsby, taking the Sydney-Newcaatle expressway towards Newcastle at Wahroonga. Take the Brooklyn exit before the expressway crosses the Hawkesbury River. Alternatively you can go by rail, catching the Central Coast train at either Central, Strathfield or Hornsby stations. Be aware that there is no station called Brooklyn, the station where you need to alight is called Hawkesbury River. Trains run every hour during the day and early evenings and the trip from Central takes an hour 95 minutes from Newcastle). If you are coming by train, be aware there are nearly 100 stairs up and over the train line from the platform, half up and half down.
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A vast tranquil waterway on Sydney's northern doorstep, the river winds its way from the highlands at the foot of the Blue Mountains, through a fertile valley and then and then a giant estuary before discharging into the Pacific Ocean at Broken Bay. Between Brooklyn and Windsor there is 110 kilometres of navigable river, not to mention the bays, coves and tributaries, many of which are also accessible by boat. In total the Hawkesbury River system has over 1,100 kms of foreshore fringe. The Hawkesbury is a recreational paradise, offering bushwalks, secluded bays to explore, great boating and fishing, ferry trips and cruises, houseboats, Aboriginal rock art, islands, historic villages, waterside apartments and more picnic spots than you could visit in a lifetime.
Just across the water from Brooklyn in the middle of the Hawkesbury River are a number of islands. Of these, Dangar Island is the most interesting, and no visit to Brooklyn is complete without hopping on the ferry and heading across the water to what is the Sydney metropolitan area's most northerly residential area. There are few better ways to spend a pleasant hour or two than wandering around exploring this little corner of paradise. There are beaches where you can walk or swim, and a bushwalk across the top of the island where you will come across Aboriginal rock carvings. Stop for a cuppa or lunch (highly recommended) at the general store before catching the ferry back to Brooklyn. Ferry services to the island are timed to coincide with trains arriving from Sydney. With no private cars to disturb the 'sounds of silence', Dangar Island is a haven of peace and tranquility and an ideal place for a holiday, a weekend away or even a day trip from Sydney.
This iconic boat trip leaves the Brooklyn Ferry Wharf in Dangar Road adjacent to the railway station on its daily run (Monday Friday) up the river, delivering mail and supplies to the water access-only communities of Dangar Island, Wobby, Bar Point, Marlow Creek and Milsons Passage. The trip is very popular with tourists and booking in advance is essential (Ph 0400 600 111). The cruise departs daily every weekday (Monday to Friday) except Public Holidays from at 10am, returning at about 1.15pm. If you are coming by train from Sydney, you need to catch the 8.45am train from Central Station.
The Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge near Brooklyn was one Australia's major engineering feats of the 19th century. The river is almost a kilometre wide at the point chosen for the crossing which begs the question why this site was chosen in preference to a number of far easier ones upstream. The bridge has seven spans each weighting 1,000 tonnes and extending to a length of 1,265 metres. The original bridge had seven truss spans, each 120 metres centre to centre of the bearings. Eleven bay trusses were modified by the use of counterbalances in the five central bays. More >>
A small community on the Middle Hawkesbury River, opposite Dangar Island, Little Wobbt Beach clings to the cliff face at one of the deepest parts of the Hawkesbury River. Though called Little Wobby Beach, there is actually no beach here, in fact there is nothing but the single row of houses. The houses are nestled on a narrow 1.5 kmstrip of land close to the waters edge, with the steep escarpments rising in to Brisbane Water National Park at the rear. Most homes here are used only as weekenders by people from Sydney. Access to properties is by boat only, as no roads exist in the area.
The surrounding area is part of the Broken Bay Sport and Recreation Centre, a 4 sq.km bushland reserve at the mouth of the Hawkesbury River, which offers several walking trails including the Highway Ridge Trail which passes close to the residential area and extends north into the Brisbane Water National Park.
Rocky Ponds Walk: this great walk starts from Brooklyn with a ferry trip to Little Wobby and explores some fantastic panoramic views of the Hawkesbury River and Tank Creek. The alternate route, for more experienced walkers, cuts a fair bit of walking and gets you to the views quicker. The views along the ridge are great and the Tumblecow2 flat rock makes a lovely rest spot. From here, much of the walk is through heath until arriving at the picturesque Rocky Ponds on Tanks Creek. There is a campsite for people wanting more time to explore before walking back.
Brief history: Little Wobby was originally occupied by the Commonwealth Military Forces during the Second World War. Several buildings were erected along the shoreline to house artillery batteries in case of a Japanese invasion through Broken Bay and the Hawkesbury River. A submarine net was also put in place across the river from Little Wobby Beach to Gangar Island. Two of the wartime buildings still exist as dwellings, into which they were converted after the war.
In the 1970s a plan was mooted for the State government to purchase all of the properties along the shore and demolish the houses in order to rehabilitate the land and return it to being part of the national park. This never went ahead. The only public utilities the houses enjoy are telephone and electricity. There is no town water or sewage connection: these are replaced with water tanks and septic tanks respectively. Little Wobbie Beach is named after the Wobbegong, which is the common name given to the 12 species of carpet sharks in the family Orectolobidae. They are found in shallow temperate and tropical waters of the western Pacific Ocean and eastern Indian Ocean, chiefly around Australia and Indonesia. The escarpment behind the settlement is named Tumblecow2. The origin of this strange name is not known.
Accessible only by boat or sea plane, the main attraction here is a unique riverside, al fresco restaurant alongside boutique accommodation. The atmosphere is unrivalled; the view across the Hawkesbury majestic. The restaurant offers a collection service from Berowra Marina. Ph 02 9985 9040.
The bay surrounding it contains a restaurant and a number of oyster farms. It has links to colonial times as a track to it from Pacific Highway was built by convicts. It was here that cricket was first played in 1878. In 1895 a snake swallowed a cricket ball during a match. The batsman killed the snake and retrieved the ball so that play could continue. Bar Island, on the opposite bank, contains the ruins of a church built in 1876, a graveyard, a large Aboriginal shell midden on the shore and axe grinding grooves around the corner from the jetty. Nearby Ballast Island was created when three very small islands were used as a dump for ballast brought out from England in empty sailing ships to make them stable at sea. They returned fully laden with cargo from the Hawkesbury region.
Downstream from Brooklyn on Coal and Candle Creek, this hideaway on the Hawkesbury River is home of the Ku-Ring-gah Motor Yacht Club and the Cottage Point Inn and Kiosk. Cottage Point is an isolated outpost in the middle of beautiful waterside bushland. The eateries here have developed an enviable reputation and are visited by motorists, passing sailors and float planes alike. In 1899, the area south of Cottage point was the subject of a bizarre plan to build Australia's Capital there. To be called Pacivica, the plans called for the town to replicate London, with castles, a tower and a suspension bridge giving access from Sydney via Bobbin Head.
Also downstream from Brooklyn, Akuna Bay is an inlet on Coal and Candle Creek, which is an 8km long flooded valley on the Hawkesbury. The bay has a large marine complex which is a major fuelling and supplies centre servicing boat owners and operators in the area, as well as a restaurant. The name Coal and Candle Creek is believed to be a corruption of Colin Campbell, the name of an early settler who lived opposite Akuna Bay.
Parsley Bay, Brooklyn
Brooklyn is surrounded by reserves with plenty of scope for bushwalking. The Great North Walk, a bushtrack that runs from Sydney to Newcastle passes through the town. The Muogamarra Nature Reserve is open for several weeks each year during the spring wildflower season. An entry charge applies, and there are guided and unguided walks within the reserve which is closed to the public outside these times. A wide variety of very good aboriginal rock carvings can be seen here along with sections of the old Peats Ferry Road.
View of the Hawkesbury River from the Dangar Island circuit
Dangar Island Circuit: Walk around Dangar Isld - 1 km. Easy to moderate walk along the sealed road which circles the island.
Brooklyn Mangrove Walk: follows a part of the Hawkesbury River and foreshore not previously known to many people. This scenic walk takes around 15 minutes and meanders through mangroves and estuarine habitats. 15 minutes. Easy track. Wheelchair access. Entry from Brooklyn Park, Brooklyn Road. BBQ and picnic areas, skateboard ramp next to oval.
Rocky Ponds Walk: this great walk starts from Brooklyn with a ferry trip to Little Wobby and explores some fantastic panoramic views of the Hawkesbury River and Tank Creek. The alternate route, for more experienced walkers, cuts a fair bit of walking and gets you to the views quicker. The views along the ridge are great and the Tumblecow2 flat rock makes a lovely rest spot. From here, much of the walk is through heath until arriving at the picturesque Rocky Ponds on Tanks Creek. There is a campsite for people wanting more time to explore before walking back. More >>
The Great North Walk: This is the Big Daddy of bushwalks in the Sydney region, comprising of 250 km of walking track between from Sydney to Newcastle. It was developed by the former NSW Dept. of Lands and painstakingly explored and planned by Sydney bushwalkers Garry McDougall and Leigh Shearer-Heriot. Starting from the obelisk at Macquarie Place, Sydney the walk traverses through Hunters Hill and Lane Cover River NP, via the Benowie Track through Thornleigh, Berowra Waters and Cowan. It continues to Brooklyn, following the Hawkesbury Track to Yarramalong, then over the Wattagan Mountains into Newcastle. Where possible it passes through natural tracts of bushland and follows pathways used by for centuries by the Aborigines to travel from one region to another. The first 75 km are within the bounds of the Sydney metropolitan area with many easy access routes to public transport. Ideal for day walkers, weekend jaunts or a full 14 day excursion. A set of six pamphlets by the Lands Dept. which detail the walk with interesting trivia, tips and maps are also available. More >>
Just offshore and running parallel to Brooklyn's east-west span and equally narrow, is Long Island, a nature reserve. It remains untouched but for the Central Coast railway line which bisects its western edge and passes through a tunnel there. During world war II a military base was established on the hill overlooking the railway bridge to ensure its protection from any planned Japanese attack. Across the waters to the north is Spectacle Island, also a nature reserve.
Long Island Tunnels: The original railway tunnel through the eastern end of Long Island opposite the township of Brooklyn was constructed in 1878 at the same time as the Hawkesbury Bridge, which takes the Main North Line over the Hawkesbury River. Bridging the Hawkesbury necessitated a 7-span American Whipple style steel truss structure as the river is almost a kilometre wide at the point chosen for the crossing. Built by the Union Bridge Co. of Pennsylvania, USA, construction commenced in April 1887 and was completed two years later. A workforce of 800 men were housed in a tent village on Dangar Island. The Long Island tunnel, one of seven tunnels cut, is located beyond the northern end of the bridge. It is 73.5 metres in length. By the 1930s, one of the bridge's piers had decayed to such a degree that trains using it ??Dwere reduced to a crawl as a safety measure, therefore it was decided to build a replacement bridge alongside it. Of a similar design, it came into service in 1946 at which time the original was dismantled. As well as the new bridge, a new tunnel had to cut through Long Island parallel to the original Long Island tunnel but along the line of the new bridge. The new tunnel remains in use.
Boronia No. 5 Tunnel, Cowan Bank: The Main North Line passes through four tunnels relatively close together at Cowan Bank on its way north from Hornsby to its crossing of the Hawkesbury River at Brooklyn. A fifth double line tunnel, with a length of 73.5 metres, was cut in 1887, but has been bypassed and is no longer used.
One of five destroyers built in Australia in the early part of the 20th century for use in World War I, HMAS Swan was a 76m torpedo destroyer. Constructed at Cockatoo Island in Sydney Harbour in 1915, it was only the second warship to be built from scratch by the new Australian Commonwealth. The Swan initially served in South-East Asia from bases in Malaya (now Malaysia) and Singapore and went on to serve in the Adriatic Sea on ant??i-submarine operations with British ships. After the war ended the NSW Government briefly considered using it and its sister ship, HMAS Parramatta, to house felons working on construction projects in the Hawkesbury area but it was sold to private industry and used to haul blue metal on the Hawkesbury. It was being towed to be broken down for scrap in 1934 when it broke away during a storm and sank. Chart makers have logged its exact position on the muddy floor of the Hawkesbury River. The mostly intact vessel is lying in 13m of water close to Wobby Beach near Brooklyn.
Located in the lee of Long Island on Sandbrook Inlet, Brooklyn occupies a narrow strip of tidal waterfront land aligned east-west along the southern bank of the Hawkesbury River. Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park borders the suburb to the south and the F3 Sydney-Newcastle Freeway crosses the river just to the west. Long Island runs parallel with the suburb on the opposite side of Sandbrook Inlet and is joined to Brooklyn by the railway causeway. Dangar Island is sited to the north east. In January 1886, the Union Bridge Company from New York was awarded the contract to build a railway bridge across the Hawkesbury River. The Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge was the final link in the Eastern seaboard rail network and was a major engineering feat at the time of its construction.
The original name for the area of Brooklyn was Flat Rock. It is commonly thought it was changed to Brooklyn because that suburb of New York was the home of the Hawkesbury River Bridge builders, who also built the famous Brooklyn Bridge across the East River to Manhattan Island. That New York's Brooklyn also sits opposite a Long Island added weight to the argument. This explanation as to the adoption of the name appears to be inaccurate as Peter and William Fagan bought 100 acres here in 1881 and a plan of 29th January 1884 associated with the purchase was for the development of a 'town of Brooklyn'. Subdivisions of some of the Fagan property were advertised as early as 19th September 1883 in the Sydney Morning Herald under the name Brooklyn Estate. As tenders for the bridge building were not called till 18th September 1884, it seems certain the name predates any association with the Union Bridge Co., and that the various connections with New York's Brooklyn are purely conincidental.
Robert Buie was a local resident who fought in World War I, and his headstone in the Brooklyn cemetery credits him with shooting down Manfred von Richthofen, the German air ace who is more commonly known as the "Red Baron". The name Brooklyn was given to the station in 1888, and although it was subsequently changed to Hawkesbury River Station, Brooklyn has remained as the name of the locality.