An hour north of Sydney lies the majestic Hawkesbury River, home to The Riverboat Postman – the last mail boat in Australia. Every weekday this boat delivers post to isolated riverside communities. As well as carrying parcels and letters, they also welcome visitors onboard to experience the unspoilt scenery of the Hawkesbury River. It’s an easy day trip from Sydney or Newcastle, and is worth a detour on any east coast Australian itinerary. Join the Travel Children as we travel upriver on the most unusual of Australian boat trips.
How to find The Riverboat Postman
The Riverboat Postman departs from the Brooklyn public wharf every weekday at 10am. Located next to the wharf is Hawkesbury River train station. This is on the line between Sydney Central and Newcastle, which runs via the Central Coast. If you are driving, just take the Brooklyn exit off the M1 freeway between Sydney and Newcastle. We managed to find a parking spot close to the wharf without much difficulty.
Brooklyn is apparently so-named due to its connection with the Union Bridge Company of New York who built the first railway bridge across the Hawkesbury River. At the time it was built in 1886, it had the deepest foundations of any bridge in the world. However, problems soon arose with the structure and it was replaced within 50 years.
Having pre-booked our journey as recommended, we were welcomed aboard with a morning tea of hot drinks and homemade ANZAC biscuits. It is no exaggeration to say these were the best ANZAC biscuits I have ever had! You can purchase a copy of the recipe together with a map of your journey for $1.
We set sail at 10am and headed for our first post-drop of the day at Dangar Island. While the original railway bridge was under construction, the island was temporarily home to around 400 American workers and their families. These days 303 people live there with a significant increase in population during holiday seasons! As we pulled up, Australia Post’s boxes were unloaded into the grateful arms of one of the islanders. All of the stops on the journey are not connected to the road network, so the Riverboat Postman is an essential service for the local people.
The Hawkesbury River
We then turned upstream, sailing underneath the historic rail bridge, heading for the riverside communities of Kangaroo Point, Milson Island and Bar Point. We enjoyed the captain’s informative commentary as he pointed out beautiful sandstone rock formations, the roosts of sea-eagles and the wreck of the HMAS Parramatta, Australia’s first warship. A particular highlight for the kids was seeing residents and their canine companions greet the boat as we docked at each stop with their mail.
At Marlow Creek, the Riverboat Postman turns round and heads back downriver to deliver its final post of the day at Fisherman’s Point and Milson’s Passage. But the crew had one last treat in store as they served us a delicious ploughman’s lunch. It was wonderful to sit back and enjoy our meal while taking in the pristine views around us. One could not help but reflect how little the landscape has changed over time. Indeed, the ancestors of the Dharug and Guringai people would doubtless still be able to recognise their traditional lands today.
As we sailed back into Brooklyn, enjoying our post-lunch tea and chocolates, we all agreed that it had been a great day out. It had permitted us a glimpse into a simpler, more-relaxed way of life. It also allowed us to appreciate some of the most spectacular scenery you can see on the east coast of Australia.
While you are in Brooklyn
If you have time after your cruise, we would highly recommend heading to McKell Park. It’s less than 200m from the wharf, just beyond the Hawkesbury River Marina. This riverside park has a public swimming pool, BBQs, picnic shelters and a playground. There are also information boards highlighting the history of the area. The kids loved jumping from the jetty into the cool waters of the pool on this hot day. Just make sure that the tide is high when you visit. There are depth markers around the pool. A number of short walking trails depart from the park allowing you to enjoy the beauty of the Hawkesbury River from the shore.
Please note The Travel Children paid for their journey aboard The Riverboat Postman. We just wanted to share our experience with readers who may be interested in taking a cruise on the Hawkesbury River. Have you ever been on a mail boat? Where is your favourite place to take a boat trip? Let us know in the comments below.