Brooklyn and the Hawkesbury hold a special place in my family history. Not only did my great grandparents run the local fish and chip shop in the 1950s and 1960s, but my late mother and father lived here when they were first married. On a misty Monday morning, Sugarpuff and I set off on a special girl’s own adventure on The Riverboat Postman, to explore the same watery nooks and crannies where her grandfather and his father used to fish and play.
Departing from Brooklyn every weekday, The Riverboat Postman is a working boat that has been delivering mail and provisions to the isolated water-access-only settlements upriver for more than 100 years.
Our entertaining skipper, Randall, is a local lad who has the world’s most enviable mail run, with just seven stops scattered around the spectacular river valley. He regales us with tales of the waterways and the people who live and work on it.
Swept up in the prettiness of our surrounds, we pass character filled timber prawn trawlers just like the one my dad used to skipper; motor through the concrete girders of the heritage-listed Hawkesbury River railway bridge; and pass the rusted hulk of the HMAS Parramatta, a decommissioned warship that came to her inglorious end when she was blown onto the mud flats of Cascade Gully, Bar Point.
We slow down to admire swirling sandstone rock formations, tangled mangroves and pretty eucalypt-clad hills. The skipper tells us about Milson Island, now a sport and recreation centre for kids. While my own dad once played cricket here, less salubrious incarnations of the island saw it double as a testing centre for myxomatosis, a rehab centre for WW11 soldiers and a prison. As we hear stories about the river’s history we feel more and more connected to our own history here.
While she’s engaged by the tales, my daughter is more taken by the giant jellyfish that smatter the river and the chorus line of excited dogs who wait on the docks of Dangar Island, Little Wobby, Bar Point, Kangaroo Point, Fishermans Point and Milsons Passage for the mail delivery and their daily treats from the crew.
But it is Marlow Creek that proves most popular with my namesake daughter, who demands immediate ownership. Lucky for the locals we sail away before their wannabe dictator gets her wicked way.
The three-hour return voyage includes a delicious morning tea complete with home-made ANZAC biscuits and a Ploughman’s-style lunch of cold meats, cheese, tomato, salad, pickled onions, pickles, chutney and a fresh bread roll.
The staff can also cater to any special dietary requirements if they’re made aware up front. Oh, and if you feel the need for a tipple or two there’s also a small selection of wine and beer available to purchase.
Joining the scenic three-hour voyage as the day’s post was delivered has proven a fine introduction to this pretty part of the world, and her Hawkesbury heritage, for my girl. And a lovely way for mother and daughter to reconnect and relax.
The Riverboat Postman departs from Brooklyn at 10am, every Monday to Friday. Bookings are essential for the popular three-hour cruise. Adult tickets are $59 inclusive of morning tea and lunch, while school age kids are just $19. Family packages are also available for two adults and two kids at just $140 (prices are correct at date of publication, please check the The Riverboat Postman website to confirm.
Disclosure: Sugarpuff and I were guests of The Riverboat Postman, but all jellyfish spotting, historic ramblings and opinions are our own.