The Hawkesbury region, just north of Sydney’s metro, is one of the places I’ve been to in our wide, dry country that makes me imagine how things would have been before the Europeans claimed somebody else’s land as their own. Let’s just ignore todays million-dollar houses peppered amongst the native bushland, any marina’s and freeway overpasses and focus on the rugged Aussie bush that drops into the dark waters of the Hawkesbury River and its estuaries. Golden sandstone cliffs, eucalyptus and grass trees, wild flowers and that glorious aroma of our native bushland. I love the fact that this crusty old town is surrounded by such natural beauty.
In the two decades that I’ve been living in Sydney I’ve driven along the F3 many times and, in particular, always glanced over the water from the Peats Ferry Bridge towards that little hamlet called Brooklyn. It’s appears as nothing more than a generous cluster of houses and buildings hugging the shoreline; a place for the locals and a place for city folk like me to take their parents when they’re down from Queensland.
With the folks in town I thought it was a good chance to get the train up to Brooklyn (Hawkesbury River station) and spend a few hours lounging about, soaking up the relaxed vibe of this small fishing village. It really does feel a thousand kilometres from the city. Whilst boating and fishing may be the main draw cards to the area, there’s enough going in the food scene to keep any visitor occupied for a lazy afternoon.
Given the water location, the predominant ingredient in this neck of the river land is seafood. Fresh seafood that, mostly, hasn’t been flown in from other parts of the country.
Down by the wharf and marina are a few eateries offering local seafood and the choice of the day was Lifeboat Seafood. It’s nothing more than a glorified fish & chip shop where you order and pay at the counter and take a seat outside in the shady courtyard. Aside from the obvious they also have bottles of vino around the $30 mark but I’d suggest grabbing it from the nearby convenience store that has a better selection, even if you’re slugged with a $9 corkage.
The local Hawkesbury Pacific oysters (12) were so good that we went back and ordered another dozen after the large grilled snapper (29.5) we all shared. A light lunch, to say the least, but with a big bowl of fries, some salad and two bottles of sauvignon blanc, it was a great way to spend time with the folks.
Lifeboat Seafood – 1 Dangar Road, Brooklyn
A few minutes walk up the main drag is a little gallery-cum-shop-cum-cafe that’s a comfy spot for a decent coffee, a light meal or something sweet and homemade. Service is relaxed and country-style-friendly and there’s an interesting collection of homewares to look at, touch and smell. Even the coffee is kept local, coming from Glee Coffee Roasters in Tuggerah. Loved the macchiato, not so much the jagged chip on the glass they gave me.
Hang Gallery Cafe – 212 Brooklyn Road, Brooklyn