The sleepy and beautiful little village of Brooklyn, on the majestic Hawkesbury River, is one of the easiest day trips from Sydney. And the best bit is that you don’t actually have to drive! Now if you do decide to hoon up there in the family planner, it will take you about an hour or so depending what side of the bridge you live on. But be warned, parking in this little village can be a nightmare! So your other option is to go by train (or by boat if you are lucky enough to own one).
Kids love a good train trip and this journey will take you about 1 hour from Central Station, or just over 20 minutes from Hornsby Station. Please note the train station is actually called Hawkesbury River (not Brooklyn) and it is not pram/wheelchair friendly at all – there are 99 steps to navigate! However, once you are at the bottom of the steps you don’t have to walk too far to discover the magic of this beautiful village.
WHAT TO DO
Catch a ferry over to Dangar Island – To take your day trip to a whole new level, hop on board the Dangar Island Ferry and go on a little explore of this delightful Island in the middle of the Hawkesbury. There is a cafe and bowling club on the island where you can grab a bite to eat, as well as a shop that sells general supplies. There are also quite a few lovely walks around the island that offer fantastic views of the River, and also Brooklyn. The ferry to Dangar Island departs every day of the week.
Riverboat Postman – You can go for a cruise on the Hawkesbury River Mail Boat. This boat delivers the mail and other essentials to settlements along the River. The cruise departs every weekday (except public holidays) at 10am and returns around 1pm – catch it from the Brooklyn Public Wharf.
Playground – You will find a decent playground in McKell Park (walk down Karoola St from the train station). The fully enclosed playground has play equipment for most ages, including a boat, climbing frame, round swing and a few other things to bounce on.
Go for a dip – There is such a sweet little beach right in front of the playground which is perfect for either building sandcastles, or going for a swim in the river pool.
History lesson – Just in front of the playground you will find plaques commemorating the “story” of Brooklyn and the Hawkesbury River. These make for fascinating reading and are a great way to keep the parentals entertained whilst the kids play.
Family walk - You can do a very easy (and pram/wheelchair friendly) return walk from the playground around to Parsley Bay. This walk is flat and has stunning views over the water, toilets are available at each end of the walk. Another fabulous and easy walk is the Mangrove Walk which can be found in Brooklyn Park (on the drive in from the main road). This is a boardwalk that all members of the family will enjoy.
Wet a line – If you have keen anglers in your brood (who also possess fishing licenses), then pack your fishing rods as there are some great spots all around to dangle your line in.
Hire a BBQ Boat - You can hire a BBQ Boat from the Brooklyn Marina (or a house boat, or a good old fashioned tinny) and go for a cruise around the River. And the best bit is that you don’t need a boat license to drive one! So pack some snags and a loaf of bread, and have your very own sausage sizzle out on the water.
WHERE TO EAT
Now if you have driven up to Brooklyn, make sure you stop in at the Estuary restaurant & kiosk on the road into Brooklyn - you need to take the Kangaroo Point turn off. If you have well behaved offspring (and some spare cash in the wallet) then you really should dine in, as the views and food are spectacular. If you have kids that need to run around, then you can just grab coffee and muffins from the kiosk on the front of the restaurant, and soak up the beautiful views.
The Anglers Rest Hotel is a bit of an institution in Brooklyn. So if you have been smart enough to catch the train, then you can have a few drinkie poos with your lunch. The menu covers all of your pub favourites and has a kid’s menu too. The pub is fully pram/wheelchair friendly- try to grab an outside table, so that you can watch the world go by.
There is a couple of cute little cafes right in the heart of Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Tuckshop is a trendy, hipster style of café that could easily be at home on the streets of Surry Hills. They do a great coffee, but they are coffee purists here – only using full cream milk and serving small size only! The coffee goes perfectly with their yummy assortment of baked goods made fresh in house each day. The Brooklyn Deli also looks delicious. The King Tide Café is located on the water’s edge around towards the playground area. They are open for breakfast and lunch 7 days a week. The Teahouse @ Brooklyn is where you can grab a delicious Devonshire tea for afternoon tea.
Fish and chips and Brooklyn go hand in hand. On most weekends there is a huge queue outside of Fitzies Fish & Chips and Lifeboat Seafood fry up some delicious goods too. As well as serving fresh prawns and oysters to boot – you can dine in or take away.
So next time you are looking for a quick day trip from Sydney, Brooklyn should be at the top of your list. Easy to get to, easy to get around and so much to do for the whole family!