Address: 328 Hawkesbury Valley Way, Richmond
Phone: 1300 362 874 or 02 4560 4620
Address: 8 Baker Street, Windsor (satellite centre)
Phone: 02 4560 4655 (closed Tue)
Each visitor centre provides an array of useful brochures, books and fact sheets along with a wealth of information, both anecdotal and hard fact.
The Hawkesbury VIC stocks and sells two books which are quite helpful:
- Best Bushwalks around The Hawkesbury
- Best Cycle Rides around The Hawkesbury
The staff knows the back roads and the local folklore. They can help with accommodation reservations, find the nearest pub or recommend a café or two. They can point out the challenges of trekking trails and tell you their favourite outdoor adventure, be it river walks, camping sites or mountain trekking.
The centres are an unlimited resource and staff love helping visitors. These dedicated people may be the first locals you meet in the Hawkesbury and they are happy in their work.
(Sydney Living Museums)
Address: 356 Annangrove Road, Rouse Hill
Phone: 02 9627 6777
Hours: Open Wed to Sun 10am-4pm
Entry by guided tour only, admission charges apply
Open daily during NSW school holidays.
Closed Good Friday, Christmas Day and Boxing Day
Admission: Concession $8, Family $30
Sydney Museums Pass holders, Member & Children under 5 years FREE
Parking is free.
A large two-storey Georgian structure sits high on a ridge overlooking the modern Windsor Road and its modern day traffic. This is Rouse Hill House built upon the original land grant of Richard Rouse, Superintendent of Public Works and Convicts in 1812-1813. Rouse Hill House has a long Hawkesbury history as the borders of old Windsor Road are adjacent to the property. Rouse was contracted by Governor Macquarie to build tollbooths along this road from Parramatta to Windsor. The tollbooths (one near the Rouse home and one at Parramatta Bridge) are long gone, but extracting a fee from those using a government or private-built road continues in the 21st century.
In 1999 Sydney Living Museums opened the doors of the old home and farm to the public. It is a favourite family spot. Kids learn about farm life and see real chickens and farm animals up close. School holiday programs are very popular where kids can collect eggs, churn butter and grind corn. Families can also visit the Muru Mittigar Cultural & Education Centre to learn about Darug traditional ways and participate in hands-on experiences such as boomerang throwing, art and the bush tucker investigation and cooking workshops. Come early and enjoy at day at Rouse Hill House & Farm. For more information visit: sydneylivingmuseums.com.au
Address: 8 Baker Street
Phone: 02 4560 4655
Hours: Open daily 10am-4pm (closed Tue)
With the help of government and community organisations a purpose-built museum was built in the 2008. It did cause a stir among locals but today, the grumbling and moaning about the modern design is heard from only a few. The more than 100,000 visitors continue to praise the exhibitions and again, because demand has been great, the 'Floods' exhibition will be on display in 2017.
While the interior exhibition space is petite, the combination of valued documents, early photographs and film media each find the perfect exhibition spot. Included in the 'Floods' exhibition is a letter written by Governor Lachlan Macquarie to Earl Bathurst (April 1817) highlighting the resistance Macquarie experienced with intractable Hawkesbury farmers.
The Museum is the keeper of hundreds of Hawkesbury artefacts related to early colonial life, wars and our unique 'Hawkesbury Flabbit'. An additional wing - the circa 1820 Howe House - is a registered historic home typical of Georgian architecture. This lovely country house has lived many lives, but today it is fitted out with furnishings and displays spanning more than 200 years.
(Step-On Guides for coach groups or tailored tours for small groups)
Phone: 02 4577 6882
Carol and Geoff Roberts are the perfect guides around the Hawkesbury. These are not your typical tours or tour guides. Carol's bloodline goes back six generations. Born in Windsor and with a master's degree in history, she knows the icons, the historical happenings, the back roads and the droll humour of the Hawkesbury.
Husband Geoff is no slouch on the tours - he has lived in the Hawkesbury for more than 30 years and is a former CSIRO building scientist. Ask about an architectural detail and you've opened the door to a lesson about Georgian, Victorian, Federation and modern styles as well.
Sites are animated and brought to life by facts and folklore stored in the memory bank of Carol and Geoff. Like many couples, one often finishes the other's sentences and facts.
The tour arrangements are flexible - large groups or small - recently a tour became a wedding anniversary celebration. When they step aboard your coach, the two guides are in their element. Rarely will you find such educated and experienced guides. Obscure facts and locations are their speciality. You won't have to guess about the location of the 1791 handshake between Governor Phillip and Yarramundi, the Darug elder.
Last year, Carol and Geoff expanded their tours to include an agricultural focus - sites on the Hawkesbury Harvest Farm Gate Trail and the old Hawkesbury Agricultural College (now, UWS Richmond campus) form part of the itinerary.
If you want to throw a birthday celebration, tie the knot or bring a quarrelling family to peace, the Hawkesbury Paddlerwheeler makes for a 'cruisy' group venue on the Hawkesbury River. Casual or dressy, it's your choice.
For a couple of hours at a most leisurely pace - barely a ripple on the water - the group can relax, sing 'happy birthday', settle longstanding arguments or kiss the bride. You make your own fun, though you may not throw a groom or a father-in-law overboard. Captain Ian Burns insist on 'no harm' and 'no mayhem'.
Wine is chilled, lunch is served, and musicians on-board as the Paddlerwheeler takes you up the river. Your group can total five - you're onboard with other revellers - or 50 if you want a private party. Keep your invitations to 100 as that's the maximum.
For private charter, your cruising time can be extended to two, three or four hours. With a central dance floor, the party can go on and on and on. A day on the river for that special Christmas cruise in July might fit the bill!
Call for the many packages. Make arrangements for a DJ or live music.
(Accredited Tour Operators)
Phone: 02 4573 6181
If you want to design your day out with friends and take a tour around your favourite locale, you will want comfort, perhaps a mini coach seating 24. Whether you are shopping, wine tasting or peeking into the Hawkesbury's iconic buildings and graveyards, a coach with air-conditioning, seatbelts for safety along and a friendly driver fit the requirements. You design; Good AZ Gold will deliver.
We visited Good AZ Gold in late 2017 just days after owner Ryan Thompson purchased two luxury executive coaches - 49 black leather seats with plenty of leg space. These are perfect for those very special occasions or for impressing special guests.
Good AZ Gold is a reliable charter company, providing clean well-maintained coaches seating from 21 to 68 passengers. Wedding parties and special events are their specialty. Comfort and reliability is the buzz line at GAZG.
Address: 446 Wilberforce Road, Wilberforce
Phone: 02 4575 1265
Hours: Open daily
Though our brief spin around the track was a 'white knuckle' effort, we watched youngsters take to the tracks like pros. No fear here as they seemed to love the 'S' bends.
The track is 800 metres long and 8 metres wide. The combination of tight turns and long straights allow drivers to reach maximum speed - with eyes wide open of course! We threw a 14th birthday party at Indy800 for a grandson and what an event for a dozen teens! We were the favourite nanna at least for a short while.
Carts are for rent -- there are numerous options. However, you can bring your own - many enthusiasts do. This family-established and family-owned business has been around since 1997.
Address: 61 Hawkesbury Valley Way
Phone: 02 4577 6600
Hours: Open daily
The golf centre often referred to as 'The Barracks' is a nine-hole course with beautiful greens - some quite challenging - on gently rolling hills and with views out to the Blue Mountains. This course can test your patience (and your temper) but many local golfers often go for a second round - a full eighteen. Year-round, Monday through Friday, 'The Barracks' offers very reasonable prices.
Social players are welcome at any time and in mild weather weekend bookings are essential as the turnout is quite brisk. After your round, unwind over coffee on the patio. The view is fantastic!
The Pro Shop's stock is chock-a-block - you won't find better prices anywhere. Should you arrive for a short stay in the area without gear, the pros will outfit you at a reasonable price. Motorised buggies are available and make for a more relaxing game.
The course is adjacent to the Crowne Plaza Hawkesbury Valley and is within easy walking distance from the hotel front door.
An historic pub and bistro on the corner of George and Tebbutt Streets has become the hotspot for the Windsor music scene. In 2016 new owners made this venue home to the Sydney Blues & Roots Festival. But, no need to wait until October for some soul-bending music. Throughout the year, music takes centre stage.
The Hawkesbury' has a weekend musical lineup like no others - recognizable names, talented newcomers and a mix of styles. This venue is a terrific spot for a weekend playland - good pub food, beer on tap and rubbing shoulders with others who love music.
Plans are in the making for acoustic performances during the week - a quieter genre for those who enjoy a less hectic musical pace over dinner. Most performances are on the large covered patio.
Address: Level one, Deerubbin Centre, 300 George Street
Phone: 02 4560 4441
Hours: Open weekdays 10am - 4pm (closed Tue), Open weekends 10am - 3pm
Rural areas and country towns seldom have the resources to build a facility where art is exhibited and where the community can mingle with artists. With the construction of the regional gallery in 2005, such a place now offers a changing program of exhibitions and public programs. All exhibitions aim to be thought-provoking, challenging and educational.
The frequent artist talks held here uncover insights into their work. Curators open each exhibition with informative public conversations - the Q&A leads to lively discussions. We've seen artists from the Sydney art scene arrive for an opening - so we know the HRG staff hit the mark with the art community.
Each year classes and workshops are designed to bring the very young into the creative world.
Every year, at least some of the exhibitions come through Australia's extensive network of regional and public galleries - these are always a well worth the drive into Windsor.
Derrubbin Centre is home to the Hawkesbury City Library, the regional gallery and spacious venues available for community activities.
Address: 606 Terrace Road, Freemans Reach
Phone: 02 4579 6579
Hours: Open Wed to Fri 10am - 5pm, Open weekends 11am - 4pm
We highly recommend a day trip to Purple Noon Gallery in Freemans Reach, just minutes from North Richmond on Terrace Road.
Exhibitions at Purple Noon change throughout the year but each is on display for a lengthy period and the Gallery maintains a strong focus on quality art from emerging and Indigenous artists from around Australia. Works by award winning Mellissa Read Divine and Greg Hansell are on permanent exhibition in this gallery. Along with mixed media work, exciting sculpture and unusual jewellery, items are on sale. For those who love the unusual and the memorable, you'll always be surprised.
The setting is delightful; the gallery building was purpose-built with sandstone walls, old timber and an unusual corrugated iron roof. The view and the gallery alone are well worth the short drive from Windsor.
Then to make yours a splendid day trip, continue on to Ebenezer and East Kurrajong for a leisurely wine tasting at one of our cellar doors. Bookings for lunch or a more substantial tasting are required.
A delightful end-of-year each December, Purple Noon throws a big Christmas party - exciting art in the front room are all below the $600 mark and small artisan items are also on sale. Purple Noon kicks off the festive season over wine and snacks.
The Sydney Wine Trail
The beautiful rural Hawkesbury region is now home to a surprising number of vineyards and three cellar doors. The Hawkesbury wines lay claim to a unique 'terroir' - a French classification, which defines the environmental conditions - the soil and weather in which the grapes are grown.
Grapes grown in the same region will share the same type of soil and the same fluctuating weather conditions, giving the final product a unique flavour and aroma, or the wine's personality, if you will.
These boutique Hawkesbury cellar doors share a larger area once known in 1803 as Portland Head. It is here that Dr. Thomas Fiaschi, an Italian immigrant and surgeon, imported and planted the first vine cuttings from Italy and France in 1882.
In the Hawkesbury, every vintage is unique, affected by any unusual seasonal changes and the rich river soil, producing the tannin compounds in the grape. But large wine producers across Australia have dozens of vineyards and blend grapes from among these locations to maintain a product that is similar year after year.
Bull Ridge Estate produces Verdelho, a dry white with a citrus, pineapple flavour and a hint of pear. Our vintner suggests this wine when serving chicken or fish. Among the four varieties in the 2014/15 crop, Bull Ridge produced two reds, Shiraz and Durif (Petite Sirah). The Shiraz is a lighter dry, perfect with summer lunches while the Durif is full bodied with more tannin - beautiful with a serving of lamb or beef.
The long-established Tizzana Winery in an historic and beautiful cellar produces a medium bodied dry red, 2015 Petit Verdot and a lighter Aleatico Rose from grapes grown at Tizzana Vineyard. A favourite in our household is the 2013 Clarissa, a dry red blend made from Shiraz, Tannat and grapes. The dominant aroma characteristics, berry and spice, are complemented by liquorice and coconut characters and aged with oak to make this medium bodied red the perfect accompaniment with red meats. Tizzana's production also includes Ambrose Rosé - made from Aleatico grapes which when slightly chilled ideally accompanies cheeses and nuts.
The vintners of The Sydney Wine Trail (Hawkesbury) are opened for tastings on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays from noon to 6pm. Weekday tastings are by appointment.
Address: 518 Tizzana Road, Ebenezer
Hours: Open Sat, Sun and Public Holidays 12noon - 6pm
Phone: Please call for groups or weekday tastings: 02 4579 1150
Address: 519 Tizzana Road, Ebenezer
Hours: Open Sat, Sun 12noon - 5pm Open hours vary so best to book
Address: 317 Windsor Road, Vineyard
Phone: 02 4577 5555
Note: Book early if you are attending the Bridge-to-Bridge races or the Blues & Roots Festival.
Poachers were both admired and notorious in England. When caught and convicted they were condemned to death. A reprieve meant transportation for life. They sailed but their notoriety was not transported, nor was their crime. They headed into oblivion and came to the country that would be called Australia. Their names were never recorded.
Recently remodeled, the ATG (as Windsor-ites call the motel) has taken on new life - new bathrooms, beds, bed linens, microwaves, toasters, pretty much new everything!
ATG is an affordable motel with 25 rooms, and for the kids, a pool. A restaurant is within a few steps so no need to get in your car. However, this three-and-a half-star motel is only minutes from historic Windsor. Its close proximity creates high demand, so best book your reservations early - months early if you want to attend the annual Power Boat or Ski races, or the Sydney Blues & Roots Festival.
Family-owned and managed, John and Katerina are genuinely interested in their customers, paying special attention to your needs. They want your stay to be pleasant and easy.
Address: 518 Tizzana Road, Ebenezer
Phone: 02 4579 1150
Advance bookings for dinner upon arrival required. A gay-friendly establishment is only a 15-minute drive from Windsor.
Tizzana B&B is situated on a winding road through horse and wine country - we feel like we have returned to Italy. This is a five-star accommodation with idyllic Tuscan-like views overlooking the vineyards and a nearby lily farm. We think a weekend here in Ebenezer is just 'what the doctor ordered' - a mix of boutique wines, fantastic food and a luxurious five-star bed and breakfast accommodation.
And it was a doctor, Sydney surgeon Thomas Fiaschi who planted this Australian vineyard and built the early sandstone cellar door around 1887. He expanded and continued the business until his death in 1927. The history of this vineyard and the building makes for a great novel. The original building burnt down in 1955, leaving only a stone shell. After much backbreaking and painstaking work, Carolyn and Peter Auld have brought the cellar door back to its original beauty and have added the fashionable B&B upstairs on the first level.
Bedrooms are furnished and beautifully decorated with handsome large wooden pieces; the living area with large leather couches, a fireplace and area rugs. This is a B&B with that touch of sophistication and style. An additional benefit - with early arrangements prior to your arrival, you can book a five-course dinner at the cellar door. Carolyn's dinners are divine - slow food prep and artisan wines. Such indulgence!
Address: 61 Hawkesbury Valley Way, Windsor
Phone: 02 4577 4222
For visitors looking for an upmarket accommodation, this is a 4.5 star resort complete with excellent in-house dining and the splendid Villa Thalgo Spa. A lovely lake-side setting is perfect for an outdoor wedding.
Nearby the nine-hole Rum Corps Golf Course is an easy walk from the Crowne's entrance. The pro shop is well stocked for those who need to rent gear.
Travel Tip: For additional Hawkesbury accommodation, see Hawkesbury Escapes