A Trip on the Hawkesbury
There are many ways to enjoy the delights of boating. The best way is to own your very own boat. However, we had a 5-week trip to Australia to visit family, and I could not bear the thought of 5 weeks with no boating. What were we to do? Obviously find a boat to hire.
I discovered a 36 foot flybridge that we could rent for a day on the beautiful, meandering, Hawkesbury River. That sounded ideal. The whole family (wife, daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren) could spend a day out on the river. I booked it. Fortunately, this went down well with my wife, especially as I forgot
to mention the cost!
On the day of our charter, we were greeted by the delightful couple who own the business. It was a reasonably spacious 36-footer flybridge. Old, but spacious, with all the facilities you needed for a day trip. We had the necessary safety briefing and were given the charts of the Hawkesbury, and then we were off.
We decided on a relaxed journey up the river as far as we could in a day. This was what river cruising is all about. Relaxed, beautiful scenery, easy navigation, great weather, no tides to speak of, not over-crowded and plenty of sights to see.
Along the river, the wreck of the HMAS Parramatta can still be seen against the shore line. It was launched in 1910, but in 1934 broke loose from its moorings and eventually sunk.
We passed a number of islands, including the now-defunct Peat Island, which had variously been used as an asylum for drunks and for those with mental illnesses
For about 10 miles of that journey, we were accompanied by the largest, longest swarm (or ‘smack’) of jellyfish I have ever seen.
We passed many small communities on the river that literally had no roads to them. Their only transport was by boat. Indeed, even the post had to be delivered by boat, on the ‘postman’s ferry’.
We eventually found a small sandy alcove along the way that looked great. We anchored off, checking carefully that the anchor seemed to be holding OK.
We ferried ourselves in the small dinghy across to the sandy shore. The kids enjoyed the sand, clambering over rocks, and the picnic we had brought with us.
All too soon it was time to get back onto the boat for the return journey. We checked. Yes, the boat was still there, firmly anchored. So, we took the dinghy back to the boat.
As we approached what I will call its home port (i.e. the jetty), the owner came out in his dinghy to greet us. Although he had trusted us with his boat for the day, he apparently did not trust us to berth it. Very wise! He berthed the boat for us.
The Lesson From This?
If you get the opportunity to rent a boat while on holiday, it is worth considering. Note, however, that not all countries are as relaxed about this as Australia.