Susan Fisher (654)
We weren’t sure how the day would be as it had been raining the night before and the sky was grey in the morning, but it turned out to be perfect weather for the cruise. Some of our members met on Wyong station, travelling down by train while others chose to drive to Brooklyn. All 26 of our group arrived in plenty of time for the 10am departure on the Riverboat Postman.
Not long after we left the jetty, we were given morning tea, with a choice of either coffee or tea and the best Anzac biscuit we’ve had, so thin and crunchy with everyone wanting more and happy to pay a dollar for the recipe. On the reverse side of the recipe was a map of the route we would be taking.
The first mail drop off was Dangar Island. Last November our group had visited here and learnt about the history, so it was good to see the island again.
Once we left Dangar Island the skipper, Justin, turned the boat westward and we headed off up-river to deliver mail, supplies and river locals who don't have their own boats, to the water access only settlements of Danger Island, Kangaroo Point, Milson's Island, Bar Point, Marlow Creek, Fisherman's Point and Milson's Passage.
We passed under the railway bridge and then the road bridge, all the while being given a running commentary from Justin on the history of how the bridges were built.
The sandstone formations on the shores of the river are really beautiful. The actions of the wind, rain and tide over time carving the most unusual and colourful shapes into the Hawkesbury sandstone.
In the distance we could see an old hulk in the mud on the bank of the river. Justin informed us that this was the hull of the first HMAS Parramatta which was commissioned in 1911 and was decommissioned in 1928. After being stripped at Cockatoo Island Dockyard the hull was sold to NSW Penal Department who used it to house prison labourers whilst they were building roads along the river. When being towed down the river in gale conditions the tow rope broke and the hull ran aground in the mangroves where it remains to this day.
Some of the jetties on the river have public phone boxes. Justin explained that once a month a man from Telstra cleans all the phone boxes, whilst the mail is being delivered to the settlements. As it’s a fairly easy day he relaxes with a beer or two on the way, as the day goes on more drinking is done and less cleaning.
We passed by Bar Island where there is a cemetery, ruins of the church, an old cottage and a memorial.
The Ploughman’s Lunch was delicious, add to that a beer or two, a glass of wine, tea or coffee, talking with friends, watching the beautiful scenery go by, the day was perfect.
Justin was friendly, very informative keeping us amused along the way with stories of things that happened over the years. As he lives on the river Justin is well versed with all the daily happenings that go on along the river. Justin really brought the river alive with his stories of homes having names such as “Tumbledown” and “Blotto Grotto”. You’ll have to go on the trip to find out where those names came from.
We arrived back at Brooklyn at 1.15pm with ½ an hour to spare for the train, enough time to climb all the steps at the station and board the train for home. We were so lucky that the rain had stayed away and everyone agreed that it was a great day out.