Location: Hawkesbury River
A unique island paradise on the Hawkesbury River near Brooklyn to the north of Sydney, Dangar Island is surrounded by sparkling water and views in all directions. With no private cars to disturb the 'sounds of silence', Dangar Island is a haven of peace and tranquillity and an ideal place for a holiday, a weekend away or even a day trip from Sydney.
Life on Dangar Island is so different to that in Sydney, you'd never believe you were just an hour away by train from the big city. For starters, the wheelbarrow is the main method used to haul goods from the ferry which services the island throughout the day from the town of Brooklyn. The only mode of public transport, apart from walking, is the push bike, unless you own one of just a handful of golf buggies that escaped the ban on powered transport. The island has only one shop/cafe, and a bowling club for members/visitors which has a bar. A community hall supports several community groups, including a children's film workshop.
Until recently, Dangar's flavour was that of an artists' colony. In recent years, however, the accessibility and charm of the location have meant an explosion in house prices to the point that only the wealthy can now consider purchasing homes there, which many now do as weekend retreats.
The island has a permanent population of about 250, which swells dramatically during holiday seasons. Two and three bedroom homes are the most common form of short term accommodation, making the island an ideal weekend retreat either for couples and families.
Day trips are definitely an option, and you can reach Dangar Island either by motor vehicle or train.
The homes of Dangar Island are the most northerly in Metropolitan Sydney, the island's shop is the city's most northerly building. The most northerly street on Dangar Island, and hence Sydney's most northerly street, is Neotsfield Avenue, which leads from the public wharf through the main settlement. Here, golf carts and wheelbarrow line the streets rather than cars.
Two to three hours is adequate time to walk right around the island along the bushland path that circles Dangar. The walk includes a visit to one of the island's beaches, seeing the Aboriginal cave and rock art and enjoying refreshments at the cafe before catching the ferry back to Brooklyn. Thus it is possible to leave Sydney by train before 10 am and be back in Sydney well before dark.
Dangar Island Ferry: the ferry trip is a leisurely 15 minutes from Brooklyn, calling at Little Wobby Beach on the way, and departing every hour 7 days a week during the day (ferry timetable).
Facilities: general store and cafe, community hall, bowling club and children's playground, sandy area with public access at Bradleys Beach.
Aboriginal rock art in Kilparra Park
History of the island
Before white settlement the island was used by the local Dharuk Aboriginal people as a place for fishing, relaxation and ceremonial purposes. Evidence of their visits can be seen in rock carvings in Kilparra Park at the island's highest point, and middens around its shoreline. Within six weeks of British settlement of Sydney Cove, Governor Arthur Phillip sailed up the Hawkesbury looking for arable land and set up camp here. On 7 March 1788 he named it Mullet Island. First Fleet cartographer Lieut. William Bradley, who accompanied Phillip on the flagship of the First Fleet, HMS Sirius, in 1787-88, was among the party and recorded the visit in his journal. His name is remembered in the name Bradley's Beach.
Hawkesbury Bridge construction works on Dangar Island
In 1864, the island was acquired by Henry Cary Dangar, a prominent politician who later became a member of the Upper House of New South Wales. He used it as a country estate, but leased the island to the New York based Union Bridge Company during the construction of the Hawkesbury River Rail Bridge between 1886 and 1889. Construction workers lived in huts on the island. Following Dangar's death in 1917 was subdivided into residential allotments and named Dangar Island.
How to get there: By car - Proceed north along Pacific Highway to Hornsby. Stay on the Pacific Highway through Hornsby, avoiding the F3 Sydney-Newcastle freeway. when you reach the Hawkesbury River, Take Brooklyn Road to Brooklyn. The ferry wharf is on Dangar Road beyond Hawkesbury River railway station.
By rail - take the Central Coast train from Sydney via Hornsby to Hawkesbury River station at Brooklyn (train timetable). Daytime trains pass through Hawkesbury River station in both directions every half hour. The jetty from which the Dangar Island ferry leaves is a short walk from the station.