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The Hawkesbury - The Gateway To Sydney's Heartland
blue mountains nswThe beautiful Hawkesbury Region is nestled just on the outskirts of New South Wales' capital, Sydney. Its ideal position smack bang between the Blue Mountains and the Hunter Valley means that it is a region that is home to a diverse range of National Parks, charming little river communities and majestic gorges and valleys.

This region is best attempted on a driving holiday, and the easiest way to access it from Sydney is by travelling along the Warringah Expressway. This route will take you straight through to Lane Cove, where you will then enter the M2 Motorway and continue on until you reach the Blacktown Exit. Taking the exit onto Windsor Road will eventually bring you to the historic township of Windsor, a charming little town that is idyllically nestled on the luscious banks of the Hawkesbury River. This setting acts as the perfect start to your adventure of the Hawkesbury; a region that is immaculately comprised of the Heartland, Highland, Riverland and the Sydney Hills Region.

First discovered in 1789, it only took around five years to settle the Hawkesbury region. Today, it is one of Australia's oldest settlements, and you will see this clearly through the historical Colonial buildings that still line the town's streets. The most noticable of these are the pristinely maintained old schools, houses, churches and court houses. All of these buildings depict the strong historical character of the region and will take visitors on a journey through the past, allowing them to gain an even greater appreciation of Australia's history.

A wealth of activities on offer makes this region even more pleasing. The region offers everything from antique shopping, galleries, arts and crafts, to more thrilling activities such as horseriding and a huge variety of fun water sports. All these activities provide ample fun for a day out, or even a week. There really is so much to see and do that you may be overwhelmed as to where you should start, so here is a quick lowdown on what should be at the top of your list.

Hawkesbury River Gateway

The River Gateway starts its stretch to the region just 25 kilometres north of the centre of Sydney. It is home to the great Hawkesbury River, a masterpiece of Mother Nature, and originally served as a major transport route in colonial times. Today, it is highly regarded as a tranquil getaway spot for the city locals and tourists from across the country. This part of the region is completely surrounded by dense bushland and is home to an abundance of natural attractions, making it perfect for either a pure relaxation or family fun holiday.

One of the highlights of the River Gateway is no doubt the picturesque riverside town of Brooklyn. This charming little village is a popular hotspot for fishing for fresh seafood and this is why you will spot so many fishing boats on the riverbanks here. The town is also relatively close to the surrounding islands, that all depict stories of a strong Indigenous and colonial history. Brooklyn is a great place to start your adventure of the Hawkesbury as it is a town that soaks up the best of the Riverland.

Hawkesbury River Heartland

The stunning heartland of the Hawkesbury Region is hidden a perfect distance from the hustle and bustle of the city; 80 kilometres from Sydney. This picturesque environment is virtually untouched and enjoys a stunning setting among spectacular river and mountain scenery. The glistening waters of the Hawkesbury River will immediately capture the attention of your eye and you will be enchanted by the not too distant sandstone cliffs that create a majestic backdrop to this intriguing scene.

The "Forgotten Valley" offers the perfect scenic route to travel along as it takes you directly through the heartland. The route also offers a truly unique historical experience as it is characterised by historic sites, story-telling landscapes and unforgettable scenery that will keep you coming back, time and time again.

Hawkesbury Highlands

Head up into the highlands of the Hawkesbury region and you will be met with a diversity of mountain scenery, winding roads and magnificent views. The drive will take you past the region's most intriguing sandstone cliffs, deep canyons and an abundance of local, thriving fruit orchards. The Wollemi National Park will no doubt be the highlight of your Heartland discovery as it is home to lovely rolling hills, that as you journey on, will take you on a journey of the true vastness and beauty of this region.

The Highlands also boast a rich artistic and cultural scene, which is evident through the abundance of local galleries, boutiques and stalls. Discover the masterpieces of the locals and who knows, you may even want to take a piece of it home with you!

Sydney Hills Hawkesbury

This area encompasss the best of nature, which enjoys a pleasant contrast with the cosmopolitan Sydney life. Enjoying a position almost literally on Sydney's doorstep, the Sydney Hills offer the perfect escape from the city, while still making you feel like you are right in the heart of nature. Explore the region by kayaking along the river, taking a stroll along one of the many nature trails or simply sitting back to relax and absord your natural environment.

The many regions of the Hawkesbury offer their own unique and intriguing attractions and all are ideal for a holiday to escape the rush. The pleasant contrasts between country and city life make this region the ideal place to visit for those who like to delve in a bit of both. The Heartlands, Riverland and Highlands are far enough away to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, without having to travel a vast distance. Perfect!

Christine Barton

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