The Hawkesbury and the Riverboat Postman

Traveling north out of Sydney, one finds the handsome, tree-covered slopes of Kuring-Gai Chase National Park before too long giving way to the splendid Hawkesbury River. Cutting through the sandstone of the Great Dividing Range, the river winds between cliffs and islands, all of which are impressively green. It is a splendid spot.

People come up to the Hawkesbury for oysters, as the beds here produce abundantly. They come for the scenery, the charming towns, and the artisans and their shops. Some of us arrive, as well, for the opportunity to travel with Australia’s last Riverboat Postman. Because the river cuts through such precipitous terrain, there is no likelihood that this region will ever be reached by roads. In some places, sandstone walls rise almost straight up behind the houses and small settlements perched along the river’s edge. And so the mail arrives by boat.

Fortunately, one does not have to pull any strings or know anyone to get to enjoy a ride with the postman. It can be arranged online or at any New South Wales Tourist Office. It was at the NSW Tourist Office that I not only booked my ride, but first learned of the riverboat postman.

Below, the three photos hardly do justice to the area’s beauty or the extent of the trip. However, I hope they at least suggest why I — and British novelist Anthony Trollope — were charmed by the Hawksebury. I won’t bore you by repeating everything I wrote in my book about this trip, but it’s nice to be able to share a glimpse of what I saw.

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3 Comments

Filed under Australia, Book, Geography, History, Travel

3 responses to “The Hawkesbury and the Riverboat Postman

  1. Oh the Hawkesbury is a beautiful river and for many years I lived not far from it. One of my most memorable childhood holidays was a houseboat holiday on the Hawkesbury – 5 nights as I recollect. I was 16/17 years old and still recall the peace and beauty of it. BUT I never knew about the river postman ride. How fascinating that would be.

    Finally, did you see the film Oyster Farmer (released in 2004)? It wasn’t a great film, but it was a nice one and is worth watching just for the Hawkesbury scenery.

    • Yes, traveling with the riverboat postman was fascinating. The scenery was glorious, of course, but I really enjoyed the sense of community surrounding the arrival of the post. People came down to their docks to greet the postman, but they always waved at the passengers, too. Sometimes the postman was delivering medicine or groceries, as well, when residents were older. Plus, he offered a running commentary on who lived where, what was being built, where the wrecks were, and what life was like on the river. Really wonderful.

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