Address: Ham Common, Hawkesbury Valley Way, Clarendon
Phone: 1300 362 874 or 02 4578 0233
The Deerubbin Centre, home to the Hawkesbury's central library and regional gallery, takes its name from the Aboriginal name for the Hawkesbury River, which is believed to mean 'wide, deep water'.
There is so much to see and do in the Hawkesbury - national parks, smashing scenery, hot-air ballooning (see Cloud 9 p6), historic townships and heritage buildings. Choices rarely pose a problem for the tourism staff at Clarendon. Whatever your wish, the staff at Clarendon or at the Windsor museum (Hawkesbury Regional Museum) are terrific. They are a happy bunch and are armed with insider knowledge (and folklore) of the area. They can help if you are lost, looking for accommodation or simply longing to try an apple pie from a produce stand in Bilpin.
Exploring the back roads without a destination can often be the best holiday. Nature's lush wilderness and rural environment is still obvious in the Hawkesbury. Lunch at a charming café in Kurrajong or a small organic café in Richmond? Tasting the grape in Ebenezer or East Kurrajong? Perhaps a sizzling steak at the Wisemans historic pub? These are the little surprises for visitors to the area.
Or, if you insist on planning your trip, look for an unusual exhibition at the Hawkesbury Regional Gallery, or try out a challenging course at Tree Top Adventure, at Yarramundi.
Address: The Terrace, Windsor
Car park at the corner of Kable/The Terrace Streets. Unlimited parking along The Terrace between Baker and Fitzgerald Streets.
When we head out to relax by the river - we make our way to Howe Park. To our delight, we found it on our first foray into Windsor. Howe Park is a favourite of locals and international visitors alike. When internationals want to escape winter weather in Europe or the US, they somehow find Howe Park. They are enjoy a game of checkers at a picnic table overlooking the Hawkesbury River. Locals bring a picnic lunch mid-week, as the park is rarely crowded. Lots of benches and tables are available.
Walking in Howe Park is delightful. The footpath is an easy, two kilometre levelled walk. Perfect for wheelchairs or prams, and you get a lovely view of the river. Should you want a quiet moment to yourself, benches are on hand - even a nap in the green grass could be inviting!
Address: North George Street, Windsor
Governor Phillip Park is located on the northeast side of George Street in Windsor, beyond the Bridge Street roundabout and downhill, through a residential area. The street ends at Governor Phillip Park, a perfect playground and often a crowded scene of boats, jet skis, water skis and wakeboards. With picnic areas, gas barbecues and ample spots for fishing, it is no wonder families love to play along the river here. It is spacious, with shaded areas available. However, swimming is not advised.
Major water events either begin or end at Phillip Park... arrive early and enjoy the day.
Address: Windsor Road & Worcester Road, Rouse Hill
Phone: 02 4572 3100
Sprawling Rouse Hill Regional Park is great for lots of different family activities. This is a fabulous park with pavilions, bike trails, and picnic and barbecue areas. Even doggies are welcome.
Address: Heritage Park Drive (off Banks Road) Castle Hill
While Heritage Park is recognised for its early Government Farm, we just discovered within the park is the largest remaining stand of Blue Gum High Forest reserve - in the world. This is certainly worth a visit, which we could not make before going to press.
Within the bushland setting you'll find walking tracks, picnic areas and a playground - all features of the heritage-listed site.
In April, the Convict Footprints will perform 'Rebellion' a theatrical re-enactment of convict life of the period.
Heritage is great for picnicking, walking and being out in nature.
Address: Beaumont Road (off Terrace Road), North Richmond
Entrance to this park is hidden from the main road in to North Richmond. Yet it is worth the effort you may extend, and the GPS minimises the challenge. It is our favourite of all the town parks in the Hawkesbury, but keep in mind, we have yet to uncover all that are available.
From North Richmond's business centre on Bells Line of Road, turn right at the traffic light (the only traffic light in North Richmond) onto Terrace Road. Once on Terrace Road, it is only metres to Beaumont Avenue. Turn right; continue past the Panthers Club and downhill into a residential area. At first appearance, the road seems to end, but continue on past the residences and the road again widens and rolls into the park - a wide green space full of surprises.
This riverside park is large, perfect for kids to run and roll around in the grass. There's even a small skate park for older kids. With paved footpaths, wheelchair access is made easy to the covered and shady picnic and barbecue areas.
We love the interesting combination of art and science in the form of an analematic sundial and in the shape of a figure of eight. A nearby description reveals the secret - if you don't know. The sundial is cast in a bed of river rock and sandstone, very symbolic of the Hawkesbury.
However, walking downhill from the sundial, we found this area to be most interesting. Here, the chatter or squeals of small children are no longer heard and a grove of tall trees shades the area down to the river. Yet sunlight peeks through in a lovely dappled effect. Bring a picnic rug as this is the perfect spot for couples - perhaps a romantic picnic with your newly purchased wine from our Hawkesbury vintners?
Address: Wisemans Ferry Road, Cattai
Phone: 02 4572 3100
Hours: Open daily at 7:30am
Car entry fee applies
Camping fee applies - bookings essential
Off Wisemans Ferry Road, Cattai National Park is quite large with many picnic shelters and barbecue areas, with wood provided. Tables are plentiful throughout the park, which has two sections - the Cattai Farm area and the quieter Mitchell Park zone.
The campsite is riverside and shady, though there are many open sunny areas for children to play. It is popular for canoeing and for family or group weekend camping! Firewood is provided. We have yet to camp overnight, but rumour has it hot showers are available when campsites are pre-booked.
Sunday afternoons you can join a guided tour of the Catti homestead built in 1821.
Cattai is midway between Windsor and Wisemans Ferry and signs indicate the entrance - we, however, somehow miss the signage time after time.
Powered boat launching or landing is not permitted and the park does not provide electricity.
Address: Old Northern Road, Wisemans Ferry ramp
This beautifully kept public park is designed to please everyone and regardless the season, at least a few visitors are enjoying the grounds. With considerable green space for running and jumping and many trees for climbing, kids on school holidays entertain themselves leaving parents to relax and chat around the sizzle of the barbecue.
Often, a Sunday afternoon finds large groups sharing the cooking facilities. Gazebos are available for a drizzly day and if you've arrived without a hamper, the Convict Road Kiosk is just steps away. We are an easy target for their burger and chips. The Kiosk prices won't break the bank and unless the queue is long, service is speedy. The few picnic tables by the kiosk fill quickly. If you are lucky and claim one, this is the perfect place for ferry watching, as the dock is just across the road.
Much of the green space abuts the river. It's a truly a remarkable park with ample parking.