In the middle of the week I decided to explore the Brooklyn area on the Hawkesbury River, north of Sydney. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time but haven’t had the opportunity. My original intention was to do part of the Great North Walk starting at the foreshore but as a large group of walkers had exited the train from Hornsby at the same time, I decided that I didn’t want to tag along behind them.
Instead I chose to lollygag at the pier, waiting for the small ferry to Dangar Island.
The Hawkesbury River is one of the major waterways North of Sydney which played an important part in Sydney’s Indigenous and colonial past.
The river contains a number of islands, large and small, which pre-colonisation, were home to Guringai clans for over 30,000 years.
I took off in the quaint little white-lacquered ferry for the island of Dangar,
It was an almost perfect day, tainted slightly by winds which had started to gust. There were only three of us on the small boat which travels almost hourly around the islands and at 3.30 transports the large number of school age children from the train station at Hawkesbury river to their island homes.
It was a great feeling to alight from the ferry knowing that I had hours to spend exploring every inch of this unknown (to me) island, contemplating what it would be like to live an islander life relatively close to a major city.
As I walked along the local roads-cars are not permitted on the island- I appreciated the abundant creativity of the islanders expressed in the variety of their garden and house designs. From old surfboards, kitchen doors and recycled number plates,every type of material was used in a whimsical way.
Many residents were at work in their gardens and offered a cheery “Hello” as I passed . I asked one gardener for directions to the Indigenous carvings and caves and he explained that there was an overgrown track nearby. As I tried to locate it, I met up with a fellow traveller from the ferry journey; we started chatting and realised we shared a similar outlook on life, adventure and travel. We continued exploring together and found the track to the ancient engravings
It was sad to see these remnants of a past life-waterholes, a carving of a fish-eroded and neglected, as they were testimony to the abundant life which sustained the clans for thousands of years.
We walked down to the beach on the other side of the island where large jellyfish had been beached and felt the tranquillity of the river laping gently against the moored dinghies.
The light started to change indicating that it was time to catch the return ferry and return to “civilisation”.
Could I ever become an islander ? I pondered on what it must take to live such a life, apart yet creatively, richly, abundant.