The majestic Hawkesbury River is limitless in its beauty, intrigue and boating and fishing possibilities. Coasting along the river, one has the feeling to be entering another space and time. After a trip down the Hawkesbury, one relishes in the knowledge that they have become one of the lucky few to be enchanted by its magic.
The Hawkesbury stretches 120 kilometres. Starting where the Nepean and Grose Rivers meet, the river meanders its way along the suburbs, farms and acreages of the west, all the way to Broken Bay where the river spills out at the tip of Pittwater, past the majestic Barrenjoey Headland. It is a tidal drowned valley ecosystem and it is possible to navigate along its entire length.
The traditional landowners of the Hawkesbury area were the Darkinjung, Darug, Eora, and Kuring-Gai peoples. The Hawkesbury was the third European colony to be established and exists as a kind of time capsule for colonial history. Most colonial buildings are still standing and are widely still used for their original intended purpose. From the 1800s, the Hawkesbury became one of the major transportation routes down to Sydney Harbour. Boats would seek refuge at the mouth of Broken Bay and Pittwater before they would make the run to Sydney Harbour.
The Hawesbury has something for everyone
Whatever it is that floats your boat, the Hawkesbury River has on offer. Water-skiing, wakeboarding, secluded swimming spots, fine dining, river-side pubs, so options are endless. What is truly exceptional along the Hawkesbury, has got to be the fishing. Drifting along the sand for flathead at Patonga. Mud crabbing at Mooney Mooney, Mangrove Creeks and Marramarra. The fishing opportunities appear and change as you cruise down the river, from bass, estuary perch and the invasive carp, to bream and flathead and jewfish to tailor. You can find a protected bay to anchor up in all weather conditions and as busy as the river seems at times, it is always possible to locate a secluded spot. So no matter your boating or fishing needs the Hawkesbury River has you covered.
Where to Launch
Not all ramps were created equal along the Hawkesbury, so let us guide you on the best options depending on your level of experience. The most accessible ramp for the travelling boatie, is the Deerubbun ramp just off the Pacific Highway. The best option to launch and suitable for all levels of experience and it is a massive facility with a pontoon and a plethora of parking.
Reaching Cowan Creek, the delightful Akuna Bay also has a launching facility and parking. This ramp is more advanced. Accommodating only two at a time, the run out past the marina can be complicated if the wind is up and swirling around in the bay.
Towards the end of the river is the Governor Phillip Park ramp at Windsor. Launching into South Creek, the Hawkesbury is a mere 30 metres away. The ramp is quite steep but the grip on the ramp is adequate and there is enough parking for everyone.
Private ramps are plentiful, dotting the entire length of the river.
On the Fish
Starting near Windsor, the river is tidal but mainly brackish. Here you will find bass, estuary perch and the invasive carp as the main players. In the warmer months it might be possible to snag bream and flathead this far up but only for experienced anglers. If these are your target, focus on drop offs at the mouths of the creeks which feed into the river but be aware of the shallow weed banks and sand banks. If the weather has been hot with no rain for some time, be careful about eating fish caught here.
As you coast towards Wiseman’s Ferry the river is fast flowing and offers excellent fishing opportunities. Dotted with deep holes and rock walls, jewfish are added to the Hawkesbury menu around this area. Abundant with prawns, your live bait is ready and waiting. Poddy mullet is also in the mix and great as bait if you are looking to snag a big jewy. Tide change is the best time to throw in your line.
Meandering east, the bream and flathead become slightly easier to fish. With some quietly keen observation, take note of the old salts throwing their lines in along the rocky walls. Wisdom can be shared from a respectful distance.
Brooklyn is the perfect place for picking up supplies or hiring a boat. The river here is wide and fast flowing and the place where two bridges meet and cross the river in parallel. Here you can fish for bream, jewfish and on a lucky occasion, a school of tailor.
Staying on the fish
By far the most widely written about fishing spots on the Hawkesbury River are Juno Point, Patonga and Jerusalem Bay. These names make the ears of any avid fishermen perk up. Such is the versatility of the Hawkesbury, each of these famous spots holds a different fishing experience.
Juno Point is where the Hawkesbury and Cowan Creek meet. With one last swing eastward towards the ocean, hang around in the evening for the tide to change and try your luck with a large jewfish.
Patonga is a popular name for two main reasons. It is the best spot on the Hawkesbury to fish for flathead and the location of the trendy Patonga Beach Hotel and restaurant. Open to the ocean water, this area can be swimming with flathead. Use live bait and drift with the current or try your luck with plastics.
Jerusalem Bay is located at Cowan Creek. It is a deep-water bay and is home to the famous hairtail. A ghastly looking but tasty fish, the hairtail arrives into the bay in the middle of winter. With its beady eyes and sharp teeth, the hairtail is a night feeder and can be caught on pilchards and live baits. One must be slightly mad and very motivated to brave the conditions, but the taste experience is worth the madness.
The centre of the river is deep and easy enough for any novice to navigate and upstream is well marked. Car ferries still operate up and down the river so pay attention and get out of their way. When heading into any of the many bays along the river, be aware that they can get very shallow quite fast. At the head of the river where it joins Cowan Creek is also shallow on the western edge. Spotted all the way along the Hawkesbury are countless marinas, restaurants, cafes, pubs and a few supply stores. Even when you have seen better fishing days, you won’t go hungry.
Fishing vs Water Sports
Water sports of all kinds are ever popular along the Hawkesbury. The entire stretch down to Wiseman’s Ferry is a playground for water sports fans. Riverside parks catering to water-skiing, wakeboarding and more have private ramps and good trailer access.
One would normally be right in thinking that fishing and boating water sports do not mix well, however the Hawkesbury River seems to accommodate both with grace and ease. With a little common sense, both activities exist together in relative harmony.
Heading out as a family or with friends for a weekend boating on the Hawkesbury, we would recommend the Cowan Creek section of the river. This place is more beautiful than the imagination and it will amaze you. Cruise the crystal clear waters and enjoy the backdrop of dense Australian bushland. Listen to the birds chin-wagging, if you can hear them over the top of the singing cicadas. With endless bays, inlets, and secluded spots, we promise you that the raw beauty of this place will hold you in awe and overwhelm you.
Hop off your boat at Castle Lagoon and take a short hike along the creek. Follow the sounds of the waterfall. The fresh water stream cascades over the colourful sandstone and the view from the top is nothing short of breathtaking.
Jerusalem Bay is not just a fishing mecca but also a great starting point for some excellent hikes and day walks around the bay. The entire backdrop of Jerusalem Bay is National Park and is a paradise for fishermen, families, and nature lovers alike. Watch out for the resident Pelican who is likely to pester you until you give up some of your catch.
Smiths Creek is as secluded as it gets. Follow the river up and past Cottage Point to arrive in another world. The only sounds you will hear are the lapping water, the songs from the bush and the excited chatter of swapping stories from the day.
Perhaps a special occasion calls for a fine dining experience at Cottage Point Inn. This quaint restaurant has a mouth-watering menu, using ingredients from the area. Practically sitting on the water, you will enjoy the most exquisite view. Cottage Point Inn offers a small pontoon for diners arriving by private boat. If fine dining is not your cup of tea, then try the delicious Cottage Point Kiosk just around the corner and you will be in seventh heaven!
The Hawkesbury river covers all your fishing and boating needs.