I’ve yet to experience the Berowra Waters Ferry even though it’s not far from my home. It’s a car ferry (with a pedestrian section) which crosses Berowra Creek from Berowra Heights to Berowra Waters.
Today we’re going on the ferry. We’ll also visit what I’ve been told is the best bakery for miles, drive on to St Albans and take a circuitous route home.
Getting to the Berowra Waters Ferry
We drive carefully down Berowra Waters Road. It’s a narrow winding road which descends to the creek. There’s a steep gully on my left. As a passenger, I can look around. Across the gully, houses perch on the opposite ridge. Thick bush covers the steep incline making those homes vulnerable in a bushfire.
One, then another motorcyclist overtakes us at speed, ignoring the 40km speed limit.
Six sporty polished Porsches speed towards us. They manouevre around sharp bends oblivious to the narrow road and oncoming traffic. We hug the low wall on our left to avoid a collision.
“Caution Ferry” warns our GPS. We’ve arrived and drive slowly up the ramp. The motorcyclists pull up next to me.
A chain rattles, the ramp behind us raises and the ferry begins its smooth quiet ride being pulled along a cable across the narrow creek. The three-minute trip is over before I know it.
Berowra Waters and Surrounds
Berowra Waters is quiet. I expect it’s hectic on the weekend. We take a walk. There are boats for hire, a function centre, and a café. Guests for the upmarket Berowra Waters Inn join a private ferry here.
A stingray and glides slowly into the shadows near the jetty.
In the car again, we find ourselves in horse country. We pass an Arabian Stud Farm. Properties here have large grounds and horses graze in green paddocks demarcated by post and rail fencing.
A stall sells choko jam. Another, fig jam hand honey and there’s free horse poo on offer.
Drilling noise from building work next door to Glenorie Bakery interferes with what usually would be a relaxed atmosphere in the shaded outside courtyard. Inside, artefacts decorate the walls and tables. After a reviving coffee (breakfast wasn’t long ago and we aren’t tempted by the baked goods) we drive on.
Old Northern Road
The Old Northern Road follows a ridge line. On this clear sunny day, I see all the way to the Blue Mountains. An unexpected treat.
The “Old Chook Farm” stall sells honey, eggs and vegetables. House numbers at the gates of large expensive looking homes are in the thousands. No number one or twenty-six here.
We pass trees burnt in recent fires. At regular intervals signs advertise “Food and Coffee”. I look forward to a Devonshire Tea, but that’s not to be. The old Youthamurra Kiosk stands forlorn and abandoned. I discover later that it closed in 2003.
Signs advise drivers to “Watch out” for koalas. Approaching cars flash their headlights. Yes, we spot the highway patrol car hiding around a corner.
Hawkins Lookout and picnic area provides a broad view of the Hawkesbury River towards the township of Wisemans Ferry. I watch as the car ferry down below begins its short journey across the river. There are five Hawkesbury River car ferries and we’re taking two today.
Webbs Creek Ferry
Somehow, we end up at the Webbs Creek Ferry. The Wisemans Ferry is only a few hundred metres downstream. I read later that they are situated on either side of the Macdonald River Junction. A scenic roundtrip to St Albans involves crossing with one ferry and returning via the other.
The river is calm. A few houseboats float alongside the riverbank. Then I realise that we’re already moving. The ferry is strangely silent.
St Albans and the Settlers Arms
It’s a peaceful drive from the river to St Albans. The road meanders through bush alongside a stream. We pass a few ramshackle homes then cross the Macdonald River via an old wooden one lane bridge to St Albans.
Stretching my legs, I walk down to the river, remembering the recent floods. My feet brush piles of red and yellow autumn leaves littering the ground. It’s quiet. There’s no one else around.
When the woman at the Settlers Arms takes our order, I ask about the floods. Still visibly affected, she describes two helicopter evacuations. It was a traumatic time.
Sitting at a wooden bench in the warm sun, a peahen, her mate and a chick strut around scrounging for food. When our delicious (if a little sweet) apple crumble arrives, I ask the waitress about the road we plan to take. I don’t want to retrace our steps to Wiseman’s Ferry.
What Car are You Driving?
She asks what car we are driving. Hearing it’s a 4×4 she says we’ll be fine. Her question should have rung alarm bells.
Almost immediately we realise why the type of car mattered. The 40km drive to Bucketty takes close to an hour. The car lurches and pitches as it crawls over potholes and big corrugations. Only locals seem to use this road. Accustomed to the conditions, the few who pass drive faster than we do.
Because of the slow bumpy ride, I have more time to enjoy the natural surroundings of Yengo National Park. Tall grey eucalypts, the dry creek bed, a ramshackle house and little brown birds flitting in the bush. There’s no phone signal, but unless we break down, don’t need one.
Back in Familiar Territory
After what seems like an age, the road climbs up, winding through a series of S-bends towards George Downes Drive. This road is familiar. I’ve driven it a few times recently on day trips to Laguna and Wollombi.
I’ve Had Fun
We’ve had a fun day exploring the natural environment in our backyard. I’ve enjoyed gliding across the water on car ferries, taking in the extensive views across to the Blue Mountains, revisiting St Albans and the Settlers Arms and driving a challenging but worthwhile route out of St Albans.
- The Berowra Waters Ferry is one of five that cross the Hawkesbury River
- Find out more about the Hawkesbury River Car Ferries (including when they are closed for a couple of hours each month for maintenance) here and here
- Settlers Arms Inn at St Albans has regular live music on weekends. Info here
- Read more about the Glenorie Bakery here