The Floating Oyster is a strange rectangular boat with a low metal roof. Earlier this year it appeared in the Hawkesbury River Marina at Brooklyn. Moored between two poles in the channel, locals thought it had been salvaged from the recent floods.
Then, we (for those of you who don’t know, I am a local) noticed people working on board. When a sign “Opening Soon: The Floating Oyster Wine Bar” went up, a murmur of excitement rippled through the community. Brooklyn has its pub, a couple of cafés and fish and chip shops, but certainly no wine bar.
One day cruising past in my tinny, I pulled alongside to find out more. The man on board told me the bar would open “in a couple of weeks”.
Backstory to The Floating Oyster
Sylvia Cameron, the new owner explains the backstory to her new venture. She moved to Brooklyn ten years ago for a change of pace. She enjoys being close to nature describing how “when you cross the bridge it’s cleansing”.
I know how she feels. When I cross the river after a day in the city, my shoulders drop and I breathe more easily.
After commuting for a while, Cameron was made redundant and started looking for “something more soul nourishing” than corporate life.
Wanting to live and work near the river, one day she sat on a rock overlooking the Hawkesbury River considering her options. As boats cruised past, an idea popped into her head. “What about a business on the river?”
Finding the boat
Over the next few days, Cameron searched for a suitable boat and discovered a cruise business on the Manning River for sale. From there, things moved pretty quickly. She drove up to Taree, bought Manning River Cruises and arranged for the previous owner to bring the boat down the coast by sea to Brooklyn.
Storms and rough seas held things up a bit but finally the vessel arrived in Brooklyn. The “90s look” interior needed a complete revamp. Cameron tells me wanted to create a “luxury rustic feel” which meant removing the blue carpet and “redesigning the interior”.
Cameron explains that the two-and-a-half-hour cruise on the Floating Oyster Wine Bar “[doesn’t] cover a lot of ground but what we do cover is a lot of beauty”. The cost of the cruise includes a glass of something and a small tasting plate. Cameron admits that “oysters can be polarising” and so she offers a choice of oysters, prawns or cheese.
To complement the tasting plate, a there’s a full bar menu and various food platters to choose from including French Champagne and Caviar.
Keen to try out the Floating Oyster Wine Bar, I booked my place on board for the Sunday afternoon cruise.
As the rather plain vessel, described variously as a barge or pontoon, pulls up to the wharf I can’t help wondering what I’m in for. Then a staff member rolls out a red Persian carpet. A lovely touch.
A Luxury Interior
The entrance opens onto a luxurious lounge. Comfortable black couches and tub chairs accented with bright throw cushions group around glass topped half wine barrels. Tiny lights highlight a fishing net, vintage anchor or glass fishing floats nested inside the half barrels. Cameron carefully selected each and every item.
Leather “Paris” wind up perch stools stand around full-size wine barrels. Black hessian lines the ceiling while copper panelling and decorative lanterns complete the picture.
Surprisingly quiet, the Floating Oyster Bar cruises slowly past yachts bobbing at their moorings. Water gently laps the side of the vessel. Sipping my drink, I relax into my seat and stare out at the beauty of the river and native bush punctuated with sandstone rocks on the shore.
Something to Nibble
Fresh natural oysters, drizzled with lemon juice enhance the experience. We also share a cheese platter and mezze plate, both of which go down well.
Bill Gibson, the skipper tells me that the boat has a draught of only eight inches. This means he can steer the boat close to the shore which he does just a few moments later.
Aboriginal Artwork and a Sea Eagle
He points out an Aboriginal artwork on the sandstone rockface only metres away. The five fish appear to have been protected from the weather by a large overhanging rock. This new knowledge is an added bonus. I’ve lived on the river for over ten years and knew nothing about this artwork only minutes from my home.
When Bill pulls up near a sea eagles’ nest, I wish I had my binoculars with me. The handsome eagle perched on the end of a dead branch is just too far away to see clearly.
I’ll be back
Tea or coffee accompanied by sweet bites round off a relaxing afternoon on the river. Next time I hope to share the experience with a group of friends.
- The Floating Oyster Wine Bar is an 18+ venue. There’s no-smoking including e-cigarettes on board
- Uneven surfaces mean no high heels for guest’s safety and to prevent damage to footwear.
- Bookings are required: 0408 688 084
- Parking in Brooklyn is limited. Consider travelling by train and alighting at Hawkesbury River Station.
Before going on the cruise perhaps take a walk through Brooklyn. Here’s what I wrote about that suburb.