I liked Dangar Island from the moment I stepped out of the ferry.
A few things helped: The welcoming jacarandas and the palm trees lining the shore...
The idyllic setting of the cafe facing the Hawkesbury River and the bridge...
The wheelbarrows and bicycles parked at the wharf instead of cars...
The slower pace.
I pinched myself. Is this really part of Sydney? Is this Island real?
This was just the beginning. By the time I finished visiting Dangar Island, I didn’t like the place anymore. I loved it.
This suburb is the only one in Sydney that has no cars. It must also be the suburb that has the friendliest locals. And the only place that makes you feel like settling there forever.
Welcome to my future hometown…
Dangar Island has no big tourist accommodation or resort. No Coles or Woolworth. No tourist attractions. So why do visitors go there?
As I mentioned, there are no cars on the island. It’s also the only populated island on the Hawkesbury River. By its very nature the village is an isolated community. It is peaceful, wonderful and different…
The 270 or so residents must carry their things in wheelbarrows instead of putting them in the boot of their cars – the wheelbarrows are parked beside the ferry wharf ready to be used.
They ride their bikes to catch the ferry. School children must somehow get to the ferry without a car ride. They catch it to go to school in Brooklyn.
When people wait on the water’s edge for a lift, they wait for a boat.
Imagine… your kids trick-or-treating without having to watch the roads. Locals coming together at the rustic Bowling Club in the weekends and during special occasions.
So the best thing to do in Dangar Island is to walk around the village and experience it like a local.
Drink a coffee at the beachy cafe. Walk the 3.3 km loop around the local streets. Look at the homes – they have an oasis feel to them. Have a beer at the Bowling Club. Swim at the beach if it’s hot. Talk to the locals.
Stay overnight in a holiday accommodation if you can.
Walking around the village is surreal. You don’t see cars in the driveways or on the roads, and you don’t hear them. Most people are so used to sensing cars they don’t even notice them anymore. So here what you notice is the absence of it. Birds seem to sing louder.
Head to the delightful cafe beside the ferry wharf. The food and coffee are great. Try the frittata and fresh salad. Sit at a peaceful table overlooking the Hawkesbury River and the bridge. It’s one of those places that makes you want to stay for hours...
The cafe is also a general store.
Then start walking. Two walking loops stretch around the suburb on the lower and higher grounds.
On the lower grounds you’ll walk past the Bowling Club and Bradleys Beach. On the higher grounds you’ll get views of the Hawkesbury River and walk past a Blackbutt – Rough barked Apple Forest.
You can’t get lost. All roads lead back to the ferry wharf.
Start the walk from the cafe. Head up the road and turn left toward the park.
It’s nice to look at the sanctuary-like homes. They are buried in almost tropical vegetation.
Then you get to Kiparra Park: the playground, community hall and timber Bowling Club. The Bowling Club opens Thu and Fri dinners, Sat lunch & dinner and Sun lunch. The Bowling Club and community hall are important places for the community as they come together there.
Continue walking on Grantham Cres past heritage-listed Blackbutt trees.
Take the path leading down to Bradleys Beach. Have a swim.
Continue walking on Neotsfield Ave. Turn left on Riverview Ave past the Fire Brigade.
Take Riverview Ave which leads up to higher grounds. Turn left or right at the intersection. Whichever way doesn’t matter as the loop links back to the start.
Think about the locals… how far they have to travel to buy groceries … I don’t know if I could get used to living on an island.
You don’t have to walk in this specific direction. Walk any direction you like.
Allow at least 2hrs 30 min to eat at the cafe and walk around the village. More if you want to drink a beer at the Bowling Club and swim at the beach.
When you take the ferry back, notice how busier Brooklyn has become while you were gone. It is now riddled with cars… they are everywhere! And the noise! What was once a peaceful village turned hectic in a matter of a few hours.
Maybe I started getting used to the slow pace and peace of Dangar Island after all.
I can’t wait to revisit.
One-way tickets cost $7 adults, 3.50$ children and $3.50 concession.
The trip takes 15 to 30 minutes depending if the ferry stops at Little Wobby.
You can get to the Hawkesbury Station in Brooklyn on the Sydney - Newcastle railway line. The train trip takes 1 hour from Central in Sydney or 25 minutes from Gosford on the Central Coast.
I find that the best tool to coordinate the trip involving a train trip and ferry ride is this trip planner. Remember to also plan your return. The last ferry leaving Dangar Island is in the early evening.
You can also take the Hawkesbury Water Taxi on 0422 300 100.
Experience living at this beautiful place like a local and stay a night or two in a holiday accommodation.