I liked Dangar Island the moment I stepped out of the ferry.
A few things helped:
The idyllic setting of the cafe facing the Hawkesbury River. The welcoming jacarandas and palm trees lining the shore. The wheelbarrows and bicycles parked at the wharf instead of cars.
But mainly the relaxing pace.
This suburb is the only one in Sydney with no cars and is undoubtedly the one with the friendliest locals.
Enjoy a day trip from Sydney or the Central Coast and visit this gem on the Hawkesbury River.
There are no big tourist attractions or hotels on the island.
Private cars are not allowed... Children can play safely on the roads, the air is fresh and the surroundings are serene.
Dangar Island is the only residential island on the Hawkesbury River. The village is an isolated community by its very nature.
Residents carry their possessions in wheelbarrows instead of vehicles. The wheelbarrows lie beside the ferry wharf, ready for use.
School children ride their bikes to the wharf to catch the ferry to go to school.
The Riverboat Postman delivers the mail here. (And to the other isolated communities on the Hawkesbury River as well).
Dangar island has 3 km of shoreline and covers 30 hectares.
Dangar Island is on the Hawkesbury River, 1 hour north of Sydney, in New South Wales, Australia.
313 people live on Dangar Island (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2021).
There are 207 houses and about a third of the dwellings remain vacant throughout the year. Plenty of holiday rentals are available, so the population swells during the holidays.
Dangar Island is rich in natural, colonial and indigenous history.
Before white settlement, Guringai Aborigines used the island as a gathering place for thousands of years.
Soon after the First Fleet arrived in 1788, Governor Arthur Phillip sailed up the Hawkesbury River looking for arable land.
After camping on the island, Governor Arthur Phillip named it Mullet Island because of the many mullets caught there.
In 1794, Mullet Island was classified as crown land and was only available for lease. Andrew Thompson leased the island and set up salt boilers.
Later in 1864, a wealthy pastoralist and prominent politician, Henry Carey Dangar, bought the island from the Crown. The island was named Dangar Island soon after.
In 1886, the Union Bridge Company leased the island for three years while building the railway bridge across the Hawkesbury River.
American workers stayed on the island while the bridge was constructed and the spans for the bridge were built there.
You can get a great view of the (now replaced) bridge from the cafe.
In 1917, Henry Carey Dangar died and his son inherited the island, which he then sold. The subdivision started in 1921 and the land was sold for residential use.
During World War II, the army personnel used the island as a base to protect the railway bridge from potential attack.
After the war, they gradually built residential houses over the following years.
And today, Dangar Island remains a popular holiday destination for Sydneysiders.
The best thing to do here is to walk around the island and experience it like a local.
Drink a coffee at Dangar Island Depot. Then walk the 4-km loop around the local streets. Enjoy the beautiful houses surrounded by lush vegetation.
There are toilets near the Bowlo and a general store beside the jetty.
Stay overnight in a holiday rental if you can.
Come for a tour…
After alighting from the ferry, head to Dangar Island Depot. It's a delightful cafe beside the ferry wharf.
The cafe serves all-day breakfast and lunch. Enjoy a delicious fair trade coffee and a fresh burger with free-range eggs. Or an avocado, feta and soft-boiled egg on sourdough bread garnished with dukkah.
They make their own sauces.
It opens daily from 8am to 4pm.
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.
After lazing at the café, have a stroll around the island.
The eastern streets take you to the island's lowest grounds. You'll walk past the playground, community hall, Dangar Island Bowling Club and Bradleys Beach.
Riverview Avenue loops around Kiparra Park, a bushland reserve on the highest grounds. You'll get great views of the Hawkesbury River from there.
The reserve consists of a regionally rare Blackbutt-Rough-barked Apple Forest. It's also home to aboriginal artifacts, including rock engravings and caves with middens. Kiparra Park Reserve Walking Track will lead you to the summit.
The roads wind around the island for about 4 km. You can't get lost because all the roads lead back to the ferry wharf.
You can walk your dog on the lead. (Note: If you're coming over by ferry, your dog must wear a muzzle onboard.)
Allow 2-3 hours.
Bradleys Beach is a narrow stretch of sand on the island's southern side.
Cottages and lush vegetation fringe the beach, and many small boats are anchored at sea.
It’s the place where children play and locals go to cool off. There's no lifeguard patrol, but the beach is shallow and fairly safe.
You can access the beach via Grantham Cres.
Have a picnic and dip in the ocean.
Enjoy Australia Day and New Year's Eve celebrations at the beach if you're there during the summer holidays.
Dangar Island Bowling Club is located on Grantham Cres.
The bowling club and community hall are important places for the locals who come together there.
The quaint bowling club opens Thu - Sat for dinner and Sun for lunch.
Have a relaxing dinner with fish and chips, salt and pepper squids, or a gourmet burger. They also often hold pizza nights.
There’s barefoot bowls available. And events and performances like live music and the popular open mic nights frequently happen there.
Be mindful about the last ferry departure to Brooklyn. If you’re only spending the day here, you may only have time for lunch. (Unless you catch a water taxi.)
You must catch a ferry from the Brooklyn Marina on Dangar Road in Brooklyn to get to the island.
Or you can also catch a water taxi.
READ MORE: Things to do in Brooklyn
The Brooklyn Ferry Service operates a restored historic vessel. The vessel travels between Brooklyn and Dangar Island several times a day.
The trip takes 15 to 30 minutes, depending on whether the ferry stops at Little Wobby on the way.
The first ferry departs from Brooklyn at around 7am on weekdays and 7:30am on weekends and public holidays.
Remember to plan your return trip. The last ferry leaving the island is late afternoon, at around 7:30pm on weekdays and 6:30pm on weekends and public holidays.
It costs $9.30 for adults and $4.70 for children (one-way).
You can take your dog on the ferry if it's on the lead and wears a muzzle.
The preferred payment method is Tap and Go. They don't accept Opal cards.
You can also call or book a water taxi.
The water taxi can be quite useful if you miss the ferry or carry a lot of luggage.
The taxi to Dangar Island costs about $35 for the first 2 people, then $10 per extra person.
Call 0422 300 100 or book here.
Travelling by train is the easiest way to make the journey. The Brooklyn Marina is a 5-minute walk from the train station. The station is called Hawkesbury River Station.
The ferries usually coincide with the train timetable.
The train trip takes 1 hour from Sydney Central Station. The train departs from platform 12 at Sydney Central Station.
If you're coming from the Central Coast, the train trip takes 25 minutes from Gosford Station.
You can also drive to Brooklyn via the M1 Freeway. Take the Mooney Mooney / Brooklyn (B83) exit.
There's a carpark beside the marina and plenty of free off-road parking. But parking spots can fill up fast at the weekends and school holidays. So travel by train if you can. Or allow enough time to find parking.
Staying on Dangar Island for a few nights is very relaxing. It's actually the best way to experience the island like a local.
The island is so close to Sydney, yet it's isolated and completely surrounded by nature.
You can search for a holiday rental on a site such as
Airbnb. These places are fabulous:
You can buy fresh produce and pantry staples at the general store during your stay.
When you arrive, a buggy service can pick you up from the ferry wharf and take you to your rental if you have a lot of luggage. It's a paid service. The service runs 7 days a week. Call 0438 925 363.
I hope you enjoy your visit to Dangar Island!