There’s a chilly wind blowing across the Hawkesbury River, I’m huddling in a small wooden shed with what seems like the entire population of a retirement village, we’re all waiting for the little wooden ferry to arrive and carry us from Brooklyn across to Dangar Island.
I’m more than a little surprised at the numbers of people waiting, in my mind, today was going to be a quiet little ferry trip, followed by a wander around one of the many islands that dot the rivers and inlets around Sydney.
The boat duly arrives and we shuffle aboard, this is getting even weirder, there seems to be morning tea set up on the ferry, I check with one of the staff, and yes, this is the boat to Dangar Island, I though the trip over was only ten minutes, strange indeed.
Some time passes, everybody seems to know each other, there’s lots of loud chatter and the smell of lavender and stale cardigans in the air, I’m sure this isn’t right so I check with another staff member, and yes, this is the boat that goes to Danger, it’s also the 4 hour lunch cruise for an elderly community group.
I beat a hasty retreat, not exactly running, but I’m off that boat pretty quick smart, crisis averted, that would have been a very long four hours. No wonder I was getting some odd looks.
Dangar Island is about an hour’s train trip north of Sydney, in the Hawkesbury River, the train stopping just about next to the little ferry wharf, it’s one of the few populated islands in the Hawkesbury River and there’s about 250 people living here, although that shoots up significantly during the holidays.
The tiny old wooden ferry drops us off at the Dangar wharf and we’re greeted by one of the local dogs, a wonderful old Golden Retriever, too old to do anything but slap his tail against the ground as we scoot around him, the locals stopping for a scratch behind his ears and a quick hello, he’s obviously very popular.
One of the charms, or hassles, depending on your point of view, of life on Dangar is there are no cars and no shops, if you’re going to live here you need your own wheelbarrow, and that’s just what the few locals who have come across on the ferry with me have waiting for them, they pile their weekly shopping into their waiting wheelbarrow and push off up the little hill towards home.
At the wharf is a little community owned café with spots for mail and messages to and from the residents, it’s a place the locals can get together, catch up on some gossip and while away the day, it’s also a nice spot to stop for morning tea and to ease yourself into island time.
It’s a funny little place, and has the feel of an artist’s community about it, which is not surprising, the island has a bit of a history for fostering the arts, unfortunately that’s changed over the past few years, prices for houses have shot up, pricing most out of the market. I’m not sure I’d want to live there permanently, some of the houses are a bit too close together for my liking and the hassle to get supplies in and out would wear pretty thin, pretty quickly I’d think.
There’s not a lot to do on the island for the day tripper, unless you plan your trip to coincide with one of the community fair days, or there’s jazz at the bowling club on some Sunday’s. You could also make your way over to the quiet little sandy beach for a swim in warm weather; it’s a pleasant stroll from the dock along the little lanes that make up the island.
My timing is out though today, it’s a bit too chilly for a swim and the club appears deserted, on the beach things are getting pretty exciting though, or above the beach to be correct, the birds are not happy, seriously not happy.
An enormous eagle has drifted over the island and the smaller native birds are having none of it, the corellas, cockatoos, galahs and lorikeets have joined forces to try and scare him off, they’ve got numbers on their side, but not much else, the eagle just floats along ignoring all the fuss.
There’s also a bush track that circles the island, there’s plenty of birdlife and some great views, put aside around two hours for that before heading back towards the wharf maybe a meal at the little café and settle back to wait for the ferry to take you home.