“River-time”, the ultimate reset right here on the fringe of the city; where time slows, the phone reception fades and birdsong fills the air while you cruise the river at your leisure, being kindly reminded of the beauty (and necessity) of taking a weekend to reset, refuel and revive your senses by the great Hawksbury River.
Less than an hour from the hustle and bustle of Sydney CBD is the tranquil riverside village of Berowra Waters, an absolute gem tucked in within Berowra Creek and surrounded by Muogamarra Nature Reserve. The moment we drove onto the cable ferry to be transported over the river we felt we were in another world entirely, and the weekend just continued to get better.
We parked the car and made our way to the Marina, where we were met with a large smile and directions to the jetty where our boat transfer would take us to our waterfront property for the weekend. We swayed a little on the jetty as our land legs got used to the gentle movement underfoot, we immediately found ourselves admiring the beautiful boats moored in the private marina and enjoyed the serenity of being tucked at the bottom of the lush overhead hills with calm water in every direction catching the changing colours of the sunset.
Sue and her pooch Bella, soon arrived in her boat to collect us and took us down the river to our accommodation – The Lower Deck. We were greeted on the Deck’s private jetty by owner Rob who courteously led us up to our private one bedroom waterfront villa, just in time for us to catch the final rays of sunshine sinking behind the surrounding mountains while we enjoyed the complimentary bottle of wine by the fireplace.
The Lower Deck is a luxuriously furnished waterfront retreat, designed for privacy with the most majestic gum tree that wraps the front of the property and striking limestone cliffs behind. The apartment sleeps two and is self-contained, our host ensured we had everything we needed for breakfast, with the fridge stocked with fresh milk, eggs, sourdough, bacon, fruit and yogurt – as well as a block of chocolate and a bottle of red wine! It would have been easy to not leave the comfort of this beautiful property for the entire weekend, enjoying unlimited rounds of scrabble or cards, or choosing from the huge selection of movies to watch by the fire place, but the river was calling!
We’ve never driven a boat before, but Rob gave us the run down on how to use to property’s runabout and after a very cautious start, we were enjoying the river at our own leisure, heading into the marina to pick up some take away coffees and cruising along the majestic waterways admiring the vast beauty of Berowra Waters in every direction. We had so many questions about the place after our outing, and were lucky enough to be met by Chantel who took us on a private river cruise later that morning.
A truly personal river tour, Chantel took us down the river to enjoy even more of the breathtaking scenery, we learned about the rich history of the Dharug tribe and were lucky enough to visit rock carvings and middens as well as getting the chance to learn about the unique characters who now call the river home.
Back at the Deck, we had the option of fishing, using the kayaks, taking the picnic basket to enjoy on the water or relaxing on the sun lounges and indulging in one of the many books to choose from. We took the runabout for another adventure, stopping to pick up fresh fish and chips from Berowra Waters Fish Café and enjoyed watching the vintage cars come across on the ferry for their weekend drives up the mountain on the far side of the river through more breathtaking scenery.
Completely relaxed, the afternoon meandered by and we had almost forgotten about out dinner reservations at the exclusive Berowra Waters Inn (how could we almost forget that?!)
From the moment we arrived (boat or seaplane arrival access only) we were wined and dined with the most scrumptious food, beautiful views and delectable choice of beverages. This was not a dinner to be rushed, reminding us again to slow down and enjoy the serenity that is River Time.
We enjoyed the beautifully curated degustation menu that included kangaroo pastrami on rye, fresh oysters with pepper berry vinaigrette and my personal favourite crab custard and miso. The matching wine menu was exceptional but more surprising was the sober beverage matches all made in-house (think naturally fermented cucumber and lemon balm or cherry, wattleseed and davidson plum to perfectly pair with their chosen courses) Unfortunately the restaurant manager was stuck in Melbourne which turned out to be very fortunate for us as the Inn’s owner and exec chef Brian Geraghty was on the floor instead, amusing us by answering our multitude of food and menu questions about his refreshingly unique menu. It was a food experience to be remembered.
As the morning mist lifted off the water to reveal another stunning winters day on the river, it was difficult to pack up our belongings and farewell this tranquil retreat. Two nights and two days of River Time was all it took to feel completely refreshed and revitalised, and less than two hours from our home north of Newcastle it’s nice to know we can come back as often as we need to without having to leave the country, or even the state – now that’s a spot worth sharing.
Until next time, we’ll try and remember the bliss of going just a little bit slower…
Words: Rheannon Murray – Winner of COAST magazine competition 2021
Accommodation: The Lower Deck, Berowra Waters / Berowra Waters Holidays
Activities: Hawkesbury River Cruises, Chantel Herlihy
Lunch: Berowra Waters Fish Café
Dinner: Berowra Waters Inn