Surrounded by national parks and the eastern Blue Mountains, with the mighty river running through it, the Hawkesbury is the doorway to fishing, trekking and spectacular winding roads with magnificent sandstone outlooks. A daytrip is far too brief.
Stay at least one night for a true respite.
If you are looking for a lovely hotel in serene surroundings, the Crowne Plaza Hawkesbury offers this and more. Located between Windsor and Richmond, it overlooks a lakeside setting and is surrounded by golf courses. The Crown Plaza also boasts the superb Villa Thalgo Day Spa.
Breakfast is served in the casual Gazebo Restaurant from 6am for the earlier risers. For casual evening dining with slow-cooked Hawkesbury produce and seafood, Harvest Restaurant is a stylishly modern venue. Dinner service begins at 6pm. The new chef offers the fresh produce and plans to incorporate more produce from the local surrounds.
The Harvest Bar setting is outstanding, with snooker tables and lots of comfortable seating.
The Crowne Plaza is an ideal venue for weddings, with a charming onsite chapel available, while the lake festooned with lily pads makes a beautiful, serene backdrop for an outdoor ceremony.
A great hotel for exploring the delights of the Hawkesbury.
Only minutes from Kurrajong Village, three charming cottages built in 2015 are sparkling clean and outfitted in a classic country theme.
The group cottage with two bedrooms sleeps six and two nearby cottages each accommodate four. They are spaciously situated so privacy is not compromised (the world is quiet and only the native birds are active). Each cottage has a full kitchen stocked with basics (milk, coffee, tea and honey) and visitors are surprised with a sample of fruit grown just steps from your door.
Weather permitting, a "sunset walkabout" the eco-friendly property on arrival is perfect to unwind from your normal hectic routine. Often families occupy the three cottages for an extended holiday – international guests have discovered Highfields Country Cottages and love the personal attention sprinkled generously by owner/host, Sandra. She has hospitality in her blood, so make your wishes known and she will try her best to satisfy.
ATG, as it is fondly referred to by locals, is a small updated and family-friendly motel. It is affordable for families and, to keep the kids entertained, the pool at the back is perfect. Each of the 25 rooms are equipped with a microwave, toaster, small refrigerator and were recently refurbished.
The motel is located just minutes from Windsor and access to the Hawkesbury River. For convenience, there is a restaurant within a few steps, so there's no need to get in your car when hunger strikes.
Bookings.com says "This property is rated for the best value in the area" and customers give it an "Excellent: comfortable beds, cleanliness and responsive staff".
In today's trend towards 'enormous accommodation', Alexander the Great Motel is unusual – it is family owned and managed, and John and Katerina are genuinely interested in their customers and the service ATG provides.
Attached to the historic Tizzana Winery cellar door a 15-minute drive from Windsor, hosts Carolyn and Peter have added a charming and fashionable Bed & Breakfast upstairs. Bedrooms are beautifully decorated with handsome wood pieces while the lounge is furnished with large Chesterfield-style leather chaises and area rugs. The crackling fireplace is perfect for a chilly autumn or winter's night.
Tizzana B&B offers a touch of sophistication and style in an unusual setting – the sandstone winery circa 1827 is merely steps away. The blend of boutique wines, delicious food and luxurious accommodation is a unique finding in the Hawkesbury. The idyllic Tuscan-like views that overlook the vineyards and a nearby lily farm are simply gorgeous and deserving of "Nature's 5-star".
Note: Advance bookings are required for dinner upon your arrival. Carolyn needs time to arrange and prepare a luscious repast.
Wisemans Inn Hotel offers pub-style accommodation along with motel accommodation in the heart of the little village of Wisemans Ferry. The accommodation renovation in 2016 exposed sandstone walls leading to the guest rooms and revealed the innovation of early settler Solomon Wiseman and the workmen he hired.
The five guest rooms above the hotel are individually styled in historic colours and equipped with period furniture. While there is a shared bathroom, each room is equipped with a TV, air conditioning, bar fridge, and tea and coffee-making facilities.
Note: Occasionally, partygoers at the bar like to sing, so guests staying in accommodation directly above are advised to simply enjoy the merriment and good cheer.
"Hear ye! Hear ye!" Step into the distant world of a medieval village where knights do battle, damsels feign fear and children transport to Middle Earth. Winterfest Sydney Medieval Fair promises to be an action-packed weekend of history, fun and fantasy.
Expect the unexpected at this family-friendly event. Hawkesbury Showground will be transformed into a Game of Thrones -style celebration of "the sport of kings", when royal knights charge towards each other full tilt bedecked in traditional jousting armour.
Graceful yet powerful, birds of prey will fly freely as they show off the ancient sport of falconry.
Prepare yourself for a bloody outcome on Reenactor's Row, where visitors can outfit themselves in helmets, armour and shields.
Roving musicians, jugglers and dancers of the Court will roam the grounds among the face-painters, food vendors, Artisan Alley and Merchant's Row. Traditions of the dark ages, archery, knight training (for kids) and a Costume & Cosplay parade will create excitement for all.
Winterfest Sydney Medieval Fair
will be held on 4–5 July, 2020.
*Game of Thrones is trademarked
We have long been captivated by the dramatic view out to Mount Wilson and the unique concept of plantings from the world's cooler regions. Gifts from many continents and countries, plants are grouped by their geographical origin. We suggest taking the shuttle tour for an overview, followed by a guided walk and returning to the garden often to appreciate the unusual blooms in each season.
Along with a beautiful array of dahlias, a favourite among visitors is the daffodil garden in spring with more than 75 daffodil varieties. An annual festival is a highlight for the entire family with the Daffodil Discovery Walk and a bulb growing workshop.
The Wild About Waratahs festival in September is also a must.
Check out the link on our www.villagesofhawkesbury.com/ website to activities in the garden throughout the year, from Nerd Alert to Movie Night. In July 2019, an interactive performance of infamous bushranger Ned Kelly & The Gang will be an exciting, perhaps a little over the top vaudeville-style opportunity to learn some Australian history.
Second to the gorgeous blooms is the chronicle of early English discovery across the Blue Mountains. The Botanists Way Discovery Centre (downstairs theatre) fascinates us with stories of the early botanists and places we could never reach. Using high quality photography and graphics along with the unusual displays, this is Australian education you mustn't miss.
Rouse Hill House symbolises an era which, bit by bit, is vanishing. Poised on a high hill overlooking Windsor Road, the house and sprawling farmlands are reminders of the rural environment that defined the agrarian lifestyle of wealthy colonial settlers.
Richard Rouse built his large home and sprawling farm in 1813, and today kids can learn about that farm life when they feed the onsite chickens, collect eggs, churn butter, grind corn and see farm animals up close. These are activities the Rouse family would have considered work! A bath house (near the main house) would have been unimagined by most settlers of the period, as would a "breakfast' porch" (most unusual even in a house of many rooms).
A splendid aged Moreton Bay fig tree shades the front entrance. When planting this beauty in the 1800s, it is presumed that Hannah Rouse would not have considered the problems of huge roots that would surface 200 years later. The house and all its out buildings are a study in archaeology and preservation – perfect for dazzling young minds.
The one-room school is where the Rouse and Terry children learned their numbers, practiced reading and girls learned sewing. Today, kids are amazed at the "low tech" tools and how children of the 1800s survived without mobile devices.
Rouse Hill House & Farm holds exciting activities during open days and school holidays. A current "explore and build" Lego exhibition is a hit with children. For adults, we attended the remarkable Autumn Harvest Festival for the fourth year, where fresh produce, gorgeous flowers, honey, bottled oils and vinegars made it a fair to remember. We suggest an early start as provedores sell out quickly.
Free parking is available outside the visitor centre on regular open days, with access via Guntawong Road on special events days.
Situated alongside the Hawkesbury River, Australiana Pioneer Village is fondly referred to as "The Village" by locals.
For kids who often protest at learning facts, The Village re-enactment of early life and culture in the Hawkesbury is a living history lesson.
Drawn to objects in proportion to themselves, youngsters will be amazed at the size of official buildings: the Post Office, police station, the school and bank. All seem miniature and dollhouse size, so unlike the massive edifices of modern day. Regardless of a visitor's age or size, a village with unpaved footpaths or streets is a rare scene today. Horsedrawn carts in The Village manoeuvre their cargo – people and goods – over dusty roads.
The Village character is defined by its buildings and sheds, most of which were preserved from the 1800s and moved to the site. Other buildings such as the shearing shed, where demonstrations are held every Sunday, have been constructed in the style of the period.
In May 2019, the steam train came to life to the delight of 500 riders, and it is now a permanent feature.
A day among the noise and bustle at The Village with actors in period dress and always in character, is a fantastic family outing of the old fashioned kind.
Note: The Village is closed during January school holidays
More than 200,000 visitors in 2018 came through the doors of this petite, purpose-built museum. With the help of government and community organisations, it was built in 2008 and has since hosted myriad exhibitions, children's activities and historical walks organised by administrators and volunteers.
Connected by a path to the old Howe House, the museum extends its displays of hundreds of artefacts related to early colonial life in Australia's third settlement, the major wars and our unique Hawkesbury Flabbit.
When we want a diary, a journal or an historical narrative of early Hawkesbury, we head to the Regional Museum.
If we want to be the favourite grandparent in our family, we look to the museum's stock of children's gifts – toys, board games or paper dolls. We can find the unusual here.