5 Spots You Absolutely Have To Visit On The Hawkesbury

5 Spots You Absolutely Have To Visit On The Hawkesbury

When I first started boating I would float around Sydney Harbour, and Sydney Harbour only. I didn’t realise there were so many other places to explore and discover. After years on Sydney Harbour, I moored a boat at Brooklyn and this forced me to explore the Hawkesbury. I was incredibly surprised with the number of good spots the Hawkesbury had to offer. In this article I’m going to go through my top 5 spots that all accessible by boat.

Refuge Bay – Photo courtesy of @hikeandseek

1. Refuge Bay

Think complete and utter wilderness, with a national-park vibe, but filled with empty moorings and a handful boats! Cruise over to the southern side and you’ll be greeted with a waterfall that flows year-round, and a golden sandy beach. Hitch up on one of the public moorings, sit back, and enjoy the serenity! Want to explore? Drop your tender (or just swim in), to test your hiking skills. If you make it to the top, you’re sometimes greeted with an amazing rock pool looking out across the bay. Although, if you go at the wrong time you might find a mosquito swamp instead.

Refuge is protected from all angles of wind except for the north. If the northerly comes up you can drop the mooring and head to Americas Bay for protection, which is only about 500m away. This makes it ideal for overnighters and weekends away on the Hawkesbury.

Cottage Point – Photo courtesy of @eat.with.monica

2. Cottage Point

Do you like to go boating, and even though your boat may be decked out with a fully functional kitchen – you just can’t comprehend cooking and cleaning for yourself on the weekend? Well… Cottage Point has you covered!

The perfect spot to stop for fuel, food and fishing supplies. You can grab breakfast from $10-$30, depending on your taste buds. You will also have access to a more upmarket restaurant open for lunch and dinner. Make sure to check out the Cottage Point Kiosk.

The single white buoy situated out the front is for visitors, but it’s little use to you if you’re in anything larger than around 45ft. The Ku-Ring-Gai Motor Yacht Club boasts a recently renovated pontoon with fuel facilities.

Cottage Point is also a Sydney Seaplanes destination, flying from Rose Bay to Cottage Point daily, providing an exclusive lunch.

Jerusalem Bay – Photo courtesy of @jaygoodo

3. Jerusalem Bay

Situated a little further down the river, Jerusalem Bay is a spot that is also accessible by land – although it’s a short hike down. With an approximate 15m jump rock – you can jump at your own risk! It’s safe from most winds, however you may get a slight easterly come through, but it’s still deemed a great overnight spot on the Hawkesbury.

Smiths Creek – Photo courtesy of @karenturnerperks

4. Smiths Creek

Are you looking for a spot where you’re almost guaranteed to have no phone reception? Want to kick back, unwind, and not receive any work calls? Littered with public moorings, the Hawkesbury’s Smiths Creek is protected from all angles of wind and is very secluded. Perfect for a kayak or to go for a dip, the end of the creek has crystal clear water for metres on end.

A kayak on the Hawkesbury river
Yeomans Bay – Photo credit @kaytemarie1

5. Yeomans Bay

A few bays West of Refuge, you’ll find similar surroundings minus the waterfall and moorings. It has the same national-park vibe, and you’ll be protected from most angles of wind. One of our customers summed up the area perfectly in a few words: “I prefer cicadas as an alarm.”

Exploring the Hawkesbury River: Marinas and Mooring Options

Empire Marina at Bobbin Head

Empire Marina is the premier marina offering direct access to the Hawkesbury River, boasting over 200 berths and exceptional amenities, including great coffee. It’s an excellent base for boaters looking to explore the river’s hidden gems.

Marinas and Moorings in Brooklyn

Brooklyn is a pivotal location for accessing the Hawkesbury, featuring various marinas with berths and moorings. Facilities here may be more traditional but offer close proximity to key attractions. Hawkesbury River Marina is a standout for its superb dining options, providing a great spot for breakfast and lunch.

D’albora Marina at Akuna Bay

D’albora Marina, located at Akuna Bay, has undergone significant renovations, transforming it into a state-of-the-art facility. It boasts a large dry stack and modern amenities, making it a luxurious option for boaters seeking high-end services and a secure place to moor their vessels.

Cottage Point

Cottage Point, while known for its scenic beauty and dining options, also offers moorings for visiting boaters. It’s an excellent spot for those looking to enjoy a meal with a view or needing a temporary mooring while exploring the area.

Moor your boat at one of these local marinas to take advantage of the opportunity for numerous day trips and overnight stays, immersing yourself in the beauty of the Hawkesbury River. This strategic choice might even inspire you to permanently relocate your boat, especially considering the potential for saving on marina fees and enjoying the river’s splendid sites.

Following your exploration of the Hawkesbury, venture to Sydney Harbour to discover nine must-visit spots, each offering unique experiences and stunning scenery to enhance your boating adventure.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best places to visit by boat on The Hawkesbury?

Hands down the 5 best places to visit by boat on the Hawkesbury River are:

1. Refuge Bay
2. Cottage Point
3. Jerusalem Bay
4. Smiths Creek
5. Yeomans Bay

Are there any dining options available in the Hawkesbury River boating spots?

Cottage Point

Yes, there are dining options available at some of the Hawkesbury River boating spots, particularly at Cottage Point. Cottage Point offers a range of dining experiences from affordable breakfasts starting from $10-$30 to more upmarket lunch and dinner options at the local restaurant. Additionally, the Cottage Point Kiosk located at the Ku-Ring-Gai Motor Yacht Club, with its recently renovated pontoon and fuel facilities, provide convenient stops for boaters. For an exclusive dining experience, Sydney Seaplanes flies from Rose Bay to Cottage Point daily, offering a unique way to enjoy lunch at this picturesque location.

What are the top boating spots near Sydney Harbour?

While Sydney Harbour is a popular boating destination, exploring beyond can lead to some hidden gems. The Hawkesbury River offers incredible spots such as Refuge Bay, with its year-round waterfall and sandy beach; Cottage Point, perfect for dining and supplies; Jerusalem Bay, known for its jump rock; Smiths Creek, ideal for a secluded escape; and Yeomans Bay, surrounded by a serene national-park vibe. These spots are accessible by boat and offer a mix of adventure, dining, and tranquility, making them top choices for boaters looking to discover new areas around Sydney.

How can I explore the Hawkesbury River by boat?

Sea Ray trimmed up in Hawkesbury River

There are several convenient ways to explore the Hawkesbury River:

  • Tinny Hire from Bobbin Head: Ideal for a day trip, renting a small aluminum boat offers flexibility.
  • Houseboat Hire from Brooklyn: For a more extended exploration with the comfort of home, consider renting a houseboat.
  • Use Your Own Boat: Launching your boat at ramps like Apple Tree Bay lets you navigate the river on your own schedule.

These options provide access to hidden gems like Refuge Bay, Cottage Point, and Jerusalem Bay, catering to various interests from dining to adventure.

About the Author


Aaron O’Donoghue is a qualified Marine Surveyor & Engineer with nearly two decades of experience in the industry. He is an experienced boater from Sydney who grew up on the waters of Sydney Harbour. He left school at 15 to complete an apprenticeship as a Marine Mechanic. In 2015, he founded BoatBuy, where he has inspected thousands of boats and is passionate about helping others enjoy their time on the water. He has a wealth of knowledge and experience in the field. Do you have a boating related question? Feel free to reach out to me via email here.

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