Riverboat Postman cruise on the Hawkesbury

The wonderful people we met and our new friends in Australia made our trip one of our best. However, the highlight of our seven days in Sydney has to be our Riverboat Postman cruise on the Hawkesbury River.

If you Google what to do near Sydney, you will discover a Riverboat Postman cruise on the Hawkesbury River. A three-hour river cruise about an hour north of Sydney sounded like a fun way to spend our day, so I made our reservations months before arriving in Australia.

It’s the best choice ever!

This mail delivery has been going on since 1910, well over 100 years. It isn’t just a riverboat cruise but an actual mail boat delivering mail to over 200 residents living in remote communities along the Hawkesbury River. Doesn’t that sound pretty fascinating?

Riverboat Postman cruise on the Hawkesbury River

I do not know how long ago the riverboat became a tourist attraction and destination, but it is so popular nowadays that there is more than one riverboat, perhaps three. Different cruises are also available.

Tea and lunch onboard

The cruise takes a bit over three hours. During that time, morning tea, including the most amazing Anzac biscuits and an authentic Australian ploughman’s lunch, is hours. The boat leaves promptly at 10 am on weekdays.

Riverboat Postman cruise on the Hawkesbury River

Lunch portions are enormous, and the food is fresh and good. All is more than competently served on this boat by friendly and nice people. It’s more like being in someone’s home than on a commercial boat.

We enjoyed an ice-cold beer with our lunch for a small extra cost from the boat’s full bar service, which is available during the cruise.

Riverboat Postman cruise on the Hawkesbury River

Tea and lunch are served indoors on the lower deck, where you can enjoy the beautiful scenery 180 degrees around. After lunch, we moved to the upper open deck, where we sat in chairs and enjoyed this beautiful and relaxing trip.

Where did our Australian riverboat cruise go?

The riverboat postman regularly delivers mail to seven remote settlements inaccessible by road: Dangar and Milson Islands, Kangaroo Point, Bar Point, Marlow Creek, Fisherman’s Point, and Milson’s Passage. The boat returns to Brooklyn in the early afternoon.

Oh the stories

We expected a relaxing and meandering floating trip along the river with occasional stops to drop off and pick up mail, which accurately describes our journey.

Riverboat Postman cruise on the Hawkesbury River

However, we did not expect our Captain’s fascinating stories about each of these communities and the various residents who have lived or still live along the Hawkesbury delivery route. The Captain grew up on this river and also shared his life stories.

We heard heartbreaking, sad stories about the hardships of living in these remote settlements and the lifestyle adjustments these folks have chosen to make. The Captain also provided several hysterical laugh-out-loud tales from the lives of these adventurous folks. What a quick-witted man!

Riverboat Postman cruise on the Hawkesbury River

We stop at a dock in each community, where someone would be waiting to collect or deliver mail. The first stop was at the area’s largest island, Danger Island.

Peat Island

The boat did not stop at Peat Island, but we learned this island is the former site of a rehab hospital turned mental hospital. The hospital opened in 1904 and closed in 2010, but in its earlier days, it did not enjoy a good reputation; it had a bit of a shady history.

HMAS Parramatta

We did not expect to see an actual shipwreck on our little day cruise, but there it was, the HMAS Parramatta partially submerged right at the shoreline. The HMAS Parramatta was an Australian torpedo boat destroyer that served during World War I.

Riverboat Postman cruise on the Hawkesbury River

In 1934, it was no longer used and was towed to a scrapyard. The towline broke, and the ship floated to shore and ran aground at its current resting place. It remains in place today because no one could move the boat.

Milson Island

Milson Island has an intriguing history. It was used as a quarantine station, a soldier’s hospital during World War I, a mental hospital, and a jail. Today, it is a recreation and sports center.

I would love to have a recording of the entire cruise commentary to listen to again. I do not recall specific tales about the remaining islands and stops we made; there were so many. The stories are simply outstanding, and I cannot possibly remember them all.

One of the great stories we heard was about three prisoners who escaped the prison and island only to stop a car on the road to ask for a ride. A police officer was driving the car! That did not work out well for those prisoners.

Sandstone rock formations

These majestically beautiful rocks, sometimes called “yellow gold,” just appeared on the shoreline before us – so beautiful.

Riverboat Postman cruise on the Hawkesbury River
Riverboat Postman cruise on the Hawkesbury River

Our cruise ended too soon, and before we knew it, we were back at the dock in Brooklyn. What a wonderful experience this had been! We wandered around Brooklyn for a while and visited a few shops.


We miraculously found a nearby geocache reasonably quickly- the best kind. If you’re unfamiliar with geocaching, please look at my article Geocaching, the world’s most giant treasure-hunting game.

The Riverboat Postman cruise is one tour I would gladly repeat. A different cruise takes place on Sunday. There is no mail delivery, and the cruise travels in another direction, but the food will still be fabulous, and I expect the stories told to be just as entertaining.

Riverboat Postman cruise on the Hawkesbury River

The Riverboat Postman cruises are very reasonable, and student and senior rates are available. We are seniors, but young families with children were on our cruise, and I believe this adventure appeals to all ages. The boat is very stable, and we enjoyed a smooth ride.

Free parking is available and accessible to locate nearby if you drive, as we did. A train depot is a brief walk from the dock, and a morning train from Sydney arrives in Brooklyn in time to catch this 10 am cruise boat. Very convenient.

Riverboat Postman cruise on the Hawkesbury River

Movies and books

I enjoy reading about the places we visit, usually before seeing them. In this case, I did not discover any books or movies about the Hawkesbury River, but I’ve found a few of these since we returned.

One movie, a 2004 romantic comedy, Oyster Farmer, tells the story of a young man who runs away to the Hawkesbury River and becomes an oyster farmer. I found it on YouTube as I was typing this article. I hope to watch it in the next few days.

Also, several books have been published describing life on the Hawkesbury River. Kate Grenville’s Secret River, a historical novel, is just one of the books I plan to read.

I purchased Don’t Cry for Me, Aunt Tina, written by Steve Wrixon Russell. As of this date, I have not read the book. I bought it based on its advertisement card at my table on the ship. This book is currently out of stock at Amazon.

Bottom line. If you find yourself in Sydney or its vicinity, take the train or a short car ride out to Brooklyn and spend some time on the Riverboat Postman cruise. Be sure to book ahead, though. It is a top-rated attraction.

Riverboat Postman cruise on the Hawkesbury

2 thoughts on “Riverboat Postman cruise on the Hawkesbury

  1. Please read my book, Don’t Cry For Me, Aunt Tina, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the experience. I’m getting some great reviews. 4.25 stars on Goodreads.
    I have a new book out now, Night Train To Aswan, which is also getting great feedback.


    1. I read the book and DID enjoy it. I’ll take a look at Night Train To Aswan also. Thank you!

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