Discover Dangar Island on the Hawkesbury River

Last updated: May 12, 2024

Dangar Island is a charming, traffic-free, natural hideaway on the Hawkesbury River, rich in European and Indigenous history.

Catch a ferry from the Brooklyn marina and discover the natural beauty of this very unique and remote island.

In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about Dangar Island and give you a summary of all the things you can do there.

Dangar Island in a nutshell
Facilities: Picnic areas, toilets, cafe and shop, bowling club.
Getting there: Dangar Island ferry from Brooklyn, water taxi, or private boat.
Things to do: Picnic / lunch / dinner, Bradleys Beach, hiking.
Walking trail distance: Around 3 km long.
Dogs: Must be on a lead.

How to Get There

As Dangar is an island, the only way to get there is by boat. A ferry service runs regularly between Brooklyn, Wobby and Dangar, seven days per week.

If you miss the ferry, you can also use a water taxi to take you to Dangar Island. The other option is to use a private boat.

Hawkesbury River views in Brooklyn
Hawkesbury River views in Brooklyn

In Brooklyn, before or after visiting Dangar Island, make sure you have a wander around. The Hawkesbury River views from the Brooklyn foreshore are stunning.

Train to Brooklyn

The ferry wharf in Brooklyn is located right next to the train station, so it makes sense to travel by train and avoid the busy highways and motorways.

The Central Coast & Newcastle Line takes you from Central Station to Hawkesbury River Station in just one hour. Check the train timetable on Transport Info NSW.

What’s great is that the ferry timetable is nicely aligned with arriving and departing trains, so you would never have to wait very long.

Drive to Brooklyn

Driving to Brooklyn is easy, too. Follow the Pacific Motorway to Mooney Mooney Point on the Hawkesbury River, jump on the Old Pacific Highway and turn into Brooklyn Rd to Brooklyn.

Ample street parking is available close to the ferry wharf.

Dangar Island Ferry

The ferry trip to Dangar Island is fun and brings you straight into the island mood. Purchase a one-way ticket on the boat, sit back, relax and enjoy the views across the Hawkesbury River.

Hawkesbury River Marina in Brooklyn
Hawkesbury River Marina in Brooklyn

The ferry first goes to Little Wobby, after which it’s a short stretch to the Dangar Island ferry wharf on the island’s north side.

The trip from Brooklyn to Dangar Island takes around 30 minutes. Check out the ferry timetable on the Brooklyn Ferry Service website.

Map

Once you arrive on the island, the best thing you can do is just walk around and see what it offers.

To get to the top of the island, find the small path from Riverview Avenue that takes you to higher grounds. Bradleys Beach can be easily accessed from Grantham Crescent.

We recommend printing out a copy of the map that you can grab from the Hornsby Shire Council website.

Map of Dangar Island

About Dangar Island

Quietly tucked away on the Hawkesbury River, between Little Wobby and Brooklyn, Dangar Island is a bit of a hidden paradise, with a small and friendly population of only a few hundred lucky residents.

The island covers an area of around 29 hectares, with a 3 kilometres long shoreline.

Ferry to Dangar Island
Ferry to Dangar Island

Connected to electricity in 1948 and to water in 1971, the island now boasts a cafe and shop, a bowling club, and a community hall.

Dangar Island is also the only residential island on the Hawkesbury River.

Dangar Island ferry wharf
Dangar Island ferry wharf

Private cars are not allowed on the island, which explains the abundance of wheelbarrows used to carry goods from the ferry wharf onto the island.

There’s also a buggy service available, managed by the local community.

History

Before white settlement, Dangar Island was known as a gathering place for Aboriginal people. Evidence of their history remains visible in engravings and rock shelters on the island.

Governor Arthur Phillip was the first European to visit the area in March 1788 and named it Mullet Island because of the large quantity of mullet he caught there.

Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge as seen from Dangar Island
Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge as seen from Dangar Island

In 1864, Dangar Island was purchased and renamed by Henry Cary Dangar, a prominent politician who later became a member of the Upper House of New South Wales.

Henry Cary Dangar leased the island to the New York-based Union Bridge Company during the construction of the Hawkesbury River Rail Bridge between 1886 and 1889.

A community of around 400 Americans lived on the island, which was then home to a social hall, a library, and a school.

During the Second World War, Army and Navy personnel used Dangar Island as a base to protect the railway bridge from potential Japanese attacks.

Things to Do on Dangar Island

Dangar Island is not really developed for tourists, so don’t expect to find hotels, bars, or beach resorts there.

But that’s precisely what makes Dangar Island so charming and exciting, and this is also why the locals choose to live there.

Dangar Island on the Hawkesbury River
Dangar Island on the Hawkesbury River

It’s a small, friendly community of permanent and temporary residents watching the world go by, far away from the big smoke.

Here are some ideas for things to do on Dangar Island.

1. Walk Around the Island

The 3 km walking trail around the island is the best way to explore its natural beauty, admire the local real estate and enjoy great views across the Hawkesbury River.

Look for an intersection on Riverview Avenue with a small path that takes you higher up the island. In Kiparra Park, you can still find evidence of Aboriginal habitation, such as rock shelters.

2. Swim at Bradleys Beach

Located in the southern part of Dangar Island, Bradleys Beach is enjoyed all year round by locals, tourists, and visitors to the island.

It’s a pretty, secluded beach that can be accessed via Grantham Crescent.

Bradleys Beach on Dangar Island
Bradleys Beach

It’s also a very social beach, with many people picnicking on warm summer days and nights and children playing together on the sand or in the park.

Several major island events are also held at the beach, such as Australia Day and New Year’s Eve celebrations.

What makes this beach even more interesting is that it’s one of the very few accessible beaches in the Hornsby Shire.

3. Enjoy a Picnic

The island has several great picnic spots, such as Bradleys Beach and the children’s playground next to the bowling club.

Playground on Dangar Island
Cool playground

The playground is pretty cool and well-maintained, so if you’re visiting the island with children, make sure you spend some time there.

4. Lunch at the Cafe or Bowling Club

The bowling club (a registered club) serves lunch and dinner (open Thursday to Sunday). Check out their Facebook page for more information.

The cafe and general store right next to the ferry wharf is also a great spot to enjoy a coffee and lunch.

Their menu with various light meals and breakfast options is very well priced (the bacon and egg muffin is delicious), the coffee tastes great, and the views from the terrace are fantastic.

Keen to explore other islands in and around Sydney?
Read our Cockatoo Island guide, a fascinating island close to the Sydney CBD. Also take a look at our guide to the islands of Sydney Harbour to learn more about current and former islands that exist in our beautiful Harbour.
 

Discover Dangar Island on the Hawkesbury River

 
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