ROAD TRIP TO THE CENTRAL COAST HINTERLAND OF NSW IN AUSTRALIA
It was a cloudless Sunday morning in Sydney; the sun was blazing down on which Sydney-siders would usually call a cool spring day. Rather than get caught up in the rat race that would surface at every beach in the Eastern suburbs, I decided to get out of city for a day-cation. I wanted to explore the Central Coast hinterland and was guided in the direction of Wiseman’s Ferry which is located on the Hawkesbury River. Surrounded by the Dharug, Yengo and Wollemi National Park’s, Wiseman’s Ferry was a great destination for a day of exploring in our much-adored 1974 Beetle. And off we cruised.
After leaving the hustle and bustle of Sydney, we found ourselves driving along Old North Road. Surrounded by Australian natives on either side of the road that cast dappled shade over the Beetle, we pulled over when we saw a parked trailer packed with vibrant flowers of different varieties.
My apartment is slowly shaping into a nursery with the volume of potted plants I seem to be accumulating, however we couldn’t resist and chose a gorgeous native with the sweetest little white flowers.
We weren’t quite too sure what the flower was called, however if you know the family of the plant you can narrow down the genus and species by listed photographs that are normally found at the bottom of a Wikipedia page. Sadly I haven’t had the time to do this yet!
Cruising somewhere between 80kmph to 100kmph, it took just over an hour and a half to reach Wiseman’s Ferry. We stopped along the way a couple of times, scoping out the stunning views of the Hawkesbury River and marveling at the lack of bridges. So charming!
Making our way down to the town of Wiseman’s Ferry, we chose to get out of the Beetle and explore the local pub and surrounding stores. Each armed with a Calippo we soon discovered Solomon Wiseman, who established the ferry service in 1827, wasn’t exactly a delightful man.
A former convict himself, it was widely reported that Wiseman murdered his first wife by pushing her over the verandah of their house after he discovered she was having an affair and was planning to run away. He also famously denied a convict’s right to ask for freedom and tied him to an ant’s nest, and made him work the land for four more years.
After this short stop, we drove down to the ferry and waited to drive onboard. A short ride which fits about ten vehicles, we had crossed the Hawkesbury River in no time and turned right onto St Albans Road. This is where we soon discovered the newly restored 100 year old convict built St Joseph’s church which is now a Guest House. See more about this Guest House here.
Continuing along St Albans Road, which wound its way parallel to the Macdonald River, past gorgeous grazing meadows, rugged hills and cottages worthy of Cabin Porn, we drove into the picturesque town of St Albans and past the famous Settlers Arm Inn – see more here.
Established in 1836, the Settlers Arm Inn is built from convict-felled sandstone. Surrounded by mountains, it is nestled alongside the river in the heart of the Macdonald Valley. In it’s day, the hotel became a stop over for Cobb and Co. stagecoaches travelling between Sydney and Newcastle in the nineteenth century. These days it serves as an alternative to the Hunter Valley wine region and dishes up some of the best pub grub I’ve enjoyed since moving home from London.
Choosing to stretch our legs and enjoy the warmth of the sun, which was soon covered by brooding clouds, we chose the house steak salad sandwich and homemade beef pie with pea mash. Fighting off food coma, we explored St Albans on foot and discovered some gorgeous inlets of Australian bush and some damn cute pasture cows.
Jumping back into our precious Beetle, who had earned a well-deserved rest, we left the smooth bitumen behind and trail blazed through the rough gravel and rock-strewn Wollombi Road. Nestled in the heart of the Yengo and Dharug National Parks, and leaving nothing but dust billowing in our wake, we bravely yet precariously followed this unabated track for 45 minutes or so, only passing one cottage and a couple of cars along the way.
Finally, after not being able to hear each other talk due to the heady sound of the tyres rolling and pushing over the rough terrain, we made it back on terra firma of the bitumen variety and sailed along George Downs Drive which eventually lead us onto Wiseman’s Ferry road, and towards home.