Step back in time with an exploration of the eerie ruins atop Calabash Point. In the 1890’s, a well-known Sydney hotelier John Fretus bought 40 acres of land at Calabash Bay and a reserved road, with a plan to build a magnificent hotel atop the Point overlooking Calabash Bay. At that time, a road had been partly surveyed from the Berowra Railway Station to the creek, and Fretus was banking on the government to finish the road which would ultimately lead to Cunio Point opposite Calabash Bay, and a payoff on his gamble. When the government decided against the route and instead built the road down to Berowra Waters where Calabash Bay Lodge guests drive down today to reach us, the newly built Fretus hotel was given up as a folly with no road access.
In the modern era, power boats have made it a lot easier to get to Calabash Bay! But we are still “water-access only”.
Exploring the river, guests can learn more about the first Indigenous Australians residents of Berowra Waters – the Dharug and Kuring’gai clan groups. The name Berowra is itself an Aboriginal word meaning “place of many winds”. A large visitable midden site is located on Bar Island, accessible by boat north of Berowra Creek where it meets the Hawkesbury proper for it’s flow onwards to the Pacific.
Meander at your own pace up the river by boat, seeking out secluded bays to drop anchor for a dip. At high tide you can zip up into the mangroves in Calabash Bay, sink a few fishing lines, put your feet up while you wait for the fish to start biting.
Guests can also swim right in front of the Lodge from our private pontoon at either high or low tide. The water temperature averages 22 during summer, rising to 24 by autumn (it’s always warmer by a degree or two over the open ocean). Beach towels are provided. At low tide, Calabash Bay becomes a great shallow swimming spot for children.
At low tide, many many bays along Berowra Creek reveal stretches of sand to stretch the legs midway during a kayak or potter in the boat. Further along Berowra Creek, there’s several fantastic beaches accessible at all tides, perfect for a picnic lunch (or even a proposal!) all the while watching river life pass by under the shade of a gum tree.
Berowra Waters is renowned among local anglers for its great fishing. Whether you take your fishing seriously or just want to try your luck, with hardly any effort you will be on your way to catching something for dinner. Either head out in our boat, or for the ultimate do nothing experience you can throw out a line straight off our private pontoon on Calabash Point, which has bream and flathead schools teeming underneath, not to mention the occasional crab.
Berowra’s most common fish species are bream, mulloway, and flathead, all excellent white flesh fish and worth up to $45 per kg in Sydney shops. The best fishing times are early morning or in the evening, or when tides are turning. You do need a license to fish Licences can be purchased online (we supply details before you arrive).
If you’re planning to fish during your stay, you must obtain a fishing license, which can be purchased online here. The NSW Recreational Fishing Fee is $7 for three days, $14 for one month, $35 a year or $85 for three years. You can also obtain a license by calling 1300 369 365 (9am- 5pm; Visa and MasterCard accepted only).
The Lodge has a few fishing lines for your use. Please bring your own bait, hooks, sinkers and lures to suit your desired rig. Bait can be purchased at service stations along Berowra Waters Rd on the way down, or at the Berowra Waters marina. A good tip for catching bream is using some fresh chicken breasts – they absolutely love it!
There’s plenty of exploring to be done. Guests can walk up to the Fretus Ruins at the top of Calabash Point directly from the back of the Lodge via a pegged and signposted path up sandstone steps and imagine what it would have been like 100 years ago. See Ruins for more details.
Guests can also bushwalk the Great North Walk, a 250km track linking Sydney with Newcastle on the other side of the river, which offers superb full-day bushwalking east across into the Kuring’gai Chase National Park to Jerusalem Bay to Cowan Creek, another branch of the Hawkesbury River, or south through the Berowra Valley Regional Park towards Crosslands Reserve.
Both routes offer wonderful scenery of the river and pristine eucalypt bushland. Spring is particularly wonderful for the explosion of native flora colour, but different Australian natives can be found flowering year round so there’s always something to behold. Not to mention the superb views of Berowra Creek!
The first part of the walk to Jerusalem Bay in Cowan Creek, is the 7.4km Berowra Waters to Cowan Station section, approx. 3 hours 30 mins one way with a 600m steep stair climb out the river valley. The walk is accessible from the carpark to the north of the Eastern Public Wharf, our meeting point on arrival. There are many wide views across Berowra Creek providing some great excuses for well-deserved rest stops. Take your time to enjoy the views, and rock formations, and creek crossings along the way as the track leads a nearly direct route to Cowan Station, through a wonderfully remote section of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park bushland.
It’s then another 5km return or 2 hours to Jerusalem Bay on Cowan Creek, another branch of the Hawkesbury River. This track takes you to one of the most iconic views along the the Great North Walk. From Cowan Station, the walk passes through a variety of environments, with dryer vegetation near the freeway and moister rainforest-like plants near the water. Jerusalem Bay is a pretty area, shared by walkers and boaters, and a great place to relax before the walk back up to the station. Allow 2 hours return walk from Cowan Station.
Another 6.8km section of the Great North Walk runs south from Berowra Waters towards Crosslands Reserve. Allow at least 3 hours walking time one way, and note that there is a 1km moderate climb section on the return leg. Occasionally this part of the track is closed due to flooding so please check here before setting out.
The mangroves in Calabash Bay Lodge and along points in Berowra Creek are important to the river ecosystem as they provide food & shelter for water birds and small marine animals. The saltmarsh areas in Berowra Creek are now listed as an endangered ecological community as it provides a unique habitat for many animals and it is shrinking in size.
If you’re a keen bushwalker, get prepared ahead of time with printable maps and photos of all local Berowra Valley bushwalks via Wildwalks.
Kayaks enable guests to explore the majestic sandstone cliffs, iconic to the Hawkesbury River, travelling up the waterway and down adjoining creeks.
Calabash Bay itself has a four creeks that run into the natural estuary to explore during high tide, often at its best in the early morning when the water is as flat as a pancake and the fish are jumping. Look out for the waterfall on the creek to the far left and the rope swing on the creek to the far right.
We have one double and two single kayaks with comfortable seat back pads for your use, with lifejackets, and not to be forgotten, sunscreen.
Guests have great fun zipping around in the 4.5m runabout we supply as part of their package, exploring Calabash Bay and Berowra Creek. At low tide, many bays reveal secret beaches perfect for a romantic picnic (or proposal!) or game of beach cricket.
Exploring by boat, guests can learn more about the first Indigenous Australians residents of Berowra – the Dharug and Kuring’gai clan groups. The name Berowra is itself an Aboriginal word meaning “place of many winds”. A large visitable midden site is located on Bar Island, accessible by boat north of Berowra Creek where it meets the Hawkesbury proper for it’s flow onwards to the Pacific.
We supply a 4.2m runabout boat seating 4 persons at the lodge’s private pontoon with a full tank of fuel, for exclusive use during your stay. This boat size is the maximum we can provide to unlicensed drivers. Rental of a larger boat seating up to 7 can be organised through Boab Boat Hire for licensed drivers only.
Aboriginal Australians used prominent rocks to mark good locations and times of year for activities like fishing, one of which can be found upon arrival to Berowra Waters at the north end of the Kirkpatrick Way carpark. This rock now marks the start of the Great North Walk towards Cowan. Along the shoreline of the river, there are also many rock art sites and middens to look out for while boating or kayaking.
A scenic tour of nearby Bar Island, long an Aboriginal settlement before the arrival of British colonists, can be organized through Hawkesbury Cruises.
Embark upon the Hawkesbury mail boat, the famous Riverboat Postman, and enjoy the magnificent scenery of the lower Hawkesbury River.
After a short drive from Calabash Bay Lodge to the riverfront village of Brooklyn, you’ll join the Riverboat Postman as it delivers the mail and other essentials (the odd bottle of whiskey or rum…) to the river-access-only settlements upriver from Brooklyn.
The first Riverboat Postman started the run in 1910, and the tradition continues today. The skippers are locals who have lived in the area their whole lives – be entertained by the stories of the river whilst cruising in comfort up this spectacular waterway. Be assured that at least 95% of what they say is true…
The cruise departs daily every weekday (Monday to Friday) except Public Holidays from the Brooklyn Public Wharf (see the ferry icon on the map) at 10am, returning at about 1.15pm. Bookings can be made via Hawkesbury Cruises.
A longer 3.5 hour “Seven Islands” cruise is also available on Sundays. Learn the history of the islands of the Hawkesbury – Lion Island, Dangar Island, Spectacle Island, Long Island, Peat Island, Milson Island, and Bar Island. Cruise past the water-access-only settlements of the Lower Hawkesbury, and see the wreck of the HMAS Parramatta, Australia’s first warship, and find out how it ended up on the Hawkesbury River lying at the foot of spectacular sandstone cliffs.
If you fancy a daytrip off the river, there are a couple of good local spots and drives we can recommend.
For good lunch spot looking out to the Hawkesbury River, we recommend driving north of Berowra along the F3 and over the Hawkesbury River bridge, take the Mooney Mooney exit, then follow the signs to the Mooney Mooney Club. The club has a nice restaurant called Coastal where you can sit on a large outdoor deck overlooking the Hawkesbury River. Bookings are recommended to ensure a spot on the deck. Mooney Mooney is about a 20 minute drive north of the Berowra turnoff on the M1. Many guests like to organise a lunch there on the day of arrival before checking in at Calabash Bay Lodge.
Another option is taking the same route, but instead of stopping at Mooney Mooney, follow the signs to the village Brooklyn which is alongside the Hawkesbury River. The route will take you back across the river along the old Pacific Highway bridge (it will seem a bit of a dog leg but is the only way into the village). There is a restaurant at the Marina, as well as a number of cafés, and a potter through Brooklyn’s stores on the way home rounds out a nice off-river daytrip. You can also pick up some fresh oysters and fish for your stay.
For rural scenery, exit west behind the Berowra Waters Marina up Bay Road through Berrilee, Arcadia and Galston. This is a lovely scenic drive through small farms and horse studs, with views out towards the Blue Mountains, and there’s usually lots of stalls by the side of the road selling fresh produce year round. Off Arcadia Rd, there’s also the lovely Fagan Park that’s worth a look in. Galston also has a good little shopping village with a gourmet deli and a supermarket. Further down Galston Rd towards Dural you’ll find many nurseries like much beloved Swanes (noted for its’ roses), and one of our favourites on Old Northern Rd, Hargraves.
The Hawkesbury Harvest Farmers and Fine Food Markets are on at nearby Castle Hill Showgrounds on the 2nd and 4th Saturday every month between 8am and noon. There’s an incredible array of fresh local produce from the Hawkesbury River basin – Sydney’s traditional local food source since white settlement – to sample and take home to cook up a feast at Calabash Bay Lodge.
A nice spot to stop on the day of arrival or departure is Crosslands Reserve, a beautiful and peaceful bushland area next to Berowra Creek, accessible by road through Hornsby to the immediate south of Berowra Waters. A number of short bushwalks can be accessed from here, and it’s also a pleasant spot for a picnic lunch on the drive up to Calabash Bay Lodge if you want to make a day of it, with electric barbecues.
The first walk to the scenic viewing area is 400m and will only take 20 minutes return, being a flat boardwalk that takes you past salt marshes and mangroves swamps. Do however, be aware that you have to drive 2.5 km of unsealed gravel road at the end of Somerville Road to access Crosslands Reserve. Somerville Rd can only be accessed from Galston Rd, itself accessed off the old Pacific Highway at Hornsby – you can check out access here. When leaving, you’ll then need to drive back down to the old Pacific Highway and then drive north to Berowra Waters Rd turnoff – approx. 20-25 minutes.
It’s also possible to walk all the way to Berowra Waters along a 6.8km section of the Great North Walk from Crosslands Reserve. Allow at least 3 hours walking time, and note that there is a 1km moderate climb section. Occasionally the track is closed due to flooding so please check here before setting out.
If you must fit in a game during your stay, the Springs Championship 18 hole golf course welcomes casual players. This par 72 course is set amongst the stunning bushland of Peats Ridge, 40 minutes drive north of Calabash Bay Lodge, with sloping contours and superb panoramic views of the stunning rural vista. It will provide an enjoyable round of golf for all, yet still test competent golfers.
Golfers can expect first class facilities including change rooms, 45 club golf carts, premium golf club hire and access to the new multi-million dollar clubhouse, Duck Inn and Sitting Duck Restaurant. The Springs shop stocks a range of the latest golf gear and accessories from leading brands including Titleist, Bridgestone, Oakley, Nike Golf, and Greg Norman.
Golf lessons are also available from PGA accredited professionals.
Guests can pre-book a round of golf at The Springs here.
For a fine dining experience, plan to visit the Berowra Waters Inn during your stay. This degustation menu only restaurant is only a short boat trip downriver and like Calabash Bay Lodge, is water-access only. The Inn also provides complimentary boat transfers for Calabash Bay Lodge guests to and from the restaurant in their private punt. It also gives you the opportunity to enjoy the matched wines accompanying the degustation-only menu.
Dining at the Inn is a weekend only affair – with openings for lunch Friday through Sunday and dinner offered on Friday & Saturday nights. Lunch tables especially do book out several months in advance, so reservations in advance are essential and also recommended for dinner.
Peat’s Bite is a secluded riverside restaurant which like Calabash Bay Lodge, is accessible only by boat or seaplane. With its extensive views across to Bar Island and the Hawkesbury River conjunction with Berowra Creek, Peat’s Bite is an especially scenic spot to while away an afternoon, serving relaxed modern Australian fare in a tapas style degustation. Live music also entertains diners until it’s time to wend your way back onto the boat for the ride home. It’s been a home away from home for local boating types for many years – you never know who you might bump shoulders with at the bar! Peat’s Bite is open Saturday and Sunday for lunch only.
Peats Bite offer their own boat transport from Calabash Bay Lodge, which is an additional $35 per person return. While there is the extra expense of “getting there”, it’s quite the thrill and experience to travel by boat to a water-access only location.
At the Berowra Waters Marina, you’ll also find a café open for casual dining daytime only, the speciality is fish and chips being by the waterfront!
There’s something special about gazing out at the misty Hawkesbury River and its stunning backdrop of eucalyptus-clad cliffs. And Calabash Bay Lodge, a three-level, wateraccess only escape set in bushland bordering Berowra Waters, is the perfect vantage point from which to take it all in
A highlight of any stay is sitting on the barbecue deck, glass of fizz in hand, gazing over the water and eucalyptus-clad cliffs beyond. Throw a line from the pontoon and there’s a good chance you’ll catch something for dinner - does it get any better than this?
We’ve found the perfect weekend escape – an idyllic lodge set on the Hawkesbury with a runabout boat for sole use of guests, kayaks for those more energetic days and a barbecue deck overlooking this mesmerising river
What a magical place to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary! Beautiful views. Wonderful food. Lazy paddling. Leisurely boating. Serene nature walks. We have enjoyed every minute.
My partner and I had a beautiful relaxing weekend away kayaking, boating and relaxing all weekend in the sun! Great place for families, friends and couples! Highly recommend it!
From day one, when a “guest relations manager” meets us at Berowra wharf and leads us to the water-access only lodge… we feel as through we’ve moored at our spiritual home
Just back from a top weekend at this first class property. Great location and a 5 star service from Manny. Very very relaxing. A perfect spot for those who also love bush walking.
..it would be hard to go past the degustation cooked by your own private chef, why miss out on prawns in coconut coriander bisque and dukkah-crusted lamb with pomegranate
Wow!! What a wonderful weekend. Love this place. We have had such a great time sharing good food, good wine and great company in this beautiful setting.
What a great way to unwind and spend time with the family. Lovely house and location - we never realised this existed so close to Sydney.
Just wanted to say a big thank you for having us to stay at Calabash Bay Lodge. It was a really lovely two whole nights away which seems like a wonderful dream now!
It’s summertime (well, almost) and the living is easy for the highglam, low-fuss weekend traveller with a little bit of “we” time on her mind…
We spent a wonderful 3 days at this idyllic house. The property is stunning and the views are to die for. This place is relaxation at it's best.
We spent 3 lovely nights at your beautiful property. The place was perfect, catering to our every need. I wish we could have stayed longer.
We spent our time exploring the waters on the courtesy boat, fishing, walking, cooking and gazing at the amazing views. Hope to return soon.
Throw a line from the pontoon and there’s a good chance you’ll catch something for dinner - does it get any better than this?
Calabash Bay truly is a beautiful spot... Many thanks for your efficient and friendly service, the whole experience was a pleasure.
Thank you for sharing this magnificent house with us. It was the most wonderful surprise 50th I could have asked for!
Kayaking to the nearby beach was splendid, and as relaxing as the boat trip around the Hawkesbury was exciting.
Had a great time, didn’t want to come home! We will all have great memories of our time away together.
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What a fantastic house and beautiful spot, the only sad thing was that we couldn't stay forever!
It was such an experience getting picked up by a boat and taken to this wonderful holiday home
Earlybird Winter Special - Book and Pay in Full by 1st May for 20% off all stays 1st May to 30th July 2015.
Check email or use the internet while enjoying the spectacular view from the deck
One of Sydney's hidden treasures and my favourite holiday destination.
Who knew that feeling so far away was possible so close to home?
The most relaxing holiday destination