The Hawkesbury River Part II: In Search of the Oyster Farmer…

Hawkesbury River, on a cloudy day...

Hawkesbury River, on a cloudy day…

To really get this story on the Hawkesbury River moving forward, we must go back to the beginning.  To a place, far, far way.  To a time, a long, long time ago.  To New York City, in August of 2005!  I had just heard of a foreign film from Australia that was being shown at one of those fancy, yet obscure indie-film houses in lower Manhattan.  A limited run of this movie called Oyster Farmer.  I sort of laughed at first because, “A foreign film, from an English-speaking country?!”  Nonetheless, it looked interesting, and I made the long trip from Long Island to the Quad Cinema on 13th Street and 5th Avenue.  It only took about 5 minutes of the opening of the film to wow me.  The wide-angle shots of the river, especially the ones seen from above, the sight of tiny motorboats maneuvering through the river on a foggy day, and the hauntingly beautiful music that accompanied the opening credits of the Hawkesbury.  A score that combined the “twang” of Jews harps, the sharpness of acoustic guitars, the bittersweet cries of fiddles, and the ultimate Australian accompaniment: a didgeridoo!  My ears and eyes lit up, and that is when the film had my undivided attention!

Oyster Farmer: the film that made the Hawkesbury River famous!

Oyster Farmer: the film that made the Hawkesbury River famous!

I had already discussed the premise of the film in a previous article about Oyster Farmer.  But this film, along with my rabid love for Midnight Oil, really jump started my love affair with the land down under!  The film brought to life an “authentic” Australia, free from any tired cliches that America had been force-fed thanks to Fosters ads and Crocodile Dundee, with all due respect to Paul Hogan.  No kangaroos, no “sheila” references, and no obligatory shots of the Sydney Opera House.  But rest assured, there were plenty of beer drinking and Aussie references to boot for good measure!  And it was VB, not Fosters!  But I digress.  The kooky characters, wonderful storyline, the idyllic scenery, and musical scores made this film the most overlooked foreign film of the year, and maybe one that was sorely missed by American audiences!  Oh, and did I mention that the actresses in the movie are hot, and there is a wicked-awesome sex scene in the mangroves that seems to go on for minutes?!  Have I captured your attention yet?  And for the ladies, it stars a young Alex O’Loughlin (credited as Alex O’Lachlan) just a few years before his breakout performance on the revival of Hawaii Five-0.  After walking out of the Quad, I made it a goal in life to one day see the Hawkesbury River.  I would have to wait until January of 2009 until I would lay my eyes upon it.

During my first trip to Australia, I was touring with a group in Sydney, and it was our last day before heading home tomorrow.  With a day to choose our own adventure, I ventured by train from Central Station to the Hawkesbury, by myself!  Granted, it was a foggy and rainy morning; not the ideal weather for such a sojourn, but neither wind, nor rain could keep me from such a destination.  I arrived with a lump in my throat, and a song in my heart.  Or it could have been my stomach growling!  I only spent a few hours walking around the town of Brooklyn, where the train station was, but I found plenty to explore.  I walked around the neighborhood, taking pictures of some the various houses.  One that made me laugh was this house where the grass had grown tall enough that it looked like it hadn’t been mowed in years!  And to really cap it off, there was a fat, white goat in the yard, eating away at the giant lawn blades!  Suddenly, I felt like I was in a Jeff Foxworthy jokebook!  Then again, Australia is jokingly referred to by the British as “Redneck England”, which frankly, I disagree with.  Aussies have more teeth than the Brits!  Ha!

"The world's best lawnmower!"

“The world’s best lawnmower!”


"Welcome to the neighborhood of Brookyln, NSW."

“Welcome to the neighborhood of Brookyln, NSW.”

I found my way to the edge of the river, by way of Parsley Bay, a small beach with a rather rocky shore.  The sand was not entirely smooth, and it wasn’t exactly warm swimming weather, despite the fact that it was summer.  That did not stop me, however, from dipping my size 10 sandals into the cool river, and taking in the beautiful, yet cloudy scenery.  While watching the gentle feel of the tide coming in and washing over my feet, I felt this weird melancholy wash over me, inside that is.  “When would I ever be back here?  Would I ever come back to this little piece of paradise in Australia?”  I thought to myself.  Alas, I decided to wait until I was back on the train to weep.  I did not find the Oyster Farmer, or the beautiful Diana Glenn along the banks.  I did, however, find another reason why Australia is such a beautiful place.  And I did come back to the river, but I’d have to wait another 4 1/2 years until I’d see this place again.

Parsley Bay Beach

Parsley Bay Beach

"Step into Parsley Bay!"

“Step into Parsley Bay!”


The closest thing that I found to the Oyster Farmer was a cute little fishing boat, anchored right next to the train station.  According to locals and the movie, the little motorboats are referred to as “tinnies” in that they are made of tin.  Seeing this dinky-sized dinghy was satisfaction enough for me!  Oh, and did I mention I found some oyster shell barnacles on the bottom of a rock?  He exists!  He’s real!

A "tinny": the main mode of transportation among Hawkesbury River locals!

A “tinny”: the main mode of transportation among Hawkesbury River locals!

"Leftovers from the Oyster Farmer!"

“Leftovers from the Oyster Farmer!”


NEXT TIME:  We flash forward back to my most recent visit to the Hawkesbury, which includes a rather memorable dip in the river!  Stay Tuned…

About admin

I am a graduate of Stony Brook University, and I have a degree in History. I am an avid traveler, with an extensive knowledge of geography, a passion for photography, and a knowledge of animals too. I enjoy pop music of the 1980's, fine dining, movies, baseball, basketball, and rugby.
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One Response to The Hawkesbury River Part II: In Search of the Oyster Farmer…

  1. Alisoun Brewster says:

    Your adventures are truly amazing–I feel like I am there every time I read one of your posts–great job!

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