The Hawkesbury River Part IV: Anklebiters on a Floating School Bus

"Welcome aboard the Dangar Island Ferry!"

“Welcome aboard the Dangar Island Ferry!”

With my stomach full from lunch, and the day still sunny and warm, I headed down towards the edge of the Hawkesbury River Marina to do something I neglected to do the first time I was here in 2009: take a ferry ride up the river!  I remember a small pier and shelter box next to the railroad tracks, where I remember also seeing a small barge; it looked vaguely like the boat from the Jungle Cruise in Disneyland.

As I waited for the boat to arrive, I sat next to a sweet, old lady.  I introduced myself to her, after which I stated that I came all the way from New York to see this region, along with the Rabbitohs.  I knew I had her undivided attention, and she said that the Hawkesbury doesn’t get a lot of tourists, let alone ones from America.  I could only concur, as this region still remains a hidden gem of Australia, unlike most tourists who come to snap pictures of the Opera House, and then go home.  She said the closest thing to tourists are locals from the city who come for a day on the river, or anyone who owns a boat that is moored along the banks.  It seemed to be a mixed blessing as this region is so beautiful, that it is quite shocking that it has not been vastly discovered my outside tourists.  Then again, you don’t want to go spoiling the natural scenery with too much development and a glut of tourists.  I am a stranger in this landscape, but I am having no problem with befriending both the natives and the wildlife!

The ferry pulled up to dock, and I eagerly climbed on board.  A fair price of A$12 dollars was the going rate for a round trip ticket.  The captain seemed interested in the fact that I was in Australia for both the Bunnies and the Hawkesbury.  Jokingly, he said that he was a Manly-Warringah fan (Sea Eagles).  Luckily, I had no beef with him, and not just because I am still a newcomer to the NRL culture.  At least he wasn’t a Roosters fan!  Without missing a beat, he began ruffling my feathers by saying to the passengers, “He’s a Roosters fan, mates!”  It would be like saying a Yankees fan loves the Red Sox!  Ugh!  In an act that could be viewed as a cheap-shot at a rival NRL fan, he blew the ships horn, right as I was standing beneath it.  “HONK!”, as it erupted in a shrill cacophony.  “Sorry, mate.  I didn’t see ya there.  I’ll have to let ya know I blow it next time.”  He said, in a slight apologetic tone.  The paranoid side of me thought he was doing it because I wasn’t a Sea Eagles fan.  But I’m pretty sure he just forgot I was standing up at the bow of the ship.  But boy, did my ears hurt!

"Cruising along the Hawkesbury..."

“Cruising along the Hawkesbury…”

Before pulling out, we waited for a group of passengers to board the boat.  The captain said that we were picking up a group of schoolkids, who were heading home.  In other words, this ferry was also a floating school bus!  Suddenly, my ferry ride just got a lot of more interesting; I was getting a first hand look at how kids in this rural part of Australia get home from school.  This is just another reason of why I love travel and tourism.  To me, it is not enough for one to just go on a leisurely holiday and capture everything on photographs.  It is important to learn about how life goes on for people living in that part of the world, so that you, the visitor, take away something important from your visit.  To see the world, from not a tourist perspective, but from one who mingles with the locals far from the comfort of civilization yields more of a meaningfulness between peoples.  I wouldn’t technically call the Hawkesbury River “far from civilization”, but I wasn’t just here to swim and hike.  I wanted to see firsthand daily life around this bushy landscape of New South Wales.  And for about two hours on that ferry, I was going to get it!

Life on the Hawkesbury

Life on the Hawkesbury

With all our passengers accounted for, the boat finally pulled away from the dock, and we were bound for Dangar Island.  As the boat gently cruised up the Hawkesbury, I was quite impressed by all the cute homes I saw.  I only saw them from behind, but it looked like the front, in that their driveway was where they parked their boat!  It was like cruising the Venetian canals, but with a homelier and more exotic touch.  Where opulent palaces and gondolas stood, my eyes laid upon bushy bungalows and colorful dinghys bobbing in the water.

"The most colorful boats..."

“The most colorful boats…”

Dangar Island Wharf

Dangar Island Wharf

Aussie schoolchildren home from school

Aussie schoolchildren home from school

Dangar Island’s wharf was clearly marked, as I watched all the big anklebiters disembark.  I don’t know why I adore that Aussie-ism for small children?  Darn you Hugh Jackman for me liking that slang!  Anyhoo, I took notice of the kids outfits and backpacks.  All Australian schoolchildren and students are required to wear matching uniforms, but I had no idea they also had matching backpacks too.  I’m not that crazy about uniforms, but they looked rather adorable, in my opinion.

"I'm home from school!"

“I’m home from school!”

 

Dangar Island boat jetty

Dangar Island boat jetty

NEXT TIME:  My ferry ride through the Hawkesbury River continues, as I visit all the familiar filming spots from Oyster Farmer.  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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