Walkabout in Wondabyne (Part I): Wrong Way in Woy Woy

"Has anybody seen Jack Flange?!"

“Has anybody seen Jack Flange?!”

Back in 2005, the movie Oyster Farmer introduced me to the idyllic and beautiful Hawkesbury River region; a place that very few American tourists to the land down under had ever seen, let alone have ever heard about.  During the film, there is a scene where Alex O’Lachlan’s character, Jack Flange, disembarks the train at Wondabyne, a tiny platform on the edge of the Hawkesbury River; a station that is barely the length of a single train carriage.  I loved the movie so much, that I made a promise to myself that I would one day visit the river, especially the tiny station.  In 2008, I made my first visit to river, but I got off a stop early at Hawkesbury River station in the town of Brooklyn.  Five years later in 2013, my second visit brought me back, but I chose to spend my day cruising up and down the river from Brooklyn to Dangar Island.  But this time around, I would not be distracted or deterred: this was the year I was getting off at Wondabyne.

Located just up the river from Brooklyn, one stop from Hawkesbury River station on the train line to Newcastle, Wondabyne is very unique in that it is the only train station in all of Australia that does not have any road access; it is adjacent to a wharf on Mullet Creek, a tributary estuary of the Hawkesbury River.  The only way to reach this station is via boat or a marked hiking path leading up from the river.  Only by riding in the last train carriage and alerting the train manager can one access this remote station from the train.  On the whole, Wondabyne  is also the name of a suburb located in the Central Coast region of New South Wales.

My adventure began at Central Station where I loaded up my backpack with water, mints, a granola bar, and a Powerade for the hike ahead.  Not to mention I had my cell phone charged and I brought a whistle for emergencies.  I boarded the train on platform 9 and the double-decker intercity train headed up the coast towards Newcastle.  During my trip, I ran into a rather nice bloke who seemed quite taken with the fact that I was an American who was a fierce fan of Souths; I was appropriately wearing my Rabbitohs jersey for the trip.  This friendly encounter taught me something I already knew about Australia: if you wanna make friends, WEAR A FOOTY JERSEY!  Especially if it’s the Rabbitohs!  But I digress…

"All Aboard!  Now departing for the Hawkesbury..."

“All Aboard! Now departing for the Hawkesbury…”

As my stop approached, I noticed the train whizzing right by Wondabyne.  Oh, crap!  What the hell did I do wrong?  I was in the last car of the train.  But my friend informed me that I failed to notify the agent on board the train.  Of course, it’s not like the CityRail trains have conductors on board or someone wearing a name tag that says, “Hi!  ME, AGENT!”  Knowing my error, I got off at the next stop, Woy Woy, which my new friend told me something grim about the town: it was once the suicide capital of Australia.  His words, not mine!

"Welcome to Woy Woy!"

“Welcome to Woy Woy!”

Next Stop...Woy Woy

Next Stop…Woy Woy

After waiting a few minutes at Woy Woy, I ran towards the last car on the train where I saw a man pop out of the last door where he waved to the driver of the train.  It was he I needed to alert of my stop.  With that done, I nervously approached the doors.  I watched as the idyllic Hawkesbury whizzed past me; seeing how blue the sky was and how it glistened against the shimmering waters reminded me of how much I missed this place!  Finally, the train chugged to a complete stop.  The doors swung open, and I could see the word that beckoned my calling: Wondabyne!

TO BE CONTINUED…

Next Time: I take my first steps into this iconic corner of the Hawkesbury River that I have been neglecting to visit for far too long!

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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