Berowra Waters nestles in a deep ravine in the upper reaches of Berowra Creek, a tributary of the Hawkesbury River. It is a substantial waterway, averaging 200m across and 20-30m deep. The area is accessed by Berowra Waters Road on the Eastern side and Bay Road on the Western side. These two roads are joined by the Berowra Waters Ferry, a free council run and maintained service, 24 hours per day.
There are approximately 150 houses, all situated on the Western side of the river, and all accessible only by boat. Each property has its own jetty and pontoon, and almost all have deep water frontage, even at low tide. The water is salt, and the tides are about 90 minutes later than Sydney Harbour. It is generally calm, sheltered water and provides good moorings for larger boats, as well as easy access to the river from an excellent public boat ramp on the Western side. There is a marina on either side of the river, with boat chandlery, workshop, boat sales, and fuel service, as well as hire boats. The Rural Fire Service has a depot on the Eastern side, and several fire-fighting boats are stationed there (manned by local volunteers).
There are a number of cafes and restaurants – a coffee shop/bistro and an a la carte restaurant (Waterview) on the Western side, Berowra Garden House (cafe) on the Eastern side – these are all accessible by car, as well as boat. Then there is the fabulous five-star Berowra Waters Inn (Boat access only – or seaplane) and further down river Peat’s Bite (also boat access), then on to Patonga, or Spencer, or Brooklyn , or Cottage Point, or Pittwater or Brisbane Waters.
The area is characterised by towering sandstone cliffs and caves, lush bushland, creeks and waterfalls, sheltered bays and a few little sandy beaches which come and go with the tide. The water is clean, and fish, prawns, oysters and crabs abound. Local birdlife includes magnificent sea eagles, lorikeets, galahs, brown cuckoo doves, kingfishers, kookaburras, king parrots, crimson rosellas, wonga pigeons, cormorants, cranes, lyre birds, currawongs, to name a few. As well, you may see goannas, rock wallabies, brush tail and ring tail possums, echidnas and the occasional diamond python.
The Great North Walk – a Bi-Centennial initiative walking trail from Sydney to Newcastle – passes along the shore of Berowra Waters, and climbs up and over the escarpment heading to Cowan and Brooklyn. The track is well maintained, and affords a wonderful opportunity to bushwalk ‘in your own backyard’ to enjoy the spectacular spring wild flower season, or to discover some local aboriginal carvings and middens – or just to get fit.
The suburb of Berowra is located 4 km up the hill on the Eastern side of the river, and offers all services that you may require – such as two supermarkets, hardware store and nursery, medical centre with X-ray facilities, two pharmacies, several cafes, restaurants, take-away food, hotel, newsagency, butcher, post office, florist, bottle shop, service stations, etc. And then there are four primary schools, several pre-schools, several churches and community centres, offering many services to the locals. High schools (both government and private) are located in Asquith, Hornsby and Upper North Shore. Hornsby major shopping centre is 12 km away, and access to the F3 Freeway makes travel to Sydney CBD, the North Shore, Central Coast, or Newcastle and the Hunter Valley an easy journey. There is also a train station at Berowra, linking through Hornsby to Sydney CBD, or Western Sydney, or north to Newcastle and beyond.
Alternatively, Bay Road on the Western side of the river links Berowra Waters to the lovely semi-rural areas of Berrilee, Arcadia, Galston, Dural, Glenorie and on to the major commercial centre of Castle Hill. There are schools available on this side too, and a local bus service comes to the boat ramp daily to take children to Arcadia Public School and Galston High School. There are also private schools accessible in this area.
There is a strong sense of community in Berowra Waters. Local committees administer the Residents’ Pontoon and car park, and others organise various events throughout the year. For example, the Ladies’ Committee holds a number of fund-raising functions to subsidise the ‘Santa Boat’, which comes around to everyone’s pontoons on Christmas Eve and Santa delivers a sack of presents to children waiting there. Houses are decorated with coloured lights, and other larger boats accompany Santa – it is a wonderful evening. A number of residents are members of the local Rural Fire Brigade, a marine service for river communities. Because all residences are accessible only by boat, everyone watches out for everyone else – if a boat breaks down there will always be someone there to tow, or lend a hand. New community members are welcomed, and people catch up on the ‘news’ as they come or go through the Residents’ Pontoon or car park.