June 21, 2020 / By Elisha Donkin
The historic area along the Hawkesbury River is the perfect country getaway at just 50 km northwest of Sydney. The peaceful towns are a unique blend of old and contemporary, with original buildings from the 1800s converted to beautiful cafes and modern boutique stores.
Surrounded by wonderful national parks and rich farmland, a trip to the Hawkesbury will be the peaceful escape you didn’t know you needed. No matter what part of the region you decide to explore, there are great shops and cafes to enjoy.
It's likely you'll find yourself walking the streets of Windsor. Considered the gateway to the Hawkesbury, it's one of the oldest towns in Australia. The mall area is lined with historic buildings which now house cute cafes and unique homeware stores. This is where you want to head for shopping and café hopping.
If you’re after beautiful homewares, I recommend Manor on George. This boutique furniture, homewares and giftware shop has unique items that evoke the old history of the town with a modern twist. You’ll find intricately designed mirrors, antique candle sticks and unique cushion covers amongst the quality items inside.
A little further down George St, is everyone’s favourite place to grab a bite to eat in town, Lime & Coconut Café. This gem of a place has simple but delicious meals made from local produce. It’s most popular at breakfast time with their eggs Benedict a great choice.
Windsor’s sister town, Richmond, is just a 10-minute drive down the road and is another picturesque place to visit in the Hawkesbury. Like Windsor, you’ll find heritage buildings and delightful cafes and shops.
You’ll be especially spoiled with good food in Richmond. For dinner and drinks, you head to Barrels & Ashes, a modern restaurant and bar right in the heart of town. They specialise in smokehouse with a mouth-watering ‘smoked and slow’ menu along with some of the best cocktails west of Sydney.
If you’re in town on a weekend, don't miss the Richmond Good Food Market on Saturday mornings. It takes place in the historic Richmond Park and is one of the best places to buy regional produce. From local fruit and veg and freshly baked bread to art and handicrafts, you’ll want to spend the whole morning exploring the stalls.
If you’re after more retail therapy, then check out Crazy Beautiful Life, a gorgeous homewares and gift shop full of unusual and unique items from jewellery to wall hangings. Nearby, you’ll also find Juan & Me, a women’s fashion boutique store with handpicked exclusive labels. All the beautiful country textures and colours dominate these stores and it’s impossible to leave empty handed.
Kurmond and Kurrajong
Across the Hawkesbury River and at the foothills of the Blue Mountains National Park, the towns of Kurrajong and Kurmond offer a quieter escape than Windsor and Richmond. These smaller towns still feature great boutique stores and dining experiences with a more a rural setting.
Lochiel House is regularly voted one of the best places in the Hawkesbury to stop for a meal. Located in Kurrajong Heights on the edge of the Blue Mountains, this café is housed in a heritage cottage originally built in 1825. Don’t be fooled by the cosy setting though, the chef serves up a sophisticated Asian-inspired a la carte menu well placed in any high-class restaurant.
For a more laidback option, try The Village Kitchen in the main street of Kurrajong. This café is great for breakfast or lunch with healthy salads and filling breakfasts and has a beautiful view from their back deck.
If you’re on the hunt for unique furniture, then head a little further back towards Kurmond. Old2Bold boutique showroom is a goldmine for homeware lovers. You’ll find one of a kind antique treasures that have been restored and upstyled to fit perfectly in a modern home. Whether you just want to browse the pieces already finished or request a quote to have your dated furniture restored, it’s worth a stop.
Freemans Reach and Sackville
On the western side of the Hawkesbury River, you’ll find more charming towns and beautiful drives through open farmland. If you take the time to explore the area around Wilberforce and Ebenezer, there’s great food and art to be found.
Just a short drive outside of Wilberforce to Freeman’s Reach, check out Purple Noon Art Gallery. This contemporary art space supports both established and local artists, including Aboriginal artists, with an everchanging program of exhibitions.
For one of the Hawkesbury’s stand-out dining experiences, you head for the Cook Co-op, overlooking the river near Sackville. Operated by well-respected chef Martin Boertz, the dining shed showcases the best local produce with a world-class menu, as well as, hosting numerous special food events throughout the year.
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