Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Companionable solitude

A shack on Dangar Island
Len and Jason knew the routine like the back of their hand, as did every dog enroute. Look alert, wag your tail and nice Jason will toss a biscuit or three. When Luke came down from the Dangar Island cafe (“because Mum said I had to”) he was given a bottle of orange lemonade. For the tourists on the Hawkesbury Explorer, the camaraderie neatly fitted into the laid-back, friendly way of life they craved: Ooo, I would like to live there; Yes, I think I could manage this peace and quiet.

Winding our way around both Peat and Milson Islands
Little did they know how tough the locals had been doing since 2004 when the QX virus wiped out the Sydney Rock Oyster colony. Little did they know that the value of land and houses was increasing rapidly with the influx of the moneyed classes into the weekender market. At the moment the SMH is advertising 15 houses for sale on Dangar Island with a top asking price of $1,250,000 and an average of about $850,000. This on an island accessible only by boat where cars (and golf buggies) are not allowed and most carting is done by wheelbarrow!

The lower images are of the same few houses and demonstrate the isolation caused by landscape
The lower reaches of the Hawkesbury River were being personally explored by the first Governor, Arthur Philip, within 3 months of the establishment of the penal colony. Whilst in the early 1800s the river was used extensively to transport produce and timber to Sydney, eventually, with the silting of the river and the advent of transport by rail, the commercial use of the river dwindled to nothing.

Still, the locals live a simple life that is enviable.

The second railway bridge spanning the Hawkesbury River - completed in 1946.

24 comments:

Olivier said...

de tres beaux paysages, avec en effet une sensation de solitude ;)

brattcat said...

complicated, isn't it. such beauty. with something not quite so beautiful nibbling at its underbelly.

In Three Rivers, Michigan said...

A fascinating peek at a disappearing way of life - in such a beautiful location, the appearance of vacation home people would be inevitable. Perhaps the difficulty in getting there will prevent the ravages of gentrification and development.

Your photos and writing are beautiful, and capture the place as it is, on the brink of change.
Three Rivers Daily Photo

Janie said...

The way of life does look beautiful and peaceful, but it sounds like buying a house there is way out of reach for any but the wealthiest.

myletterstoemily said...

what a poignant way to show both sides of the coin.

Tulsa Gentleman said...

Wow, the beauty of a place I didn't know existed. It is the same all over. One weekend I set out to ahow Susan some beautiful "secret places" near where I grew up as a kid. They are covered up with condominiums with keep out signs at the entrance. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,

Kilauea Poetry said...

This is beautiful as is informative- Was thinking about those oysters..life is so fragile huh?

Vera said...

Gosh, your photos show how huge the space is, and how small us humans are. Lovely read.

PurestGreen said...

I always feel sad for beautiful places that suddenly become popular with rich folks, driving up property prices and making the area less viable for "regular" folks who may have lived there for years. I hope the locals on Dangar continue to hold their own.

Vicki said...

The title, Companionable Solitude, says it all. Tranquil and beautiful. Unlike the real estate prices...

Ann said...

I like the way you are presenting these.

Pat and Bruce Caspersonn said...

Very nice indeed, but it's not total solitude, they still have the dreaded TV! I see the aerial.
I remember going over the 1st railway bridge, with the train's speed limited to 4 MPH....I held my breath thinking it might fall down. I blamed my father, the firm he worked for were the agents for it's construction.
Bruce Caspersonn.

Julie said...

4mph eh? Wu-hoo, that is living the high life!

I read some interesting stories about the first railway bridge, Bruce. It was farmed out to an American company with just a bit of local input. The sandstone footings remain in the waters until this day, although the superstructure is long gone.

Not only TV aerials, but also satellite dishes. However, they all still come with an "off" button.

Davine said...

I am loving your posts on the Hawkesbury, I have only just seen it from the car when traveling north, but I would love to stay somewhere up ther for a while to soak it up. It really looks like a beautiful river. I also really liked you comment on my "Promise" post - it made me think, which with this heat it's hard to do.

Ann said...

Yes, I decided to retrace my steps and get the train from Town Hall. Very glad I did. Watch the rest of this week to see what you missed. The St Mary's stage was for acrobats etc and not that interesting. There was a second concert stage at the Town Hall end of the park, I caught the last act there which was very good (no idea who they were).

J Bar said...

It looks fantastic up there. I haven't explored around there much. I'll add it to the list of places I need to visit.
Sydney - City and Suburbs

Marka said...

Thanks for sharing the reminder that simple is good. I need to work on that more.

Nancy C said...

I'm so glad that you've shown me this pocket of the world before it changes completely, as the process is already beginning.

Ken Mac said...

AHHHH. WONDERFULLY RELAZING!

Joan Elizabeth said...

I wouldn't want to pay those prices for an island shack, lovely as it might be.

My in-house expert on the Hawkesbury-Nepean was telling me that once upon a time it was a narrower and deeper river but over time the impact of agriculture etc has broken down the banks making it wider and shallower. So while the broad river of today is beautiful, it is as you say silted up, so only certain types of boats can use it now.

Julie said...

And the boats with larger draughts can only go to about Spencer.

Lucy Corrander said...

Not how I usually think of Australia. Reminds me of Swallows and Amazons.

Very lovely. Can see why people are drawn to dream of living there.

Lucy

Julie said...

Oh yes, indeed, why did I not see that Arthur Ransome could have easily used this as a model as well as anywhere else in the world. Well spotted!

raf said...

Love this series about the Hawkesbury River community, but that's the way I feel about all your series, all your posts in all your blogs. You are a master sculpter with words and pictures. Your chisel is razor sharp. Your voice, always clear and exacting. Thank you, Julie, for sharing your eye, your voice, your Sydney with all of us. The Secret River is on my list.