About the Island

Dangar Island is the only residential island in the Hawkesbury River, adjacent to the fishing village of Brooklyn and one kilometre from the mouth of the Hawkesbury River and Broken Bay. The island is situated 55 minutes from Sydney by car or train, 20 minutes from Palm Beach by boat. From the north, it's only 30 minutes from Gosford, an hour and a half from the Hunter Valley Vineyards. The island is well forested spanning 76 acres in size with two beaches, a ferry wharf, cafe and shop, licensed bowling club, walks, aboriginal carvings and abundant flora and fauna. Native plants on Dangar Island

Prior to European settlement the island was frequented by the Guringai tribe and was known as a birthing island, where women, without the presence of men, came to give birth. There is plenty of evidence of occupation by the aborigines including rock art in the island's reserve and middens of seashells on the foreshore. The Island was discovered by a party commanded by Arthur Phillip, the first Governor or New South Wales in March 1788, just six weeks after the First Fleet arrived. This makes the Island one of the first discoveries outside Port Jackson and Botany Bay by Europeans.

The Island was named Mullet Island by Governor Phillip's party and the beach where they landed is called Bradley's Beach, after the second in command in the party. The island is often mentioned in early records of settlement in NSW as it was a staging post for boats that took produce from the upper Hawkesbury to Port Jackson and returned with supplies for the local farms and settlements like Windsor which at that time was a departure point to places like the Hunter Valley.

The Island was bought by the Henry Dangar in 1864 from the Crown. Dangar was a wealthy pastoralist and son of a well known parliamentarian who had emigrated from Cornwall in the United Kingdom. The Island was renamed by the Dangar family from Mullet to Dangar Island soon after. In 1886 the Island was leased by the Dangar family to the Union Bridge Company of Chicago who had won the contract to build the iron railway bridge across the lower Hawkesbury. This was the same company that built the Brooklyn Bridge in New York. The construction of the bridge, the largest of its kind at the time in the Southern Hemisphere, took three years to build and was assembled on Dangar Island's North Beach. During its construction some 400 workers, including many Americans lived on the Island. Accommodation, a library, and even a public bar were built for them which were removed, as a condition of the lease, once the bridge was built. The bridge, now known as the Railway Bridge was officially opened in May 1889 and completed the final link by rail between Sydney and Brisbane. Dangar Island Cafe provides the best view of this bridge.

Native birds on Dangar Island

Following the departure of the Union Bridge Company, the Dangar family used the island as a resort and farm. With the railway just 10 minutes by ferry from the Island and providing a direct link to Sydney, Dangar Island became a popular place to visit and was extensively used by the Dangar family and their guests as a holiday and weekend retreat until the main house, which was located on the north eastern side of the island, was burnt down in 1913. All that remains of the house is the water tower, now on private land but easily visible from the Community Hall. The Dangar family sold the island to developers and in 1921 the island was subdivided and the land sold for residential use. The land was sold by Raine and Horne and the first individual houses appeared on the island and the farms disbanded. The development held back land for a nature reserve and community facilities where today the Bowling Club and Community Hall are situated. The Cafe and Shop, then a General Store, was built in the 1930's.

The Island, like other parts of the Lower Hawkesbury had a role to play in the Second World War. The armed forces were stationed on the Island and anti submarine nets were set between the Island and Wobby Beach and the Island and Brooklyn to protect the Railway Bridge as it was a strategically important asset. It is rumoured that the Japanese submarines had maps of the Railway Bridge and Armed Forces on the Island were certainly ready for an invasion as material has been found that instructs Australian soldiers on how to surrender in Japanese.

Over the next 30 years houses were gradually built, mainly second homes, and some of the Island’s institutions in addition to the Cafe and Shop were built. These include the Bowling Club, founded in 1957 and the Community Hall. The Island was connected to electricity in 1948, water in 1971 and the mains sewerage in 2008. Today, the island is known for its peaceful surroundings, abundant birds and wildlife, beautiful gardens, bowling club and as there are no cars, wheelbarrows to take goods to and from the ferry service.

Community buggy near the public wharf

The permanent population of the Island is now about 270 residents and the Island remains a popular if discreet destination with holiday rental available. Many of the Island’s services are provided by volunteers. The Historical Society, the Cafe and Shop with strong community focus and the Bowling Club with a welcoming green.

Bowling Club

Bowling Green

As through its history the Island welcomes visitors and guests who often arrive on the regular ferry service that plies its trade between Brooklyn, Dangar Island and neighbouring Wobby Beach. Visitors to the island will continue to enjoy what islanders have always enjoyed, wonderful river views, the surrounds of three national parks, light off the sandstone cliffs and river views mixed with tides, boats, mists and sunsets.

Dangar Island Bowling Club is the other Island meeting place. The Club is licensed, has its own bowling green and holds regular events for Islanders and visitors including "Christmas in July", the Dangar Island Octoberfest where beer is tasted and drunk and Carols in the Park that culminates in a procession from the ferry wharf to Bradley's Beach.

The Bowling Club is open weekends and has an extensive and affordable menu. It has playground facilities near by and is an easy walk to the ferry and beaches.

What to do

There are two beaches where you can swim, 'Bradleys Beach' being one of the safest in the Hornsby Shire as it is quite shallow. Kayak around the island and to the neighbouring national parks. Go fishing where there is the Hawkesbury River system, Broken Bay, Pittwater and beyond. Many types of fish can be caught and the River is renowned for its Flathead and Mulloway.

There are several walks both on the island and if you have a boat or a kayak, nearby. A walk through the Island’s nature reserve will find aboriginal rock carvings, up to 27 species of birds and magnificent views of the Hawkesbury. Across the river, 'The Tanks' make for a short walk and a swim in fresh water holes, for the more adventurous there are walks in Brisbane Water and Kuringgai National Parks.

Kayaking on the river

Also there are boat trips,  to surrounding areas including Brooklyn, Wobby Beach, Palm Beach, Cottage Point, Patonga, Berowra Waters, Bar Island and Spencer.