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From the Hawkesbury River rail bridge
Hawkesbury River road bridges looking north
Brooklyn is a small suburb of northern Sydneymarker, in the state of New South Walesmarker, Australia. Brooklyn is located 51 kilometres north of the Sydney central business districtmarker, in the local government area of Hornsby Shiremarker and is part of the North Shore region. Brooklyn is the northernmost suburb of the Greater Sydney Metropolitan Area.

Brooklyn occupies a narrow strip of tidal waterfront land aligned east - west along the southern bank of the Hawkesbury Rivermarker. Ku-ring-gai Chase National Parkmarker borders the suburb to the south and the F3 Sydney-Newcastle Freeway crosses the river just to the west. Long Islandmarker runs parallel with the suburb on the opposite side of Sandbrook Inlet and is joined to Brooklyn by the railway causeway. Dangar Islandmarker is sited to the north east.


The general area was known as Peat's Ferry crossing for a long time until January 1884 when a plan of survey for the subdivision of land owned by Peter and William Fagan was registered with the suburb name of Brooklyn. A hotel of the same name followed later in the year. The town owes its existence and location to the main northern railway line with the railway arriving in Brooklyn in 1887 when the single track section north from Hornsbymarker was completed.

In January 1886, the Union Bridge Company from New York was awarded the contract to build a railway bridge across the Hawkesbury River. The Hawkesbury River Railway Bridgemarker was the final link in the Eastern seaboard rail network and was a major engineering feat at the time of its construction. "Hawkesbury River" was the original platform name when the station opened in 1887 but the nomenclature varied over the following twenty years with the names "Flat Rock", "Brooklyn" and "Hawkesbury" all being used until the final change in 1906 to Hawkesbury Rivermarker.

Brooklyn is positioned at the northern end of the Cowan Bank, a scenic stretch of steep track on a 1 in 40 grade. The line drops 200 metres from the ridgetop near Cowanmarker to almost water level, passing through four tunnels in the process. Prior to electrification and diesel locomotives, Brooklyn was a staging post for trains heading south to Sydney with "push up" engines being attached to the rear of steam trains here for extra assistance on the eight kilometre climb to Cowan.

There have been three major railway accidents in Brooklyn over the years. On the 21st June 1887, an excursion train from Sydney ran out of control down the steep Cowan Bank. There were two other trains full of holidaymakers standing at the platforms at Hawkesbury River railway station and disaster was only averted by the alert station master who could hear the roaring engine and frantic whistling. He dispatched a railway porter to throw the points lever open and divert the runaway down a siding that led to the new bridge site. The train lost speed along the railway causeway out to Long Island and collided with some empty wagons. The locomotive slid off the embankment and ended up partially submerged in the river. The engine driver was trapped in the cabin and drowned but the fireman escaped. The toll was six dead and seventy injured.

On the 20th January 1944 the local bus stalled across the railway tracks at the level crossing in Brooklyn Road and was hit by the north bound Kempsey mail train. Seventeen people were killed. On the 6th May 1991 an interurban electric train ran into the rear of the heritage steam train 3801 which had stalled climbing the Cowan Bank. Six people lost their lives.
The Hawkesbury River was named by Governor Phillip in 1789
General view showing Hawkesbury River and densely wooded ridges in the background
Early road traffic was conveyed across the river by George Peat's ferry and prior to the first road bridge being completed there were two vehicular ferries in operation, the "Frances Peat" and the "George Peat". The new concrete road laid down between Hornsby and Gosford had been completed by 1930 and the increased traffic was beyond the capacity of the ferries. Long queues formed on holiday weekends as vehicles awaited their turn.

Work began on the first road bridge in September 1938 and it opened in May 1945. The width and depth of the river between Kangaroo Point and Mooney Mooney presented problems. The total distance to be covered was nearly 800 metres but an embankment of fill was built out from the northern side and the actual bridge spans only covered 580 metres. The southern foundation pier was sunk to 233 feet below high water before reaching bedrock, only 8 inches short of a world record. The bridge cost 190,000 pounds to build. This was supplemented by a second road bridge, a six lane concrete construction that was completed in 1973 as part of the Sydney to Newcastle freeway.

In 1901 the Duke and Duchess of York (later King George V and Queen Mary), whilst in Australia for the inaugural opening of federal parliament, anchored their yacht the "Ophir" in Cowan Creek and boarded the paddle wheel steam boat the "General Gordon" for a tour of the lower Hawkesbury.

A small obelisk unveiled in 1939, adjacent to the railway station and the avenue of tall palms in McKell Park, commemorates the discovery and naming of the Hawkesbury River by Governor Phillip in 1789. After a long campaign, the sewerage system began being connected to Brooklyn and adjacent villages in 2007.

Commercial area

The town has traditionally been associated with the farming of Sydney rock oyster with generations of the same families involved. Oyster beds are a common sight along wide sections of the river but in 2004 the disease QX wiped out production and the industry is currently undergoing a transition.


The Hawkesbury River railway stationmarker is on the Main Northern railway line, which is served by CityRail's Newcastle and Central Coast line. The Pacific Highway and the F3 Sydney-Newcastle Freeway are major arterial roads to Brooklyn.

Brooklyn is the base for Hawkesbury River Ferries, who operate both their ferry service to Dangar Island, and their Australia's last Riverboat Postman service, from a wharf adjacent to the railway station.

Sport and Recreation

Boating and fishing are the major tourist attractions in Brooklyn. There is a good boat launching facility at the eastern end of the suburb in Parsley Bay and several local marinas offer houseboat hire.

McKell Park is a pleasant and popular spot for weekend picknickers with superb river views and an enclosed tidal swimming pool.

The Riverboat Postman leaves Ferry Wharf in Dangar Road adjacent to the railway station on its daily run (Monday - Friday) delivering mail and supplies to the water access only communities of Dangar Island, Wobby, Bar Point, Marlow Creek and Milson's Passage. The trip is popular with tourists.

Brooklyn is surrounded by reserves with plenty of scope for bushwalking. The Great North Walk, a bushtrack that runs from Sydney to Newcastle passes through the town. The Muogamarra Nature Reservemarker is open for six weeks a year during the spring wildflower season. Entry is $5 and there are guided and unguided walks within the reserve which is closed to the public outside these times. A wide variety of very good aboriginal rock carvings can be seen here along with sections of the old Peat's Ferry Road.


  • Pub (The Angler's Rest) with accommodation.
  • Several seafood cafes and restaurants.
  • Holiday rental accommodation.
  • Boat mooring and hire.

Pop Culture

  • According to his headstone, one of the locals who is buried in the Brooklyn cemetery claims to have shot down Manfred von Richthofen, more commonly known as the "Red Baron".

  • The 2005 movie Oyster Farmer was filmed in and around Brooklyn. Many local residents were employed as extras.

See also


  • Australian Encyclopaedia Vol II and VII. Published by Angus and Robertson 1950
  • Australian Railway Historical Society bulletin no. 541 Volume XXXIII November 1982
  • Australian Railway Historical Society bulletin no. 334 Volume XVI August 1965

External links

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