Books reviewed by Paul TalbotCruising Guide Hawkesbury River, Cowan, Broken Bay and PittwaterCruising Guide Hawkesbury River, Cowan, Broken Bay and Pittwater

by John and Jocelyn Powell
Published by Deerubin Press
RRP $35.00 (176pp; 245mm x 170mm)
Most Sydneysiders would have spent some time on the Hawkesbury River at one of its many access points. At the very least, the river crossing of the Pacific Highway road bridge would make most people take pause and admire that expanse of water. The Hawkesbury is a collection of work and leisure spots which have been accessible since Phillip and the First Fleet. My wife’s family dates from the earliest days when her first fleeter forebear was granted land on the river for farming.
This book, Cruising Guide Hawkesbury River, Cowan, Broken Bay and Pittwater, published in 2011 is its fourth edition, having been revised by John and Jocelyn Powell in 1995 and 2004 and, since John’s passing in 2008, by Jocelyn and Warwick Jacobson in the latest revision. Acknowledged as the ‘bible’ of the Hawkesbury, it is a cruising guide covering the impressive 110km of navigable waterway of the river up to Windsor in Sydney’s northwest, as well as those connecting waterways which abound.
Cruising Guide contains detailed maps, with navigational instructions and advice. The map of all the system’s waterways is sectioned off into 29 smaller maps for easy reference and more detailed information about each part of the river system. The keys to the smaller maps include channel markers, shallows, overhead wires, wharves, boat ramps, water ski parks, fishing grounds and all the features of the river. The text accompanying the maps gives very detailed, but easily understood sailing instructions, which would enable users to navigate any section of the river in safety.
The first 50 pages of Cruising Guide provides an introduction to the river, its wildlife, fishing and, importantly, to seamanship on the river. Explanations are simple and designed to give the novice boater confidence in navigating what, in summer, is a very busy waterway. There is some basic advice about hiring a suitable boat if needed, as well as some simple advice about staying on top of the available weather information. Some of it sounds too simple to be useful, but accidents happen in incredible situations that make us scratch our heads and wonder how.
A previous Afloat reviewer commented about how intimately John and Jocelyn knew their river, with all the nooks and crannies, enticing creeks and strange sounding place names “... if you hadn’t planned to cruise the Hawkesbury before you looked and this book, by about page 10 you would be reaching for your diary, the Yellow Pages for boat hire information … and your credit card”. That sounds just about right.

Hawkesbury River —  Boats and PeopleHawkesbury River — Boats and People

by Jean Purtell
Published by Deerubin Press
RRP $25.00 (138pp; 255mm x 180 mm)
While we are on the topic of the Hawkesbury, Jean Purcell has produced her second edition of Hawkesbury River, first published in 1982. It is an historical book looking at the boats which worked the river and the people who sailed them or provided produce to them. The stories of the river are a fascinating glimpse of a part of Sydney’s history long forgotten, except by Jean.
Of particularly interest was a reference in the book to Bob Everingham, a Hawkesbury River farmer. My father-in-law often mentioned that “... Granny was an Everingham” not letting on at the time (as most folk of his generation were wont to do), that the Everinghams descended from a First Fleet convict. So my interest was piqued, suspecting that Bob, too, was likely a descendant.
Pictures of the era, boats and people abound in this book, making it a particularly interesting and nostalgic read.
Cruising Guide and Hawkesbury River can be sourced from the publishers and distributors, Deerubin Press at or by phone (02) 9546 2476. The RRPs include postage