Hills and Hawkesbury is the largely residential area to the north west of the city centre and north of Macquarie Park. It includes the Hills District area around Castle Hill and Baulkham Hills and the semi-rural areas around Dural and Galston.
The Hills District has been gradually developing from a more-or-less rural area to a part of suburban Sydney over the past 30 years, so you will encounter elements of both lifestyles here. Travellers may be more interested in the rural qualities and, especially, the nearby National and Regional Parks. However, it can be very convenient indeed to have access to the 'creature comforts' of civilization that are right next door in a modern city of more than 4 million people. Once the main vegetable growing region for Sydney, The Hills District continues to be the centre for plant nurseries, both large and small. You can still find vegetables and flowers for sale alongside the road in many places. Lots of people drive out to the northwest on weekends, visiting antique shops and art galleries and checking out the local markets. Increasing numbers of private schools, alternative centres, churches, etc. have re-located here. Traffic is therefore steadily increasing, but most of the area still has a rural feel, especially at its outer edges. In short, you can enjoy the bush and still have wireless internet and a good cappuccino!
- Sydney Hills Visitor Information Centre - located at 'The Pines' (which includes the 1856 Roughley House) 656A Old Northern Road, Dural. ☏ . Free tourist information about the area.
Outer areas such as the Hills District are less well serviced. The most convenient railway station is in Pennant Hills, however, in general, it's much more convenient to have your own car for travelling around the area.
The area is connected to Sydney City by the Gore Hill Freeway, Lane Cove Tunnel and M2 Motorway. Travel outside of peak hour if possible, as the roads get congested during the commute hours into Sydney.
As of December 2017, the closest train stations to the area are Pennant Hills (T1) and Carlingford (T6), although generally speaking you are better off taking an express bus from the Sydney city or Parramatta.
By June 2019, there will be a chain of new metro stations running from the city right through this area, including Cherrybrook, Castle Hill, Bella Vista and Rouse Hill.
Hillsbus services the area. Castle Hill (location of a future metro station) can be considered the main hub, with buses from the Sydney City centre (610 610x 612 612x 619 etc) which run frequently at around every 10 minutes in peak periods. There are also connections from Castle Hill Parramatta, Seven Hills, Pennant Hills and others.
The rural area to the north of Castle Hill does have some limited public transport, but you will likely find it challenging to get to the smaller rural settlements by bus.
West of Parramatta out to the Nepean and Hawkesbury was the site of some of Sydney's most important colonial development. The earliest colonialists built their first roads and railways here, away from the barren ground of Sydney Town to the fertile plains to the west. Those free settlers and ticket-of-leave convicts made their fortunes here, building estates and mansions to emulate the landed gentry of England - a place that they still considered themselves very much a part of. This is where the convicts of the Irish rebellion tried to overthrow the government and were slaughtered. This is where the Aboriginal people saw their hunting grounds taken from them, and mounted some resistance with their spears against the British guns.
However, much of what was here is lost underneath the Sydney suburban sprawl. Some of Australia's most significant history is open to be visited. Convict built roads can be walked, and colonial mansions and properties remain. Much is under the shopping malls carparks - only found in history books.
- Ambarwell Studio & Gallery, 12 Garemyn Rd, ☏ . 120-year-old building with working pottery studio and gallery (in Japanese tradition).
- Dural Musical Society, 604 Old Northern Rd, ☏ . Dural Soldiers Memorial Hall.
Museums and culture
- Muru Mittigar, 356 Annangrove Rd Rouse Hill, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 8:30 AM to 4PM. Muru Mittigar is an indigenous cultural education centre, featuring short tours and talks on such subjects as traditional use of plants, art designs and dance. Bookings essential.
- 1 Koala Park, 84 Castle Hill Road, West Pennant Hills, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Daily 9AM-5PM. If you don't have time to go out a look in the bush by yourself, you can get up close and personal with a koala or kangaroo at the Koala Park Sanctuary. You can see the koalas being fed at 10:20am, 11:45AM, 2PM and 3PM. Admission is $27 adults and $9 children.
Parks and gardens
- Park Berowra Valley Regional Park. Walking trails leading to the Great North Walk can be entered at the very end of Quarry Road, Dural. No motorcycles or dogs allowed.
- 1 Cumberland State Forest, 95 Castle Hill Road, West Pennant Hills, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Walking trails through a eucalypt forest, picnic areas, information centre and forest shop, kiosk and coffee shop, native plant nursery. Dogs welcome. Free admission.
- Dural Golf Driving Range, 260 New Line Road, Dural, ☏ . Two tiers of driving bays and lots of parking. Children and families welcome.
- Dural Putt Putt Mini-Golf, Old Northern Road, Dural, ☏ . 2 mini-golf courses and a coffee shop in a garden setting.
- Dural Squash and Fitness Centre, 895 Old Northern Road, Dural, ☏ . Lots of facilities for keeping fit. Includes yoga classes.
- Muirfield Golf Club, Barclay Road, North Rocks, ☏ .
- Calma Connections, 2 Kenthurst Road, ☏ . Round Corner (Dural Mall). Bowen Therapy, remedial massage, various therapies and meditation sessions. ATMs accredited.
- Swami Sarasvati Health Farm, 183 Pitt Town Road, Kenthurst, ☏ . Yoga, meditation, stress management and Tai Chi with one of Australia's foremost instructors. Set on 60 acres of bushland, with a spa, pool, gym and tennis facilities.
- Lane Cove National Park, Plassey Rd, North Ryde (enter from Lane Cove Rd, Lady Game Dr, Delhi Rd or Plassey Rd), ☏ . A beautiful national park located close to the city with Lane Cove River running through the heart of it. Ideal for bush walking, cycling and exploring nature. An abundance of native wildlife and historical features. Park entry fee is $8 per vehicle per day.
- Berry Good Farms, 53 Arcadia Road, Galston, ☏ . Hydroponically-grown strawberries.
- Galston Strawberries, 359 Galston Road, Galston, ☏ . Grown by the Barba family.
- Warrah Farm Shop, 20 Harris Road, Dural, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. M–F 8:30AM–5:30PM. Bio-dynamic and organic produce grown and sold to support charity.
There are several large shopping centres in the area.
- Castle Towers Shopping Centre, 4 Castle Street, Castle Hill, ☏ . Huge shopping centre in the centre of Castle Hill.
- Dural Antiques, 857 Old Northern Road, Dural, ☏ . Open Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
- Stewart Antiques, 934 Old Northern Road, Glenorie, ☏ . Open Wednesday to Sunday.
- Dural Orchids, 702 Old Northern Road, Dural, ☏ . Closed Wednesdays.
- Geranium Cottage, 828 Old Northern Road, Middle Dural, ☏ . A nursery growing geraniums and petargoniums.
- Highland Rose Nursery, 859 Old Northern Road, Dural, ☏ .
- Nati Brothers Roses, 790 Old Northern Road, Dural, ☏ . Daily.
- Swane's Nurseries, 490 Galston Road, Dural, ☏ . One of Sydney's most famous plant nurseries, in business 84 years, with coffee shop and gift shop.
- Virginia Farm Woolworks, 112 Annangrove Road, Annangrove, ☏ . Fibres, yarns and spinning equipment for the handspinner, felter and weaver.
- 1 Wildpear Cafe, 658 Old Northern Rd Dural, ☏ . Brunch and lunch, with much emphasis on the pear ingredient. Nice views across the countryside. Mains from $20.
- Black Stump Restaurant, 243 New Line Road, Dural, ☏ . Steak house, not recommended for vegetarians!
- Butterfly Cafe, 628 Old Northern Road, Dural (next to Hargraves Nursey), ☏ . Has private gardens and running waterways in a rainforest setting. Open only Thursday through Sunday.
- Buoni Amici Italian Seafood Restaurant, 83 Annangrove Road, Kenthurst, ☏ . Alfresco dining and take away. Pizza and pasta home delivery.
- Cafe Belle Fleur, 609 Old Northern Road, Dural (Located inside the Flower Power Nursery), ☏ . Open seven days.
- Cristina's Pizzeria, 14 Kenthurst Road, Round Corner, ☏ . Eat in, take-away and home delivery.
- Dural Country Club, 662 Old Northern Road, Dural, ☏ . Open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. Entertainment by local and international artists.
- Dural Terrace Chinese Restaurant, 268 New Line Road, Dural (Off the "Roundabout"), ☏ .
- Gallery Two Cafe, 1 Porters Road, Kenthurst, ☏ .
- Ironbark Cafe, 490 Galston Road, Dural (Within Swanes Nursery), ☏ . Open seven days for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea. Closed Christmas Day and Good Friday.
- Journey to India Restaurant, 632 Old Northern Road, Dural, ☏ .
- Mother Earth Cafe, 1A Annangrove Road, Kenthurst, ☏ . A cafe in a plant nursery in an unusual mud brick building with a waterfall cascading off the roof! Open Tuesday through Sunday for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea.
- Nobles Restaurant and Bar, Corner of Windsor & Salisbury Roads, Castle Hill (in the Hills Lodge Grand Mercure), ☏ . Offers buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. Log fire, courtyard, children's menu.
- Puddle Cottage, Corner of Sedger and Annangrove Roads, Kenthurst (in the Hills Garden and Landscape Centre), ☏ .
- Regals' Rendezvous Restaurant, 249 Annangrove Road, Annangrove, ☏ . Indoor dining in a 100-year-old cottage, outdoor dining, and a bar.
- Secret Garden Cafe, 658 Old Northern Road, Dural (inside the Dural Garden Centre), ☏ . Open seven days for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea.
- Tandoori Sizzler Indian Restaurant, 524 Old Northern Road, Round Corner, ☏ .
- Waratah Cottage Cafe, 272 Old Northern Road, Dural, ☏ . Has a log fire in winter and alfresco dining year round. Open seven days a week.
- Ranch Bistro and Hotel, Epping Rd, North Ryde (Near Macquarie Shopping Centre). Great family orientated place to eat with a very large and popular bistro. This place is more bistro than a pub.
- Hillside Hotel, 273 Old Northern Road Castle Hill, ☏ . Hillside Hotel offers patrons an indoor and outdoor drinking and dining experience with great live entertainment. Relax over dinner in the bistro, grab a quick bite to eat before or after the cinema or simply catch up with friends over a glass of wine. Comfy leather lounges and chilled out background music. Upstairs sleek cocktail lounge. Modern decor.
- Dural Hotel Motel, 271 Old Northern Road, Dural, ☏ . Cozy pub that offers a bottle shop, sundeck bistro, gaming lounge. Has motel accommodation.
- Bull and Bush Hotel, Windsor Road, Baulkham Hills. A relaxed, friendly atmosphere. Casual drinking. Basically, your classic Aussie pub.
- Novotel Sydney Norwest (formerly Crown Plaze), 1 Columbia Court, Baulkham Hills, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 132 rooms and two restaurants in the Norwest development. 24 hour reception desk. Wi-Fi internet in each room. 17-metre outdoor swimming pool. Multilingual staff.
- Dural Gardens Bed & Breakfast, 24 Sagars Road, Dural, ☏ . Beautiful modern Georgian style residence set on 5 acres with formal gardens.
- Dural House at Round Corner, 679 Old Northern Road, Round Corner, ☏ . Bed and breakfast.
- Active Holiday Sydney Hills, 269 New Line Road, Dural 2158, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Self-contained units and cabins, as well as sites for caravans and tents, swimming pool, kiosk and laundry.
- Hotel Ibis, 200 Pennant Hills Road, Thornleigh, ☏ . 105 rooms and air conditioning. Wireless internet.
- Lauders Loft Bed and Breakfast, 14 Blacks Road, Arcadia, ☏ .
- The Hills Lodge Grand Mercure, Corner of Windsor & Salisbury Roads, Castle Hill, ☏ . Boutique hotel. Includes restaurant and bar.
- Cattai National Park - First Fleet surgeon Thomas Arndell's 1821 Cattai Farm and surrounds has grassy picnic areas, barbecues and shelter sheds beside the Hawkesbury River, and car-based camping is available year round (bookings essential). Tel: +61-2-9995-5000. Lots of walking tracks and the ruins of a windmill thought to be the oldest industrial building in NSW. About 30-40 minutes drive from the area, north of Windsor.
- Marramarra National Park - Well worth a visit, only about a 15-minute drive north of Dural, at the junction of Hawkesbury River and Berowra Creek. Canoeing, camping, bushwalking, picnicking or birdwatching. Tel: +61-2-9995-5000.
- Scheyville National Park - near Windsor, is about a 30 minute drive. Conserves endangered ecological communities and species of the Cumberland Plain and Hawkesbury River catchment. Some colonial remnants and relics from old farms. Tel: +61-2-9995-5000.