Hello! This Blue Mountains Guide has been a lifetime in the making… developed over hundreds of trips from Sydney out west and back again.
As Sydney-based kids we’d do this trip most weekends en route to our place near Mudgee or to visit our grandparents who lived in Leura. In my twenties, I’d drive over them to visit my parents, then at Rydal (just on the other side of the divide), and for the past 13 years living in Orange, have been going backwards and forwards to Sydney regularly. Until we stopped doing them, most weekends for farmers markets, but now for work and to visit family and friends.
So yep, it’s a road I know pretty well – and it’s a part of the world I really really love.
And because a few participants coming along to the November 23 Workshop at Rydal have asked for some suggestions on where to stay, stop, shop and eat along the Mountains, I thought I’d put together a list of favourites. Before we go any further, just a note that there are five spots left for this workshop and…..we’ve just developed a second workshop the day after, Saturday 24 November. So if you want to make a weekend of it and spend two days workshopping with us, please check them both out (they complement each other nicely).
Of course, if you stop at every cafe I recommend, you may find yourself drinking six or seven more coffees than normal so maybe throw in a decaf or herbal tea somewhere along the line.
And please note – this is not an exhaustive list, it’s just a collection of my favourite places. I’m sure I’ve missed some great spots, not on purpose, just because I don’t know about them (I’m a creature of habit, so seem to stop at my favourites every trip!)) so if you have any suggestions please do leave them in a comment below. Thanks!
Ok….so lets go…I’ve written this as if you are heading up from Sydney in the morning and have most of the day to explore as you make your way to Blackheath where you could stay the night before coming to our workshop! Blackheath to Rydal isn’t too far, about 35 mins down the hill. But if you’d prefer to stay in Rydal itself, there are some great options here too, listed below.
If you fancy a coffee as soon as you hit the Mountains, turn left, off the highway at Glenbrook for a coffee/breakfast/snack chez Kickaboom (pictured below). I really like their coffee and the whole menu is creative, delicious and thoughtful.
Continuing along, next stop is Lyttleton Stores at Lawson – this beautiful and creative cooperative sells local produce, crafts, preserves and gives away good feels for free. Stop in here for fresh fruit, juices, teas and baked goods and browse the store’s Atelier studio for locally made ceramics, jewellery, prints and other works.
Before leaving Lawson, absolutely drop in to Black Cockatoo Bakery to pick up one of baker Alex Rivière famous sourdough baguettes, croissants, loaves. They’ve also just started serving filter coffees with their pastries. Have a read of this great write up in Broadsheet for more incentives to visit this place.
Ok, time to hit the highway again, drive on about 20 minutes until you hit Leura, and here turn off towards Everglades Gardens. This art deco National Trust property is absolutely worth a visit, with gardens designed by Paul Sorenson and views a plenty. Maybe find a pretty spot to sit and enjoy one of your Black Cockatoo Bakery treats. Next, drive about five minutes towards Sublime Point for the best view of the Mountains (in my very humble opinion). This look out is where I always take visitors, there’s never anyone else there and it really is sublime.
By now it may well be time for lunch, so put Solitary Kiosk in your GPS and make your way to one of the most beautiful spots on the Mountains. The restaurant here is fancy (fairly spenny) but totally gorgeous and wonderful for a special treat. But if you are just after scones, jam and cream, toastie, soup, or something light, try their Kiosk. You still get to enjoy the spectacular views, just not the full menu.
Ok, so now I think we should just push on to Blackheath. But if you are keen for another coffee, or piece of cake or something, maybe stop in at Cafe Synonymous or the Hydro Majestic at Meadow Bath. The former is probably the place I stop most often along the Mountains, gorgeous space, great coffee and lunches.
When it comes to places to stay in Blackheath, I admit I’ve never slept a night in this gorgeous village (only 35 mins from Mum and Dad’s so never have had need) but have done some research and here below are three places that look and sound pretty fab;
Places to stay in Blackheath
Blue Mountains Cottage Cabin – how cute does this little pad look! Great reviews on Airbnb and nice price.
Glenella – one of the more old school accomodation options on the Mountains, a gorgeous house and (according to the internet), fabulous hospitality.
Parklands -A really gorgeous looking boutique hotel
Illalang Collage – this cottage would be fabulous for a girls or family weekend away.
Belle-Gordon Garden Studio – cute little studio on Airbnb, this looks like a nice option if you are coming up on your own and want somewhere cosy and quiet to stay.
Things to do around Blackheath
Anonymous Cafe – sister to Synonymous Cafe, they do excellent coffee and breakfasts.
Station Street Store – I adore this boutique full of locally made homewares. Come here for gifts with soul and character that you won’t find anywhere else.
Gleebooks Blackheath – The kids and I mark the beginning of every school holiday trip to Sydney with a stop off here and we all get a new book to read for the holidays. This is such a gorgeous book shop, their cookbook section is excellent and the whole vibe perfect for a good hour of browsing with coffee in hand. The kids book section is pretty rad too.
Fumo – Oh my gosh go; for breakfast, lunch or dinner, the food is incredible.
Piedmont Italian restaurant – very simple Italian trattoria style food, lovely people, great for a relaxed meal.
Blackheath Memorial Park – definitely head here for a little morning stroll, and if it’s warm enough, a dip in the pool (the heritage listed art deco change rooms are just gorgeous). This park, with it’s sweeping lawns, gorgeous established evergreen trees and winding pathways is one of my favourite spots on the mountains.
Logan Brae Orchard – While currently closed for the season, do check out these guys, the setting is just stunning and they host some fab events and apple picking through Summer and Autumn.
On your way to or from Blackheath to Rydal, if the timing works, why not swing by Ambermere Rose Inn for coffee and cake or a meal. Beautiful historic Inn and apparently great food (I’ve not eaten there yet but plan to as soon as possible.
Places to stay in Rydal
Rose Cottage, a super cute little B&B, you’ll feel like you are sleeping in the pages of Country Style magazine.
Rydal Cottage – looks really lovely and is super convenient to the workshops.
Mountains Made – if you’d like to connect with some clever creatives on the Mountain, this hub will help you out
The Blue Mountains also hosts some really fabulous farmers markets, sadly none are happening the weekend of our workshops (23/24 November) but if you are visiting another time, check out the Visit NSW page for details.