Go west, where autumn attractions are at their peak (and valleys)
Dramatic valleys and blue-tinged vistas. Invigorating mountain air. Grand hotels and art deco cafes. It’s little wonder the Blue Mountains have been Sydney’s playground for more than 100 years, and autumn is the perfect time of year to visit. Take the train or jump in the car and escape to the mountains in a mere two hours.
9am: Art Deco Discoveries
Katoomba – the Blue Mountains’ epicentre – was first developed as a resort destination in the late 19th Century. Its main street still boasts many beautiful examples of art deco architecture, such as the Paragon café that dates back to 1916. Relive this bygone era with a stroll down Katoomba Street and pop into the overflowing antique shops. This town is a trove of vintage treasures.
1pm: Warm Your Cockles
After some dedicated foraging, restore your constitution with some hearty victuals. There’s no better stop than the Old City Bank Bar & Brasserie for a warming pub feed. If the English watering-hole vibe hasn’t fully transported you to Ol’ Blighty, a more-ish beef and Guinness pie with mushy peas and a pint of ale will.
3pm: Lurk in Leura
This popular spot has more homeware and gift stores than a one-horse town, plus there are a couple of gastronome gems that make it a worthy visit. Josophan’s Fine Chocolates boutique is a cocoa-holic’s dream. And across the tree-lined street is Leura Cellars, a haven for the true oenophile. Upstairs the store boasts one of NSW’s best ranges of craft brews, while under the floorboards you’ll discover the cellar – shelves laden with Australia’s most celebrated vintages, plus a healthy selection of such old-world superstars as Chateau Latour.
6pm: Make a Toast
Indulge in the tradition of the cocktail hour at Champagne Charlies inside The Carrington hotel. While not as lively as the joint might have been during the Roaring ’20s, they do know how to shake a mean, potent potable. Go for the Old Cuban – Havana Club rum, mint, lime, sugar, bitters and sparkling; a modern classic.
8.30pm: Bring Your Marshmallows
There’s no shortage of accommodation options in the Blue Mountains, but one that gets our vote is theMountain Heritage Hotel & Spa Retreat, with its sweeping views of Jamison Valley. Just a short stroll from Katoomba, this historic retreat was built in 1908 under the handle ‘The California’. Many rooms contain a fireplace, so bring your marshmallows and crack that bottle of red you purchased earlier.
9am: Meet the Sisters
Towering above the Jamison Valley are the Three Sisters – a striking rock formation and the Blue Mountains’ most famous landmark. En route, strap on your walking shoes, take a stroll down Katoomba Street, and pick up a coffee on your way to Echo Point, where you can view the main attraction. It’s only two kilometres south of the town.
Noon: Horsing Around
One of the best ways to explore the mountain scenery is to give your legs a rest and borrow someone else’s. In the Megalong Valley, a short drive west of Katoomba, you have a myriad of horse riding options to serve your purpose. Werriberri Trail Rides are a family affair with Kathy Tucker and her four children running the show.
6:30pm: Local Dining
In Leura, the French-infused, modern Australian menu at Silk’s Brasserie is hard to beat. A piquant Provençale fish soup with saffron, aioli & rye crostini is the pick of the entrees, whereas the generous and juicy Moroccan lamb loin with couscous, pine nuts, dates, tomato relish and gremolata reflects some real country hospitality.