Looks like it’s time for me to write something a little more constructive than my last few blogs…
I had a chat with some tree-changers about my recent rant and while they love their new home in the mountains, they were actually yet to embrace what the area offers.
I grew up in the Blue Mountains – a childhood I loved, once I got over the lack of shopping centres and prevalence of gumnut mugs – and since then I have trashed the Blue Mountains for turning too bogan, and for being left to ruin by a council that is too conservative and small-minded .
So now, I am going to prove my deep adoration for the place where I was raised, and explain what you can do with your days if you do choose to move there, or what to do if you’d like to use it as an escape hatch to relieve inner city tension – as I do.
Everyone knows (and many abhor) the Three Sisters experience, the overpriced Scenic World, and the Leura Mall. For now, I’m leaving them to Sunday drivers and tour groups in buses that have koalas painted on the side.
Here are nine great Blue Mountains activities. They are things I enjoy and that you may not know of. Actually, it’s only eight and I want you to add a ninth in the comments…
1) Garage Sales
The community in the mountains has a few humble features you might never discover without scratching the surface; The art being created, the organic food being produced and the garage sales!
Check the local paper – The BM Gazette – on Friday night and line up the best addresses on your GPS. Be ready to go by 8am – the pro’s start even earlier. I often get around to six or eight ten within a couple of hours and usually within just a few suburbs. Most garage sales are chockas with retro bric-a-brac that city stores charge you much, much more for.
Plus, you get to go in strangers’ houses! They don’t mind. Many residents see it as a social event and invite the neighbours over. It’s as if selling their junk is just an excuse to meet people. Get involved.
2) Mount Hay lookout
With countless lookouts to choose from, this one is well away from the traffic and tourists but you aren’t at risk of needing a chopper lift you out. The walk out is pretty splendid too so park your car early and repeat the mantra “It’s all about the journey” – this is especially useful if you are underwhelmed by wide vistas of mountains that aren’t really that blue.
3) Shop at Frou Fou.
The owner of this unique store (now on Raymond Road, Springwood) is Parissa, a friend of mine who used to run it out of a tiny space in Lilyfield. Parissa is so aesthetically minded she always looks like she just left a Parisienne street market in the 1950s. That pretty much explains the store too.
4) Wentworth Falls Lake
Many long-time residents of the mountains never visit this lake or the slightly less glorious Glenbrook Lagoon. I’ll never understand why. Each offers a much richer experience than those man-made ponds you find in new estates. Expect ducks, playground equipment, more ducks and barbecues.
5) Lily’s Pad Cafe
Leura has many good quality cafes but the Mall is busy and full of Mosman mothers on the weekend but luckily most people don’t realise this one has the best coffee, the best outdoor area and the food is, well, it’s all about the coffee and the outdoor seating.
6) Birdwood Gully Glow-Worms
How many places in Sydney boast a twilight glowworm bushwalk. Oh boy is this a cool walk, ideal for the young, old or infirm. Ok, maybe not the infirm – a wheelchair wouldn’t get beyond the first few metres. But this is a mostly level wander in a gully just a couple of minutes from Springwood’s town centre It lights up with the Aussie equivalent of fireflies at dusk. You’re all done in under forty minutes. Delightful.
7) Sassafras Gully
Head to the end of Sassafras Gully Road in Springwood to discover the natural water hole made famous by my friend Doug when he initiated ten years worth of camping adventures for me and my friends. It was then made even more famous as the place where Elle Macpherson went skinny-dipping for the film Sirens. It’s about a two-hour round trip. There’s a reasonably steep walk out. Take the whole family or just your backpack – whichever is easiest to get in the car.
8 ) The Carrington
Lay about with a glass of port in the one of the library rooms of Katoomba’s Carrington Hotel. Where else can you wander into a majestic old hotel, pull up a Chesterton lounge and dally for hours, completely unnoticed. The landscaped grounds offer more space to laze about if you get a sunny day. If you want something more high-brow, you could try Lilianfels but I imagine they’d throw you out if you had too much fun.
9) Your turn.
I want to know your secret Blue Mountains experience… PLEASE??!!
Use the comments area below.
I have fond memories of the lookouts at Glenbrook sitting there at dusk waiting for the city lights to switch on and give us a spectacular view. We also spent a lot of time at Jelly Bean pool and walking from the gorge at Glenbrook down to Emu Plains
Ahh, my beloved mountains. What are some highlights… Hargreaves lookout Blackheath at Sunset, or Evans lookout at Sunrise. Strolling through Blackheath park, trying to get a handle on the innumerable and remarkable conifer varieties. I’d have to add the coffee at Blue Hour in Katoomba st; Coffee without Leura attitude. There are plenty of options that lack Luke’s Oh, so cherished brevity. The Grand Canyon walk from Evans lookout is a little steep, but wonderfully diverse in terrain, vegetation and birdlife. Sitting around a camp fire anywhere with lots of stars… Genuine organic locally grown produce at the Katoomba coop… Thanks for the reminder of natural wonders.
The Blue Hour? Don’t think I have tried this. Agree with the co-op and Blackheath Park too. Great additions.
Would now also add the best cafe in Glenbrook – Jazz Apple (previously The Blue Tongue Lizard). Run by Sarah Jessop who has some of the coolest tattoos you will ever see. Tell her I said you could see them. 😉
The following suggestion isn’t really a secret, but I’m not sure it should be missing from a ‘favourites of the Blue Mountains’ list.
I believe a wander around Norman Lindsey Gallery in Faulconbridge on a dry day is one of those opportunities for a magical experience in the Mountains. Additionally, budding photographers are awarded an extra opportunity for magic, as they discover the myriad subjects to work with through the view-finder.
The Blue Mountains has many galleries, most of them are boutique, but this is one gallery that stands out for me and it happens to be my favourite in the Blue Mountains. It provides a unique opportunity to not only contemplate the work of one of Australia’s great (if not controversial) artists, but also see where he lived, imagine how he lived and worked in his studio, and meander through the gardens of his estate to discover many of his beautiful sculptures. Plus he’s the author and illustrator of one of Australia’s favourite children’s books, The Magic Pudding.
Ashamedly, I admit I have never actually been into this gallery. I have wandered the gardens but the steep price of entry always put me off. Will now have to go. Timoteo said so!
Autumn – driving up from Glenbrook to Leura and just looking at the colours,
Shoe shops – one in Glenbrook and one in Leura (Shoes in the attic)
Bookshops – Springwood (The turning page) and Leura (Megalong books)
Coffee and Eggs benedict – Red Door Cafe at Leura
Rhonda! I dont know how you found me but it is great to hear from you!
Your suggestions are quality, too. Although I can’t vouch for the shoe shops I have tried al the others and agree. Red Door is my second favourite in Leura and is better for buying Morgans beans.
Send me an email and we will visit buckleup – at – gmail.com