Take a romantic break in this world-renowned region north-west of Sydney – without a tourist in sight.
Far from the Three Sisters and selfie sticks, Spicers Sangoma Retreat in Bowen Mountain is where you’ll discover a different side to the Blue Mountains. This hideaway is about 10 minutes from Sydney’s outermost suburbs yet the sense of calm is other-worldly. Perhaps it’s the resort’s eucalypt-shrouded setting or simply the fact that it’s adults-only? Whatever the reason, prepare for a weekend where you can truly slow down and switch off, with nothing to interrupt your thoughts but the sound of rustling leaves. The all-inclusive retreat has eight suites, many perched on cliffs, but our pick is the African-inspired Tent Suite with a chandelier, large freestanding Philippe Starck bathtub and private outdoor deck. At dinnertime, make your way to the central dining room with its roaring fires and indulge in the ever-changing tasting menu by chef Matthew Ostrenski’s (ex-Vue de Monde) featuring dishes such as braised rabbit with smoked corn broth.
For glorious views – minus the tourist buses – drive 40 minutes west of the retreat to The Blue Mountains Botanic Garden in Mount Tomah. It’s a labyrinth of walking trails dotted with picnic tables, benches, barbecues, magnificent trees (some more than 100 years old) and floral displays ranging from vivid rhododendrons to fiery marigolds. Do a free guided walk or blaze your own trail, arriving at The Potager, located within the garden, for chef Robert Upton’s relaxed fare. Creamy chicken-and-mushroom pot pie, anyone?
Back at the retreat, relax at Spa Anise with a hot-stone or aromatherapy massage and other full-body treatments. For dinner, drive 15 minutes north to Lochiel House, an intimate restaurant set in a farmer’s cottage that’s almost 200 years old. Nathan Parker and Tayla Clout are at the helm, serving hearty offerings such as braised pork belly pancake and beetroot pappardelle.
Gourmet breakfast offerings at Sangoma range from zucchini spaghetti topped with a poached egg to sweet potato gnocchi paired with crisp walnuts and apple. Take a seat in the dining room proper or nab a table by the pool and enjoy the 180-degree view of the lush valley. And before you head back to Sydney, don’t miss the Vale of Avoca Lookout in Grose Vale, where you can gaze down at the silvery Grose River weaving its way through unspoilt bushland. It’s a sight that will remain with you long after the weekend is over.