They’re both known for their vast landscapes and rugged charm. but lately two of Australia’s most popular getaways have had a seriously cool upgrade. Here’s how to spend a perfect weekend in the Blue Mountains.
PM Take the M4 route up the Blue Mountains from Sydney – the alternative Bells Line of Road is more scenic but misses the major towns. If you find yourself stuck in an end-of week traffic snarl, make a mid-Mountains stop at the under-theradar village of Lawson for the smoky woodfired pizzas and tiramisu at Napoli Corner. Then wind your way to Blackheath and the newly renovated, Palm Springs-inspired boutique motel Kyah. You should still have plenty of time for a nightcap at the on-site restaurant and bar, Blaq, before bed.
AM Pop into Katoomba, just a 10-minute drive away, for fresh-baked croissants or a flaky Oomite and cheddar scroll at Black Cockatoo Bakery; all its pastries are made with cult fave Pepe Saya butter. Stroll the shops – Silverfox Vintage (69 Waratah Street, Katoomba; 04102 397 770) has fabulous retro furnishings – and check out the street art walk on Beverly Place. Beeline to Mountain Culture Beer Co., once the site of an 1800s schoolhouse and a local newspaper, for lunchtime burgers and a schooner of its Status Quo Pale Ale. Grab a seat on the outdoor terrace for those famous misty-blue valley views.
PM Head back to Blackheath and take a 20-minute drive through the rainforest (the only access from the mountains) to the Megalong Valley for a wine tasting and cheese board at Dryridge Estate, which owners Emma MacMahon and Simon Doyle have given a fresh hospitality focus. They’ll set you up with eight wines at a table facing knockout Narrow Neck escarpment views. Then pootle back to Katoomba, where dinner at hip newcomer Tempus might include share plates of duck with XO sauce or burrata with radicchio and grilled grapes, plus wines from nearby Orange and housemade sodas (don’t sleep on the wattleseed cola). There’s even a solid vegan dégustation if that’s your jam.
AM Start the day with a lazy breakfast at Kyah – the smashed avo toast with chimichurri made from the hotel’s kitchen garden is the pick of the menu. If it’s the second Sunday of the month, wander around the Blackheath Growers Market before tucking into fish tacos, guacamole and a non-alcoholic Heaps Normal beer (you’re driving home, remember) at Zoe’s on the main drag (35 Govetts Leap Road, Blackheath; 0448 321 233).
PM Mid-afternoon is a great time to meander back to the city; the drive is full of valley glimpses and the occasional peek at the distant Sydney skyline. You should have time to duck into The Falls Store in Wentworth Falls, an offshoot of legacy Sydney homewares store Orson & Blake, to fossick for artwork, jewellery and vintage fashion. To really delay your return, check the National Parks website for possible trail closures before detouring to the lovely and lesserknown fire trail from Chester Road that leads to Rocket Point Lookout – it’s the best place to see Wenty’s waterfall. If you’re up to it, carry on to Lincoln’s Rock in the Kings Tableland Plateau (it’s not fenced, so take care), which is known for its gorgeous horizon outlook and its significance to the local First Nations people, who’ve been meeting and camping there for more than 14,000 years.
SEE ALSO: Your Cheat Sheet to the Blue Mountains
Image credit: Steven Woodburn, Maja Baska