An easy drive west of Sydney, the Invisible House is the perfect accommodation option to forest bathe in style in the Blue Mountains National Park, near the Three Sisters and Jenolan Caves.
Here’s the scene: you’re sitting around a crackling outdoor fire pit, where the kids are toasting marshmallows under the brilliant stars. You don’t have any room for treats though because you’re stuffed from a delicious feast prepared in the gourmet kitchen and devoured with gusto. Away in the distance, you know for a fact there’s an ancient sandstone escarpment because earlier you watched the setting sun streak it with red through blue to deep indigo. Back inside, a roaring fire crackles beneath the soaring ceiling. A glass of 2017 pinot noir from the nearby Dryridge Estate calls your name as you wait for the children to go to bed.
Cleverly designed by Peter Stutchbury, the award-winning Invisible House in rural Ganbenang, about 30 kilometres from Blackheath in NSW’s Blue Mountains, offers the undeniable appeal of fresh air, open skies and sweeping vistas in spacious luxury.
But it’s also an enticing family getaway, sleeping up to eight in four bedrooms, with underfloor heating and open-plan living and dining. The property is perched high on a hill and its floor-to-ceiling windows frame expansive views of the Megalong Valley and eucalypt forests below – and you can see it all whether you’re in bed, the bath or at the dining table.
A more active adventure lies only 20 minutes away, where you can explore the 340-million-year-old Jenolan Caves on a tour that reveals fascinating structures of dripstone, helictites and shawls. Take the 2.6-kilometre Jenolan River walking track to find the strikingly pretty treefern-fringed Blue Lake, where you might spot a platypus in the turquoise water. There are also bridges, cascades and a weir to see on this easy-to-moderate stroll.
If those treasures are too simple to find, try hunting for the buried kind. At the nearby Oberon Visitor Information Centre, the helpful staff will show you how to sift through their onsite practice ore before sending you out to hunt for gemstones or gold with a map and rented gear.
And no-one comes to the Blue Mountains without going in search of gems of the pastry variety: meander down into the picturesque Megalong Valley and you’ll find them at The Megalong Valley Tearooms, where fresh home-cooked delights have been served since 1956 – the apple pie recipe hasn’t changed for 60 years. The valley also hosts wineries such as Megalong Creek Estate, where the cellar door is winningly crafted from a repurposed shipping container and offers pinot grigio, shiraz and viognier along with gorgeous views of the escarpment. Move along to nearby Dryridge Estate to work your way through a ploughman’s lunch or cheese platter with a glass of one of the winery’s Italian varietals (sangiovese, tempranillo or vermentino) while you survey the countryside.
Finally, for that moment when your stay is done but you’re not quite ready to dive back into real life, there’s Ambermere Inn, a Cobb & Co coach-house dating back to 1845 that’s a 25-minute drive north of the Invisible House in Little Hartley. Linger in the gardens or cosy up near one of the fireplaces and tuck into a three-course feast of local produce. Then plot your return.