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Published: December 13th 2017
Geo: -33.714, 150.312
This Easter involved just the two of us on a 500km round trip (incl. excursions) to the Blue Mountains. We had been there 5 years ago on 2 separate day trips (one with A&S to Glenbrook and Wentworth falls and one to Katoomba by ourselves) and had always said we'd go back for longer, so we booked an old style hotel in Katoomba for 3 nights this time.
The autumn weather has been fabulous but I found out on maudy Thursday that no matter when Easter falls it always rains in NSW, it was 28 degrees that day so I didn't really believe it would happen, woke up Good Friday to a grey and wet day and it didn't stop til Holy Saturday night, relentless and amazing really.
So C rented a car on Good Friday (turns out Budget is really near the house and had the best price, so result) and we headed the scenic way - the blue mountains are north west of Sydney but the scenic way involves going more northerly so we swung by the 'mansion' to say hi to the family first and then headed off - via Pennant Hills and 'the Macquarie towns' of Windsor & Richmond til we hit 'the Bells line of road' through the Kurrajong heights, orchard county Bilpin, Mt Tomah, Bell, Mt Victoria, Blackheath, Medlow Bath and Katoomba.
Windsor is nice in a heritage way, you know very tourist oriented olde worlde, there was a great bric-a-brac shop in the town hall but the smell of KFC just permeated the whole town, yuk. We saw in the guide book (am still using the 11 year old book for the element of surprise) that 'The Daniel O'Connell Inn' housed the local historical society which we found but sadly there's no longer a Daniel O'Connell Inn, just the Macquarie Arms which is still there and frankly smelled of sewerage so we didn't bother with lunch!
The scenery through the Bells line of road is stunnacious even in the rain (the alternative is the Great Western Highway which we did last time and is nothing to write home about) and borders the Hunter Valley and we passed the junction for Putty Rd. where we had gone to Newie via from Blue Mtns last time too (and had visited the quaint & lovely Donnellys' tea house in the middle of no where).
The whole trip took most of Good Friday afternoon as the pacific highway up as far as S&F's was bumper to bumper and then the scenic way & stop off in Windsor after we left them ended up taking 2hrs 45mins. So by the time we checked in etc. to 'The Mountain Heritage Hotel' in Katoomba it was weather wise what we'd call at a home a 'dirty ol' night'. So we had dinner in the hotel restaurant, which has a good name but sadly it only had 2 vege starters both of which they had run out of and 1 vege main which they did have and was nice, unsurprisingly it was risotto (which is Australia's answer to the vege option like stir fry used to be at home). Anyway we spent more on wine and port than we did on food but it was all good. Then we settled by the blazing fire for a couple of drinks and there was a good live pianist tinkling the ivories. I don't know when I last saw a blazing fire (apart from in a riot - see Cph blog).
The communal areas of the hotel were all big comfy chairs and sofas, blazing fires, newspapers and picture windows which had amazing views of the Jamison Valley - when the fog eventually cleared on Easter Monday. The hotel was generally like an Irish country house hotel and so you can imagine the décor but it was nice as it was much cooler outside than Sydney and for half an hour one of the mornings I thought I was in actually in Ireland with the temperature and the greenery out the window and the hotel style....then some shrill aussie voice brought me out of my reverie.
So Saturday afternoon we decided we should go to the big scenery spot Echo Point to see 'The 3 sisters' mountain formation & highlight of the Blue Mtns, but it was so foggy and wet we didn't even stop the car, so we thought we'd have lunch in brightly signed 'Vegetarian café' with it's name 'Niche Nosh' on smaller sign than the Vegetarian sign but sadly it was jammers with what I suspect were not all vegetarians - which of course is permitted but it is the ONLY all vege café in town. However there are many vege friendly café's too so had yummy soup in 'Elephant Bean', another "I don't know when I last had" ....soup... but soup rocks! Then we hit the antique, record and books shops (for any of the crew who were there before Fidelma's pharmacy is now a book shop).
Next up we took a spin to Leura which isn't so much the next town as the next street over and had main drag called Megalong (he he he). On spotting MinneHaHa road we couldn't resist so we followed it til we saw brown signs for a waterfall but the trek (on foot) to the waterfall was so waterlogged we had to abandon that mission. We then spent ages trying to establish where the local Indian was and once satisfied it existed we went back to the roaring fire for afternoon tea (cheesecake yum) and headed back there for dinner later only to discover it was closed. Closed on a double public holiday weekend? Couldn't have been Indian owned so! Niche Nosh closed at 8:30pm so we missed it again but Café Zuppa sorted us out with enchiladas and vege burgers instead.
By now it had stopped raining so we left the car back to the hotel and walked down to the 'hippy' pub Gearin's which had been recommended, didn 't see too many hippies just local teenage skanks and it was karoke night but it wasn't as bad as it sounds and there was an ok vibe there, the building itself was lovely old art deco one as many in Katoomba are. Needless to say we didn't stay to long and went to Carrington's bar which had jazz band playing and were ok but it was all very subdued, well we were.
By midnight we were in bed (I am going somewhere with this info.) quietly watching the Godfather & drinking champagne as it happens, when a knock on the door to complain about raised voices came, we were miffed so we turned down the sound only to hear 2 drunken men blathering away on another floor, honestly some people, if you are going to complain at least get the right room!
Easter Sunday morn. we went to see the 3 sisters again, and whilst it wasn't raining and was crawling with Japanese tourists, it was still too foggy to see anything so we took some bemused photos and did a bit of a trek through the puddles, coming back up 'Lady Darley's' steps which nearly killed me (4 times a week in gym how are ya).
Managed to have nice vege Easter lunch in 'Niche Nosh' at last, and heard 2 moaners wondering if they could get a steak sambo there, I knew I was right to be suspicious of the clientele the day before! In that case we should have gone to the French restaurant we spotted to see how asking for a vege dish would gone down (experience says not well).
Anyway then we went for a 75km Sunday drive, as you do, and ended up in Jenolan Caves (limestone like Ailwee only bigger naturally, there's 9 caves), on the way there was grid lock on a tiny narrow country road as bus and an SUV had a standoff! Thankfully after all that the caves were pretty cool and we only saw a fraction but they give you a half price voucher for next time that's valid for a year! There were so many Indians there it felt like Calcutta ( a good thing if you are us).
After another 75km drive back (much quicker due to no SUV tosser stand offs) our last supper was in Pappadino's pizzeria in Katoomba and we graced the Carrington bar with our presence again, where there was a good live vocalist and we had chats to a group of German/French back packers & a few schooners.
Easter Monday was a lovely sunny day and after a civilised (for Oz) 11am check out we went back to see how 'The 3 sisters' were getting on and the fog had cleared and we saw them! I feel sorry for anyone who had just come for a day trip on Sat or Sun as at least we had seen them before.
So mission accomplished, we headed for the Bells line of road again as it was such a nice day and were glad we did as the traffic going the other way on the Gt. Western Highway was mad. Called back into the family that afternoon and stayed for a swim and dinner and had good fun with the kids.
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