Our little village is a hidden gem at the top of the mountains. Start up on the highway with Mount Vic and Me for a range of greeting cards, tea towels and new Blue Mountains Socks made here in Australia. Get your cards read next door at Jennifer Marie’s Psychic Emporium, then head up to Victorious Interiors and The Other Lady where you will find a lovely range of furniture and french interiors.
Curios and collectables abound in the Pop Up Shop, Cobwebbs Collectables and The Gallery. Duck into the Baytree Nursery to see an array of cold climate plants. For history buffs, head to Mount Victoria Museum to see an array of historical pieces including dioramas from The Hydro Majestic and even Ned Kelly’s sister Kate’s bed!
If you are of the adventurous kind you’ll appreciate the bush walks in the area, you can head out to Mount York where Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth famously realised they’d crossed the Blue Mountains. If you walk up to Mount Piddington you’ll pass One Tree Hill – which Mount Victoria was originally named after – and is the highest point in the city of the Blue Mountains.
For eats we are lucky how many we have here. Petalura Eatery is where you can get a lovely sit down lunch by the fire. I recommend their Spanokopita. Further down is Piccolo Deli, a great place to pick up coffee and yummy homemade cake.
Victoria & Albert Guesthouse is recently reopened where you can enjoy a true Yulefest Christmas dinner. Mount Victoria Manor has beautiful tapas and eats available.
After all this head to old style Mount Vic Flicks where you can get yourself a cuppa tea and homemade soup while watching the film. You may even get to hear the organist play before the show!
by Kara Cooper
Local designer & Best Eats contributor
The Mid Mountains villages of Lawson and Hazelbrook are home to a thriving foodie scene. David Stott is your guide
If all you saw of Lawson was the view from the Great Western Highway, you’d be forgiven for cruising right on past its row of anonymous brown brick shops. So it’s a more-than-pleasant surprise to find, tucked away behind the Subways and real estate offices, a veritable village of gourmet delights.
Bookended by buzzing Cortado café and a great Thai joint, Maprang, are two bona fide food destinations all the sweeter for feeling like you’ve stumbled on a local secret.
Mesa Barrio is the landmark here, with a sophisticated tapas bar vibe and a tight menu of Mediterranean delights including vego-friendly fare such as the signature fried haloumi with oregano, sumac and grilled lemon. Pop in for a quick weekend lunch, or settle in for the evening and work your way through the awesome cocktail menu.
A few steps away, Black Cockatoo Bakery is where French baker Alex produces the most fabulously light croissants and pain au chocolat in (possibly) the southern hemisphere, plus the best sourdough west of Alexandria. Lines form before the doors open at 8.30am, and they close when the last loaf sells. Quite literally in this town – you snooze, you lose.
Smugly tucking your baguette under your arm, bound up the stairs to Rust and Timber Chocolate Bar, where you can warm up over a steaming mug of hot chocolate while pondering which artisan truffle to sample next.
Five minutes’ drive east, humble Hazelbrook has its own nascent food scene, headlined by the cool café and fermentation station Hasty Tiger. Sample their home-made kimchi on a burger, washed down with a draft of locally-brewed Bulla Booch kombucha. Or for a truly authentic Hazo good time, head here on a Friday night, when locals pile in to feast on wings and sample an ever-changing selection of craft beers. Grab a chair, make a new friend, and gaze upon the wondrous spectacle that is Hazelbrook car park – a Bolshoi Ballet of the parking arts.
Don’t leave the Mid Mountains without checking some of the area’s wealth of hidden riches. Whether you trawl the antique shops or head out on a worldclass waterfall bushwalk, this little corner of the Blue Mountains is much more than a quick game of I-Spy.
by David Stott
Food lover & Best Eats editorial contributor
Escarpment Group dining outlets located throughout the Blue Mountains are among Sydney’s finest. With three restaurants shortlisted in the annual Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA) awards, besteats.com.au decided to have a closer look at the Escarpment Group’s triumphs on this mecca award night.
Darley’s Restaurant on the Lilianfels Resort & Spa property at Echo Point was this year’s runner-up in the Deluxe Restaurant category to Black by Ezard at The Star. Finalists for the mid-range category included Escarment Group’s Echoes Restaurant (also situated in Echo Point) and the Wintergarden Restaurant situated in the Hydro Majestic Hotel (Medlow Bath).
The “people categories” form a vital part of the annual awards, which this year saw a record-breaking 320 nominations received from 82 NSW hotels across 34 categories.
Operations Manager for the Escarpment Group Adam Holmes congratulated kitchen and wait staff at all dining venues for delivering consistent food excellence and customer service: “It’s great to see that the Blue Mountains was once again a favoured destination for Regional Deluxe travellers, with our colleagues at Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley taking out top prize for the Regional Deluxe Hotel of the Year and the Fairmont Resort winning Rooms Division Talent of the Year.”
TAA NSW chairman Peter Tudehope said staff were the greatest asset of any hotel, no matter the size or location of the venue: “It is the quality of staff that really make or break a hotel.
“Well-trained, attentive staff are the difference between a routine hotel stay and a unique experience that will be enjoyed, remembered and talked about for years to come. I would like to congratulate all the nominees and all the winners on the work they do each and every day to provide a premium experience to all guests in our hotels – you really do make a difference.”
Lookout, More Tourists: Fantastic Aussie Tours managing director Jason Cronshaw and Indian Pacific manager Penelope Milne invite tourists to alight.
Rail riders can experience a great fat look at The Three Sisters and Katoomba when the Indian Pacific pulls into the Blue Mountains each week.
The optional off-train excursion for passengers travelling from Perth is the result of a new partnership between Fantastic Aussie Tours (FAT), Great Southern Rail which owns the iconic Indian Pacific touring train, Scenic World, Blue Mountains Guides and the Trippas White Group which owns The Lookout Restaurant at Echo Point.
FAT managing director Jason Cronshaw said the Blue Mountains excursion would be an option each Wednesday, with passengers alighting the train at Mt Victoria after breakfast.
A FAT bus would then transport them to Scenic World to experience the range of thrilling rides or a trek through awe-inspiring landscapes along Prince Henry Walk with Blue Mountains Guides.
Lunch with a view
All passengers would then assemble for lunch at The Lookout Restaurant near the Three Sisters rock formation overlooking the Jamison Valley before being returned to the Indian Pacific in a FAT bus and continuing their rail journey to Sydney.
``For many years, Indian Pacific passengers caught glimpses of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area as they hurtled through the bush and the villages,’’ Mr Cronshaw said.
``Now, whatever activity they choose to do here they will experience what we are blessed with every day.’’
The package had taken five years to finalise, with the main challenge reserving a rail pathway in the increasingly busy Blue Mountains rail line timetable.
``This is a fantastic coup for the businesses directly involved in this package including us of course, but it has the potential to bring hundreds of visitors to the region who will hopefully return to stay at least one night in a hotel or B&B, eat out in our cafes and restaurants and visit the attractions and retail outlets throughout the area,’’ Mr Cronshaw said.
Each train had a potential load of 252 passengers.
Indian Pacific manager Penelope Milne said the daytrip option would be expanded to an overnight stay by 2019.
In the meantime, the excursions would encourage longer return visits among passengers.
In fact, one passenger on the inaugural trip on April 4 spent the night in the Blue Mountains before returning home via the public rail network.
Go to greatsouthernrail.com.au/trains/the-indian-pacific/off-train-excursions/blue-mountains to book a seat on the Indian Pacific. Go to fantastic-aussie-tours.com.au for information about Fantastic Aussie Tours.
Best Eats Blue Mountains is a food guide printed Seasonally, with the first edition this Winter.
We aim to assist tourists and locals alike to find the best food, wine and coffee in the beautiful World Heritage listed Blue Mountains, as well as surrounds including Nepean (Penrith), Hawkesbury, Lithgow and Central West.
The Guide includes maps, as well as shopping trails including Antiques and retail, plus food tours, and more. It's a DL style which fits neatly into Information Centres, Cafe's, Pubs, AirBnBs and tourist hotspots around the region.
Food, wine, coffee, restaurants, cafes, bistros, eateries, deli's, bakeries, pie shops, fine dining, hotels, pubs, clubs, bottle shops, accommodation, cellars and cellar doors, wineries, tourist stops, toilets, best attractions and more!