Winter time is one of the best times to visit the Blue Mountains in New South Wales. It can be freezing with crisp air and you might get lucky with an occasional snow fall which adds a dramatic winter wonder land feel. Winter time is also the Yulefest celebration or popularly known as Christmas in July, with venues serving hearty Christmas fare, carols, fire places and even the presence of Santa in some venues. We religiously make a yearly pilgrimage to Katoomba and have mulled wine or even a bottle of Champagne to celebrate Christmas in the colder season. This trip we also visited Blackheath, a town close to Katoomba.
It felt freezing with a temperature around 3 degrees when we left Katoomba for Blackheath the following day. Blackheath is around 15 minutes by car and 2 stops by train from Katoomba, it’s located at the highest point of the Blue Mountains. From Sydney, it’s just over an hours drive and regular train services are available from Central Station.
Blackheath is a very colourful and laid back town in the Blue Mountains and the main town centre is located along the Great Western Highway and Govetts Leap Rd. The train station is just a few meters away from the town centre. Adding to the colours and sights is the Blackheath Growers Market which runs on the second Sunday of each month from February to December. Here you will find an array of decadent regional offerings; food, coffee, jewellery, fresh produce and all the garden needs with live music in the open space.
As you walk along the Great Western Highway, you’ll find the Gardeners Inn, Blue Mountains oldest licensed hotel since 1831, offering a pub, restaurant and accommodation. The New Ivanhoe Hotel located on the intersection is a great place for a tipple and grub too. The architecture of this building displaying distinctive features of the late Art Deco era, especially the marvellous lettering style of the hotel.
For lovers of all things antique, the Victory Theatre is must visit. Built in 1915 as Neate’s Hall then re-named as Picture Palace, a 999-seat cinema in 1921. The place had closed down in the 60’s then it was refurbished again in the late 70’s and now it’s one of Blue Mountains premier tourist destinations. As well as the antiques on display and for sale, it has a cafe that serves a sumptuous selection of breakfast and lunch dishes.
Where to eat!
Aside from the hotels and Victory Cafe, you’ll find a great variety of small restaurants and cafes around town. Along Govetts Leap Rd you’ll find The Bakery Patisserie that offers fresh breads, cakes and hot pies. Meet Me at Matt’s, a place good for fuel up of cold press juices, house made soups, coffees and vegetarian dishes or try the Blackheath Fish and Chips along the Great Western Highway. Other establishments offer Thai, Tapas and Italian cuisine, all within walking distance.
Driving a car is the handiest way to get around and visit the breathtaking scenery in Blackheath, but if you are prepared to hike or brisk walk, most of the attractions can be reached by foot. Just follow Govetts Leap Road northern direction and you’ll end up at the entrance of the Govetts Leap Lookout, one of the spectacular vantage points to view the Grose Valley. There are walking tracks with a grading system to help you find the walks best suited to your fitness level. Other attractions are; The Bridal Veil Falls, Pulpit Rock, Evans Lookout, Barrow Lookout and the Blackheath Lookouts Driving Route. Most designated spots have car parks and amenities, but can be very busy on the weekends, and parking can be a problem, but patience usually pays off.
The Campbell Rhododendron Garden is a fairy tale land, one can only imagine how beautiful and stunning this 45 acres garden will look in spring time, with an abundance of flowering shrubs and bulbs. But even in winter time, the mixture of evergreen and deciduous trees, tranquil lake and native bushland make this place perfect for a garden appreciation walk. Picnic, parking and amenity areas are available all year round, entry is by a Gold Coin donation, and this goes towards the upkeep of whats provided, so please put a couple of bucks in the collection tin so it can remain open for everyone to enjoy for generations to come.
Another interesting place to stop for a coffee is the Hydro Majestic Blue Mountains located in Medlow Bath along the Great Western Highway. This hotel, steeped in history, offers guests a verity of high end accommodation, function rooms and restaurants. The Pavilion is a relaxing area of the hotel with coffee counter, bar, shopping area and a museum as well as its own stunning views over the valley.