If you have been following my blog posts, you will know that I recently moved to the Blue Mountains with my partner, Dan.
In fact, we have been here for only just two weeks, and we couldn’t be happier with our decision to move here. It has been a pretty full on two weeks with the move and all the unpacking, but we are finally feeling at home and loving it.
More to the point we moved to the village of Blackheath. And what I love so much about Blackheath, apart from all the friendly people, is that it doesn’t get the tourist crowds like Katoomba and Leura. Don’t get me wrong I love both of those towns, and we even contemplated living in both, but Blackheath won out. And I am so glad it did.
Most visitors to the mountains seem to stop at Katoomba. Especially those that are not driving and have caught the train up. Or they make it to Medlow Bath and the Hydro Majestic, just five minutes down the road from Blackheath.
But for those who don’t have a car at their disposal, Katoomba and Leura offer the ease and convenience of the Explorer Bus which takes visitors around both towns seeing the main sites and attractions. And those are pretty amazing. When you have Scenic World at one stop and Echo Point at another, and a visit to the pretty village of Leura you may think you have seen the best of the Blue Mountains. But I beg to differ.
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What's not to Love?
For me so far (and it has been since I first saw it at the age of 18) Govetts Leap wins hands down best (easily accessible) look out. I have tried before (and failed) to adequately describe it, but just cannot find the words.
Govetts Leap Lookout is located at the end of Govetts Leap Road (funny that) which starts in the heart of Blackheath Village. You can catch the train to Blackheath, and if you’re up to it (it will take you just under an hour each way) you can walk out there. Maybe even catch a taxi if you are so inclined. (Lucky I’m starting a Travel Concierge Service soon and will be able to take you!)
If you’re feeling energetic you can try one of the many walks in the area or for more information on Govetts Leap and the Grose Valley visit the Blue Mountains Heritage Centre located just before the lookout.
For more information about Govetts Leap, you can find it here at National Parks and Wildlife.
You can read more about the lookouts that I love and are easily accessible in my Blue Mountains Visitor's Guide.
But once back in the Blackheath Village there is plenty to do. The shops are delightful to browse through including clothing, homewares, antiques, book stores plus more. If you are looking for some sustenance after your walk, there are plenty of cafes.
If you have forgotten something and you are travelling through the mountains, odds are you will be able to find it in Blackheath. Like a warm hat!
Yep, believe it or not, I have moved to the Blue Mountains in the middle of winter and don’t own a hat. The bigger clothing stores in Katoomba are already selling clothes for spring, so I have had no luck there. But I spied some nice ones in a store in the main street so guess where I’m heading today. Because my weather app tells me it’s 3°C outside at the moment and windy!
Blackheath General Store
A new café which opened about 4 months ago is the Blackheath General Store located on the Great Western Highway.
Belinda and her staff are so friendly, the food is good and servings substantial (read here huge!) and cooked on an AGA cooker. And the coffee is really good. Which is very important on cold Blue Mountains mornings when you head out for breakfast. Oh, the scones! Do yourself a favour and try the scones - Pumpkin Scones and gluten free Maple Syrup Scones. Both delicious and perfect for morning tea (or like we did on the weekend, a second breakfast).
They also hold Cooking Classes and run the Piedmont Inn Italian Restaurant next door in the evenings. Good to know if you are staying in Blackheath and looking for a great place for dinner. To be honest, we are yet to try it, but it is first on our list of places to try for dinner and I’m looking forward to trying their gluten free pizzas.
Located at 249 Great Western Highway it has easy parking along the highway, perfect for a breakfast stop if you are making your way through the mountains. Or a nice place to get acquainted with if you are staying for some time in the area.
They are open from 8 am – 4 pm.
You can find them on Facebook.
UPDATE: Piedmont Inn
We had dinner at the Piedmont Inn last night and it far exceeded all our expectations.
The service, as expected, was wonderful and the authentic Italian food was delicious. They make their gluten free pizza bases themselves, which is rare I have found, and the pizza was amazing. We had the Mafia pizza with Italian Sausage, so good. We also shared the Tuscan Meatballs with gluten free pasta and finished off with the Choc Hazelnut Meringue with Orange Curd and cream. Yum, Yum.
The atmosphere in the restaurant was warm and inviting. It really was a real treat for our first dinner out in Blackheath.
The Piedmont Inn is located on the Great Western Highway right next door to the Blackheath General Store.
It is open Tuesday to Sunday from 5 pm to 9 pm. You can find more information here
We also love the coffee at Altitude and the delicious treats on offer.
A delicatessen and café, this place has the best range of gluten free goodies you can hope for. I haven’t had a passionfruit slice in years until I came here.
I have to be careful that if I have a craving for something sweet that I do not tell Dan. Before I know it he’s out the door and back home with a bag filled with goodies. Not great for the waist line, but certainly good for the taste buds.
Altitude is located at 20 Govetts Leap Road, in the centre of Blackheath Village. It is always busy.
It is open from 7 am – 5 pm so a great place to stop if you are heading through the mountains and need something to pep you up.
Other Things to Do
Another place I discovered this week with my good friend artist Kathy Karas is the Rhododendron Gardens, just minutes away from my house. Actually, I can see my house from the entrance!
We were completely blown away by how beautiful they are. And extensive. Even in winter they are worth a visit and walk around. They are only a 10-minute walk from the main village of Blackheath and I would highly recommend them to anyone visiting the area.
Kathy and I are always on the lookout for places we can take painting groups and this one was perfect.
The gardens are unique displaying mass plantings of rhododendrons and azaleas amongst native plants of the Upper Blue Mountains. Their flowering period is from October to November and it is at this time you will find the Lodge open where you can buy light refreshments and talk to one of the volunteers for more information. Spread over 18.3 hectares you will find many walks and some picnic facilities.
The gardens are also particularly beautiful in Autumn when all the deciduous trees put on a magnificent show of autumn colour.
Located in Bacchante Street, Blackheath the gardens are open at all times but vehicle access is from 9 am – 4 pm daily. Entry is by gold coin donation and there is an honesty box at the front entrance.
Is Op Shopping your thing?
Blackheath Community Op Shop
I love it, but I get it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. But if it is, I suggest you make time to hop over the railway line and visit the Blackheath Community Op Shop.
This is a Community Op Shop where all the money made goes back into the community. On the bottom of their sign, it says, “It’s all about Community”. Sums it up really.
I love the Op Shop store. It is set up like a gorgeous little house, and it is a delight to browse through.
David and his wife, Octavia are doing a fantastic job, and they have been a blessing to us.
We had far too much furniture and other household items (comes from combining two households) and used this move as an opportunity to cleanse ourselves of all the excess. We had the dilemma of not knowing what to do with it all and no space to store it in even if we did want to sell it. So we asked the lovely lady at the Post Office if she knew of any charities and the rest is history as they say.
We have made several trips with boxes filled with our old goodies, and there is still more to go. And when we get the next container delivered with more furniture David will hopefully be here waiting for us to load his ute and trailer with our excess furniture.
It is such a nice feeling to know that our treasured items will go on to be loved by others and not end up in land fill.
The Blackheath Community Op Shop is located at 4/134 Station Street, Blackheath and is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10.30 am – 4 pm. You can also find them here on Facebook.
Some of my best souvenirs from my travels have come from Vintage stalls, Trash & Treasure Markets and Op shops. The beauty is you just never know what little treasure you may find.
Blackheath Grower’s Market
On the Second Sunday of the Month, you will find Blackheath Grower’s Markets held at the Blackheath Community Centre located at the cnr Great Western Highway and Gardiner Street, Blackheath.
Buy fantastic fresh organic or chemical free fruit and veg, stock up on artisan cheeses and bread. Indulge in cakes, gelato, oils and other items way too many to list here.
The markets have a great atmosphere where you can enjoy some breakfast and coffee listening to live music.
It really is a great place to visit and stock up on some seriously delicious food. Our only gripe is that it isn’t on every weekend!
Logan Brae Apple Orchard
This past weekend was all about driving around, connecting with people and food. What a surprise! It seems it's always about food for us.
On our past visits down into the Megalong Valley, we saw the sign to Logan Brae Apple Orchard and commented that we should take a look.
So we finally did. And what a great place. We go through a lot of apples either for juicing or cooking. We bought two boxes of seconds (who cares if they are uneven in size or have a few tiny blemishes?) for $9 per box. The normal boxes of apples are $13.50. One of our boxes weighed approximately 4.5 kg. You do the math, but we were more than happy with our buy.
Logan Brae is located on the Shipley Plateau only 5 minutes from the main centre of Blackheath. Once an apple growing area, Logan Brae is the only remaining orchard and was originally planted in 1919.
The orchard grows a variety of apples including Gravensteins, Pink Ladies, Granny Smith and Royal Galas.
You can't pick your own apples here, but you can buy apples, apple pies (if you are early enough), apple juice, hot spiced apple juice, apple jelly, apple butter, apple chutney, homemade jams, muffins and toffee apples. And their own Free Range Eggs.
Logan Brae is located at 139 Shipley Road, Blackheath and only sell apples in season from February to the beginning of September on certain days from 10 am - 4 pm. They will, however, be open on some Sundays out of season from 10 am - 1 pm selling their other products.
Located on the western end of Shipley Plateau you will find Hargraves Lookout.
The road is unsealed but in good condition and it is an easy drive. There is no need for a 4 Wheel Drive but do take it slowly.
The drive is well worth it. The views are breathtaking. You will be able to see the Hydro Majestic in Medlow Bath and the views out over the Megalong Valley are stunning.
Exploring Further Afield
Although the decision not to travel this year was a little hard to take, the move to the Blue Mountains so far has all been worth it.
Last weekend, finally after unpacking most of the boxes and being in a fully functioning house again, we spent Sunday morning in the yard and Sunday afternoon exploring.
Our drive took us out to Hartley, Little Hartley and Kanimbla. I will do another post on Historic Hartley and Little Hartley another time.
Kanimbla though blew us away. The Blue Mountains landscape and the scenery are absolutely stunning but so was this in a different way. With rolling green hills, farmland, rocky outcrops and 360° views from the tops of hills and wooded valleys, the area was incredible. We will be heading out there again to explore more and it wouldn’t surprise me if this place isn’t in our future. We were very drawn to it.
Who knows this could be the spot for our future Retreat? Or home? Or both.
Lithgow is only 30 minutes from the mountains and beyond is Bathurst and Mudgee. We have decided our next full day out exploring will be to Mudgee. We met a lovely couple who produce delicious Organic Preservative Free wine in Mudgee and would definitely love to find out more of what the area has to offer.
Are you Considering a Big Move?
I can’t count the number of people who have called us brave or been shocked at our decision. It seems like this move is a very big deal to a lot of people.
But for us, we don’t feel brave. We were searching for a place that we could both call home, that we chose together. We also wanted a new chapter in our lives both as a couple and individually.
I know it sounds a little woo woo, but the path opened up for us. And made it easy. Because we both wanted this change, fully. We could feel it before it even was settled where we would move.
We had been trying for two years to change our location, and each time we tried to make a move to other areas for one reason or another it didn’t happen. We were gutted each time. And each time we tried to push it.
This move has taught us two things. Well many more than two, but two main things.
Stay strong in what you believe. Feel it with all your being.
And patience. Have the patience to know that what is meant for you will come, when the time is right.
When we tell the story of how the house came about, and how everything fell into place seamlessly, they are stunned. When the time was right, everything happened without us even having to try.
So if you wonder if you should make that move, your heart will tell you. If you want something badly enough, don’t think about the how, think about how it will feel. If you have to make yourself think about it, it’s not for you. Move on.
Oh and don’t worry about what others have to say about it, it’s your life, not theirs.
Cindy Reid is the founder of Travel Charm. Cindy has travelled extensively both personally and with her groups. She has now combined her love of art, food and travel and hosts Painting Trips to Europe and continues to explore and roam in Australia.