NSW – Blue Mountains – Out of the blue

By Winsor Dobbin
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Dryridge Estate cellar door, Megalong Valley

Dryridge Estate cellar door, Megalong Valley

Josophan's Chocolate Store, Leura
Lillianfels, Echo Point, Katoomba
Mark Perrin, Blue Mountains Food Discovery Tours
Whisk & Pin, Medlow Bath

 

The Blue Mountains are not a region immediately associated with fine wine and food, but they are the gateway to the vineyards of Central Western New South Wales, have a thriving food culture, several great restaurants – and even a cellar door.

One of the rare parts of Australia that actually enjoys four seasons, the Blue Mountains is an ideal stopover on any trip to the vineyards and cellar doors of Mudgee or Orange, or as a weekend destination in their own right.

The mountains – reachable by road or rail from Sydney – have plenty of luxury hotels, guesthouses and fine-dining restaurants as well as many local artisanal food producers.

 

Stop 1 – Breakfast at Blue M Café and Food Co.

A cosy country-style café in a classic old weatherboard cottage that specialises in produce from local small producers and growers from regional NSW. It serves breakfasts and light lunches, along with delicious Devonshire teas with fresh baked scones, cream and jam. The on-site store sells a range of home-made gourmet jams and chutneys.

Open: Daily 
171 Lurline Street, Katoomba 
Phone (02) 4782 2650

 

Stop 2 – Wine tasting at Dryridge Estate

Who would have expected to find a vineyard in the Blue Mountains? And who would have considered the possibility it would produce an outstanding riesling? Dryridge Estate is tucked away off the scenic Six Foot Track in the delightful Megalong Valley and has a unique micro-climate. Grower Bob Tyrrell (no relation to the Hunter Tyrrells) has his wine made by talented Canowindra-based Frenchman Chris Derrez and also offers on-site accommodation at Sunrise Lodge.

You must taste: The 2010 Riesling is a stunner, dry and zesty with tremendous citrus flavours, minerality and zingy acid. And the Nellie’s 2009 Cabernet rosé is also excellent.

Open: Sundays from 11am or daily by appointment
The Six Foot Track, Megalong Valley
Phone (02) 4787 5625

 

Stop 3 – Lunch at Silk’s Brasserie

This French-themed restaurant in the main street of Leura is a reliably good place to eat affordably – and chef David Waddington uses local produce on his menus. It’s been a firm favourite with the locals since 1994. There’s a very neat wine list, too.

Open: Daily for lunch and dinner
128 The Mall, Leura
Phone (02) 4787 2534

 

Stop 4 – Tasting at Josophan’s Chocolate Store

Hand-crafted chocolates in a wide range of styles are the attraction here; and customers can peer through a large window and see the chocolate-makers in action. Regular chocolate appreciation workshops are held and Café Josophans across the road serves hot chocolate drinks and has a chocolate fountain.

Open: Daily 10am-5pm
132 The Mall, Leura
Phone (02) 4784 2031

 

Stop 5 – Wine tasting and shopping at Carrington Cellars and Deli

Housed in the refurbished former Katoomba Power Station, built in 1910, this newly opened gourmet deli and wine store offers over 150 wines from the Central West of NSW along with a wide range from the rest of Australia and some interesting imports. Well-known NSW foodie Trish Hennessy is the driving force behind the deli section and hand crafts pates, terrines and other savoury delights. It’s part of the Carrington Hotel complex and hosts regular wine tasting events in the evenings.

Open: Daily
15-17 Katoomba Street, Katoomba
Phone (02) 4782 1111

 

Stop 6 – Pre-dinner drink at the Gearin Hotel

Hollywood actor Jack Thompson and his son Patrick are part-owners of the Gearin Hotel at Katoomba and Thompson can often be found pulling a schooner or two behind the bar. Built in 1881, this is typical Aussie country pub – but a stylish one.

Open: Daily
273 Great Western Highway, Katoomba
Phone (02) 4782 4395

 

Stop 7 – Dinner at Darley’s

A long-time favourite with the smart set, Darley’s Restaurant is set in the heritage-listed original homestead of Frederick Darley, the sixth Chief Justice of New South Wales, and has a gracious style. It was awarded a hat in the 2011 Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide and has won numerous awards. New chef Carl Middleton, ex Four Seasons, is cooking dishes like roulade of home-smoked king salmon with horse radish and crab apple salad, or slow-cooked oxtail ravioli with organic carrots and lemon veloute. There is an excellent wine list.

Open: Tuesday-Saturday for dinner. Bookings essential
Lilianfels Avenue, Echo Point, Katoomba
Phone (02) 4780 1200

 

Stop 8 - Overnight at Lilianfels Blue Mountains Resort and Spa

After almost two decades, Lilianfels is still “the” place to stay in the Blue Mountains. It’s a delightful 85-room country house hotel with beautifully furnished rooms in classic style, attentive service and beautiful grounds. Suites are available with their own spa baths.

You must taste: The whisky flights in the lounge are extremely popular. You can sample three different single malts (say Sullivan’s Cove Double Cask, Highland Park 18-year-old and Laphroaig Quarter Cask), paired with a dessert sampling plate, or a selection of cheeses.

Open: Seven days
Lilianfels Avenue, Echo Point, Katoomba
Phone (02) 4780 1200

 

Don't miss:

  • Tasting some of the delicious cakes and pastries at Schwarzes in Wentworth Falls
  • A tour of some of the region’s best gourmet food producers with Mark Perrin of Blue Mountains Food Discovery Tours
  • An overnight stay at gracious Silvermere Guesthouse, a traditional bed and breakfast at Wentworth Falls with glorious views back to Sydney
  • Sunday lunch, or dinner, at Ashcroft’s restaurant, a new recipient of an SMH Good Food Guide hat
  • A coffee and stroll around the original Whisk & Pin gourmet store at Medlow Bath
  • Sampling the casual comfort food at The Old City Bank Brasserie at the Carrington Hotel
  • Taking a walk in the bush with Tim Tranter of Tread Lightly Eco Tours
  • A day exploring the highlights of the Greater Blue Mountains Drive

 

Regions

  • Blue Mountains (NSW)

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