With the weather temps up and down daily, at least the evenings are beginning to feel like autumn is just around the corner. So, take a look at our bulletin board on the homepage to see what's on in The Hills and The Hawkesbury.  What The Locals Do!


A reminder in The Hills: the 'Country Rocks Festival' tickets are on sale and Bella Vista Farm is the perfect venue -- should be a terrific 'day-out' with music, food vendors and space to relax. 3 March. Details for Festival


On the other side of The Hawkesbury, the scent of apple is in the air. . . apple pies, apple cobblers and really fresh apple juice! Just check out the roadside produce stands for the freshest and the best.


Make a full-day outing along Bells Line of Road and you'll find. . . a gorgeous garden, a cider cellar-door for tasting and a hamper you can purchase for a picnic on the beautiful grounds and finally, dinner at a lovingly restored historic restaurant -- we suggest bookings. While the weather is good, get up and get out! Read all below for further descriptions:


Blue Mountains Botanic Garden – Mount Tomah

Address: Bells Line of Road, Mount Tomah
Phone: 02 4567 3000 
Hours: Open daily 9.30am–5.30pm 
Free entry, free picnic and barbecue facilities

Set along Bells Line of Road and above Bilpin, the Botanic Garden is the cool climate garden or the Botanic Gardens and Centennial Parklands. It remains a favourite with visitors to the Sydney area.


The adjective 'cool' is attached because the garden sits 1000 metres above sea level. 'Cool' because these 28-hectares feature plants, trees and owers of the Southern Hemisphere mountains–botanical life that is simultaneously tough and colourful. On an October walk through the garden, we were stunned by the height and bloom-size of Rhododendron trees.


To the delight of visitors, the garden blooms year-round. The plant and tree life are so diverse that we recommend a free volunteer guided tour, which is available most days. We recommend booking in advance to ensure that a guide is available. The tour provides a great overview before setting out to explore the gardens on your own.


To us, Mount Tomah is many 'cool' gardens within the one. Plants and trees from the mountain ranges–the cool climates–of China, Japan, Chile, Korea and North America are clustered as 'plant communities' in separate gardens.


The Jungle Walk through pristine rainforest is a must. Along half a kilometre of graded paths, you'll find magni cent sassafras and coachwood trees. Picnic tables, electric barbecues are available. A kiosk for coffee and snacks is opened daily.


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Bilpin Cider Co

Address: 2369 Bells Line of Road, Bilpin 
Phone: 02 4567 0704 
Hours: Open daily 10am–4pm Coffee always available

Set in a young apple orchard, Bilpin Cider cellar door steps back to earlier day where weekends were for families, car trips, blankets and hampers of tasty treats.


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Set in the small historic village of Bilpin, the ambience of this open-air tasting room is that of farming at the turn of the 19th century. Large and small farming tools are on display alongside locally produced honey from Bilpin Bush honey and seasonal fruit from Pine Crest Orchard. When available, fruit and vegetables grown on the farm of Bilpin Cider.


Standing outside on the tasting room deck, our eye is drawn to huge leafy trees each with a massive canopy, each providing perfect shelter from the sun. A large swathe of green lawn, open for as far as the eye can see, is perfect for seating and enjoying a family hamper. Bilpin Cider will provide a gourmet picnic and a blanket at a moment's notice, or if you are the 'organised type,' please call ahead.


Children can wander through the farm, engage with the animals (sheep and alpaca). A jumping castle was on back order when we visited, and we heard rumours that a badminton court was soon to appear.



We have talked about the ambience and the perks, but we must not overlook the succulent Bilpin ciders available for tasting (and purchase): Archibald Cloudy Apple, Blush Pink Lady, Pear and Original Cider. For you 'designated drivers,' Bilpin Non-Alcoholic made from Granny Smiths, Pink Lady and Red Delicious is a treat! For more on Bilpin Cider, see tasting uncorked.


The Hitchin' Post

Address: 4/1255 Bells Line of Road, Kurrajong Heights 
Phone: 02 4567 8225 
Hours: Open 10am weekends, Open 11am Thursday & Monday Open 5.30pm Tuesday, Closed Wednesday


Launched in November 2017, the Hitchin' Post must be the newest kid on the road (Bells Line of Road) and yet perhaps the oldest. While maintaining the exterior of this long-standing building, the interior has been lovingly restored. A large 19th century replace–the original–divides the dining area and combined with modern lighting, the ambience is lovely.


A sophisticated open kitchen has been installed, ready for a 21st century menu. This experienced chef understands the traditional Australian palate–roasts served with Hawkesbury fresh produce is a mainstay. It is, however, his Italian heritage and the chef's mum's traditional Italian recipes that bring us back repeatedly. Home cooking returns to this historic building but after a quick peruse of the menu, this is a very upmarket version of mum's recipes! Mouthwatering desserts!


We suggest you book as weekends can get quite busy.


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 New York Times Image, 19 Nov 2014


Are You certain your “Likes” on all the social media platforms are human? Or are they robots? (Bots)


Some years back I read the bots were on the rise  but a recent article in the New York Times should give all of us a ‘wake-up’ call about buying popularity. Seems as though, 'don't believe everything you read on the Internet'.


First, a definition: a bot is an application -- a few lines of computer code that will do a task. . . an automated task without the intervention of a human. It’s a web robot. Ever asked a question of Siri on your mobile? Siri is a bot – it will ‘do’ tasks for you – multiple tasks. From here it gets a little complicated, so rather than attempt a feeble explanation, let’s go back to the ‘buying likes’ example.


At first, I assumed buying followers meant promoting my tourism websites to a list of ‘real’ people. And a webguy I know recommended that I buy some to push up my ‘like’ numbers. It somehow felt dishonest, so I dropped the webguy!


Still this article, ‘The Follower Factory’ (New York Times, 27 January 2018) is a bit of a shock. The Follower Factory 

“Facebook disclosed to investors that it had at least twice as many fake users as it previously estimated, indicating that up to 60 million automated accounts may roam the world’s largest social media platform.”


Back in the day of 2014 thousands of these fake accounts, known as bots, were up for purchase for as little as $5. Voila, you are popular, but buyer beware: this is a giant pyramid scheme of fake friends and, hang on to your hat, all the platforms Instagram, Vine Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube Facebook are in on the game.


Just a few lines of computer code and your Bot is ready to retweet certain topics. . . follow a tweet or follow anyone who follows them.


Multiple Bots are commonly called ‘Bot Farms’. A farm is up for sale for the cost of a cup of coffee, writes Nick Bolton Vanity Fair 2018.  If you have time, read those articles. But in the future, don’t ‘go on’ about how many followers you have – you do want real people 'liking' youl


 Thanks to NY Times 19 Nov 2014


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