Sheer Sandstone walls. Treed hillsides, turns and bends in the narrow historic road. Tiny hamlets founded as Archibald Bell, at 19 years of age and guided by Indigenous trackers made the slow tortuous journey across a mountainous terrain. Apple orchards and produce stands. Apple pies – the sweet smell tempting travellers today. This is Bells Line of Road through the eastern Blue Mountains and down into the Hawkesbury.
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.
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.
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.
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
Bells Line of Road was marked in 1823 by Archibald Bell who, with the help of Aboriginal guides found an alternative road across the Blue Mountains. Aboriginal communities had been for centuries using the route to traverse the mountains.
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.