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Lifestyle : Blue Mountains 2012
1HERSA1 S004 ALL DAY PASSES! Unlimited rides this school holidays. SPECIAL REPORT A step back in time The mountains are a mecca for lovers of vintage style. Bellinda Kontominas charts the perfect itinerary. Age of elegance . . . (clockwise from main) there is plenty to love inside Frou Frou Old and New; Sunset Cottages in Kurrajong offer colonial-style accommodation; the lolly counter at Paragon Cafe; Trolley Tours stop at 29 destinations around Katoomba and Leura. Photos: Bellinda Kontominas GETTING AROUND Get into the groove by hiring a classic convertible and winding your way up the Great Western Highway. Continuing roadworks may create a few delays, so pass the extra time by posing, Steve McQueen- style, behind the wheel of ‘‘Rocky’’, a 1967 Ford Mustang from Sydney Classic Car Hire (040 728 7329, sydneyclassiccarhire . c om.au). The company has self-drive rates from $190 to $690 a day. Other cars include a red 1964 MGB Roadster (called Bertie). Owner Keith Mcilroy says the appropriate attire for men driving Bertie is a flat cap and string-back gloves; for women, it’s a Grace Kelly scarf. You will certainly arrive in style. Once in the mountains, take a ride on a steam- operated tram at the Valley Heights Steam Tramway ($13 for adults; $9 for school-aged children). Engine 103A operates on advertised open days (infobluemountains .net.au/locodepot/tram/ opening_hours.shtml) and you can explore the restored tram cars and locomotives. Or head further up the mountain, where you can take a trolley tour (OK, it is a replica trolley that is actually a hop-on, hop-off bus, but the old-time feel is still there). Trolley Tours stop at 29 destinations throughout Katoomba and Leura, including the Leura Everglades Historic House and Gardens. An all-day pass costs $25 and can be purchased on board or at the Trolley Shoppe (76 Main Street, Katoomba, 4782 7999). SHOPPING Whether you are into rockabilly dresses, Victorian-era furniture or vintage vinyl, the many antique and second-hand clothing stores across the Blue Mountains are treasure troves for unique finds. Our pick is Frou Frou Old and New, a beautifully styled vintage shop in Springwood which, on our visit, had everything from bone- china tea sets to crochet blankets, costume jewellery and even a helmet-style salon hair dryer. Shop assistant Jacki Gee says the stock is priced to move, which means no two trips to the store are the same (Shops 5 and 6 Raymond Road, Springwood, 4751 2315). Up a narrow set of stairs from Leura’s main street mall, Vintage Leura is wall-to-wall with fashion’s past. The highlight of our visit was a 1960s canary yellow crimplene shift dress, which had been strikingly styled with cherry-red hat, bag and sunglasses. The jukebox in the hallway may not be for sale but the large selection of records are, including The Carpenters Greatest Hits and Kamahl’s 1976 release Let it Be Me. Also in Leura is Renommee (Shop 3, 152 Megalong Street, 4784 3487), which sells exclusive Japanese vintage clothes from a former weatherboard house in the car park directly opposite Woolworths. The highlights at the Katoomba Vintage Emporium when we visited included an old-fashioned American cash register, a vintage Louis Vuitton purse, antique car badges and sporting paraphernalia (Shop 59, 61 Katoomba Street, 4782 6996). Across the road, Macarthur’s Arcade (84 Katoomba Street, 4782 5768) sells fine jewellery, old toys and furniture of varying condition, while next door, Mr Pickwick’s Fine Old Books and Antiques houses rare and obscure books over two levels, along with model train sets, old-fashioned toys, smoker’s pipes and an array of clothes, including old wedding and bridesmaid’s dresses (86 Katoomba Street, 4782 7598). DINING All that shopping is bound to work up an appetite and there are some great old-style diners in Katoomba. With its elegant art-deco interior, the Paragon Cafe is one of the town’s most handsome. Timber-lined walls and booths are set behind a glass cabinet filled with beautiful handmade chocolates. While you wait for your meal, listen to 1940s music and check out the fading black-and-white headshots signed by famous visitors. Or slip out the back to the opulent, mirrored cocktail lounge, where live jazz is played most Saturday nights. Main and lighter meals are available, as well as devonshire tea (65 Katoomba Street, 4782 2928). Up the street, the Avalon Cafe is on the upper level of the former Savoy Picture Theatre. The cocktail lounge, with its mishmash of occasional chairs, is a great place for pre- or post-dinner drinks, while stepping into the tiered dining room is like a visit to grandma’s house, with its clutter of doilies, mini vases and knick-knacks. It also has fantastic views across the Jamison Valley, if you’re lucky enough to score a table at the back. (18-24 Katoomba Street, 4782 5532). Downstairs, the Savoy cafe has a true diner feel, with a groovy checkerboard floor, booth seating and art-deco styling. The meals are hearty and very good value for their size (26-28 Katoomba Street, 4782 3845). The Victory Cafe is another diner housed in an old theatre – the former Victory Theatre at Blackheath (15-17 Govetts Leap Road, 4787 6777). Weekends are particularly busy, as city folk make 4 Friday, March 30, 2012 smh.com.au Specialising in Antiques The Victory Theatre 17-19 Govetts Leap Road Blackheath 2785 t: (02) 4787 6126 e: email@example.com w: www.blackheathjewellery.com SPECIAL REPORT their way up the mountain for the all-day breakfast. If you’re still up for some shopping, beyond the cafe is a huge antique centre that claims to have the greatest variety of vintage wares in the Blue Mountains. ACCOMMODATION There’s too much to see and do in the mountains in just one day, so stay in style at one of the hundreds of period homes that provide private rental or bed-and-breakfast accommodation. You’ll find four-poster beds, a log fire and conservatory overlooking beautiful cottage gardens at Llandrindod, a federation B&B built in 1908. It’s just a short stroll to Leura’s main shops (272 The Mall, Leura, 4784 3234, llandrindod.com.au). Brasford House in Wentworth Falls has beautiful timber-lined walls and antique furniture. The stylish property hosts murder parties and can offer guests art and cooking classes. Rent out a single room or the whole house. (36 Mulheran Lane, Wentworth Falls, 041 728 8554, brasfordhouseandcottage.com.au). Sunset Cottages in Kurrajong include an early colonial-style ironbark cottage and a brick and sandstone Victorian cottage surrounded by peaceful bushland. It’s a fair drive from Katoomba but ideal if you want to stay overnight in the area and explore the cafes and apple orchards along the Bells Line of Road on the way home. (371 Cedar Ridge Road, Kurrajong, 042 776 1336, hawkesburyaustralia .com.au/sunsetcottages). Or there is the grand Carrington Hotel, which opened as The Great Western in 1882 before being renamed four years later. With its beautiful stained-glass facade, chandeliers and domed ceilings, The Carrington was the place to stay for visiting dignitaries and honeymooners from the early 1900s to 1960s. The Carrington Hotel is still elegant, thanks largely to a refurbishment in the late-’90s, but we think it has seen better days. (15/47 Katoomba Street, 4782 1111). When it comes to the crunch The Bells Line of Road becomes the apple of James Robertson’s eye. Picturesque pit stop ... Sassafras Creek cafe serves great food with a view. Hugetreeshugtheroadinto Bilpin, the stringybarks and white and grey gums criss-crossing towards each other and above the bitumen. You know you’re in Bilpin when such disorder is replaced by the uniformity of apple orchards. The apples are in season at Bilpin Springs Orchard; the trees heavy with Pink Ladies, Granny Smiths and the in-between- coloured Gravensteins. Most of the fruit on this 10-hectare family farm is sent to Flemington markets, where Bilpin maintains its reputation as Australia’s premier apple-growing region. For those who appreciate the flavour of fruit just twisted off the tree, the orchard is open to the public at weekends. Juicing apples sell for $2 a kilogram. Apples and pears are available from January to mid-June, while plums and peaches sell from February to March. Bilpin Apple Juice, made from orchards in the area, is known throughout Australia. Several charming roadside cafes sell Bilpin’s other forte: apple pie. Pie in the Sky is a roadside shack with a modern interior. The $10 apple pies are among the best in town and the meat pies have chunky fillings and rich pastry. The Bilpin Fruit Bowl is a local institution owned by the Tadrosse family for 25 years. A giant statue of the eponymous fruit bowl announces the orchard and cafe. More than 10,000 trees are maintained here, divided evenly between apples and stone fruits, such as peaches, nectarines and cherries. The orchards and their surroundings provide ideal picnic grounds. Inside, the large cafe serves fresh pies and slices made from the fruit of the orchard. At nearby Tutti Frutti, it’s easy to forget you’re just off the main road while sitting on the impeccably manicured lawn dining area, bounded by canna lilies and a purple-pink fence. Tutti Frutti serves apple pie – and does it very well – but visitors should also stop in for the excellent coffee, devonshire tea and fruit ice-cream. The best of Bilpin’s dining is at Apple Bar in the town’s centre. The restaurant is in a converted weatherboard cottage with a rustic interior, iron-fronted bar and spacious verandahs. Its owner, Michael Jaggard, was an apprentice under Neil Perry and ran Alife on Stanley Street in Darlinghurst before moving to the mountains. The Apple Bar is known for its wood-fired pizzas ($19-$26), while the upside-down caramelised applecake is the pick of the desserts. Local ingredients populate the seasonal menu, the bar’s wine list is extensive and there are beers on tap. In the centre of nearby Kurrajong, you’ll find fine dining with a view at Sassafras Creek cafe. The white weatherboard facade belies the cafe’s stylish dining area, which has a good wine bar, high ceilings and walls lined with local arts and crafts. The restaurant opens into an art gallery. Sassafras serves a mix of decorative modern food and has attentive staff, while the back balcony presents a humbling view over the edge of the Sydney basin. The Sydney Morning Herald Friday, March 30, 2012 5
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