Tag Archive: Blue Mountains

Up In Mount Victoria, NSW

Only 120 kilometres west of Sydney is the small township of Mount Victoria in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales. Population about a thousand. Here is a more quiet, if not more elegant section of the Blue Mountains. Beautiful manors, historic buildings reused as elegant hotels and summer retreat houses dot the landscape. There are many heritage sites in the area but they compete with the wondrous panorama at an elevation of over 1,000 meters. The mountain was named after Queen Victoria but the settlement area was originally called One Tree Hill until the arrival of the railway station and establishment of the first Post Office in the 19th century.

These days, many locals go to Mount Victoria for serious bushwalking, rock climbing, bird watching or simply to visit this charming village without the tourist crowd. There was some festivity the day we visited as we passed what looked like flea markets and food fairs. But we drove past them and began our short hike. Cox’s Road and Cox’s Descent don’t seem to sound right but that’s what the markers say. 🙄

The photos speak for themselves. I may have ventured farther than I should have — “for my age” — but the views of the valley below can be mesmerizing. I dare not even dwell on the possibilities. A strong gust of wind, an accidental slip. Oh well.

This is a sequel to last year’s blog summary (IN AND OUT OF SYDNEY). Some favorite sites were revisited and explored further, and unlike the earlier blog, I’ve thrown in a list of food trips (including some from 2013 archives)  for you to consider. Have a good trip, mate!




Bondi Beach




Day Trips From Sydney


A Weekend in Lake Conjola

PARAGON CAFE: Oldest Cafe in Australia

BERRY As Pitstop On Way to Jervis Bay


Blue Mountains’ Many Walks and Lookouts


Leura and Katoomba in the Blue Mountains





Darling Harbour



In And Around The City

A Few Good Spots Around Sydney


Sydney Harbour Bridge 24/7


Bondi On The Pacific

Watsons Bay

Powerhouse Museum



The Friendly Inn at Kangaroo Valley

The Friendly Inn at Kangaroo Valley


Food Trips


Leura Gourmet Cafe


Heritage Bakery

NANDO’s Peri Peri Chicken


How About Some Burgers from Charlie?


WatervieW in Sydney’s Olympic Park


SUSHIRO In North Sydney


Two Skinny Cooks from Berrima (2013)


The Old Bakery Cottage In Berrima


Mira Japanese Resto In Manly Beach


Lindt’s At Cockle Bay Wharf


Nick’s At Darling Harbour


That Famous Robertson Pie


The Friendly Inn @Kangaroo Valley



 One thing I love about Australia is its many hamlets. Small, quaint, charming, enchanting villages either in the mountains or by the coast. I remember the first time I visited Katoomba. Took the train aiming to spend a whole morning viewing the magnificent gorges of the Blue Mountains and doing some bushwalking. I did. But I remember more that one afternoon I walked aimlessly along the streets of Katoomba. No Maccas (McDo) or KFC food chains here. Instead, I found tiny cafes, charming bookstores, arts and crafts stores, and food and delishops.




Echo Point


My Katoomba Bookstore

My Katoomba Bookstore



Back in 1999, I stayed in an artist’s home. It’s quite a walk from the Katoomba Train Station, and it didn’t help that there was no heating around the house. Next day’s bushwalking was a struggle that I kept wishing I was on the cablecar with glass floor that kept passing us above the bush. When I had the afternoon to myself, I mechanically walked towards this bookstore that has seen better times. Old, unpretentious, but oozing with that old world charm. At the time, there was a baby grand piano in the center where someone (I assumed he was the owner) was playing some classical tunes. He offered me a cuppa and encouraged me to browse around lugging my cup of my favorite brew. What a relaxing afternoon.



Cablecar takes you right to Katoomba's iconic landmark -- The Three Sisters in Echo Point.

Cablecar takes you right to Katoomba’s iconic landmark — The Three Sisters in Echo Point.

Bookstore in Katoomba

Bookstore in Katoomba



Katoomba is truly an artist’s haven.  The oldest cafe in Australia is also to be found here, so lovingly restored and preserved. They even hold movie nights here! And in neighboring Leura, one is encouraged to simply walk around and appreciate the local architecture and gardens. There are bushwalking options leading all the way to Echo Point or to Leura Falls, if that suits your fancy. Or maybe you would like to just stay around Leura Mall and enjoy the flowering cherry trees. Amazing how they have preserved this historic street to include the Leura Post Office which now houses a news agency. Have a meal in one of the restos and coffee shops before checking out the many antique and gift boutiques.



We had a fantastic lunch here!

We had a fantastic lunch here!





Paragon Cafe is the oldest cafe in Australia.

Paragon Cafe is the oldest cafe in Australia.

You'd love dog-friendly Leura!

You’d love dog-friendly Leura!



And not to forget, take home some of those gourmet jams, dips, marmalades and tea concoctions. You don’t know how a simple jar can “extend one’s holiday”.



The old Post Office now houses a news agency.

The old Post Office now houses a news agency.

Grab a table at the Solitary Cafe. Just beware your coffee easily turns cold.] Grab a table at the Solitary Cafe. Just beware your coffee easily turns cold.

I’ve seen the Three Sisters in Echo Point more than 3x. The first time, it was all fogged out. The 2nd time, I missed the 3rd sister. After that, all 3 regularly made a show to a point that I nearly grew tired of it. But it’s a mandatory destination if one were bringing first-time visitors. So when there was a chance for another visit, we made sure we checked out the other lookouts.  Armed with the ever-reliable GPS, we searched for other non-touristy gorges and trails.




Three Sisters. Echo Point. Blue Mountains.


Start of. Trek. Take your pick. Be Brave.

So the next time we went, we checked out other lookout points and “attempted” a few walks. There were choices. Like treks to Govetts Leap, Bridal Veil Falls, Evan’s Lookout, Braeside Walk, Grose Valley Walks, Grand Canyon Tracks, Pope’s Glen, Pulpit’s Rock, Horseshoe Falls, etc. We met some looking all perked up for 2 hour walks. Others we found taking the easy route: DRIVE towards the lookout points. We made a quick, easy and smart (?) decision. We drove. 🙂




More walks. More lookout points.


Govetts Leap. No crowds!


We tried. Got as far as the stream. Then we backed up!

I’m not sure the tourist buses get here. Most such buses we found in Echo Point. But if you’re driving , trust your GPS to bring you here. There are signs so even geographically-challenged idiots like us got here. Beat the crowds, have a different take of the Blue Mountains. Explore. Good luck!




Will you? Many choices. (blue Mountains)


Why walk when you can drive to Govetts Leap?


At least we didn’t get lost.


Evans Lookout. Under the tourist radar.

If you’re a chocolate lover, the name may sound familiar. And if you happen to be in the Blue Mountains area, you may want to consider dropping by this oldest known cafe in the whole of Australia.  An absolute must to complete your Blue Mountains experience.



If we weren’t so keen on a fab lunch in neighboring Leura, we would have taken our lunch here. But it was quite early for lunch when we got here, so we instead settled for our cappuccinos, lattes and hot chocolate. The service staff were sooooo accommodating. Encouraged to visit their Blue Room and Banquet Hall, we were all fascinated by the art-deco and antique decor displayed here.





Coming to this heritage-listed 1916 Paragon Cafe is a compulsory Blue Mountains experience. Katoomba holds a special place in my heart since my first visit, but this is undisputedly its art-deco masterpiece. Waffles, handmade chocolates, coffee are only a few samplings enjoyed here by celebrities like Bob Dylan before. But beyond those yummies, one can’t help encountering nostalgia especially after visiting the interior rooms.





Thankfully, the cafe was preserved and lovingly restored and restyled since ownership was conveyed to the Simos Family in 1916. A young Greek immigrant by the name of Zacharias Simos owned what was originally known as Paragon Sundae and Candy Store and added what are now the Blue Room (1934) and Banquet Hall (1936). The decor speaks of the glamor then prevalent and for sure, the architect (Henry White, same fellow who designed the State and Capital Theatres of Sydney) did an excellent job.  The Simos family retained ownership until the early part of the 21st Century.





The first time I went to view the Three Sisters, it was so foggy there was nothing to see. The second time around, 2 of the 3 sisters showed up. The third hid behind the fog. Epic fail. I comforted myself with photos and paintings of the breathtaking view the fogs on those 2 occasions conspired to deprive us.



The rocky pinnacles of the Three Sisters.

But nothing beats actually seeing this most majestic view of the mountains and the gorge. How Mother Nature carved out this landscape and came up with this creation credited to the winds and waters that touched the land — this scene beats any painting or postcard. A popular attraction and favorite day trip out of Sydney, we headed early to beat the “tourist bus crowd”. Parked the car near Echo Point and walked towards the cliff barred by fences that failed to make our 2 little boys cautious and wary of the chasm just inches away.





Adrenaline pumping high …. These boys must be more excited than I am. 🙂

Finally. I earlier visited years back in springtime and fall but no luck. Here I am now, back in the dead of winter and finally viewed all 3 sisters! Beautiful, notwithstanding that my eyes were partly glued to the little boys darting here and there. I had to struggle against my own paranoia that those wire and glass fences are not strong enough to hold off these boys on super hyperactive mode. 🙂





Mommy Reia and her boys.

Mercifully, the adrenaline wore off. The interest over the cliffside views, the gorge, the canyons faded and it was time to go. At some point I wondered if these boys would have enjoyed more if we went bushwalking. On second thought, the walk would have tired them out and stressed me and their mom to the max. 🙂 Then hunger pangs set in. First to a Chocolate House, then off to Katoomba’s quaint little town. Still no chain restos like McDonald’s or Hungry Jack here, thank God. Just like how I remembered it. We went for a proper lunch in this new Korean restaurant where one of the boys practiced his skills with the chopsticks. Found some interesting shops too before we decided to drive around the town just to check out the once familiar corners.





Homemade chocolate?


Slurp that coffee fast!

From here, we drove through lovely Leura and dropped in at Solitary Cafe. This was where we had our last glimpse of the rocky pinnacles of the Blue Mountains while sipping our black liquids and nibbling on some sweets. The only problem eating outdoors here is that your coffee soon turns cold. 😦 They should consider serving it in a thermo flask. Seriously.





Last glimpse of the Blue Mountains.


Tired and out. Finally…..



But kid- friendly this place is. The younger boy may have “disturbed” the garden’s setup as he ran around spilling some pebbles here and there, kicking off some dust which i suspect found their way into my coffee. As it happened, he soon tired out too. Too tired to even gobble up some of the chocolate fudge his mom ordered for him. Meanwhile, his grandma delighted in the view while uncomplainingly sipping cold coffee. All’s well, indeed. 😉