The best of the Blue Mountains

What to do in the middle of Winter? Go where it’s even colder, of course! From the giftwear haven of Leura, to the mix-and-match mall of Katoomba, to the gourmet selections of Blackheath, the Blue Mountains have something for everyone. The Hughster and I piled up the car and made the short two hour drive up to the Mountains over the weekend and thought we’d share our favourite everythings with you.

Shopping

The Great Pretender – Owner and devotee of all things vintage and chic Linda Steven has just opened another shop around the corner from her first love, The Kween’s Emporium. We had a good old chat about the fashion industry and our love for great vintage finds. Linda has been collecting fabulous frocks and accessories for many years now, so she knows a thing or two. She’s currently busy setting up shop for The Great Pretender just off the main strip in Katoomba. The label specialises in reproducing a range of retro-inspired frocks, all from original patterns that she’s collected over the years. All styles are sized 6-22 to cover all shapes and sizes – if you like to dress like a real lady, then this is the one-stop-shop for you! For more info on this great find, visit and ‘like’ her shop here. The Great Pretender is located in Katoomba, at 69 Waratah Street.

Victory Theatre Antiques – Now, if you’re on the hunt for some collectables, this is the place to go, a two-storey building full to the brim with antiques, one-offs and trashy treasures. You could spend hours in there, so luckily they have a cafe at front to satisfy your hunger pangs from all the browsing you’ll be doing. Located at 17-19 Govetts Leap Road, Blackheath.

If you can’t get enough, we also found some great vintage stores in Leura, we recommend Leura Vintage and Mrs Peel.

Eats

VulcansAWARDED ONE CHEF’S HAT – SMH GOOD FOOD GUIDE 2012

This small restaurant, hidden away in the regional town of Blackheath, attracts foodies from near and far who come here for the mouth-watering menu. Chef Phillip Searle’s cooking is sensational, the pilgrimage from Sydney is well worth the petrol money. Housed in an old bakery (with the baker’s oven still intact – and in use!), the decor is simple yet warm. After struggling to pick a dish each from the hand-written menu, we ordered spicy smoked trout cakes with light shellfish sauce and glazed duckling sausage with beetroot & orange relish. Then for our main-course we shared the barramundi & sesame coat with artichoke & shiitake ragout, and roast glazed pork with spicy papaya salad. Despite our curiosity to try the restaurant’s famous Chequerboard ice cream, we couldn’t bring ourselves to eat another thing (although we still managed a few toasted marshmallows back at the cottage later on). 33 Govetts Leap Rd, Blackheath 02 4787 6899

Our other gastronomical favourites included:

Good coffee/hot chocolate – Nikita Espresso Bar 179 Leura mall, Leura

Gourmet Deli – Leura Gourmet 159 The Mall, Leura

Booze – The Carrington Cellars & Deli  Parke Street, Katooomba

Best Cocktail – Apple Bar 2488 Bells Line of Road Bilpin

Nature

A trip to Govetts Leap lookout for breathtaking views over the endless valleys and rivers was as far as we got nature-wise. For those more outdoor-inclined, there are hundreds of walks around the mountains, ranging in difficulty and length. A drive down to the gorgeous Megalong Valley is also a nice option, where you can find horse-riding, vineyards and tea rooms.

Note: Thermals are essential.

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