Sheer sandstone walls, treed hillsides and turns and bends - even sharp curves, adjacent to apple orchards and to elegant waratahs — 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 BBQ facilities
Mount Tomah, the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden continues to be a favourite with visitors to Sydney. Set along Bells Line of Road and above Bilpin, Mount Tomah is the cool-climate garden and one of many sites of the Botanic Gardens and Centennial Parklands. 'Cool' because it sits 1000 metres above sea level. 'Cool' because this 28-hectare garden features plants, trees and flowers of the southern hemisphere mountains - botanical life that is simultaneously tough and colourful.
This is a beautiful garden with blooms year-round. The plant and tree life is so diverse that we recommend a free volunteer guided walk, which is available most days at 11.30am for individual visitors. Bookings are recommended, so call in advance to confirm a guide is available. However, should you forget to call, the $5 Garden Shuttle takes a 20-minute tour of the garden and is led by a garden expert. This option provides a great overview before setting out to explore the gardens on your own.
To make garden life even more interesting, plants and trees from the mountain ranges of China, Japan, Chile, Korea and North America are clustered as 'plant communities' in separate gardens.
You won't want to miss the Jungle Walk, 33 hectares of pristine rainforest. Along half a kilometre of graded paths you'll find magnificent sassafras and coachwood trees, diverse plant and animal life.
Picnic tables and electric barbecues are available as well as areas for private hire around the garden.
Berambing and Bilpin - Hawkesbury's Apple Country - sit a few kilometres below the Blue Mountains Botanic Gardens, Mount Tomah. Along Bells Line of Road random petite produce stands and weatherboard cafes are the solitary signs of activity.
If you love apple pies Bilpin is a 'must stop'. We're convinced that the aroma of warm apple pies permeates the air around Bilpin, as most produce stores bake year round! As you make your way down to Hawkesbury Heights and past the pub, there is a a smashing lookout with a small carpark on the left. You won't want to miss this.
Address: Old Bells Line of Road
This charming village is a favourite with locals throughout the Hawkesbury and Hills. Several restaurants open for breakfast. Many close the doors by 4pm. A butcher, a baker - but alas, no candlestick maker - open Monday through Saturday. We think this butcher shop is among the best in all of Hawkesbury. Craft shops, antique shops, a 'fabulous' women's clothing boutique that is open daily make for a great day out.
Address: 70 Old Bells Line of Road, Kurrajong
Phone: 02 4573 1920
Hours: Open daily
Carey & Co is situated in a charming old cottage with a sweeping front verandah overlooking the main street. This is truly a shop for 'the beautiful people'.
Beautiful imported wools and cashmeres in winter and great linens for summer are the trademark of Carey & Co. There are some stunning sundresses here! We adore the trendy shoes - winter or summer - and we'd love a pair in every colour.
This is our first stop for Christmas shopping when great stocking-stuffers and terrific party jewellery lines the shelves. An eclectic assortment of homewares which we often can't resist. In temperate weather, the French doors are opened and clothing spills out on to the verandah, creating a brilliant canvas of colour wafting on the wind, summoning shoppers inside from the street. We can't list all the choices, but we were spellbound by the options and the artful displays.