Four ways to dine with a view in the Blue Mountains
The Blue Mountains is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers – for good reason. The epic views don’t have to end when it’s time to sit down to a meal, whether you’re visiting Katoomba or Leura, Little Hartley or Medlow Bath.
You only need to travel an hour from Sydney to immerse yourself in 11,400 square kilometres of World Heritage-listed wilderness. The Blue Mountains unite staggering sandstone cliffs, rainforest-clad valleys cooled by waterfalls, and dramatic gorges with Aboriginal art dating back tens of thousands of years. And for every escarpment, lookout or clifftop, a restaurant or bar is poised nearby to deliver scene-stealing views.
Whether in charming historic villages or surrounded by native forest, and whether you’re in search of fine dining or a casual fireside meal, here are four places to visit for the food – and linger for the outlook.
Wintergarden, Medlow Bath
The village of Medlow Bath has been attracting the who’s who for more than a century, with sybarites and socialites alike checking into the Hydro Majestic Hotel from the moment it opened in 1904. Back then, wellness offerings at the luxurious resort came largely in the form of a hydropathic spa; today, spiritual healing is delivered via soul-salving views over the Megalong Valley.
Following a six-year top-to-tail makeover back in 2014, the grande dame of the Blue Mountains reopened with a trio of restaurants and bars: The Bolierhouse and Wintergarden are highlights, both offering valley views through floor-to-ceiling windows. Wintergarden celebrates the glamour of the hotel’s heyday in its daily high tea, which sees a parade of dapper waiters serving tiered platters of goodies, from requisite finger sandwiches and scones to petite cakes and macarons – best paired with a pot of Earl Grey and a flute of champagne.
It’s easy to overindulge; thankfully, a number of walking trails traverse the Medlow Bath area, so you can justify that extra spoon of strawberry mousse by lacing up your hiking boots. The Coachwood Glen Nature Trail meanders through the Megalong Valley, the short loop taking you over rivers and through rainforest. If that sounds like too much effort, head to Tuckers Lookout instead, for a lofty perspective of the landscape.
Echoes Restaurant & Bar, Katoomba
With its precipitous clifftop perch at Echo Point, Echoes Boutique Hotel & Restaurant enjoys one of the most spellbinding settings in Katoomba. Most rooms and the fragrant gardens offer panoramic views over the Jamison Valley, as do the sun-filled rooftop restaurant and bar.
Begin your meal with a cocktail on the patio, then sit down to crisp white linens and heavy silver cutlery in the dining room. The only thing prettier than the pan-seared scallops or confit duck on your plate is the view, extending all the way across the valley to the cables and carriages of Scenic World. The attractions at Scenic World range from the world’s steepest passenger train – travelling from the escarpment down 310m into the forest on a 52-degree rail incline – to the 545m Scenic Cableway and the even longer Scenic Skyway, gliding between clifftops 270m above the valley floor.
From this glass-encased vantage you’ll glimpse the soaring sandstone turrets of the Three Sisters, within easy reach of Echoes and offering more of those heart-stopping vistas from both a lookout and short walking trail. Toast the end of the day here at The Lookout Echo Point, the casual cafe and bar offering a broad patio perched amid the treetops.
You’ll be left in awe by the setting of the Fairmont Resort & Spa Blue Mountains, its rooms and facilities sprawling across manicured gardens on the cusp of the Jamison Valley. Photo opportunities abound, both outside and in, particularly in the Embers restaurant where soaring cathedral-style windows frame your outlook. Anywhere else in the world this million-dollar view would come with a price-tag to match, but dining here is casual and cosy, especially if you reserve a table near the fireplace.
Order burgers, pizzas or pastas, then explore the expansive grounds, which include the oldest golf course in the Blue Mountains, the Leura Golf Club. The 18 holes offer plenty of challenges, not least shot-distracting panoramas over the deep gorge.
From here it’s a five-minute drive into Leura, with its atmospheric main street lined with heritage buildings home to boutiques, galleries and cafes. The town is characterised by its cool-climate floral bounty – azaleas, rhododendrons and camellias – which (in season) colour the 5.2-hectare grounds of the Everglades House & Gardens. The grand art deco home here was once used as a holiday retreat to escape the bustle of Sydney life; today it’s fitted with a gallery and tearoom with sweeping views all the way to Mount Solitary.
Ambermere Inn, Little Hartley
Offering a westerly perspective of the Blue Mountains, Ambermere Inn sits in the Hartley Valley, backdropped by Mount York’s dramatic sandstone ridgeline, which changes colour with the shadows of the day. The establishment sits on 2.5 hectares of gardens, with enormous old-growth trees and groves of cedar surrounding the impeccably preserved 1845 homestead, now a restaurant.
This little slice of history was once a main Cobb & Co coach stop on the route between Sydney and Bathurst, and has been reborn with plenty of old-school charm. Warm up by the open fire and watch mists roll in over the valley, or dine alfresco on the veranda to enjoy crisp mountain air and lush, seasonal flora. The restaurant menu celebrates local growers in dishes such as roast cauliflower with nduja butter, or salt-brined spatchcock with grapes, while the intimate bar is dedicated to craft beers and Australian wines.
Another taste of the past awaits at the nearby Hartley Historic Site, a collection of 17 sandstone buildings dating from 1837, including a former courthouse and garage, some establishments still decked out with original artefacts. Walk off your Ambermere lunch exploring orchards and cottage gardens, and reliving an important piece of Australian heritage.