Renowned for its gardens and guesthouses, Blackheath sits at the summit of the Blue Mountains less than a two-hour drive west of Sydney. This rambling village of stone and weatherboard houses is also the starting point for some of the most spectacular of the mountain hiking trails.
From the Blue Mountains Heritage Centre a number of trails descend into the Grose River Valley, varying in length from a couple of hours to several days. Some involve steep descents, and challenging climbs, yet the easy Cliff Top walking track to Evans Lookout offers some of the most awesome views in all the Blue Mountains.
On Blackheath’s Wentworth Street, the Bakehouse on Wentworth is a sourdough bakery famed for its range of organic breads, tarts, cakes, pastries and old-fashioned hand-crafted pies – try the Chicken, Leek and Mushroom. Sample an espresso while you're on the premises.
Taste wonderful local food at the Blackheath Growers Market, where you can meet the growers and producers of a fantastic array of foods. It is run between the hours of 8am and 12pm on the second Sunday of each month, from February to December.
Blackheath also has some of the finest boutique guesthouses in the Blue Mountains. Most are set in cool-climate gardens, decorated in an opulent country style and equipped with cosy parlours with open fires, ideal when the weather chills. Book in for a long weekend, or take advantage of special midweek rates.
The Campbell Rhododendron Gardens on Bacchante Street are known for their spectacular spring colour, yet the extensive plantings of deciduous trees, especially along Maple Crescent, make this an autumn colour fest. Sprawling across 18 hectares, the rambling woodland garden incorporates creeks, fern glades, natural bushland and a pretty lake spanned by a stone bridge.
At the end of Govetts Leap Road, the Blue Mountains Heritage Centre operated by the National Parks and Wildlife Service is a valuable source of information on local Aboriginal and European historic sites. It is also a great resource for camping, guided walks and bushwalking in the Blue Mountains National Park .