NOTE please check for COVID-19 closures and follow all instructions and alerts
Words and Photos: Roderick Eime
Riding the Blue Mountains is a well-known weekend excursion for most Sydney-based road riders. We know these roads like the back of our calloused hands, but each time I head up the Great Western Highway, I vow to uncover something I didn’t know about or had habitually missed.
So, with a brand new Harley-Davidson Low Rider S in the driveway and nothing better to do on a glorious Spring weekend, I gleefully lept aboard the 114ci Milwaukee-Eight powered Softail for a reexamination.
Sweet dreams at Palais Royale Hotel, Katoomba
Accommodation can sometimes be hard to find on the weekends, but I did discover this hidden gem, hiding in plain view in the heart of Katoomba.
This classic, 100-year-old hotel has had several personas over the years, yet retains an authentic 1920s aura amid the tasteful renovations.
You could call it a solid 3.5- 4-star offering with modern ensuite bathrooms now in every room. Mine even had a massive bathtub for soaking those weary, ageing bones. There’s plenty of safe, off-street parking, although not undercover, unfortunately. Breakfast is included in typical buffet style, with generous hot breakfasts cooked to order.
Old school touring in vintage Cadillacs
This could be a fun diversion if you had a free hour or two. Donald has utilised his father’s 1929 Cadillac LaSalle V8 as a day tourer, running fun excursions around Katoomba, Leura and Wentworth Falls in the gorgeous old girl, christened ‘Flora’.
“I like to show folks parts of the Blue Mountains few visitors ever see,” he tells me as we chug around Cliff Drive, past the old swimming pool.
Donald has also restored two other LaSalles of similar vintage, so you could take your whole club for a convoy outing.
Hot tucker at the Boiler House
The historic Hydro Majestic at Medlow Bath has always captured my imagination and been a point of fascination for many of us over the years. New owners have lifted the place entirely, so much so you could call it a rebirth and one new addition is the Boiler House Restaurant built into the old machinery shop and steam generator building. This is where NSW first electricity was generated – four days before Sydney itself!
Remote from the main building, with heaps of parking, it’s the ideal spot for a flying lunch en route to wherever or even a turnaround point. Think hearty meat dishes like braised beef cheeks, Sicilian chicken, salads, pasta and gourmet pizzas. The tiramisu too, is right up there.
Getting Hammered at Hartley: The Talisman Gallery
Metal artist Ron Fitzpatrick is really an old school blacksmith with a penchant for hot metal sculptures which he forges in the old woolshed in the historic village of Hartley on the old highway down the slope past Mt Victoria. Ron has revived the art of bashing hot iron into whacky sculptures, all of which can be purchased on the spot – or you can create your own under his tutelage. Fancy a new Gothic-inspired fire poker or wall hook? Knock yourself out!
The conventional wisdom for day riders is a loop up or back along the Bells Line of Roads [see Google Map] which offers you more options like the funky Hillbilly Cider stop at Bilpin. Ask for a non-alcoholic ‘rider cider’ and stash a six-pack for later.
If you’ve not been for a while, just watch the changed speed limits up and down the Great Western Hwy (A32) there as well as the cameras at the top near Mt Victoria (see pic below)
Remember the 28km shortcut from Springwood via Winmalee to Agnes Banks (near Richmond) for a bit of relief from the weekend highway traffic [see Google Maps]
Hartley Historic Village – Self-catered accommodation is available here too.
Blue Mountains Guide from Destination NSW
Blue Mountains Guide from Tourism Australia