Travel ian 1/8/2014

Bathurst is not as far from Sydney as many people think – it is just on 200km (around 2 hours 40 minutes direct). If taking a road trip, there are many delightful diversions along the way. Katoomba, in the heart of the Blue Mountains, for example, is half way, both in distance and time.

There are many fine restaurants, cafés and lots of attractions. The Explorers Tree, commemorating the crossing of the Blue Mountains by Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson in 1813, stands by the highway about 2.5 kilometres west of Katoomba. For a snack, drop into the restored Paragon Café in Katoomba Street. It’s been making its own confectionary since 1916. The town also has a number of restaurants and galleries. Katoomba is also home of the famous Three Sisters.

On the way up the mountains, Faulconbridge is worth a stop. The grave of Sir Henry Parkes is in the cemetery in the appropriately named Sir Henry's Parade. In the same street, Jackson Park has a corridor of oak trees planted by all Australian Prime Ministers or their families as a living memorial.

Artist and Magic Pudding author, Norman Lindsay, lived nearby and his former home and garden is now the Norman Lindsay Gallery and Museum. The garden contains 15 of his fountains and sculptures, some of them still a tad risqué.

Leura is a pretty town with sweeping views from the Sublime Point Lookout. The town holds a garden festival every October when residents open their gates and gardenias to visitors. Leura's showcase is the Everglades Gardens, which was created by Paul Sorenson, acclaimed as Australia's master gardener, in the mid-1930s.

Medlow Bath is the other side of Katoomba and the main reason for stopping is the historic Hydro Majestic Hotel (which is actually three buildings built between 1880 and 1903 by a Sydney businessman as a health resort). Drop into the bar for great views over Megalong Valley.

Blackheath is a centre for art and craft, and famous for its rhododendrons. Mount Victoria is the highest point in the mountains with several lookouts and picnic spots and, officially, this marks the end of the Blue Mountains.

Down the other side, Hartley (after passing Little Hartley) is worth a visit. ‘Big’ Hartley is also pretty little and the entire village has been declared an historic site. About 50 kilometres from Hartley are the spectacular Jenolan Caves. Discovered by a bushranger in 1834, the nine limestone caves are huge, with stunning and beautifully lit stalactites and stalagmites.

And, when you get to Bathurst, you will get a warm welcome at Rydges Mt Panorama (and a reminder that we are pet friendly!)