... a dreamer, freelance writer, massage therapist, naturopath, mother & drop-out social work student living, working and writing in the Blue Mountains. When not occupied with the real world, she writes fantasy.
With the beach season in limbo, people are lured to the ambience of a log fire on a blustering winter night. As a place that is almost permanently cool, if not downright freezing, the upper reaches of the Blue Mountains is a specialist winter destination. For Sydney-siders wanting to experience the full wrath and glory of winter, this is the most accessible place to come.
Think glass of port or steaming hot mug of something, snug fire, big coat, and frigid weather beyond the doors of the establishment, and you have winter in the Blue Mountains.
As a destination that is favoured by Sydney-siders for relaxation, the Blue Mountains can be the perfect short winter break indoors.
For the quintessential Blue Mountains winter experience you need to participate in the following:
Thick Hoar Frost There is something other-wordly about the sparkle of white frost covering the earth. Enjoy the crunch of it beneath your feet on a frosty morning. Breath draughts of sparkling fresh cold air and really feel the life in your lungs.
You are most likely to see thick hoar frost if you exit your accommodation prior to 8am on a morning that is cold, dry, clear and still.
Hoar frost in Katoomba - a common sight on a winter morning
The Weather The weather dominates the Blue Mountains landscape and each season has it's own very distinct character. Winter can be graced with blue skies, rain, ice, sleet and the kind of blustering winds that would make a grown man cry. Fogs can descend from nowhere and hide everything. Driving into it, one can feel as if they've slipped off the end of the world. Or perhaps this is another world. Yet, even the rain can be pleasant if you are sequestered inside listening to it prattle charmingly on a tin roof. Hence, the reason so many flock to the mountains in winter. If you have to put up with winter, why not do it in style.
The Natural Surroundings The Blue Mountains is a world heritage listed area for good reason. Conifers and skeletal deciduous trees around the immediate townships provide a European ambiance. Beyond that lie the waterfalls, Eucalyptus forests, ferns, cliffs and vista's that have endured for centuries. Other natural features to explore include the Jenolan Caves, the pine forests of Jenolan, Glenbrook Lagoon, Kanangra Falls, the National Parks, gardens like Mount Tomah Botanical Garden as well as the multitude of great walks.
The Log Fire
There's something primeval and innately comforting about sitting around the fire. Add friends, good conversation and a drink of sorts and life couldn't get better - especially if you're of the couch potato variety. The ritual probably harks back to caveman days and bonding around the camp-fire. There are many establishments in the mountains that will keep the fires stoked for you or at least flick the switch on the fake gas variety.
Fake gas log fire at the Carrington Hotel Lounge - still does the job.
Winter is the only time you can dress up in a colored scarf, winter cap and gloves, so why not go the whole hog and enjoy it. In my time as a local, I have seen some adorable outfits on the tourists who don't always get much chance to sport these winter fashions.
The Blue Mountains is comprised of a varied community that seems awash with artists, musicians and writers, but also retired folk, ex-Sydneysiders, young families and a multitude of tourists from all over the globe. The final result is colourful, vibrant and interesting. Take a walk down the main street of Katoomba amongst the locals, many of whom look like they may have just arrived from Byron Bay or Newtown.
Buskers are a common sight on Katoomba Street. Note the beanie and scarf. Drop him a penny.
Another part of the charm of the Blue Mountains are the many quaint wooden cottages and historic buildings that predominate in the area. Protected by a strong local council, the townships have been largely protected from high-rise and retain their originality. Katoomba was a former miner's town and showcases many of the original miner's cottages of the 1800's and Federation cottages of the early 1900's. A drive around Leura village, South Katoomba, Blackheath, Mount Victoria and Hartley is sure to yield many examples of old architecture.
Cute Katoomba Cottage in Spring - a far better time to visit in my opinion.
I'm not talking about mountain manners here, but the bed and breakfast experience. The Mountains boasts many B&B's and guesthouses that can make your stay both comfortable and warm. Choose one with an open fire, cosy heritage style bedroom and breakfast for you in the morning. Avonleigh Guesthouse (circa 1916) in Katoomba and heritage listed Megalong Manor at Leura fit this bill. However, there are many options to choose from in this winter tourist region. See the Blue Mountains official website.
Whatever you do, stay warm. This is the golden rule. Being cold can ruin your time in the Blue Mountains. It's great to walk and get outdoors, but rug up well and walk briskly to stay warm and do pick the time you choose to do this - unless you're a mega-iron man or woman. The average winter day temperature dwells around 10 degrees celsius and can descend significantly after 3-4pm to almost zero on cold nights. Many shops close at this hour and locals disappear inside not to be seen again till the sun comes out.
Once you've experienced the heart and soul of the Blue Mountains (which is essentially it's natural features, severe weather and warm places to while away in), you may want to move onto some activities. For a great compilation of events, activities and things to do in the Blue Mountains during winter please click here on my article: Winter Activities in the Blue Mountains where you will find information on activities like Yulefest, Jenolan Caves, local walks, things to do after dark and much more.
Come prepared. And armed with a coat and ideas of what to do and where to go. I do recall a woman at a day spa, complaining that she was bloated from all the eating that she'd done in the Mountains since there was nothing else to do here. Not true - so do your research first. Anyone who absolutely hates the cold probably won't enjoy the Mountains in winter and should instead head North to the warmth. Don't say I didn't warn you.
Come up this weekend (23rdJune for Winter magic Festival in the Blue Mountains! Winter Magic is the Blue Mountains highest profile and most anticipated annual event. The Blue Mountains is NSW inaugural City of the Arts and Katoomba is the heart of that city. It is the weekend when artists, musicians, dancers, drummers, choirs and community take over one of Australia's most famous towns. seewww.wintermagic.com.au and wear those winter woolies!