There are two ways to drive to the Blue Mountains from Sydney - the Great Western Highway or the more northerly Bells Line of Road.
The second of these roads travels through charming orchards, spectacular mountain scenery and solitude of rural hinterland. And that's where you'll find Bilpin, an hour and half from the city. It's a township best know for its apples, apple cider, apple vinegar and pick-your-own-fruit farms.
Local arts and crafts feature metalwork, ceramics, art, opals, dried flowers and woodwork for sale and there are numerous fruit and vegetable stalls and tea shops offering home-made jams, honey and apple pies.
Fruit-growing settlers arrived in the area in the mid 1800s, after hearing reports of rich fertile soil from the traveller Archibald Bell.
Although the Blue Mountains had already been crossed some years earlier at Katoomba, Bell traced the northern route used by local Aboriginal peoples, over the Blue Mountains, to the western plains.
When gold was later discovered in the 1850s the road became a 'highway' to the mining town of Bathurst.
Today Bilpin is a cool weather retreat for those seeking the bush experience as well as rest and recreation in the magnificent Hawkesbury area.
Things to do
Mt.Tomah Botanic Garden - the cool climate garden of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Sydney is 10 minutes west of Bilpin
Bilpin Springs Orchard - from Australia Day Weekend to Queens Birthday Weekend you can pick your own fruit - fresh!
Fruit Stalls - choose whatever's in season and looking succulent
In the area
Zig Zag Railway - 40 minutes west near Lithgow with live steam trains on weekends
Mt Vic Flicks - old style cinema in Mount Victoria
Chestnut Picking - in season at Mt Wilson
Archvale Rainbow Trout Farm, Lithgow - where everyone has a chance to catch fish