Guides

Countryside And Apple Pies: This Bilpin Farm Stay Is The Ideal NSW Weekend Getaway

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On the fringe of the Blue Mountains, Bilpin is a place you can have all the fresh country air, adorable animals, bush hikes, warm apple pie and delicious cider you can handle. This is orchard country and it’s made for reviving tired souls.

I could hear the excited squeals as soon as I jumped out of my car. I’d been warned about one of the animals at this luxury farm stay in the foothills of the Blue Mountains – the excitable culprit a very sociable ginger and black spotted young pig known as Mr Piggles. Full of personality, he demands lots of pats and love between oinks, which I am delighted to give.

I soon learn that this is just one of many charming experiences you can have on a getaway to Bilpin and I am only five minutes into my stay.

Just one-and-a-half hours from the Sydney CBD, you’ll find yourself in the ‘Land of the Mountain Apple’, a gorgeous area of the Hawkesbury known for its rich soil, verdant hills and fruit orchards.

The region was absolutely devastated by last year’s bushfires, but as I drive along Bells Line of Road, I am blown away by the resilience not only of nature, but of the locals. Bilpin is very much bouncing back – and with a perfectly wholesome country getaway you can help it continue to heal.

Where To Stay

Eden Farm Escape. Images: Steve Woodburn (supplied)

Drive through the pretty white gates of Eden Farm Escape and be met with rolling green hills divided by beautiful white horse fencing. This may be a working equine farm, but it’s also a place to come back to yourself — and yes, this is where Mr Piggles lives.

Five years ago, owners Michael and Deborah decided they wanted a place to retreat from Sydney. Originally bought as a family home, the duo – who are also behind The Grumpy Baker cafes – spent the last two years turning this land into luxury farm stay accommodation.

It’s also a working equine-assisted therapy farm, but guests of Eden Farm Escape can also book horse riding lessons as they have several horses plus a riding arena, barns and stables.

 

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Smiling after my run in with the excitable Mr Piggles, I roll up to Stavannah: a wheelchair-accessible studio cabin fronting a private view of the beautiful Australian bush with its own outdoor fire pit.

You can’t go wrong with any of the five cabins here. They’re all the well designed, self-contained and perfectly capture the intimacy of country charm while offering contemporary touches, with their pitched rooflines, log fireplaces and subway-tiled kitchens. They’re also dog friendly.

My stay involved grabbing a loaf of fresh The Grumpy Baker sourdough at the top of the street, before heading back to my cabin to light the log fire and read a good book. The next morning, I awoke to birdsong before strolling to ‘Cluckingham Palace’ to lift the hutch and nab some freshly laid eggs. Here’s a hot tip though, be sure to bring groceries with you as supermarkets are scarce.

Every morning at 9am, you can also feed the donkeys (aptly named Shrek, Fiona and Donkey), alpaca, sheep and chickens, which I obviously did.

Mr Piggles is still young enough to get a bottle feed and you should absolutely put your hand up for feeding him if you have the chance.

Hanging with Mr Piggles was a surprising highlight of my stay. Image: Sonia Taylor (supplied).

I spent the rest of my spare time taking in all of the activities Bilpin and its surrounds has to offer, which we’ll talk about below.

Where To Eat

Sydney’s The Grumpy Baker has an outpost here, bringing their excellent coffee, perfectly sour sourdough and tasty pies, sausage rolls and pastries to the area. You can also grab lasagne and shepherds pie to heat up for dinner back in your cabin, or a selection of goat cheeses, deli meats and other bites. It’s a fab pit stop en route to Mudgee and Orange, too.

While there, head next door to Pigeonhole — also run by The Grumpy Baker — for bric a brac, sweets, homewares and antiques.

This is apple (and berry) pie territory and you can take your pick along Bells Line of Road. The Grumpy Baker has a fab contender, and you can try other local jaunts like Pie In The Sky Roadhouse, Tutti Frutti and The Hive (try the local honey and scones, too) because it’d be rude not to spread the love and taste more than one.

 

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Finish off your afternoon tasting local cider made from Bilpin apples at Bilpin Cider or Hillbilly Cider. I tried Bilpin Cider’s Apple and Ginger non-alcoholic variety and was genuinely rattled at how robust yet balanced the flavour profile was in a mere sip. It’s so good.

Over in nearby Kurrajong there’s a few spots for your list, Lochiel House being the stand out. The historic property is full of charm, serving excellent fine dishes with local produce. If you’re after something a little more casual, hit up Kurrajong’s Archibald Hotel for a pub feed.

Things To Do

When you’re in Bilpin, picking your own fruit is a must. Apples, plums, apricots, peaches, figs, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and even persimmons are all fair game at the many orchards of Bilpin. The most famous? Bilpin Fruit Bowl.

I’m lucky enough to be taken on a whip around the orchards by owner Margaret Tadrosse, who lost 8,000 fruit trees to the fires. In a year, they’ve managed to re-plant 5,000 but it’s been tough work.

Be sure to check in with the orchards to see what’s in season before you arrive and note that fruit picking is weekends only, as these are all working orchards. This site will show you farm gates in the area — just filter by ‘Hawkesbury’ and ‘pick your own’.

The Bilpin Markets are on every Saturday from 10am to noon in the District Hall, where you can load up with a local fresh farm haul.

Nearby, you’ll find Mt Tomah where you can wander the beautiful Blue Mountains Botanic Gardens. This must-visit affords stunning views and admission is gratis. Wildwood Garden and Nooroo Garden Mt Wilson (when open) are also worth a peek.

Beyond Mt Tomah around the Grose Valley area you’re in the vicinity of some pretty incredible hikes. Walls Lookout is one such trail which rewards you with incredible sweeping views of the Grose Valley and its surrounding cliffs.

 

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Back in Bilpin, you’re in for one memorable evening when booking in for a Blue Mountains Glow Worm Tour. Set on a private property, you’ll be taken into a hidden Blue Mountains glow worm canyon.

Before my weekend in Bilpin, I didn’t know how much I needed the break. Yet when it was time to leave, I found myself letting out a satisfied sigh and feeling thankful for quality time in this lovely spot, as comforting as a slice of warm apple pie.

The author stayed as a guest of Eden Farm Escape.

(Lead image: Provided / Eden Farm Escape / Eden Equine_Photography)