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If you are visiting or live in Sydney and want to experience autumn colors, you can’t beat a Blue Mountains autumn day out!
The Blue Mountains are one of those places that I keep returning to again and again. I just love it up there. It can easily be visited on a day trip, but I love staying overnight for at least one night.
Our weekend there in the middle of April was my fourth time visiting in a year and the second time I have experienced a beautiful Blue Mountains autumn – my favorite season in the Blue Mountains.
With Sydney seriously lacking in autumn colors, the Blue Mountains are one of the closest areas for me to experience them. Throw in some incredible hiking trails, welcoming communities, and delicious food and you have got yourself a pretty awesome weekend away.
How To Spend a Perfect Blue Mountains Autumn Day Out
This time around I wanted to explore further afield than my usual haunts of Katoomba, Wentworth Falls and Leura, so we decided to drive into the mountains via an alternative route that would take us through the mountain apple kingdom of Bilpin, the celebrated botanical gardens of Mount Tomah and the tucked away village of Mount Wilson, famous for its magnificent private gardens and autumnal colors.
We left Sydney early on a Saturday morning, mountain-bound.
For more Blue Mountains autumn inspiration read about another perfect Blue Mountains weekend I had in Autumn.
Stop in Bilpin for Apple Pie
Bilpin is famous for its apples. You can’t really miss that fact when driving through as there are signs lining the roadside for just about everything apples: apple picking, apple juice, apple pie, apple cider.
It was the apple pie that interested me.
Fruit pies aren’t a big thing in this part of the world and as eating a tasty fruit-filled pie is one of my favorite earthly delights, I don’t pass up an opportunity when one is presented to me. It doesn’t happen often enough over here.
We stopped at The Fruit Bowl along the main road for a slice of pie. On my last visit to the Blue Mountains a couple of months ago the guy at the Tourist Information Centre told us that the Bilpin Fruit Bowl had the best apple pie.
Alas, it was closed when we drove through Bilpin on the way back to Sydney so we had to go across the road to The Pines Orchard (now permanently closed) for our pie fix instead. It wasn’t very good. The pastry was reminiscent of cardboard and the apples weren’t cooked properly and had a crunch.
Luckily the apple pie at the Fruit Bowl was a lot better. The pastry was flaky and buttery – how it should be – and the apples were beautifully soft and delicious. It was probably the best apple pie I have had in Australia.
You should go there. Or to Pie in the Sky Roadhouse – their pie also looks delicious.
The day had turned a cloudy grey since ascending into the mountains from Sydney. I don’t mind a chill in the air, but grey skies tend to bum me out. You can blame years of living in perennially grey London for that.
Explore the Botanic Gardens in Mount Tomah
Walking into the Blue Mountains Botanic Gardens and through the visitor center, we were presented with a magnificent view of the gardens and surrounding mountains.
I was excited to see lots of deciduous trees of various shades of fire gracing the gardens. The grey skies were forgotten and I was eager to get out and explore the expansive grounds.
We found a copse of Japanese maples soon after leaving the visitor center. They are my favorite autumn tree with their delicate crimson leaves. The ground was covered in them and the sight of the perfect little leaves lit up the happiness in my heart. Like leaf-peepers porn.
I must have been from New England in my past life.
Wandering the grounds we found many more trees that were ablaze with color as well as beautiful native trees in their year-round green coats.
The gardens were well-tended with neatly mown lawns and beds of flowers and small shrubs lining the concrete pathways. For a less manicured experience, we headed to the corner of the gardens where the Lady Fairfax walk began through the darkened rainforest.
Giant sassafras and coachwood trees towered into the sky around us as we walked along a path through the fern-covered undergrowth. Slippery leaves coated the trail and tree roots grew haphazardly out of the ground.
The walk was short and only took us 15 minutes, leading us back to the entrance. It felt a world apart from the rest of the gardens.
I enjoyed everywhere we discovered in the gardens but I think my favorite part was the Plant Explorers walk. It is a quiet pathway lined with interpretive signs telling about the early explorers who traveled to far-flung parts of Asia to collect specimens of plants that are now commonplace in the western gardens of today.
It was interesting to read about these intrepid explorers’ lives and travels in a time when travel in Asia really was such an epic adventure into the unknown. The path was lit up gold from the shedding leaves of Japanese spicebush trees creating a magical, fairy-tale feel.
A feeling that I associate with autumn.
After a couple of glorious hours spent at the gardens, it was time to venture to the remote village of Mount Wilson for more autumn-y goodness.
Enjoy the Autumn Colors in Mount Wilson
I hadn’t heard of Mount Wilson until I happened upon a blog post about it a few weeks before our Blue Mountains autumn day trip. It sounded like a lovely spot to admire the autumn colors and now that we have a car, it would be easy to visit. It is not on any bus routes.
Driving into Mount Wilson I was surprised to see so many people around. I may not have heard of the place before but countless others obviously had.
Mount Wilson is so tiny that it doesn’t really have a town center just a small church, a community notice board and a Village Hall. Kind of like where I grew up in Te Hihi, although we had a petrol station too. Winning.
Everyone appeared to be in the village to visit the private gardens which come alive with color in autumn. As we had just been to the botanical gardens we didn’t visit any in Mount Wilson, preferring to walk along the roadside path to enjoy the prevalent autumn colors and clusters of fairy-tale toadstools throughout the village for free.
If you do want to visit a garden here, I have heard the Breenhold Gardens are lovely with lots of autumn colors.
The churchyard had some striking maple trees with discarded leaves of bright colors coating the ground.
The weekly market was in full swing at the Village Hall when we arrived. A man at a stall near the entrance had bought along a basketful of puppies to keep him company. Seriously, lots of puppies tucked up together in a blanket-lined basket. Just about the cutest thing I have ever seen.
I tried to get a photo but there were numerous small children fawning over them and I couldn’t get close.
Most of the stallholders were well into their golden years so the stalls inside the hall held hand-knitted items, preserves and chutneys, and bric-a-brac. It reminded me of my Grandma.
Collect Your Own Chestnuts
Further along the main village road, there was a farm that had opened its ground for chestnut collecting, something that I haven’t done before but seems oh so autumn. We just had to do it.
We paid our $5 each and were given thick gardening gloves and a wicker basket to collect the chestnuts in. Heading down the grassy slope to the field of chestnut trees, we saw a lot of empty husks and lots of people searching among the brown leaves for whole ones. I wondered if we would find any at all.
After only managing to find a few and realizing that de-husking was a lot easier if you stamped on and rolled the chestnuts first – we moved on to another tree.
And we hit the jackpot.
Loads of brown de-husked chestnuts were littering the ground, shaken from their prickly outer shells from the birds in the trees above. We collected a good amount in our basket and called it a day.
I have only ever had chestnuts cooked into dishes before, never by themselves. I wasn’t sure if I would like them so we didn’t want to collect too many. Baking them at home in the oven later, I wasn’t convinced on the first taste but after trying them again the next day – they grew on me.
There are numerous places you can collect chestnuts in Mount Wilson and Mount Irvine, here are some options.
Hike To a Waterfall
We capped off our visit to Mount Wilson with a short hike to a waterfall. The forest was damp and shaded. Mushrooms grew from the tangled undergrowth and up moss-covered trees. The clear pools below the falls would have been inviting on a hot summer’s day.
After checking into our cozy hostel in Katoomba, we walked into town to the grand old Carrington Hotel for a craft beer by the fire.
Thus we completed a perfect day of autumn in the Blue Mountains. All that was missing were the Pumpkin Spice Lattes.
Plan Your Blue Mountains Autumn Getaway
Where to Stay in the Blue Mountains
There are many places you can stay in the Blue Mountains but I would recommend staying in Katoomba as it has lots of restaurants and cafes, and it’s within walking distance to the cute town of Leura and the famous Three Sisters.
On this visit, I stayed at the Flying Fox Backpackers in Katoomba and loved it. Our private double room was cozy and we met some cool people during our stay. The lounge had comfy couches, lots of books, a friendly hostel cat, and a fireplace.
There was a free pancake breakfast each morning and the hostel was only five minutes walk from town.
I have also stayed at No14 Lovel St Hostel and loved it too. It is very similar to Flying Fox in that it has a great location close to town, a free breakfast, and a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.
If you want to treat yourself to something nicer, I have stayed at the historic Carrington Hotel in Katoomba and the Hydro Majestic Blue Mountains Hotel in nearby Medlow Bath, and I recommend them both.
They are both very grand and beautifully decorated – it really does feel like stepping back in time once you enter these majestic hotels.
The Best Travel Insurance For Your Blue Mountains Autumn Trip
Make sure you get travel and health insurance before your Blue Mountains autumn trip, just to be on the safe side. Safety Wing is my go-to and they are cheap and easy to claim with.
Safety Wing also allows you to sign up when you are already traveling, unlike a lot of other travel insurance providers.
If you liked this post, check out my other Blue Mountains and New South Wales content:
- Hiking the Other Grand Canyon in the Blue Mountains of Australia
- The Perfect Blue Mountains Itinerary For a Weekend Away
- Celebrating Yulefest in the Blue Mountains of Australia
- The Ultimate 5 Days in Sydney Itinerary
- The Best Walks in Sydney
- Ultimate Bucket List for a Summer in Sydney
- Sydney Walks: Manly to Spit Walk
- A Beach Bum’s Guide to the Eastern Suburbs Beaches in Sydney
- 30 Reasons Why I Love Sydney
- The Best Long Weekend Blue Mountains Itinerary
- What It’s Like to be a Penguin Warden in Sydney
- A Perfect Autumn Weekend in Orange, NSW
- Fun Things To Do in Jervis Bay, New South Wales
Fantastic photos Vivien…One day if I have time, I’ll make it to the Blue Mountains again…However, if you are in Darling Harbour one day, please do let me know and qwe can have a chat over a coffee at The Star VIP Lounge, as you’ll be my guest there… Cheers, and have fun.. Dr Sam
Thanks Sam but my name is Katie 🙂 I hope you make it back to the Blue Mountains
Gorgeous. I remember doing a quick bus tour through there. I remember that visitor centre. It was so many years ago and a great reminder to return.
You definitely should return, especially in autumn if you can 🙂
Beautiful! Your photo of the mushrooms is especially stunning. I LOVE autumn. All the colors are so gorgeous. Living in Orlando, I really don’t get an autumn either. I’m glad you found something relatively close by – just another reason for me to add Australia to my list!
Thanks I’m definitely lucky there are places nearby that have a proper autumn 🙂
Oh my gosh, your pictures are breathtaking!
Thansk Tamara! It really is hard to take a bad photo up there at this time of year 🙂
Lovely photos, you’ve really captured the reds and oranges of autumn here!
Thansk Catherine, it wasn’t hard to do in the Blue Mountains – it is so beautiful up there at this time of year
Autumn leaves, gravestones, fungi and chestnuts – all things I like. Great collection of pics! The colours of those leaves are fantastic. I don’t really see much change during autumn around Brisbane. I haven’t been south to check out the Blue Mountains but hope to get down there one day.
Me too Jane – Autumn is my favourite season. I hope you make it to the Blue Mountains one day 🙂