Time to hit the road west
Follow the Bells Line of Road to Mt Wilson and get acquainted with the wonderful and wild along the way.
Nothing is more Aussie than a road trip during the summer holidays. So pack up the family and head out on a day of adventure and make some great memories together. One of the most popular road trips from the Hawkesbury is to head up the Bells Line of Road to Mt Wilson. Direct travel time to Mt Wilson is less than 2 hours which leaves plenty of time to stop and have a look around, stretch your legs and explore along the way. There is also plenty of opportunity to find a place to stay and make a weekend of it.
Start your day at the Hawkesbury Visitor Information Centre at Richmond. Pick up a free roadmap and grab the Hawkesbury Historic Road - Bells Line of Road guide if you are interested in history and exploration. From Richmond cross the Hawkesbury River and pass through the North Richmond and Kurmond.
As you start to climb you’ll see the turn off for Kurrajong on your left - if you are ready for a break turn in (14kms, 20 minutes en-route). Kurrajong takes its name from ‘Currijon’, the local Aboriginal word for the string-making fibre from a species of tree found in this region. Superb views can be had from the church of St. Gregory's (1845) situated 100 metres from the intersection of Old Bells Line of Road and Bells Line of Road. The quaint village is a welcome stop to have a wander, checkout the cafes, local shops and there is a great new playground in Memorial Park too.
Returning to the Bells Line of Road you'll start climbing up the tight bends of Bellbird Hill into Kurrajong Heights. Open your windows and listen for the song of the bellbirds. As you reach the top of the rise and the road flattens out keep an eye out for Bellbird lookout on the right. Due to the nasty turn we suggest you stop on the return journey. Bellbird Lookout is a great stop for those that like ‘big’ views. From here you'll be able to see how far you have come and gaze down at the panoramic view of the Sydney Basin and the silhouette of the Sydney City skyline on a clear day.
The Bells Line of Road meanders along to Bilpin (30kms, 40 minutes en-route). In late 2019 and early 2020 Bilpin was hit hard by massive bushfires. You can see signs of the fires along the sides of the road with bushland regenerating slowly. Like the trees businesses have also regenerated and adapted. The Tutti Fruitti was one business which tragically burnt to the ground. With tough resilience and determination the owners have rebuilt this popular café and its worth a stop.
Bilpin is known for its stone fruit and apples and when the harvest is in full swing you can pick your own. There are opportunities to stop at cafés and fruit stores selling cider, apple pies, honey, jams and preserves. There are two cellar doors selling locally grown and produced apple cider - Bilpin Cider Co and Hillbilly Cider.
Continue west and you’ll soon see the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden at Mount Tomah (44kms, 50 minutes en-route). The Blue Mountains Botanic Garden is a showcase of cool climate plants and rainforest. The 28 hectares of curated garden sits inside the UNESCO World Heritage Area.
Home to propagated Wollemi Pines and a diverse range of flora the garden has kilometres of walking trails (many accessible and well graded) making it a worthwhile stop along the way. There is also a sensational lookout from the main visitor building back deck.
The garden is open from 9am to 5pm daily and entry is free.
Further along the Bells Line of Road is the signposted dirt road to the Mount Banks picnic area (54kms, 60 mins). The picnic area is only 2km off the main road and is a great spot to enjoy the contents of your picnic basket or your goodies purchased in Kurrajong and Bilpin. The picnic spot is scenic in itself, but if you are up for a walk head up the signposted bushwalk towards the summit of Mt Banks. The best views are about half way up from a rock outcrop - you can see stunning views into the Grose Valley wilderness.
Next stop is Mount Wilson (65km, 115 minutes en-route). The tiny village is just five kilometres off the main Bells Line of Road and is home to several private gardens open to the public year round (fees apply). Mt Wilson is surrounded by magnificent natural bushland and rainforest, bushwalks as well as historic buildings. This place buzzes in autumn when the trees put on a magnificent show.
If you want a short walk with magnificent views over the mountains try the 30 minute walk to Du Faurs Rocks Lookout that begins near the Fire Station. Remember Mt Wilson has no shops or petrol so make sure you are prepared. There are public toilets available at Silva Plana (just as you enter Mt Wilson), the Fire Station, Founders Corner, Waterfall Reserve and Cathedral Reserve.
Got a little more time up your sleeve?
If you want to extend your roadtrip continue west along Bells Line and turn left on the Darling Causeway at Bell. You’ll eventually come to the village of Mount Victoria and the Great Western Highway.
Turn left onto the highway heading back down through the Blue Mountains toward Sydney.
Some of our favourite spots in the Blue Mountains to stop along the way are: Govetts Leap Lookout at Blackheath, Echo Point lookout at Katoomba– both slight diversions from the Highway. The views of sandstone escarpments, sheer cliff walls, the deep canyons of the National Park, and tall waterfalls (when running) is breath taking.
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