Sirens, sandwiches and scenery at Norman Lindsay’s house.

As far as I know the closest the Hawkesbury has to a famous resident is a dead artist who actually lived in the lower Blue Mountains – his name was Norman Lindsay and he was the original renaissance man. He not only painted magnificent (mostly nude) women, (who all have slightly cruel gleams in their eyes), he sculpted, (mostly nude) women, made vases, hand-built model ships and did incredibly detailed etchings of… you guessed it, mostly nude women. And then, when he had a little spare time, wrote and illustrated a bestselling children’s book called ‘ The Magic Pudding’ – which was apparently first written to win a bet with a fellow artist friend, (the illustrations used to scare the living daylights out of me when I was a child, most of the characters had evil gleams in their eyes too).

 He lived most of his life in a beautiful old house in the suburb of Faulconbridge, which is an easy pit stop if you are on your way either up to or back down from the Blue Mountains. It is however, the type of place that could easily consume a day trip in itself. Owned and run now by The National Trust the house itself holds a gallery of his art, it costs $10 per adult, $5 per child to enter, is open from 10 – 4 every day and once inside you are free to wander as you will. There are free half hour guided tours that are very interesting and are run completely by volunteers, these take in his private studio, kitchen, etching studio/printing presses, house and garden.

It might be prudent to rethink it as a destination, however, if you are taking great-aunt Gertrude out for the day, the paintings are tame by todays standards but they are nearly all nudes, (his paintings were banned from the National Art Gallery for obscenity) – one famous quote goes that Norman fell in love with the first breast he ever saw and painted it for the rest of his life. There has even been a movie based, somewhat loosely, on his life, called ‘Sirens’. It was filmed at the actual house and was famous in it’s day for featuring Elle Macpherson au natural.

His garden was also his pride and joy and he managed to sculpt an English-manor-house-style area in amongst the good old gum trees of the Aussie bush, of course liberally sprinkled with cavorting naked nymph statues! The garden is free to wander in, look at and picnic in, but I have a much better idea…almost hidden at the bottom of the garden, down some cute hand-hewn stone steps is the yummiest little cafe. There are outdoor tables set amongst the azaleas and camellias, there are covered verandah tables for if it looks a little drizzly and there is an indoor little-old-house type house.

This was taken inside the cafe itself, looking out to the garden, how cool are those windows?

 The menu is rather an eclectic one, offering such delicious choices as:

Lemon infused smoked trout and potato hash with fried egg and lemon and roquette oil

Moroccan lamb burger with char grilled eggplant, sweet peppers, tomato, mesculan lettuce and minted yoghurt

Blue cheese tart served with caramelised onion, and a roquette and parmesan salad

Braised chunky beef pie with garlic and parmesan mash, button mushrooms, spicy tomato relish and a red wine jus

Pumpkin and feta pie with a roast pumpkin, pine nut and sage salad and spicy tomato relish

Gourmet steak sandwich, tomato, beetroot confit, Emmental cheese, mesculan lettuce, onion compote and tomato and chilli pickle

I thought I’d order something nice and light, seeing as how I really wanted to sample one of the amazing sounding desserts on the menu, so chose the Lindsay’s club sandwich, with smoked chicken breast, bacon, egg, tomato, mesculan lettuce and mustard mayonnaise…um, maybe not as light as it sounded…nevertheless it was a very nice take on the usual club sandwich, as well as being hearty it was fresh tasting and the mustard mayonnaise complimented the flavours perfectly.

 MD went for one of the specials, Italian sausages with garlic and parmesan mash and caramelised onion gravy, which tasted as good as it looked, the mash was lovely and creamy and the gravy not too sweet – which can sometimes be the case with caramelised onion.

 

Now for the piece of resistance – after much toing and froing I decided on the chocolate cherry black forest cake for dessert: beautifully presented, it came with not only cream, raspberry coulis and a strawberry but a dish of chocolate icecream with pieces of mars bar mixed into it…

 The prices range from $12.50 for the soup of the day, to $24.50 for pan fried barramundi with hand cut fat chips and lemon beurre blanc. Our mains were $18.50 each and there are a long list of daily specials added to the basic menu. The cafe isn’t licensed but you can BYO and there is a 10% surcharge on Sundays and public holidays. 

I’m afraid I wasn’t allowed to take any photos inside the gallery, (which is a shame because his paintings are wonderful), I can only suggest you go and see them for yourself…or check out the official website at : www.normanlindsay.com.au

See... I told you it looks scary!

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