Posts tagged ‘cute old pubs’

September 25, 2011

Where the hell is St Albans?

Well, as they say in the classics, you’ll never never know if you never never go! St Albans is the countrified home of one of the oldest pubs in Australia…it’s proper name is The Settlers Arms Inn and the doors first opened in 1836. Made of convict hewn sandstone blocks it nestles prettily into a small village bordered on one side by a meandering stream/river called The MacDonald river and the other side by a real, actual mountain. Apparently it was a stop for the Cobb and co stagecoaches back in the 1800’s between Newcastle and Sydney. If you’re in the market for a lovely drive with the promise of a relaxing, delicious lunch or dinner at the other end I can’t recommend St Albans highly enough! There is a slight catch however, (and don’t say you weren’t warned), because it is so popular I would recommend a Saturday, (or preferably through the week), if you must go on a Sunday be prepared for a looong wait at the bar or for lunch – but, then again, it is Sunday…who needs to rush?

 And, now, to answer my title question – to get to this little hamlet of heaven follow these precise directions, (or you could just google maps it or use your phone nav thingy): head out to Wiseman’s Ferry, then just before the village itself, as you come to the bottom of the winding road turn left to get to the Webbs Creek Ferry, the ferry is free and runs 24/7, on the other side it is a very picturesque 22 km drive to St Albans itself, the road was dirt up until only a few years ago which tended to deter everyone but the most determined, now, however it is blissful bitumen.

The inside is a little difficult to photograph as it’s so dark in there…plenty of convict atmosphere but not so good for photos…

And check out the home-made cakes on the antique dresser, (more about that later)…

The hotel is set on a large area of parkland…if it’s a nice day bring a blanket and stretch out…(although you can’t bring a picnic, but who’d want to when the food there is so good)…

The food is ordered at the bar, then is brought out to you when it’s ready…there is a kitchen garden that supplies a lot of the fresh produce and the menu changes often according to the season and what is locally available…

I tried the zucchini, leek and mushroom tart, it was light and fresh tasting, set on the prettiest arrangement of salad I’ve ever seen…

MD had the beef pie with mash, it had big chunks of tender melt-in-your-mouth beef in a tasty vegetable laden gravy…

And now for the cake – as well as the desserts on the blackboard there’s three cakes sitting temptingly in the foyer under glass domes…I chose the chocolate, for a whole $4 a piece it was a bargain…and just as nice as it looks!!

The drive from Wiseman’s to St Albans has so much beautiful scenery I could’ve bored you stupid with so many scenery shots…but in the interests of good mental health I’ll confine myself to only a couple…I couldn’t resist this teeny old church and accompanying graveyard…

It’s called St Jude’s Anglican and the church was built in 1918, the surrounding graveyard has been in use since 1869…what a peaceful looking place to rest!!

April 13, 2011

Millthorpe – the grand old dame of the Central West.

Now I like a bit of history maybe slightly more than the next person so when I found out that there was a whole town classified by the National Trust I was dead keen to go there! Millthorpe lies almost exactly in between Orange and Bathurst and is a cornucopia of historical buildings, quaint shops, delicious eateries and country scenery. Unfortunately, it’s cute size is also a little bit of a drawback in that there’s not a lot of options when wishing to stay the night somewhere. MD and I tried in vain to get accommodation but the town was full, (we found out later that there were a couple of weddings on that weekend), so we settled for a day trip on our way back from Orange.

This artistic shot was taken by MD, I was a tad worried about getting run over but as you can see, the road was lovely and quiet.

The main street could be a set straight from the movie ‘Australia’, the two-story buildings complete with enticing shady verandahs and black slate cobbled streets vying with the pretty countryside for attention.

And if you’re feeling a little peckish, of course there are lots of choices, all showcasing the wines and produce of the local area.

This old shop now houses a cafe…

This lovely little house is owned by the nicest lady…I’m afraid I didn’t get her name but we talked for ages. She and her husband bought it recently and she sells beautiful handmade paper products, cards, photo albums, journals etc, as well as offering tea/coffee and the yummiest looking homemade cakes in her back room. It is all fitted out with eclectic chairs and tables painted in pastels and overlooks a riotous garden complete with hundred year old fig tree. I was sorry we had couldn’t stay as the following day she had arranged for an Elvis impersonator friend to do a concert in the garden to benefit a local charity.

Another interesting shop we discovered is called ‘galvanised’ and was originally an old potato storage barn, the owners bought it, (complete with a yellow dart hanging from the highest wooden beam in the ceiling – which they kept of course), then took 18 months to completely renovate it and turn it into this amazing place which sells an enticing mix of homewares, furniture, books, antiques, art, lollies, soaps and bath products, and soon they’ll add jewellery.

Of course, just for the sake of research we had to check out the local hotel for you…aptly named ‘The Railway Hotel’ it sits in front of…you guessed it…the railway station…how cute is the matching colour scheme?

Millthorpe Station…

Inside the hotel has been modernised whilst still retaining its period charm…

 Charcoal sketches done by a local artist hang on most of the walls, this one shows the hotel and surrounds blanketed in snow one epic year…

This antique shop was a great, dusty, higgeldy piggeldy mass of the most authentic antiques I have ever seen, not necessarily beautifully presented but real and old!

And how come my hydrangeas never flower like that?

Sorry this post seems to be getting longer and longer and I haven’t even shown half of the town proper…I’ll finish with a view of the main street from a grassy knoll, well…more of a hill really but knoll sounded so much nicer…

February 15, 2011

Wiseman’s Ferry hotel…1834 was a very good year

The Hawkesbury area has the somewhat dubious distinction of claiming three of the oldest pubs in the country – all, of course, purporting to be the oldest! Wiseman’s Ferry pub is one of the triumvirate, and according to the sign displayed they began serving the amber fluid back in 1834. Although only spring chickens by European standards, it nevertheless impresses the hell out of me to be in a building this old.

It manages to combine a peaceful location surrounded by picnic-at-hanging-rock type mountains with a modern tastefully decorated bistro and the history value of old sandstone and leadlight windows. You can almost hear the bushmen bellowing as they stumble up the narrow staircase!

Because the roads in and around Wiseman’s are so interesting it is very popular on the weekends with tourists and day trippers and the fact that the food is great and the beers are cold…what more do you need? If it’s a lovely day and you don’t feel like eating indoors there’s an outside verandah shaded by large shade sails and tables set down on the grass under some very inviting looking trees.

The building on the right houses the shops I spoke about on my last blog.

The menu at the bistro offers the usual array of pub food, steaks, schnitzels, hamburgers, roasts and seafood, (most fried but you can order the fish of the day grilled), priced at about $15 each. I decided on the pot pie, which was made fresh to order by the chef, it was delicious, full of large chunks of tender beef, carrot and onion in a rich, tasty gravy.
MD went for the home-made rissoles that were served with parmesan mash, vegetables in a creamy cheese sauce and spanish onion gravy, (he always picks better than me)! We were too full to sample the desserts unfortunately, but some children at the table next to us had some wicked looking ice cream sundaes!
And to finish up, here’s the view from the verandah…how’s the serenity?