Posts tagged ‘Wiseman’s Ferry’

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!!

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?
February 8, 2011

Wiseman’s Ferry, vintage style

Let’s face it – Wiseman’s Ferry has everything you could ever want in a day trip, first, not one but two ferries, (and they’re free), a really, really old pub and the cutest little clutch of shops for some retail therapy whilst hubby props up the bar! A very popular destination for those looking for a nice drive, the road down into the valley is picturesque and winding, perfect for a fun Fangio-style run.

Once at the bottom and just before the town of Wiseman’s itself you have the option of turning left and going over the Hawkesbury river on the Webb’s creek ferry which accesses an even more picturesque road… eventually ending up in St Albans, where another really, really old pub awaits you, (well, old for Australia anyway), but I’ll leave a post on that for another day. 

The other option is to continue straight ahead through the town, down the big streets-of-San-Francisco-style hill and into the lush park grounds perfect for a picnic, bbq or a swim in the river, here is also ferry number two, which leads to a road that winds alongside the river to a little town called Spencer then about 30 minutes later Wollombi, (famous home of Dr Jurds jungle juice), and then the Hunter Valley.  

While in Wiseman’s itself look out for the little arcade handily situated next door to the pub…I found the perfect little antiques/vintage/collectables shop called, funnily enough, Wiseman’s Ferry Vintage and Collectables! I spoke to the owners, Karlene and Paul, (cute couple but camera shy), who have only owned it since November. It opens from Thursday to Monday, from 10am – 4pm. You have to check it out, it has the most divine things, and really prettily displayed.

Here is a taste of their wares, and don’t worry men, I’m going to the pub next week!!