Apple country, about an hour west of Sydney (as long as it's not a Friday night or Sunday afternoon) in the Blue Mountains, is close to the home of the Wollemi Pine and not far from the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden at Mount Tomah. Significantly, Two Dogs is a lane away from The Apple Bar, one of the best country pub/cafes we've been to.
About one kilometre off the Bells Line of Road, down a country laneway that you'd expect to see in the Lake District of the UK, Two Dogs is a cottage and a summer house surrounded by spectacular gardens and a pool thrown in. It's quiet. Real quiet. The two-bedroom weatherboard cottage isn't much from the outside but inside the owners have created a tasteful and homely atmosphere. The highlight is a beautiful wooden table perfect for chatting over cups of tea from morning till lunch. The kitchen is well-equipped and you can pick your own vegetables and herbs from the garden. The bathroom and bedrooms are small but clean.
The summer house is the real attraction. Separate from the main house, it is essentially a large room with a fireplace looking on to the gardens and pool and towards the Wollemi National Park. On a drizzly autumn Saturday afternoon, holing up in the summer house with a roaring fire, glass of red wine and good book is the definition of relaxation. At the end of the Two Dogs lane is an open-to-the-public apple orchard. Picking your own granny smiths and golden delicious from the tree makes you wonder why you ever bother with fruit from the supermarket chains.
The Apple Bar, Bilpin. This is the sort of place you normally speed by, heading west over the mountains. But make an effort to stop and have lunch or dinner. The small public bar, complete with locals discussing the footy, is next to the restaurant. The ambience is country pub but the food is sophisticated.
Need to know
Cost: $380 a night. Two-night minimum stay.
Distance: Just over 60 minutes' drive west of Sydney on Bells Line of Road.
Bells Line of Road, Bilpin, NSW
PHONE: 0405 197 375