Tatyana Leonov | August 2020
Photos by Evan Dickson
In the new T‑Cross, when it’s time to hit the road it is as much about the journey as it is the destination.
Purples roll into greys, greys slide into blues, and slivers of white accentuate the intense colours of the gathering clouds. The forceful wind adds to the moody feel, and although the sun is hiding, it’s one of the most spectacular sunsets I’ve ever witnessed.
I perch my daughter on the bonnet of our T‑Cross as we both absorb nature’s almighty show. My husband snaps photo after photo, trying to seize the moment. We both know it’s impossible to capture the essence, but the imagery of the open fields and wild colours in the sky can’t be missed.
This year in particular, has been a tough one for most, and getting out and about feels even more precious for it. Road trips within the states we reside in are the best way to explore right now, and my family try to escape the hustle and bustle of the city one weekend per month. This time, we’ve booked a tiny house in the Central West of New South Wales.
The popularity of tiny houses has grown rapidly over the last few years in Australia, and holiday accommodation is one popular use (granny flats and home offices are other common uses). For my little family, the idea of simplifying and only packing what we need appeals. The focus will be the drive and the scenery, and the tiny house will act as our base.
Our ride is in our T‑Cross, and in a way it’s symbolic of our journey before we’ve even begun – smart design, embracing only the necessary.
Our tiny house is a Kindled property located in the Oberon Shire, and the ethos behind the concept is to offer holidaymakers affordable, accessible and architecturally-inspired small homes in settings that take your breath away. At present, there is one Kindled property in Australia, but it’s likely there will be more soon. To add to the sense of adventure, the exact location and details on how to get to the property are emailed to guests a few days prior to their arrival.
It’s well past sunset by the time we near the tiny house. Navigating the unsealed and, at times, rocky road can be a little challenging after dark, but the T‑Cross manages well and we arrive in good spirits and still energetic… which is useful as it takes some time to start the fire that is there to keep our home warm. My considerate husband wakes up throughout both nights of our stay to keep the fire going, and I make a mental note to bring extra blankets if we do visit again.
The chill factor is a big part of the attraction when venturing this way in the cooler months, with beanies and down coats needed for most outdoor adventures. We go on short bushwalks around from our tiny home base, admiring the abundant wild life, including numerous kangaroos and native birds. We take a much longer walk at Mayfield Garden, one of the region’s prized attractions – and also one of the world’s largest privately-owned cool-climate gardens.
Although the garden is stunning throughout the whole year, winter is a charming time to visit as many of the trees are deciduous and their near bare trunks cut fascinating silhouettes against the grey-toned sky. In summer, the water lilies blooming attract the crowds. In autumn, it’s the famous orange-yellow-red foliage. And spring is a time of lush growth and plant regeneration.
When it’s time to rug up, we jump back inside the car for scenic drives between the various pretty towns of the region. In Oberon, we simply meander up and down the main street, watching life reel around us. Here couples walk hand-in-hand nursing takeaway coffees and pies, and children giggle as they zoom around on scooters.
Tarana is another picturesque town located about 25 minutes’ drive from Oberon, and Mumma Snow’s Country Kitchen & General Store – managed by Anna Snow – is the place to stop in at. One of nine children, Anna opened the café in May 2019 wanting to create a warm and welcoming space for residents and those cruising by. Anna is a local and her dream team is made up of locals too. That country charm is carried through to everything in the café – the welcoming manner of the staff, generously portioned meals, and a fireplace to keep the space cozy in the cooler months.
Another café worth stopping in at is The O’Connell Avenue Cafe & Store. It’s a casual space with mostly outdoor seating, and plenty of sweet treats on offer to entice anyone who has a fondness for the sugary stuff. The scones are light and crumbly, served with a big dollop of cream sourced from The Little Big Dairy Co in Dubbo (the staff declare it’s one of the best creams around) and more than enough strawberry jam to keep any sweet tooth happy.
I don’t know what it is about sweets and road trips, but when we are driving home to Sydney via the Blue Mountains, the craving hits again. We have an hour to spare before our Scenic World experience, so coffee and cake seems like a rational choice.
Scenic World is one of the key attractions in the Blue Mountains, and their new-in-2020 COVID-19-safe experience sees everyone following the same itinerary. All the sessions are capped, timed and only available for purchase online. We’re booked in for 12:30pm, which includes a 15-minute safety briefing before we begin our exploration of the World Heritage-Listed area.
My daughter giggles on the Scenic Skyway as it makes its way across Jamison Valley. She continues laughing on the Scenic Railway, not at all frightened by the near-vertical position we find ourselves in. The Scenic Cableway is the last “ride” in the itinerary, which we catch after a half-hour stroll admiring the canopy of the temperate rainforest along the Scenic Walkway.
When we reach the top she asks if we can do everything all over again, and my husband and I have to explain that it’s not possible. Instead we indulge in yet more cake and coffee from the onsite café at the lookout, lingering and staring at the collage of trees, mountains and clouds before us.
Tomorrow we’ll be back at work in Sydney, with no cake to eat or mountain views to stare at. Still, in the mean time we have our return drive in our T‑Cross to look forward to. Let’s hope the kid naps and we can listen to our own choice of tunes.
For more information visit www.visitnsw.com.