Blue Mts Getaway – March 2013

Morning sun on the paddocks.Bilpin Springs Lodge
Morning sun on the paddocks. From the verandah of Bilpin Springs Lodge

A rainy ol’ Sunday.

What better thing to do than tootle off to the Blue Mts for a Sketching Getaway.

Everyone arrived at Kurrajong Village on the dot of 10, bright eyed and bushy tailed.

Bluebox Cafe was very happy to give us a balcony table overlooking the blue and lavender misty Gross Valley. We ordered our essential first caffeine of the day, and a tasty something if we’d missed breakfast. Introductions took place for those who hadn’t met but would be good pals before long.

Sketchbooks were out and pens flying before you even say ‘scones with homemade jam please’

Sassafras Creek lunch
Sassafras Creek lunch

Over the road in the only street of the Village are some very tempting gift and antique shops. There was time before a beautiful lunch at Sassafras Creek Restaurant, to meander through here and the monthly markets. A good chance to pick up some treasures we don’t have time to find in the city.

By the time we gathered at our cars to head to our lodge, shopping bags were being stowed into spaces in the back.

Bilpin Springs Lodge here we come.

Our home at Bilpin Springs
Our home at Bilpin Springs.
Feeding the animals
Checking on the animals

Into our rooms and checking it all out, we gathered in the huge farm style kitchen for a cuppa.

Thoughts of sketching, perhaps a wander around the 10 acres, a bit soggy. Maybe a glass of something ……….mmmm.

Among our village purchases we’d picked up some boxes of small Gala apples.

Gala apple bowl
Gala apple bowl

What a perfect start for sketching. Into a big wooden bowl they went, a few on the table and a flower arrangement of red and white roses and there you have it.

A still life that stayed there all our 3 days.

After a yummy bbq dinner and tasty garden salad – no matter that the dressing had to be made in my little painting water jar – more sketching took place, and a few new ideas to think about for sketching tomorrow.

Drinks before dinner
Drinks before dinner
4 passionate sketchers
4 passionate sketchers

Try a page of thumbnails, try sketching in paint only, try the white chinagraph, all of which is part of your sketch journal of our Blue Mts adventure.

And so to bed, all cosy and tucked up, listening to the rain on the tin roof.

Sweet dreams. An exciting day tomorrow.

First day sketches
First day sketches

Pyjama clad people are up early making a morning cuppa on this cloudy Monday morning.

Then maybe a walk with big Coola the house labrador, or hopping back into bed for a quiet read.

Sketch support at Breakfast
Sketch support at Breakfast
After breakfast sketch
On the steps in the sun.

After breakfast – fresh fruit, rhubarb, figs, mango blueberries then toast with local marmalade, it was coffee from ‘The Machine’ we’d brought with us. Jacquie became the barrister as she has the same one. AAaaaaah the aroma.

We head to Mt Tomah Botanical Gardens 10 minutes away. This is the mountain sister to the Royal Botanical Gardens in Sydney.

Naturally we were more interested in the cafe than any of the carnivorous plant displays we were passing. But we’d be back.

Starting our sketches with small or a detail image was one suggestion. Sketch what appeals to you and keep your centre of focus a little more bright than the background.

Notice the softer colour behind. Keep background soft. Foreground stronger. Leave whites around edges. Sooooo much to remember, but it’s fun doing it and having the time to try out different colour techniques.

Carnivorous plants Mt Tomah
Carnivorous plants Mt Tomah
Sketching Canna lilies
Sketching Canna lilies

The plan was to catch the little safari train and go for a ride all through the Gardens to get an idea where everything is.

A bit like jumping on the tourist bus when you hit a new city.

This gave us a wonderful idea of where we’d like to sketch after lunch.

The collections as they are known, are in themes or groups. NZ , Sth Africa, Asia, Nth America, St America and so on. Most interesting.

Off on safari
Off on safari
Picnic in the gardens
Picnic in the gardens

Our lunch team, Milton and Joanna had set up a tempting help yourself picnic of French bread, ham, pate, cheeses, tomatoes with a crisp white to go with it. Followed by delicious homemade biscuits from some of the talented sketching cooks, to complete to meal.

Such a  beautiful spot under blue skies and the huge trees, with a big Magpie wanting to share.

Down in the Rock gardens
Down in the Rock gardens
The Waterfall garden
The Waterfall garden

Our afternoon sketches were split between the formal gardens at the top, and the waterfalls & ferns, and bright exotic succulents and big spiky cacti things below.

Everyone sketched away all afternoon doing delightful small and large works.

Home for a cuppa, or glass of something and even another wee sketch.

Soaking the sketching arms
Soaking the sketching arms

Tonight was Joanna’s Italian tomato onion and eggplant dinner. Alongside an enormous garden salad with masses of coriander, basil and fetta.

Wicked chocolate morsels emerge from nowhere and the aroma of coffee wafts. The wines have gone down a treat and the laughter and chatter is at volume 10.

Italian dining
Italian dining

Such a great group all bonded by their passion for sketching.

Tonight we all fall into a deep sleep after using all that mental energy.

Mt Tomah impressions
Mt Tomah impressions

Tuesday morning is bright and sunny. Sharp yellow light reaches across the paddocks, where the ex race horse and the alpaca wait for apples. Flowers wait brightly in the shade for the sun to move onto them.

We have another leisurely breakfast, pretending we’re not leaving.

When all the cars are packed and the picnic lunch is in, we head off to Pie in the Sky Roadhouse.

Pie in the Sky Cafe garden
Pie in the Sky Cafe garden
Under the umbrella. Pie in the Sky cafe
Under the umbrella. Pie in the Sky cafe

It looks like a farm shed made of corrugated iron. Inside the lovely owners Josh and his wife display their delicious and popular home made apple pies alongside two rows of savoury choices.

Coffee is ordered and we wander round the far side under the pergola to the tables waiting for us.

Sketches are of teacups and dahlias, farm sheds and fences. Time doesn’t matter. We eat apple pie and chocolate goo fudge.

We leave after ordering pies to take home, fresh farm eggs, local jams and honey.

Second morning sketches
Second morning sketches

Next port of call is Bill Shields orchards just along a bit.

Bill greets us and with our baskets we follow past avenues of fruit trees to where the Gala and Jonathan apples are waiting to be picked. We sample one of each and decide both are worth getting.

Then to find a shady sketch spot as it’s now blue and hot. There were sketchers poking out under all sorts of apple trees as I looked for people who might like some sketching help.

Looking for apples
Looking for apples
Sketching the apple sketcher
Sketching the apple sketcher
Please pick me.
Please pick me.

Apple orchard lunchApple orchard lunch.

Lunch was under big shady trees and Bill had a moment to join us. Fresh baguettes with selected cheese, fruit and of course some tasty delights from the biscuit choice. Washed down with a little white wine. All set up ready for us by my visiting daughter Joanna and my partner in crime, Milton.

Orchard lunch
Orchard lunch
Orchard sketches
Orchard sketches

The afternoon sketches are a collection of stories and adventures recorded there as we saw it, breathing in the mountain air and listening to the bellbirds.

An absolutely glorious few days with some passionate sketchers.

Avoir Bilpin and Kurrajong, we’ll be back.

©ErinHill2013

9 Responses

  • Erin, I want to be you!

    You make sketching trips look so fun!
    How did you get started. and is blogging
    essential? Tb

    • Hi Trish,
      You should come to Sydney and try a term of sketching. You’ll soon get a feel for how we all enjoy it. Yes the blogging is very important. Everyone gets to see how the others sketched a similar subject and how differently everyone approaches it. We all learn from that. Catch up one day. XXE

  •   Hi Erin, wow the bluemountains sketch class looked fantastic. Please would you mind letting me know when the next available out and about sketch class would be and its location. Im still thinking about the next hi tea…sounds delectable too.

    Hope to see you again soon, cheers micheline

  • Erin, I must admit that since I followed your blogs few weeks ago, I look forward to receive your great stories from each trip or visits and the supereb sketches your group do. I enjoy your work and envy in your lucky group. It is great inspiration to me and I am sure the same to many others, well done…. If only it was around the corner…

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