Two tin-roofed ironstone cabins built by hand on the edge of the Blue Mountains National Park
Worimi from Darug and Gundungurra land, up here in the clouds above the historic Grand Canyon Walk.
This is where you'll find Rough Track Cabins, handy base for keen walkers, and a quiet retreat for creatives or readers.
Cosy and simple, our two wee cabins look out onto native bush. Walk just ten minutes down our Rough Track to enjoy the peace and quiet of our own private lookout above the Grand Canyon. It's a lovely spot to watch the sunrise with a thermos of hot tea, or to have a sunset drink at the end of the day.
Enjoy the mists, and on a clear night, put on your woolly hat, pour yourself a glass and nip outside to sit and marvel at the crispness of the Milky Way.
For a long time now we've been wanting to make Rough Track more sustainable, and this year we've finally made it happen.
We've taken up Saul Griffith's challenge to 'electrify everything.' We've replaced the LPG hot water system with energy-efficient electric heat pumps, and the gas oven with an induction cooktop and a microwave. Power usage by day comes from electricity generated by our solar panels.
When you stay with us, your holiday footprint will be lower than ever before.
This in turn has meant a handsome kitchen refurb.
Julie has hand-painted the tiles for the splashback, firing them in the kiln at the Blackheath Art Society. There's a bigger sink to make doing the dishes a darned sight easier. And lots more space.
We've not done these renos for renos' sake. 40 years of use and the recent ravages of La Niña made it high time. We've kept what we could and recycled what we couldn't. We've used leftover timber for shelving. We've replaced the old synthetic carpet with Australian-made wool carpet. We've kept the fridge with the dint in it, because it still works.
The big change in what we offer though, is all about mending and creativity.
Julie's solo exhibition Modest Fancies, last year down at Shoalhaven Regional Gallery, was a tribute to the thrifty women who made do and mended back in the day, and also a template for how we can all live less wasteful and more creative lives right here and now in the Anthropocene.
When it was over, Julie was looking for a way to make this show and the ideas within it accessible to more people. And then on her trip to visit her family in the UK last year, Julie had the idea to make the Rough Track Cabins almost like galleries people can stay in.
And that's what we've done.
For our parents and grandparents generations, who couldn’t afford to buy new, mending wasn’t a philosophical choice - it was a necessity. They favoured ‘invisible mending,’ the kinds of repairs where you could not even spot that there had been damage. In the 20th century culture that oohed and ahhed over novelty and display, there was a kind of shame in not being able to buy something new, but today increasingly there’s shame in the throwing out.
Our culture needs to shift to take pride in the mending. That’s why we like our mending to be as visible as possible - bold and deliberate and unapologetic. The repair is integral to the object.
That's what we want our guests to experience and appreciate.
Rough Track Cabins is now an even better place to walk, create and retreat. Watch the birds. Cook something simple and eat outside in the weather. If the conditions are right, you can relax around a campfire.
It's been a huge job getting all this in place. We hope you love the changes.
Rough Track Cabins is located about two hours drive from Sydney's CBD on our 29 acre property in Blackheath.
It's five minutes' walk from the cabins to the start of the Grand Canyon walk and about 20 minutes walk to Evans Lookout. Blackheath Village is just seven minutes' drive away, which is handy for great cafés and restaurants, two small supermarkets, two pubs, some great vintage shops and one of the best bookshops ever.
There are just two cabins, both of them built by hand using ironstone harvested from the land by Ian and Sue, the original owners.
Our cabins are not just labours of love - they are also works of art. Julie's visible mending and slow-stitched furnishings showcase the philosophy of the imperfect manifesto. Both Rough Track cabins are seriously lovely places to relax and wind down.
Rough Track Cabins borders the Blue Mountains National Park. You don't even need to drive to get to many amazing Blue Mountains walks, including the Grand Canyon Track and the Clifftop Track.
Down at the Heritage Centre at Govetts Leap you can chat to a ranger about the best options to suit your mood and fitness level, and you can also borrow an EPIRB.
In 2023 we are donating 5% of all accommodation tariffs to Blue Mountains Conservation Society, affectionately known up here as ConSoc.
ConSoc is a voluntary group acting to help conserve the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. They do great work as a knowledgeable and powerful lobby group, and we really rate them.
When you book with us through our website, you are pitching in to support the good work they do.
We are thrilled to be the caretakers of what used to be Kinie-Ger Bush Cabins. Ian and Sue Olsen built the cabins and our house by hand just as the seventies slid into the eighties. Ian's design was simple, sustainable and timeless. It's an achievement that we marvel at every day.
To honour Ian and Sue, we've named our business after the rough track Ian made to walk down through the Conservation Area to the saddle above the canyon. It's our favourite spot for a sunset drink, and a great place to spy black cockatoos and eagles riding the thermals.
Living here feels like we are on retreat, in a place that reminds us to walk out and enjoy the bush, and every day inspires us to make something new. If all that sounds like something you'd like to experience, come and stay with us.
Julie Paterson and Manda Kaye
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF COUNTRY
We acknowledge the Darug and Gundungurra people, the Traditional Owners of the land where we live and work.
We recognise their continuing connection to land, water and community.
We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging.
We accept the invitation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart and support a First Nations Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Australian Constitution.