UPDATE December 2005 - Cleopatra is still closed, as we have noted for some years now. Apparently, the property has been a private home for some years now.

On the other hand, we still have fond memories of Dany's cassoulet, and we still love her wonderful recipe.

UPDATE 2003 - Cleopatra is Closed - We shall long remember Dany's cassoulet.

UPDATE July 2001 - It seems like there have been big changes at Cleopatra. It is now listed in the Relais & Chateau directory, but where are Trish and Dany? According to the web site there is a new executive chef and as best we can tell, the place has been redecorated in modern style beiges and browns - like the NYC Four Seasons. The Apartment is still there, but do they still have their funky garden, and what about Dany's cassoulet? We won't be getting out that way on our next visit down under, so we might not be able to investigate for a while.

Cleopatra is a bed and breakfast in located in Blackheath, NSW, about 2-3 hours west of Sydney Australia. It has five or six comfortable rooms, most with their own bath, but the real reason to stay is for the cooking. For breakfast, there are the croissants and other pastries, and for dinner, down home French country cooking, assuming you lived in a chateau with a major chef, like Dany, in residence. Our favorite room is the apartment, which has a sitting room with a fireplace downstairs and a nifty, rather romantic bedroom upstairs.

If you are not familiar with the region, Blackheath is one of the towns in the Blue Hills, a great national park with miles of hiking trails, fantastic views of canyons full of blue gum eucalyptus trees, waterfalls, limestone caves (actually the Jenolan Caves are a bit south, but make a great day trip), and other attractions. Nearby towns include Katoomba, a rather funky tourist town, and the more upmarket Leura with the amazing Barman's wineshop, full of vintage and current Australian wines, the Baker's Cafe, Leura Gourmet, the Megalong bookstore, and other amenities.

Just down the road from Cleopatra is the Govett's Leap visitor center with its interpretive nature trail and access to hiking trails along the rim and down into the canyon. The rim trails offer dramatic views, and you can see how the canyon got its name. The blue gum trees give the air a bluish cast, much like the pine trees in the Blue Mountains of the US. The descent into the canyon is by a steep path in the canyon wall augmented by metal staircases and railings as needed. The descent is breathtaking and the ascent can be tiring, but this recently reopened trail is well worth the effort. Besides, you get to see where all the water from Bridal Veil Falls goes.

There are other places to stay and eat in the area, but we only get down under every few years, when we've saved enough freakish flier points, so we like to stay at Cleopatra.

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