While we were on the hike to the glow worm cave, we chatted to a friend of ours who has appeared on this blog before; firstly when he organised a fabulous wine tasting evening and secondly when he attempted to make Peking duck pancakes with spelt flour.
He had driven up from Sydney the day before and in that time said he had discovered the best cafe in Lithgow and we absolutely had to go there before heading home. He said the restaurant was owned by a couple who used to run a cafe in Newtown, a part of Sydney that’s trendy and a little bohemian. And he told Carl, who was aching for a coffee, that the coffee was amazing and to order at least two short blacks.
Carl was back down the mountain in a flash. We rushed to the car and started driving to the City of Lithgow, that, with a population of around 20,000 is more like a country town. The Secret Creek Cafe is not on the main road or even in the town centre but instead is way off the beaten track. As the sat-nav had us twisting and turning towards what looked like ‘no man’s land’ I did wonder if this was going to be another of those sat-nav moments.
Oh ye of little faith! All was good with the sat-nav and we turned onto a dirt driveway that led us into a gully where on 200 acres there is the Secret Creek Sanctuary that cares for and runs breeding programs for native animals including dingoes, wallabies, emus, quolls, brush-turkeys and potoroos (a kangaroo-like marsupial about the size of a rabbit that’s incredibly endangered).
Within the sanctuary, is the Secret Creek Cafe that has been established for around 10 years. The building looks very rustic and more like a home than a cafe. As we approached the entrance a wallaby hopped towards us; it was a lovely greeting. As it was still warm and sunny we decided to sit outside on the verandah.
A waitress appeared and advised that the lunch menu was finished. I sighed. We’d just hiked around 10kms on almost an empty stomach and now they weren’t serving lunch. I said, ‘We’ve been hiking all day’, and without missing a beat she said, ‘The chefs have already gone for the day but we can plate you up a dessert’. Well that was something.
I’d been salivating for about four hours over thoughts of something substantial and filling. I could see a blackboard menu with wonderful lunch choices including butternut pumpkin risotto, a pork cutlet with roasted fennel and salt and pepper calamari with a roquette and pear salad.
Disappointed we looked through the dessert menu that had things like apple and macadamia cake, rose and peppermint tea pannacotta, brandy alexander cheesecake and sticky toffee pudding but we both wanted something savoury so ordered the cheese platter that came with fig paste.
The cheese plate was presented on a board and came with a selection of three cheeses. The waitress walked away before explaining what they were but there was a cheddar, a brie and a blue cheese. The fig paste was wonderful and not too sweet and the apple sauce was lovely with the cheddar. I’m not sure if you’re allowed to feed the natives but one of the wallabies really liked the apple sauce! The crackers were water crackers and I would have preferred something a little more exciting however, for the price, this was a very good cheese platter.
Alfie had the warm chocolate mud cake with cherries and cream. This was a very dark and moist mud cake that was beautiful but very rich. The cherries accompanied the mud cake very well as they were slightly tart and helped cut through the sweetness and richness of the cake. Alfie did struggle to get through this though as he’s not used to chocolate being so dark.
Having waited all day for a coffee, Carl ordered a soy cappuccino. The coffee comes from Single Origin Roasters and Carl said it was well worth the wait!
The cafe is BYO and bookings are preferred. You can book to go on a wildlife walk at sunset and you’ll see all the animals as they emerge from their hiding places. There is a charge for the wildlife walk and tour but all proceeds go directly to the conservation programs.
Verdict: Even though we weren’t able to sample more of the menu, this cafe was a surprising and wonderful find. It’s in a special setting, it’s a unique concept and it’s a quirky experience having wallabies join you at your table. It’s definitely worth following your sat-nav to get there.
Secret Creek Cafe, 35 Crane Rd, Lithgow NSW 2790
(02) 6352 1133
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