By Rich Evans
Many locals know the story of the famous Collits’ Inn. The first wayside inn built after the crossing of the Blue Mountains, it offered accommodation for travellers & explorers alike, as well as serving as a watering hole for the local constabulary. The inn, built by Pierce Collits in c. 1823, was first known as the Golden Fleece and was established to service those who travelled the first roads descending Mount York. It operated as an inn until the construction of Victoria Pass in 1832 and since then it has passed through various incarnations as a farm, a guesthouse and, of course, an inn. Arriving at the property on Monday, it was easy to see why Pierce Collits chose the site to build the inn. The surrounds are stunning, and remain one of the main draw cards for the property. On the crisp autumn morning, the blue sky seemed to go forever above the towering presence of Mt York. The inn has changed hands a few times over the years, and in 2005, during its incarnation as a French restaurant, it underwent extensive renovations of the highest quality, bringing the inn into the modern era, without losing any of its old world charm. The most recent owners of Collits’ Inn were not restauranteurs and so the inn has remained largely closed to the public since 2008 – opening infrequently for functions, and mostly remaining under private ownership, not open for the public to enjoy. That however, is about to change. Collits’ is about to open its doors once more as a dining and accommodation destination. Local restauranteurs Chris & Cheryl Warren, the owners of CJ’s Good Food, have taken on the stewardship of the property, with an amazing vision of returning it to one of the sought out destinations for travellers and local foodies alike. After a lifetime in busy restaurants and living in the heart of the town, this new chapter will be a huge change of pace for Chris and Cheryl, but also an exciting new adventure. So far, both Chris and Cheryl seem to be enjoying it immensely. “We had done some catering out here for events like weddings and things, it’s just a special place,” said Chris during our visit to Collits’ Inn. “We want to create a place where people know they can come for a quality meal and enjoy fresh local produce,” he added. Chris and Cheryl’s son and daughter-in-law are now taking over the reigns in CJ’s to ensure it continues to be one of our regions favourite dining destinations. This will give Chris and Cheryl the chance to focus on the finishing touches to the inn and start letting the world know that Collits’ is open for business once again. “We have some small things to finish off. The Barn, which we will use for big functions, like weddings, will be all done in the next few weeks, and the rooms are all ready to go now,” Chris advised. There are strong hopes the Inn will once again become a haven for travellers from Sydney for weekend escapes, and once the word is out amongst the local community, getting a booking in Collits’ dining room should become a highly sought after commodity. The old world charm of the building is still there with the open fireplace in the main dining room, and a renovation that has been sympathetic to the history of the building, whilst upgrading the facilities to modern standards. One of the most exciting developments is the addition of the Chef’s table right beside the kitchen. Anyone who has dined at CJ’s has, in all probability, had Chris come and join them at some stage in the evening with a glass of red – it’s just the kind of host he is. However, the opportunity to sit right beside the kitchen and watch a master at his craft prepare a meal, is something that many will be embracing. The history of Collits’ Inn is rich, deep and full of adventure and there is no doubt this next chapter will give Collits’ an equally rich future. With Chris & Cheryl at the helm, it will be this season’s hot new destination. For bookings and information call 0438 305 817.