I’m so happy to share my interview with Damian from Mountain High Pies at Wentworth Falls in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney.
While they only make vanilla slices on one day of the year, it seems that they do make up for it in their pies and tarts.
Be sure to read Damian’s comments about parking and travel prepared – after all, there’s nothing worse than watching some landmark you really want to visit disappear in your mirrors.
A tip from an ex-plumber mate of mine, if there is such a thing, is to grab a pie and have a picnic at the Falls Lookout or Wentworth Falls Lake.
See you soon Damian and thanks
Responses from the Baker
My name is Damian Smith and together with my wife Reyna we own and operate the business. It’s my ugly mug on the front of our web-site. My wife is a full time artist so she is less involved in the business nowadays.
We opened the bakery in 2006. We are a bit different from most bakeries in that we are a dedicated pie shop.
Since we opened.
We start at 3am. While we officially open at 6am we have customers start rolling in from 4.30 onwards as we are on the highway and many people from the mountains commute to Sydney for work.
We’ve won lots of awards over the years. We regularly feature in local tourism and business awards, however the only baking competition we participate in is the Great Aussie Pie Comp as it’s the most relevant to what we do. The big one for us was winning Australia’s best gourmet pie a few years back with our big breakfast pie which has now become one of our signature items.
Vanilla slices??? Fraid not! Personally I love them but we only do pies and tarts so these and my second favourites, laminations didn’t fit the bill. We do however sell a hot custard tart and these are another thing that have become a firm favourite with many of our locals. Sweet shortcrust pastry, filled with traditional egg custard, sprinkled with nutmeg and baked then served hot. They’re very popular so much so that we make multiple batches throughout the day to meet demand. We always break from tradition and make vanilla slice each fathers day as a special. I guess once a year is better than not at all.
Tourist trade is important however being on Sydney’s doorstep the tourists we see more of are the day trippers and weekenders as opposed to the folk driving around the country and doing long trips.
Several years ago we did a major renno that included a big 50 space car park, however council up here are really opposed to trucks parking and frequenting businesses like ours that are surrounded by residential dwellings (which is fair enough) and they are well aware that spaces big enough for caravans and campers soon turn into truck spaces so our Development Approval was rejected until the spaces were all reduced to conventional single car spaces. Most of our customers with caravans tend to park on Mitchell street and do the two minute walk to the shop.
Anyone that has been to the Blue Mountains knows that the mountains are all about the scenery and the bush walks. The world famous Skyway is the mountains number one attraction which is a really professionally run, local family owned business. Other than that the best things to do are abundant and free of charge. There are so many amazing bush walks to do for all levels of fitness and breathtaking scenery at every turn. The Charles Darwin walk is one of my favourites starting not far from the Pie Shop and finishing at the falls.
When we opened we never wanted multiple sites or the foundation of a franchise. We wanted to become an iconic local business, a strong single business with an individual identity. We’ve been here fourteen years and I feel we’ve achieved what we set out to do.
Eighty percent of our business is local, we are respected in the community because of how we interact with our staff and our customers. We have a long association with the local Rural Fire Service (RFS) brigades and have always supported them wherever we can, we sponsor a team in almost every sporting code and have strong associations with the local schools and community groups and throw our support behind their various fundraising projects.
Our dining space is one of the larger ones in the area and is subsequently frequently used for public gatherings and meetings. The way we ‘best’ support the local community is recognising everyone is different and has different needs so we try and support those that need it the most not just the areas where the business might benefit.