Thriving & Jiving ‘On The Soul Side’ Of Town

Article by Corin Shearston

Background photo credit: Bette Mifsud

Thriving & Jiving ‘On The Soul Side’ Of Town

Apart from its mean coffee and live music, one of the things I love most about Dave GriffithsOn The Soul Side cafe in Katoombas Hotel Gearin is the feeling you get of walking into a friend’s living room upon entry. While the space used to serve schooners and pints to fuel wild nights, a custom that stopped around six years ago, Griffiths has totally transformed the grungy pub feel of the place into a peaceful chill out zone with a homemade stage, antique toys, books and guitars.

Situated on the soul sideof Katoombas railway tracks, across the divide from Katoomba St and nighttime haunts like the Station Bar, On The Soul Side has manifested a strong hold on dozens of people, who are content to while away their hours in supreme comfort. They might be listening to live music played by local musicians on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays from 10AM, or warming their extremities by the open-face fireplace…(a treat on Katoombas rare snow days). The cafe offers plenty to look at, from gig posters and CDs to photos of Griffithsfellow muso friends, like Design Heroes’ Mark Alston.

Styled to captivate tinkerers, craftspeople, and tourists alike, the cafe attracts visitors from far and wide. Theres a Chinese version of Instagram called Little Red Book [AKA Xiaohongshu, from which] some big influencer came in, had a great time and an ice cream, and put a thing up about us,” Griffiths explained. So we get lots of people from mainland China coming in for the ice cream and hanging out, which is pretty cool”. The places multiculturalism is a constant. Upon walking in to the cafe for our interview, I met a young woman from Mexico, before Griffiths told me about his muso friend Adam, who he described as a Polynesian Willie Nelson”. Adam entertains the coffee drinkers there on Sundays from 10AM before traditional Irish folk sessions, which start at 2PM.

On June 23rd, during Winter Magic Indoors, On The Soul Side will host a full-day live music event featuring favourite performers from 10AM to 8PM. Its more of a soul-folk focus,” Griffiths adds, “with genres like Russian gypsy music and traditional Irish music”. The day before on June 22, the youth-centric event SOULD OUTwill transform the shop into the Winter Magic Youth Stage, featuring local rockers Paint Job (in an ‘MTV Unplugged’ fashion), supported by Mountains Youth Services Team (MYST) and headspace.

So, why not come in and relax with a cup or two? The re-upgraded surround sound speaker system will provide all the immersive clarity you need, after its current rebuild with help from local musician-technician Reyhn Marvin (Tap Hammer). A power spike damaged it. Griffiths described the incident: The electricity grid had to get turned off, a massive generator powered the place, and the electrician put a wrong wire in the wrong place…plugs flew out of rooms and televisions caught fire.”

During the June 22-23 events, you might hear tales of the Gearins 25 resident lawn-mowing guinea pigs or marvel at Griffithsmotorbikes, piano, or massive Weddings Parties Anything poster. A mate of mine, Shane, cut [the poster] off the big bridge that goes down the back of Glebe,” Griffiths revealed. Hes had it for the last 20 years, then finally decided it needed to live here.” Speaking of Sydney, Griffiths was born in Bankstown, and he moved down from Queensland to open his On The Soul Side after running The Naked Baker.

Its a testament to his creativity and passion that the cafe, which opened two days into the first COVID-19 lockdown of late March, 2020, has thrived. While his future ideas of a boutique nighttime bar, an electric skateboard company, a record label and a vinyl press are yet to be actualised, a stage, a fireplace, and a great coffee machine are excellent foundations.

Griffiths and his cafe have also inspired local artwork. From February to March, Bette Mifsuds 3D portrait of On The Soul Side was displayed in the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre’s Portraits 2024 show. Seated upon a plinth, it showed Griffiths through a layered vertical frame of prints mounted on hand-cut wooden panels. 

I just expected a normal photo,” Griffiths recounted. I couldnt believe how much thought went into it, and how immersive it was…everyone was interacting with it, smiling and having a good time.”

Owner Dave Griffiths

Photo credit: Bette Mifsud

Poster art by Zoe Duff

Poster art by Zoe Duff


Day 2 is coming for you! Closing up our Soul’d Out Winter Magic Festival celebrations on June 23rd with awesome local acts who are new and old friends at the On the Soul Side Cafe


Ian McLeod



Gaines Post





Raduga Tri

Soul Side Cafe


Winter Magic Youth Stage at On The Soul Side Cafe


Join us on June 22nd for “Soul’d Out,” an all-ages celebration of young local talent as part of the Winter Magic Festival 2024! Hosted at the inviting On The Soul Side Cafe, this youth-centric event is proudly supported by Mountains Youth Services Team (MYST) and headspace. With free entry, it’s the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in a vibrant atmosphere filled with creativity and community spirit.

Event Details:

  • Date: June 22, 2024
  • Time: 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM
  • Location: On The Soul Side Cafe, Hotel Gearin, Katoomba
  • Entry: Free for all ages


  • Live Performances: Enjoy unplugged sets from local young artists, headlined by rockers Paint Job, set in an intimate ‘MTV Unplugged’ style.
  • Artistic Atmosphere: Experience the unique charm of On The Soul Side Cafe, reminiscent of a friend’s living room, complete with a homemade stage, antique toys, and a cozy fireplace.
  • Community Vibes: Connect with fellow music lovers, tinkerers, and tourists in this multicultural haven.
  • Support and Inspiration: Engage with initiatives by MYST and headspace, promoting youth well-being and artistic expression.

Located on the soul side of Katoomba’s railway tracks, On The Soul Side Cafe offers a perfect blend of eclectic décor, live music, and delicious coffee. This event is part of Winter Magic Indoors, with more soulful and folk performances continuing the next day. Don’t miss this chance to support our talented youth and enjoy a day of music, art, and community.

Come in, relax with a cup of your favorite brew, and let the soulful melodies of our local young artists warm your heart this winter. See you there!

FAcebook Event Link:


To quote the current hand-painted saying on the side of Griffithsblack van home, you cant have too many bikes, too many guitars, or too many good friends around”.🤟

Photo credit: Bette Mifsud

On The Soul Side Website

Tap Hammer Facebook

On The Soul Side Instagram



Discover more articles by Corin Shearston