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Leura Guidebook

Leura Guidebook

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Leura Streetscapes & Landscapes

Leura Streetscapes & Landscapes

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stay and play...

From its earliest days in 1892, Leura has been a recreational escape for 'Sydneysiders', but by the mid-1980, the village had fallen into disrepair. Leura born and bred, Tom Colless joined by Mark Alchin, Claude Dany and several other proprietors collaborated with Blue Mountains City Council to halt the demise.

In 1987, renovation began with paving the main street - Leura Mall - and creating roundabouts at Megalong Street and Railway Parade. Telstra removed poles. Power lines went underground. With the centre divider installed, these local business owners planted the now famous cherry trees. Wooden verandah posts, which had disappeared years before, were replaced and buildings on The Mall were painted Federation colours ensuring 20th century Leura was tied inextricably to its Edwardian past.

accommodation for your stay…

An overnight stay (or two) is an experience you won't forget and is the best way to experience all of Leura. Accommodation provides for all tastes and budgets - from B&Bs, guesthouses and self-contained cottages to resorts. After the day-trippers return home, you'll notice the deep quiet of this Blue Mountains village emerge. Daylight seeps into a star-filled evening and Leura belongs to you.

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Bed & Breakfast

The Greens of Leura

Address:26 Grose Street, Leura
Phone: 02 4784 3241

This contemporary B&B accommodation is in the heart of Leura - just steps from shops and cafés and restaurants.

From the street, The Greens appears to be a small early-Leura cottage, yet appearances are definitely deceiving. A striking sandstone footpath leads to the front door of a large house with surprising architectural history - The Greens offers graceful country charm throughout.

Five spacious guestrooms, each with a large ensuite, have high ceilings. Typical of a bygone luxurious era, handsome ornamental mouldings, beautiful doors and plush oriental rugs are features in the spacious rooms.

In the breakfast room the morning sun shines through stained glass windows. The breakfast room is impressive: tables, chairs and linens - it's four-course and wonderfully European menu - all freshly prepared.

Surrounded by an English-style garden, relaxing on a private verandah is tempting - great on a sunny day and after a morning of shopping and sightseeing. For those chillier times or rainy days, the guest lounge has comfy plush furniture, an extensive library and, of course, an open fire.

The hosts truly love their job and are most welcoming. Personal service and gracious accommodation have built an impressive reputation for The Greens. Warning: Book early as openings are infrequent.

Broomelea Bed & Breakfast

Address:273 Leura Mall
Phone: 02 4784 2940

From the moment we walk through the enchanting ornamental gate of the English-style garden, on to the wide sweeping porch, we sense the graciousness of a grand old house - atypical and elegant.

Enter the leadlight doors into the stylish foyer and you will immediately grasp its elegance and charm. Edwardian style, Broomelea is a reflection of the genteel and fashionable homes in Leura of the early 1900s.

Polished timber floors, high ceilings, fireplaces and four-poster beds adorn the large guestrooms, and each has views out to the beautifully kept grounds and gardens surrounding the accommodation.

Inside and out, this old-world luxury accommodation has maintained its Federation features. Its rooms and atmosphere immediately take you back to the era. Time slows and you relax into the stillness of the mountains.

Only two blocks at a leisurely pace and you are at the heart of the shops and cafes of The Leura Mall.

Broomelea is much sought-after, so book well in advance. Also available at Broomelea is the charming Coach House, a self-contained private cottage for four surrounded by garden. Children are welcome in the Coach House.

Guesthouses

The Alexandra Hotel

Address:62 Great Western Highway, Leura
Phone: 02 4782 4422

Recently, The Alexandra completed a renovation to its accommodation wing. Painted and outfitted in Edwardian style furniture and beautiful linens, rooms are moderate in size and moderately priced. If you enjoy the ambience of old world charm, The Alex has maintained its Edwardian heritage.

Shared facilities are clean and modern - one room has a private ensuite. Prices are reasonable and The Alex, perched on the highest hill in Leura, looks out to Jamison Valley. The Alex is an iconic guesthouse of Leura's history and maintains the Edwardian charm of that early period.

Jamison Guesthouse

Address:48 Merriwa Street, Katoomba
Phone: 02 4782 1206

Beautifully restored in Edwardian style, The Jamison was built 125 years ago and occupies a prime position overlooking the escarpment and Jamison Valley. With a recent renovation, four rooms are spacious and elegantly furnished. Continental breakfast is served on the enclosed, light-washed verandah overlooking the escarpment. Charming and Old World beauty!

Church In AutumnHarvest 2016Cross Walk For Tourists

Hotel & Resort

The Fairmont Resort Blue Mountains MGallery Collection

Address:1 Sublime Point Road, Leura
Phone: 02 4785 0000

The Fairmont is Leura's largest resort setting, and its location is packaged with smashing views. Sublime Point Road is Leura's most sought after address and when one owns #1 Sublime Point, one owns the wow factor of Leura. 'All eyes up' when you enter the high-ceilinged lobby - the stunner view of the escarpment is three-storeys high.

With 220 rooms and four large renovated suites, The Fairmont is the high-end accommodation in Leura. In addition to the Kids Zone, games room and heated pools, families will find many opportunities within the hotel space to keep little ones active and give parents a break during school holidays. Book early for this period!

For the grown-ups, the Leura Golf Club (yes, more fantastic views) is within steps of the lobby. Eighteen demanding holes - perfect year-round. And, if rain comes along, the 12-Treatment Day Spa, a library and a billiard room provide respite. Of course, any resort worth its salt has a high-end gift shop - just off the lobby. Our favourite afternoon hangout with friends is Sublime Bar: a warming fire, delectable high-tea and, of course, that sensational Blue Mountains view.

Lilianfels Blue Mountains Resort

Address:5-19 Lilianfels Avenue, Katoomba
Phone: 02 4780 1200

Tucked away behind an enchanting garden entry, Lilianfels is the most exquisite of Blue Mountains accommodation. The five-star resort sits at the edge of Jamison Valley and is a five-minute walk from the Three Sisters lookout. To our delight, it is also just steps from some easy bush trails. The country charm and elegant ambience make Lilianfels exceptional. Afternoon high tea at a sunny table here is a pure pleasure.

The Waldorf Gardens B&B Resort

Address:20-28 Fitzroy Street, Leura
Phone: 02 4784 4000

Surrounded by delightful gardens, the Waldorf is more a boutique hotel than your traditional B&B. What sets it apart is its hillside position, overlooking the nearby golf course. Guests are served a hearty hot breakfast in the Olive Tree restaurant. The gorgeous gardens delight everyone - staff and guests - and the unusual birds of the Blue Mountains are often present among guests and diners.

The Carrington Hotel

Address:15-47 Katoomba Street, Katoomba
Phone: 02 4782 1111

While The Carrington is located at Katoomba, for visitors to Leura, it is still the 'Grande Dame' of the Blue Mountains and a lovely option for an overnight stay - or two. Opening its doors in 1883, the Carrington is an historic icon - Art Nouveau in style but modern in every sense of hospitality. Its sweeping architectural entry is indicative of its interior throughout.

The imposing grand dining room is simply amazing, with its lofty gilded ceilings and stained glass. On a recent visit our international family - with triplets in tow - loved the ambience, the spacious rooms and attentive staff. The Carrington is a highlight during each annual visit.

after hours…

Several Leura restaurants are open for wine and hors d'oeuvres or tapas after 5 and on into the evening for dinner.

Beyond Vintage Wine Bar

Address:5/148 The Mall
(from The Mall, down the lane past Leura News Agency and adjacent to the Post Office)
Hours: Open Wed-Sun

Bon Ton Bistro & Wine Bar

Address:192 The Mall
(on the corner of The Mall and Megalong Street)
Hours: Open daily

Embers

Address:1 Sublime Point Road
(Fairmont Blue Mountains Resort)
Hours: Open daily

Leura Garage

Address:84 Railway Parade
Hours: Open Thu-Mon

play…

Quidditas Creative Art & Gallery

Address:88 Railway Parade
Hours: Open Thu-Mon 10am-5pm
Phone: 02 4784 3625

Quidditas is a well turned-out collection of exhibition space, art gallery and shop of exquisite gifts - all rolled into the heritage-listed house and garden on Leura's prestigious Railway Parade. At the turn of the 19th century, Railway Parade was the impressive neighbourhood in Leura. The land was first purchased in late November 1879 and we are uncertain of construction date. However, we do know the elegant Waitangi, as it was named, was built for and used both as a doctor's surgery and the doctor's residence. Today, the owner of Quidditas, with a recent renovation has returned this old home and garden to its original polish and elegant state.

Quidditas gallery is home to the art of Colin Parker, best known for his figurative oils of outback Australia - he captures the red dust harshness and the singular isolation indicative of middle Australia. He is also recognised for his most successful series: Paris In The Snow.

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In the Quidditas exhibition room, the focus is upon past and present textiles and cultural artefacts from around the world. With items collected by the owner, a clothing and textile designer, exhibition themes change with some frequency.

The gallery shop is an extension of the exhibitions - clothing, jewellery, and tableware are sourced from around the world and you won't find these and other items outside the doors of Quidditas. Unusual French tableware, with an amusing and functional design, was such a temptation for us. Jewellery or the more common term "bling" are all the rage, but the baubles at Quidditas are beyond extraordinary. Gorgeous crocheted Turkish jewellery exceeds even our jaded expectation.

Elegant handmade scarves by French designer Sophie Digard are hand dyed and in lovely colours: merino, mohair and velvets with unrepeatable patterns and designs. Linens and pillows, painted lampshades, gifts for children, striking wrapping paper and cards. Browsing and shopping requires time.

Gallery Lane

Address:87 Railway Parade
Phone: 0417 824 618
Hours: Fri-Sun 11am-4pm all public holidays

From the Leura carpark and through a small back garden, Gallery Lane - a hidden Leura treasure - is tucked away in an early cottage. Small but beautiful, Gallery Lane is your ideal Blue Mountains gallery. It is filled with the art of Loraine Droga and Sherrie Ehrlich - art to suit all tastes and budgets. Choose from watercolour landscapes, whimsical graphite drawings and adventurous mixed media and collage. Customers return time and time again for art and for the quirky collectibles - once loved pieces now ready for a new home. (From Railway Parade, down a narrow lane, the gallery is just steps from the Quidditas Creative Art & Gallery. Combined, the two make for great stops on your Sunday afternoon stroll in Leura.)

Bygone Beautys Treasured Teapot Museum & Tearooms

Address:Corner of Grose & Megalong Streets
Phone: 02 4784 3117
Hours: Open daily 10am-5.30pm
Bookings essential for High Tea

Bygone Beautys - a long-time icon in Leura - endured a recent and major face-lift and is now a stunning beauty. The purpose-built museum is home to 5500 teapots (we have difficulty conjuring up the image of so many teapots!). Teapots are old and new; some rare, others common. Pottery, fine china, silver or cast-iron - the collection is truly egalitarian and eclectic. With a new carpark, an installed elevator and new museum space, the old girl is in her prime - yet again!

Here, you can 'have your cake (or scone) and eat it too' in the adjacent and renovated tea rooms. The scone recipe won a 'first' award this year at the Bathurst Show. While you relax over tea, you are surrounded by a collection of antiques and collectibles and other items 'tea related' - all for sale.

Served on delicate English china, light lunches, Devonshire tea or high tea are all delicious here. In order to treat you like royalty, bookings are required as high tea is served with flair and fanfare. Guests are welcome to BYO champagne (there's a corkage fee) for a truly decadent Traditional High Tea experience.

The unusual ambience of Bygone Beautys feels like a movie setting - perhaps a 1940s whodunit or a 1950s romantic comedy? Sophisticated blacks, shimmery reds or sparkly pinks would all fit in this setting! Bygone Beautys is a star reminiscent of the Hollywood style.

Leuralla Toy & Railway Museum

Address:36 Olympian Parade
Phone: 02 4784 1169
Hours: Open 7 days 10am-5pm (Fee)

This large collection of toys, trains and associated memorabilia is housed in a beautiful Art Deco mansion set in a lush five-hectare garden overlooking Jamison Valley - quite the view. You'll be surprised at the scale of displays of 20th century toys of every description including Barbie, Popeye, Tintin and Alice in Wonderland. It is not interactive, but very impressive.

Greystanes Gala Dinner at the Hydro Majestic Hotel

Address:52-88 Great Western Hwy, Medlow Bath
Hours: Sat 8 October, 7pm-11pm
Bookings essential

A sophisticated spring affair of good wine, good food and great networking supports Greystanes Disability Services. A wonderful occasion for a wonderful cause - Greystanes, the not for profit organisation who advocate on behalf of people with a disability for the right to have a meaningful life in the community of their choosing.

Snazzy up for The Hydro and dine on a three-course meal and champagne. Round off the evening with auctions and dancing.

The funds raised at the annual Gala Dinner are earmarked for the renovation and fit out of an accessible home in the community.

Sightseeing Buses

Come to Leura and Katoomba by train: it's an intriguing trip and kids will love it. It is a two-hour trip from Central Station. Once past the Emu Plains station, the Blue Mountains Line stops at every charming village. If you are curious about trains and train stations, this is a leisurely way to see the architecture of each village. Glenbrook Station is an example of Federation station design. Its distinctive and now iconic platform garden has won many awards in the annual NSW Railway Station Garden competition - six were first prize.

When you debark at either Leura or Katoomba stations, the sightseeing buses are accessible.

Leura on the edge

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Along the escarpment and out on sheer lookouts - these are the stunning places where you will discover Leura's relationship to the wilderness.

From the NSW National Parks website: "The story of the Blue Mountains begins some 300 million years ago. The landscape was mainly quartzite, heavily folded and faulted by earlier earth movements. It's this ancient rock which can be up to 470 million years old, on which the Blue Mountains stand".

Ancient landscape of ridges and gorges, a thousand waterfalls, wet rainforests, walls of disintegrating caves towering some 80 metres high - all significant sites along Leura's edge.

Everglades House & Gardens

Address:37 Everglades Avenue
Hours: Daily 11am-2.30pm (Fee)
Phone: 02 4784 1938

Danish-born Paul Sorensen designed these park-like gardens with million dollar views into the Jamison Valley in 1933 for owner and Sydney businessman, Henri Van de Velde. A workforce of 60 men built miles of curving dry-pack retaining walls - Sorenson's signature - and gently sloping paths.

In 1936, the summerhouse was completed - a rambling two-storey Art Deco pile in the centre of the property. After Van de Velde's death in 1947, the property passed through a series of owners - a property this size requires a staff to maintain it and upkeep is expensive. Consequently, the gardens suffered some neglect. In 1962 the National Trusts of Australia purchased the property and Sorenson returned to restore the gardens.

In spring, red tulips and yellow daffodils fill the gardens along the Upper Drive and in autumn the golden arch of the Garden Theatre is in perfect harmony with the muted gold and red of the escarpment.

In January, Everglades Gardens hosts a Shakespeare Festival. The setting is enchanting, perfect for audience and actors alike. In 2015, we attended the riveting performance of The Crucible by playwright, Arthur Miller - a parable of the 1692 mass hysteria and witch hunt in Salem and the McCarthyism that gripped America in the 1950s. The temporary stage, eerily lit and surrounded by old trees of Everglades was for, according to Director Damien Ryan, "… a site specific haunting…"

The Shakespearean Festival launched in 2010 with performances of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. With six seasons under their belt, Sport For Jove and the Everglades Festival has become a permanent feature in Leura.

Tread Lightly Eco Tours (Nature-based Touring)

Phone: 0414 976 652

We met Tim Tranter upon our arrival in the Blue Mountains and our enjoyment factor of the Blue Mountains tripled. After three hours on his eco tour, we saw nature's miracles and beauty that we had altogether before missed.

With Tim, a walk is truly interactive. Along the narrow trail, Tim explains: "Here we smell leaves, not flowers. Here, trees grow to more than 80 metres and flowers bloom in deep snow".

He points to trees that have recently recovered from fires: "Within 100 days of a fire, all plant life is on its rejuvenation journey. The dense forest of the World Heritage parklands has developed significant survival patterns". The trunk of an old eucalyptus bent over the footpath feels chillingly cold to our touch. "This deep damp chill protects the bark from the extreme heat of a rolling fire - survival mechanisms developed over a million years," he explains. Yet its leafy canopy is saturated with sweet-scented oil and burns explosively hot. Fires roar through quickly - obviously a link to the old saying, burns like wildfire.

Later, standing with Tim on the precipice of Anvil Rock, we watch with wonder as eagle fledglings and their observant mother practice diving hundreds of feet, pursuing moving targets on the valley floor below.

A world of natural wonders, the Blue Mountains National Park is only a couple of hours from Sydney. Whether you choose Breakfast with the Kangaroos or The Rainforests of Megalong Valley, with a Tread Lightly tour you enter an ancient world where Leura sits perched upon the edge. Not to be missed!

For more details on this world visit the National Parks website.

Sublime Point Lookout

This walk is not recommended for young children (see map)

We discover Sublime Point Lookout on a cloudless and windless early morning, and we also discover that being alone and out on a cliff's edge is somewhat frightening and perhaps a bit risky. 'Gird up your loins' - as the old saying goes - our inner voice shouts.

With much trepidation, we descend the steps which are somewhat slippery from an early morning misty fog. The fog hangs below the lookout but still hovers over the eucalypt forests of Jamison Valley. We are amazed by the natural beauty. Silence is unworldly out on this sandstone lookout, which faces west toward the Three Sisters. Mt Solitary peeks through the fog and seems only metres away.

Steps are steep and rocky, so caution is advised. Wear shoes that grip and in winter dress warmly - in layers. Best leave hats in the car as the wind can come up the canyon suddenly.

From the carpark, the return walk is 10 minutes - but you will want to linger. Mystical and ancient - Mt Solitary and Jamison Valley.

Greater Blue Mountains Heritage Trail

Hours: Open Days: First Saturday of July, October, January, April

It is time to unleash your 'inner explorer', and the heritage trail is an opportunity to explore: to see exhilarating vistas and remarkable estates, hear significant narratives, devour great food and grab a few winks at exceptional accommodation. This is a Greater Blue Mountains Heritage Trail Open Day.

Penrith, Windsor, Bells Line of Road, Falconbridge, Valley Heights, Leura, Katoomba and Lithgow: villages and towns that collectively share the early history of New South Wales. These represent notable events found in history books, not mere footnotes: crossing the impenetrable Blue Mountains, growing food for colonial Sydney, opening mining fields and cattle grazing lands, and building exceptional hotels and guesthouses.

Each locale on the Trail is connected with distinctive physical beauty - a river, a winding road, caves, canyons, mountain vistas - but paramount are the volunteering locals on duty who know each area like the back of their hands.

Many of these attractions are open year round beyond the Heritage Open Day.
For details visit the website.

festivals & fairs

Blue Mountains festivals and fairs are exceptional - visitors and locals alike make the best of a celebration. In October, the Leura Gardens Festival and the Leura Village Fair overlap as this is the 'flowering' season.

Leura Gardens Festival 2016

Hours: 1-9 October (Fee), 9.30am - 4.30pm

For nine days, 13 gardens take centre stage. With the Leura Gardens Festival we can go beyond 'the garden gate' and into these beautifully blooming gardens. This is Leura's horticultural finery at its best where cottages hide amidst a blaze of colour on every residential street. As in past years, the mini-nursery on Watkins Road will sell a wide range of cool climate and native plants. Marking the festival's 52nd year, as in the past, all funds raised in 2016 will go towards purchasing equipment for the Blue Mountains District ANZAC Memorial Hospital and other Blue Mountains medical foundations.

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Greystanes Garden

Hours: 1-3 October (Donation), 10am-4pm

A 2016 First: Greystanes Disability Services (2 Grose Street) will open its wheelchair-accessible garden for a donation which helps support services like music and art programs. Refreshments can be purchased and local Blue Mountains artists will display their work. A bright wheelchair swing make this garden all the more interesting and perfect for a stop (accessible facilities available). The donation to Greystanes is unrelated to the Leura Gardens Festival ticket.

Leura Village Fair 2016

Hours: Sat 8 October 9am-4.30pm
Sun 9 October 9am-3.30pm

Springtime is nature's amphitheatre on a broad scale in Leura. The flower cherry trees in the centre divider put on their best show in October. Crowds flock to Leura. The Mall is closed to vehicles for the two day event and the street is a carnival scene with more than 100 stalls. Artisans and artists show off their wares, fresh produce and plants. The Mall explodes with colour at every turn and musicians ply their skills waiting for gold coins and a smile of appreciation. The event is organised by the Leura Village Association - a hardworking group of Leura business women and men.

Leura Harvest Festival

Hours: Sunday 7 May 2017, 9am-4.30pm

The Leura Harvest Festival once again in 2016 joined with the sustainable food and wine movement for the first weekend in May. The event was sponsored by Quidditas Creative Arts Gallery and also supported by the Slow Food Blue Mountains and Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon Tourism.

This festival highlights the innovative sustainability initiatives that are deeply rooted in the Blue Mountains while offering entertaining competitions on the day - most beautiful pet chook, best jam making, a chocolate cake competition and a scarecrow competition. It's great fun and lots of scrumptious food and produce are for sale. The event is also organised by the Leura Village Association - business women and men of Leura.

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Winter Magic Festival

Address:Katoomba
Hours: 18 June 2016

Winter Magic Festival celebrates Winter Solstice in Katoomba. Like no other festival in the Blue Mountains, Katoomba comes alive with hundreds of vendor stalls, a huge costume parade, competitions and performances. It is the biggest bash of the year. Leura joins in the festive mood with shop window decorations and winter menus in cafés. Come early and stay late - dress for chilly weather!

Blue Mountains Music Festival of Folk Roots and Blues

Address:Katoomba
Hours: 17-19 March

The Blue Mountains Music Festival of Folk Roots and Blues in Katoomba in 2017 will be the 22nd year of performing incredible music. From Friday through Sunday, you can hear some mighty fine talent.

Tickets go on sale 1 November 2016. Book early.