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Leura Guidebook

Leura Guidebook

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Leura Streetscapes & Landscapes

Leura Streetscapes & Landscapes

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Welcome to the Blue Mountains

Leura and the Blue Mountains are a fabulous getaway from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Leura has been a favourite of Sydney-siders since its earliest days in 1892. Then they arrived by train. Today, visitors arrived by car, tour bus, train and helicopter.

Blue Mountains Visitor Information Centres

Address: Glenbrook (Gateway to the Mountains) Great Western Highway, Glenbrook
Phone: 1300 653 408
Hours: Mon–Sat 8:30am–4.00pm, Sunday 8.30am–3.30pm, (except Christmas Day)

Address: Echo Point (Three Sisters Lookout) Echo Point Road, Katoomba)
Phone: 1300 653 408
Hours: Mon–Sat 9am–5.00pm, Sunday 8.30am–3.30pm, (except Christmas Day)

More than 700,000 visitors passed through the doors of these centres in the past year. We can't fathom smiling at that many guests, but these gals and guys who staff the centres do just that and then some. Providing help to tailor a Blue Mountain experience is a big job: finding accommodation, providing complete and safe information about trekking trails, mapping out the most direct way from point a to point b. We've observed the staff in action at each of these centres and they are fantastic.

A major plus at the centres is the wide range of locally made products in the gift section. Indigenous products, beautiful colours – and locally produced Mtns Made branded products – there is always variety and practicality. The weather is a constant in the Blue Mountains and 'constantly' changes hour by hour. A stop at the VICs can make a difference – a big one – in your experience whether for a few hours or a week or more. Armed for most any occasion or unexpected occurrence, you are ready for magnificent scenery, slow-food dining and friendly people.

Canyoners EmpressFallsKatoombaCascadesMushroom

accommodation for your stay…

An overnight stay (or two) is an experience you will long remember – this is the best way to discover the Blue Mountains. Accommodation provides for all tastes and budgets – from B&Bs, guesthouses and self-contained cottages to resort hotels.

Guesthouses

The Alexandra Hotel

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

Did you know?
At the top of Leura, The Alexandra Hotel (The Alex) still has its 1905 charm with white linens, high ceilings and original windows, but the menu has an contemporary flavour.

In 2015, The Alexandra Hotel completed a renovation to its accommodation wing. Painted in period colours 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', as the locals call it, 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 21st century overnight guests are pleased once again to discover its charms. Best book early as this Guesthouse is often fully booked out.

Jamison Guesthouse

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

Did you know?
The Jamison Guest House has deep roots to its French connection described by its proprietress in 1905 as 'non pareil' (without equal).

Beautifully restored in Edwardian style, The Jamison was built 125 years ago and occupies a prime position overlooking the escarpment and Jamison Valley. You won't find a more exquisite view of the escarpment. With a 2016 renovation, four rooms are spacious and elegantly furnished. Luxurious linens make overnight stays quite special. Continental breakfast is served on the enclosed, light-washed verandah overlooking the escarpment. Charming, elegant and Old World beauty!

B&B's

The Greens of Leura

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

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 with five spacious guestrooms. Typical of a bygone luxurious era, handsome ornamental mouldings, beautiful doors and plush oriental rugs are features in the spacious rooms.

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. Polished timber floors, high ceilings, fireplaces and four-poster beds adorn the large guestrooms. Inside and out, this old-world luxury accommodation has maintained its Federation features.

Hotel & Resort

The Fairmont Resort Blue Mountains

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 222 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. The Ubika spa has limited availability so book before arriving if possible. 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 and delicious high-tea and, of course, that sensational Blue Mountains view.

DogfaceFlower

The Waldorf Leura Gardens 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, the amenities and the hearty hot breakfast in the Olive Tree restaurant each morning. Lovely views with a healthy helping of bacon and eggs!

Activity spaces include an outdoor solar heated pool, gymnasium and squash courts for those who wish to maintain their 'get fit' routine. The gorgeous gardens delight everyone – take a weekday tour with the gardener and keep an eye out for the unusual birds of the Blue Mountains often present throughout the. The Waldorf offers a lovely setting for a getaway and it is on the route of the local tourist buses. Seniors, veterans and pensioners, ask about special accommodation rates.

Travel Tip
Leura has some great picnic spots for kids – Bloome Park on the corner of Craigend Street and The Mall, and Gordon Falls Reserve on Olympian Parade and Lone Pine Street.
Flat terrain, picnic tables and space for running, jumping and kicking a ball.

Leisure Inn Spires

Address:100 Leura Mall
Phone: 02 4784 4999

Located at the top of The Mall and across the street from the train station, this is a budget accommodation of self-contained studios and one or two bedroom apartments. You cannot be more centrally located for the price. Several, but not all, have a balcony overlooking the village.

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.

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.

after hours…

Several Leura restaurants and cafes are open for wine and tapas or tasting menus after 5 and into the evening.

Bon Ton Bistro & Wine Bar

Address:192 The Mall (Crn The Mall and Megalong Street)
Hours: Open Fri, Sat, Mon & Tue

Bar Menu & Dinner

Embers Fairmont Blue Mountains Resort

Address:1 Sublime Point Road
Hours: Open daily

Leura Garage

Address:84 Railway Parade
Hours: Open daily 12noon 'til late

play…

Quidditas Creative Art & Gallery

Address:88 Railway Parade
Phone: 02 4784 3625
Hours: Open Thu–Mon 10am–5pm, Sun 10am–3pm

All rolled into the heritage-listed house and garden on Leura's prestigious Railway Parade, Quidditas is a well turned-out collection of exhibition space, art gallery and shop of exquisite gifts.

Let's begin with the Gallery, home to the art of Colin Parker, who is best known for his figurative oils of outback Australia. He captures the red dust harshness and, we feel portrays the deep isolation indicative of middle Australia. He is also recognised for his most successful series: Paris In the Snow.

The Quidditas exhibition room is a petite room but sufficiently large to display past and present textiles and cultural artefacts from around the world. A recent exhibition, 'Lace, A Holey Textile of all Sorts,' demonstrated the dexterity and the deftness of artisans and the intricate hand-work demanded to make these beautiful delicate open designs. With items collected by the owner, a clothing and textile designer, exhibition themes change frequently and each portrays the beauty and individually of textiles across cultures.

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 expectations.

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.

Did you know?
For kids 6–12 years discover Aboriginal culture with stories, craft and a bushwalk. Check out Discovery Programs at the National Parks Blue Mountains Heritage Centre in Blackheath 02 4787 8877.
Bookings are essential.

Gallery Lane

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

From the Leura Carpark and through a small back garden, Gallery Lane is a hidden Leura treasure, tucked away in an early Leura cottage. Small but not inconsequential, the art of Loraine Druga and other Blue Mountains' artists is exhibited in this gallery.

Bygone Beautys Treasured Teapot Museum & Tearooms

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

This is a museum like no other! At last count it housed 5500 teapots displayed in room after room of an iconic bungalow built in the turn of the 20th century. The unusual ambience of Bygone Beautys feels like a movie setting – perhaps a 1930s whodunit or romantic comedy? Sophisticated in a 1900 period, Bygone Beautys is a star reminiscent of the Hollywood style.

We have difficulty conjuring up the image of so many teapots! Some teapots are old and others new. Some are rare while others depict conventional life. Pottery, fine china, silver or cast-iron – the collection is truly egalitarian and eclectic. Take a moment to look at the display of unpainted pieces, which explains the step-by-step process of creating a teapot.

In the adjacent tearooms, you can 'have your cake (or scone) and eat it too'. The scone recipe won a 'first' award at the Bathurst Show in 2016. While you relax over tea, you are surrounded by a collection of collectibles and other tea-related items, all for sale. 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.

With a carpark, an elevator and ever growing number of teapots, the old girl is in her prime – yet again! If you have a Sydney iVenture card, you gain entry to the museum and a Devonshire tea for one.

A Devonshire Tea at Bygone Beautys is reduced by half when you purchase either a Blue Mountains Explorer Bus or the Blue Mountains Trolley ticket. Conveniently, Bygone Beautys is a stop on the bus route of 29 stops around the area.

Did you know?
On Wascoe Street a large residence was once a 1940s private maternity hospital where babies were often put up for adoption. A decade ago the house was restored in Federation colours. Moulding are ornate, fireplaces and original doors are intact. While the old delivery room is now painted a bright cheerful rose with a tall window facing east, one can well imagine the sad memories of young mothers who passed through these doors. Today an adult born at Kanouene Private Hospital writes to the local mountains newspaper asking for help in locating his or her father.

Sightseeing Buses

Blue Mountains Trolley Tours

Blue Mountains Explorer

(fees apply)

Come to Leura and Katoomba by train: it's an intriguing trip and kids will love the sandstone cliff and travelling above the tall tree line. It is a two-hour trip from Central Station. Once past the Emu Plains station, the Blue Mountains Line stops at every charming Blue Mountains 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, Blue Mountains Explorer Buses and Blue Mountains Trolley Tours are accessible. They are an excellent way to get your bearings around the area with 29 stops at various points of interest. You can travel as you wish with hop-on hop-off stops and the buses circle the world heritage area every 30 minutes.

Leura on the edge

WeepingrockCanyoners EmpressFallsTall Trees

Along the escarpment, out on sheer lookouts, or deep in a rainforest – these are the stunning vistas where you will discover Leura's relationship to the wilderness. An 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.

Did you know?
Scientific research estimates that Indigenous Australians have lived on the continent for 40,000 years.

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."

Tread Lightly Eco Tours

Phone: 0414 976 752

[Today, Aboriginal guides lead several of Tread Lightly Eco Tours – their experience and insights bring a new depth to the concept of 'eco' touring. American universities partner with Tread Lightly Eco Tours to educate students in eco-diversity and the geological heritage of the Blue Mountains.]

Some three years after our arrival in the Blue Mountains we met tour guide and owner of Tread Lightly, Tim Tranter and our pleasure factor of the Blue Mountains tripled. After three hours on his eco tour, we saw nature's miracles and beauty that we had missed altogether before in our earlier trips. Tim, an accredited eco guide, ensures your walk is truly interactive and everything you knew about your physical world no longer holds true.

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.'

GovettesleapKangaroos

Standing with Tim on the precipice of Anvil Rock, we watch as eagle fledglings and their observant mother practice diving hundreds of feet, pursuing moving targets on the valley floor below. The laws of nature rule here – we recognise our smallness and our appreciation and respect.

Tread Lightly is a carbon neutral business with sustainability as its model. Geological history and Aboriginal heritage are shared by local guides. On your tour, local produce lunches and water are provided – essential to the sustainability model.

A world of natural wonders, the Blue Mountains World Heritage 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 the ancient world where Leura sits perched upon the edge. Not to be missed!

Everglades House & Gardens

Address:37 Everglades Avenue
Phone: 02 4784 1938
Hours: Open daily, March to September 10am–4pm, October to February 10am–5pm
(fee)

Lunch or tea is available in the house or courtyard daily – tea, coffee, cakes, sweets and old-fashioned fare. Book in advance is our advice.
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. A property this size requires a staff to maintain it and in 1962 the National Trust of Australia purchased the property.

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 reds among the trees. The winter scene is no less beautiful – leafless trees and empty flowerbeds offer us a barren landscape but the view to the magnificent sandstone escarpment is a magnificent backdrop. The gardens regardless of the season are a magical place for all.

BenchFlowersPot

Did you know?
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 of this beautiful building. 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 Gallery has returned this old home and garden to its original polish and elegant state.

In 2017–18, the grand old house and gardens will host a series of 'happenings' – art exhibitions, Easter-egg hunts and several sophisticated events properly staged and open to the public. In January 2018 Everglades, as it has since 2010, hosts the Leura Shakespeare Festival. The Art Deco house and gardens, perhaps as they were in Van de Velde's day will come alive with festivities and entertainments – merrymakers all!

High 'n' Wild

Address:207 Katoomba Street (Inside the YHA) Katoomba
Phone: 02 4782 6224

Abseiling, Rock Climbing, Canyoning – all activities destined to get your heart pumping. You can work your way up from mini-jump abseil to an awesome 30-metre abseil down a waterfall. Dramatic cliff faces and valley views – this is the stuff of heroines and heroes. Instructors will teach, coach and challenge.

CanyoningClimbing

Sublime Point Lookout

Address:Sublime Point Road, Leura

This walk is not recommended for young children. See Trip Advisor for readers' comments about the beauty and the experience of this very accessible lookout.

Did you know?
'The Greater Blue Mountains Area is a deeply incised sandstone tableland that encompasses 1.03 million hectares of eucalypt-dominated landscape just inland from Sydney.'
www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/conservation-and-heritage/greater-blue-mountains

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.

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 and in layers. Best leave hats in the car as the wind can come up the canyon suddenly. This lookout is a photographer favourite.

Landslide KatoombaChinamans Cave Mount Solitary

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 2017

30 September to 8 October (Fee),

9.30am to 4.30pm For nine days, blossoming and flowering gardens take centre stage. With the Leura Gardens Festival we can go beyond the garden gate and into these beautifully kept gardens. This is Leura's horticultural finery at its best where cottages hide amid 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 53rd year, as in the past, all funds raised will go towards purchasing equipment for the Blue Mountains District ANZAC Memorial Hospital and other Blue Mountains medical foundations.

eveglades gardens spring upper drive

Leura Village Fair 2017

Sat 7 October 9am–4.30pm

Sun 8 October 9am–3.30pm

Springtime is nature's amphitheatre on a broad scale in Leura. The flowering cherry trees in the centre divider put on a spectacular show in October. Visitors and locals 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 and fresh produce and plants are yours for the choosing. Musicians ply their skills waiting for gold coins and a smile of appreciation. The event is organised by the Leura Village Association, a hard-working group of Leura business women and men. Not to be missed!

Leura Shakespeare Festival 2018

January 2018

Everglades is enchanting, perfect for the Shakespeare Festival – audience and actors alike. Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar and Anthony and Cleopatra are among past Festival performances. Sport For Jove, the Sydney-based theatre ensemble, brings us impressive theatre and the annual Festival has become a permanent feature in Leura.

In recent years at the festival we attended a 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 the old trees of Everglades's lower garden, was a site specific haunting.

In all seasons Everglades Gardens brings us stunning colours, and the Shakespeare performances add yet more joy to our experiences in Leura.

Leura Harvest Festival 2018

Sunday 7 May 2018, 9am to 4.30pm

The Leura Harvest Festival once again in 2017 joined with the sustainable food and wine movement for the first weekend in May. The event was sponsored by Leura Village Association members and also supported by the Slow Food Blue Mountains.

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.

Winter Magic Festival

Main Street, Katoomba

24 June 2017

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 Grand Parade, competitions and performances over several days. This is your opportunity to let your hair down, to bring out your outrageous costumes and show off your inner wild self … join in the Grand Parade! 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, chilly weather!

ClownsParade

Blue Mountains Music Festival

Katoomba

16, 17, 18 March 2018

The Blue Mountains Music Festival of Folk, Roots and Blues in Katoomba in 2018 will be the 23nd year of performing incredible music. From Friday through Sunday, you can hear some mighty fine talent.
Tickets go on sale 1 November. Book early.