Our other visitor guides
All roads lead to Leura
On www.leurabluemountainsguide.com we've placed a signpost of the distances from several Aussie cities -- Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Canberra -- those within driving distance, albeit 13 hours driving might be a bit much. We thought it might help those of you who have heard of the Blue Mountains, but not much beyond the name.
So today, (21March) we will describe traveling to Leura by train from Sydney Central. Please note, if you plan to stay overnight purchase a one-way ticket as a "return" or "roundtrip" must be used on the same day.
For accommodation, you'll find all types, some are upmarket, others moderately priced. Descriptions can be found on http://www.leurabluemountainsguide.com/qpaccommodation.html . If you are a backpacker, nearby Katoomba's hostels are quite nice -- very clean, nice lounge facilities and other amenities. (Katoomba Station is one stop beyond the Leura Station.) Both hostels are close to the main streets of Katoomba and the train station. Now back to our initial intent: traveling to Leura by train.
Recommendation 1: We recommend traveling early and light if possible as on most trains, overhead luggage space is rare and you cannot place luggage in the aisle. We travel this route often and travellers with three and four pieces of luggage are the bane of the commuters on their way to work. Rule of thumb: if you can sit on it (luggage) or put it under your feet, you're in good shape. Going early -- it's a 2 hour trip -- allows you a full day to explore and there is much natural beauty to see. An overnight is well worth the $$$ you spend as with two days, you can see and do so much more. March is a great month in the mountains -- fog is minimal and temperatures usually moderate though you may need a sweater or jumper on some nights.
Recommendation 2: On the trip up the mountains to Leura, grab a seat on the left side of the car. On the return trip down the mountain, again sit on the left side -- two distinct impressions. The views, once you are in the mountains are stunning -- sandstone walls so close you could touch them and broad vistas looking out across the huge world heritage national park. Check the schedule at Central Station - you want the Blue Mountains Express with limited stops as the first hour of the trip is quite ordinary -- city suburbs -- and you'll want to limit those stops. At Emu Plains, you'll see the first of very old and charming train stations -- most are architecturally similar and each year the station masters compete for the "station most beautifully landscaped" prize. After the Emu Plains stop, be prepared for some neck craning and a thrilling climb up to the first Blue Mountains village, Lapstone. Beyond Emu Plains Station, the train stops at every village -- among them, old villages that existed before the rails were built in the 1800(s).
For you history buffs, this link, http://www.leurabluemountainsguide.com/blue-mountainshistory.html will fill in details about the birth of Leura and it reason for being even today. It remains a charming Edwardian village, very upmarket, but unique in the Blue Mountains.
Final tip: The local sightseeing buses (fee approximately $20 AU) offer a "hop-on, hop-off" pass and run hourly along the scenic route between Leura and Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. If this is your first visit to Leura, use the buses -- Blue Mountains Explorer or Trolley Shoppe Tours -- for a quick education to familiarise yourself on the scene between Leura and Katoomba. There are scheduled pick ups at all the attractions and along the Prince Henry Cliff Walk. Each stop is clearly marked, usually on a nearby utility pole. The drivers are tremendously helpful. This is a great way to get acquainted and plan your schedule to see as many attractions as possible in the Blue Mountains.
Next week, we'll talk about a short Leura walk out to a stunning vista, Sublime Point Lookout that many visitors never find.
The Perfect Leura Day
Saturday (27Feb) was a Leura day one longs for -- moderate temperatures, a deep blue sky with a few fluffy white clouds high above and absolute calm brought out visitors and locals alike. We arrived at Post Cafe & Bar a bit early, before lunch was fully in the shoppers' minds. The veggie quiche was quite tasty, though the portion might be a bit small for a male appetite. My friend ordered the 'fish&chips' and thought it very very good. By 1pm, every seat was filled both inside and out on the shaded patio. Everyone seemed in a terrific mood. The service is quite good @Post Cafe, prices are moderate and the menu is traditional Aussie fare.
Picnickers lined the grassy mall, shoes kicked off and getting a few rays. After lunch, we cruised a few shops, made a great purchase at Cicero's and hopped on the train for a leisurely trip down the mountain. The day will be a nice warm memory once the cold arrives in June!