Go Travel Leura: Leura on the edge with an eco tour guide
As the weather begins to cool down, visitors will want to see the Leura we know and love beyond The Mall -- Leura along the edge. Tour guide,Tim Tranter is not ours to claim (he lives in Medlow Bath) but he is so often with visitors to Leura that we feel he is ours! His eco tours around the edge of Leura and the World Heritage valley often leave one in awe and without words to describe the vistas, the views and the exhilaration. Sustainable and carbon neutral -- these heritage mountains are his business.
Tread Lightly Eco Tours
Phone: 0414 976 752
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’.
Standing with Tim on the precipice of Anvil Rock, we watch as eagle fledglings and their observant mother practice diving hundreds of feet, hunting on the valley floor below. We simultaneously experience our smallness and the immensity of nature.
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.
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.
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!
Living on the edge of psychological health with most Americans -- next week we will post about our extended stay in the U.S. It isn't pretty!
Go Travel Leura: "We're hungry" is the plaintiff cry!
There are a number of cafes and restaurants in and around Leura to keep you well fed and happy! If you are attending Everglades' Leura Shakespeare Festival, ask about a hamper to make the theatre experience even more special. We suggest you call ahead for booking the hamper, so telephone numbers are included below.
The Alexandra (The Alex Bistro)
62 Great Western Highway, Leura
02 4782 4422
Hours: Open daily from 12noon, Music on Sunday 1pm–4pm
We love the ambience of ‘The Alex’ and its newly restored look. Under new management, the old gal has been given an interior facelift – a remodel that provides the Blue Mountains with a classy bistro. A pizza oven for that perfect pub-food option was installed adjacent to a newly furnished and family-oriented game room. A petite library in front of the fireplace for relaxing with friends over a glass of wine is a charming surprise of the new reconfiguration. Finally, the ‘Carriages’ function room, an extension to the historic Redfern Bistro opens out to the Beer Garden (terrace)and is perfect for 40 or more guests. The terrace is an incredible setting; you can see the whole of Leura below with the added bonus of watching passengers debark on the Blue Mountains trains. Trains, coming and going entrance our little ones. This is the new Alex. We suggest bookings for weekends -- The Alex does get busy!
Bon Ton Bistro is modelled on the cheery and modern European-style bistro, occupying the entire corner of Megalong Street and The Mall. In summer, leafy trees shade the garden terrace seating – alfresco dining is very special! Some 14 years ago on a lovely summer day, we shared a family lunch at Bon Ton – our first foray into Leura – and we’ve been returning annually for a holiday celebration in the garden. Bon Ton has an upmarket yet casual ambience. A fixed price menu selection – two or three courses – offers a range of choices, from hearty soups and large salads to full mains and delicate desserts. Petite samplings along with wine or beer make Bon Ton a popular hangout for Leura’s literati in the early evening.
Views,views, views! Located midway between Leura and Katoomba, The Rooster, built 125 years ago, perhaps offers an unimpeded view of Jamison Valley and the escarpment. Out front, tables and umbrellas offer a casual lunch setting for trekkers and backpackers – or perhaps that celebratory glass of champagne after a day of rock climbing. Inside, windows open out to the escarpment and the warm ambience of the bar, which features gorgeous woods and a sophisticated display of flagons and magnums of favourite malts and scotch whiskeys, creating an impressive reception area.
Formality is reserved for evenings where the traditional French menu is superb: slow cooked veal, duck confit leisurely cooked and served with lentils in potato baskets, grain-fed beef with onion compote and, of course, desserts to die for.
Wayzgoose, a café with outdoor seating, occupies an historic building where in 1910, publisher Peter Giles Hart established the Federal Printing Works. This heritage building has an unusual shape – perfect for booths and tables of customers today yet we can imagine the long room filled with presses of the past.
Behind what could have been the printer’s customer counter in 1910, homemade brownies, cupcakes, tarts and flowerless orange and almond cakes beckon. Along with the famous ‘Flower-Pot Scone’, most offerings are made in-house. The espresso machine is constantly in motion as locals stop by in the early morning for a sweet and a shot of caffeine. ‘Huge Mountain Breakfast’ or waffles or Pesto Mushrooms are on the ‘all day’ menu.
Solitary owns the most stunning escarpment views in all of Leura – we see the weather changing minute by minute in this prime location. In this heritage cottage and garden overlooking Mt Solitary and Jamison Valley, refreshments have been served from the early days of the twentieth century. Since 1913, trekkers have been delighted to come upon the kiosk after a day of walking along the escarpment. Check out the garden menu. Delicious options are available from 11:30am – 3:30pm. French toast served with bacon, maple syrup, ricotta and caramelised pecans is the trekkers’ favourite.