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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: Great Western Highway, Glenbrook
Hours: Open Mon–Sat 8.30am–4.00pm, Sun 8.30am–3.30pm (except Christmas Day)
Phone: 1300 653 408

Address: Echo Point Road, Katoomba
Hours: Open Mon–Sat 8.30am–4.00pm, Sun 8.30am–3.30pm (except Christmas Day) Phone: 1300 653 408

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

In 2016, the Alexandra Hotel completed a renovation to its accommodation wing. Painted in period colours and outfitted in Edwardian style furniture with 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

Beautifully restored in Edwardian style, The Jamison was built 125 years ago and occupies a prime position overlooking the Jamison Valley. You won’t find a more exquisite view of the escarpment. A 2016 renovation ensured the four spacious rooms are 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

The Greens is steps from Leura Mall shopping and dining and from Gross street, this lovely B&B appears to be a small early-Leura cottage. However, appearances are definitely deceiving. Typical of a bygone luxurious era, handsome ornamental mouldings, vaulted ceilings, beautiful doors and plush oriental rugs are features in the spacious rooms. The Greens offers graceful country elegance throughout the five spacious guestrooms. Stylish ensuites with double-spa and shower are offered in several of the rooms. The next morning your Greens’ hosts start your day with a variety of choices in the light-filled breakfast room: something cold, something hot – something savory or sweet, reminding us of our European B&B travels. It is the unexpected things – herbs from the garden or home-made chutney or relishes that set Greens apart. A hot breakfast at The Greens is magnificent and will prepare you for a strenuous trek along the escarpment or a full day of shopping on The Mall. Check out the website for all the surprises at lovely and elegant The Greens of Leura.

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

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! Rooms were recently renovated and many look out into the gardens, which are delight to everyone. In summer an outdoor pool is available to guests. Weekly guided tours with the gardener though the historical gardens are a highlight throughout spring and summer. While on the tour keep an eye out for the unusual birds of the Blue Mountains often present throughout the day. 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.

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.

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

The Alexandra Hotel

Address: 62 Great Western Highway, Leura
Phone: 02 4782 4422
Hours: Open daily from 12noon till late

Leura Garage

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

The Polar Bear

Address: Shop 4, 146-148 Leura Mall, Leura
Phone: 02 4760 8683
Hours: Open 5pm till late

Sightseeing Buses

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 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

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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 the township’s edge.

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!

Landslide KatoombaChinamans Cave Mount Solitary

Everglades House & Gardens

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

In 2018-19, 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 2019, 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!

Sublime Point Lookout

Address: Sublime Point Road, Leura

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 otherworldly 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 but is not recommended for young children.

On a cloudless, windless May weekend, the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service began a managed burn of the area around Mt. Solitary. While mountain residents usually fear the sight or smell of fire, we understand the necessity of a ‘prescribed burn’ managed by the NPWS and the NSW Fire Service. Ben Pearse photographed the burn capturing stunning images. Keep in mind that weather, fuel (dry leaves and bark) and terrain affect and play a role in bush fires. Mt Solitary with its “steep terrain and closely spaced ridges of the Blue Mountains also create complex wind patterns that can facilitate spotting (burning strips of bark and leaves blown ahead of the fire front), sometimes many kilometres”. (NSW NPWS 2004).

MountSolitaryAblaze May2018MountSolitaryBurns May2018

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.

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Leura Gardens Festival 2018

29 September–1 October (Sat–Mon)
5–7 October (Fri–Sun)
9.30am–4.30pm
0431 095 279
(entry fee)
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.

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Leura Village Fair 2018

Sat 6 October 9am–4.30pm
Sun 7 October 9am–3.30pm
Springtime is nature’s amphitheater 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 2019

January 2019

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.

Theatre in the garden is an experience like no other – dusk brings its distinctive shade, actors take their places on stage and the lights come up as night falls.

In all seasons, Everglades Gardens brings us stunning colours, and the Shakespeare performances add yet more joy to our experiences in Leura. Come prepared – a blanket and low chairs, a picnic supper, a bottle of wine and an appetite for entertainment.

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Leura Harvest Festival 2019

Sun 6 May 2019, 9am–4.30pm

The Leura Harvest Festival is on once again in 2019, joined with the sustainable food and wine movement for the first weekend in May. The event is 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.

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Winter Magic Festival 2019

Address: Katoomba Street, Katoomba
22 June 2019

In 2018, the Committee for Winter Magic found themselves caught in the proverbial trap – success brings insurance issues, more paperwork and royal headaches, signs of our modern-day society. Consequently, the 2018 event was cancelled with the Committee looking to Winter 2019 for a return. But typical of mountain folk, many Katoomba businesses held Solstice celebrations and The Carrington Hotel once again celebrated with fireworks on the longest night of the year.

So, we look to 2019 when 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.

We love Winter Magic, so fingers crossed, in June 2019 you will 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!

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Blue Mountains Music Festival 2019

15,16,17 March 2019
Katoomba

The Blue Mountains Music Festival of Folk, Roots and Blues in Katoomba in 2019 will be the 23nd year of performing incredible music and incredible musicians. Make it a long weekend but make your accommodation reservations early!

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