15 June 2015
Feed your soul with a little overnight escape into a pristine mountain wilderness. Step back into the decadent 1920’s and wander through landscaped gardens, artist’s studios and quaint boutiques. Sip freshly brewed tea as you enjoy stunning period architecture and design. Gaze over sweeping valleys, and dine on hearty gourmet fare. Return to your luxurious accommodation, and perhaps an open fire, for a restorative night in.
The best thing about the sanctuary-on-high that is the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains is that they are two hours from the bustling metropolis of Sydney.
If you’re travelling by car, take the M4 Motorway out of Sydney. If you’d like to enjoy the scenery in a more relaxed way, travel by train. This is a comfortable, direct and wheelchair accessible service with a trolley car.
8.18 am Take the Blue Mountains Line train from Central Station Platform 7.
10.15 am Alight at the picturesque, leafy village of Leura.
You’ll find that from the very first breath, the famous Blue Mountains air is refreshing. That’s because it has been infused with oxygen by the surrounding eucalyptus forests which exude the fragrant blue haze for which the mountains are named. Since the late 1800’s the mountains have been a health retreat for the wealthy, and the community is made up of those who adore the healthy mountain lifestyle.
There are some gorgeous bakeries, gift shops and boutiques in Leura, including Josaphan’s Chocolates. These award winning hand-made chocolates are created from pure South American cacao, fresh cream and butter; with incredible natural flavours, including fruits, peanut butter, and even chilli – enter at the risk of your diet!
11.30 am Check into your stunning Art Deco accommodation
12.30 pm Traditional Devonshire Tea at Bygone Beautys in Leura
When in Rome – it’s important to have tea. Bygone Beautys Treasured Teapot Museum & Tearooms is home to the world’s largest private collection of more than 5,500 teapots. Step into the Aladdin’s cave of wall-to -wall teapots, spanning five centuries and all corners of the world. Take a seat and enjoy being served tea on fine bone china by a well dressed gentleman with a tea trolley. Devonshire tea is the house specialty or indulge in a traditional high tea.
Getting around the Blue Mountains
If you’re not driving, the train connects all the towns in the Blue Mountains. Bygone Beautys is a short walk from Leura station and is one of 30 designated bus stops on the red double-decker Blue Mountains Explorer Bus. It’s also on the Blue Mountains Trolley Tours hop-on/hop-off tourist bus route.
Everglades Historic House and Gardens in Leura were built in the 1930’s. The twelve and a half acres of European-style gardens and native Australian bush are a slice of heaven – gorgeous in autumn for the beautiful colours of the immaculately maintained trees and flowerbeds, and luminously green in winter.
This is a thoroughly relaxing way to spend an afternoon. Wander down through the magnificent landscaped lawns and rock gardens, take in the pool and waterfalls, and the breathtaking views over the mountains. You’ll feel as though you’ve wandered into another time.
The heritage listed Art Deco property is run by volunteers who are very friendly and helpful – even offering gardening tips. You can view the home’s imaginative interior – complete with gigantic sunken baths – and have tea outside in the pretty walled garden.
The gardens are open until 4 pm in autumn and winter, and until 5 pm in summer.
4 pm Return to your accommodation for a warm shower, and dress for dinner
6 pm Sunset at Echo Point
Transfer to the breathtaking cliff top lookout at Echo Point, Katoomba. From here you can see right across the Jamieson Valley – often veiled in dramatic white mist during the winter months – to the natural sculpture that is the Three Sisters.
If you feel like more walking, there is a lovely trail down through the bush to the next lookout.
7 pm Fine dining at Darley’s at Lilianfels
The hatted, award winning Darley’s Restaurant at the five star Lilianfels, is a classically elegant place to dine. The dining room is warm and welcoming with open fireplaces, evocative artworks, crystal chandeliers and plush high backed chairs. Enjoy views over formal English gardens and the escarpment through stained glass windows. The menu is Modern Australian cuisine and hearty, created from fresh local produce, with an irresistible list of matching wines.
For something a little more casual yet buzzing, share mixed plates of local produce at Leura Garage.
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at your accommodation or in Leura.
10 am Check out of your accommodation
The pièce de résistance of a cultural weekend in the mountains, is visiting the original home and studios of famously prolific and irreverent artist Norman Lindsay.
Run by the National Trust, the sandstone cottage and landscaped grounds display original sketches, oil paintings, sculptures, cartoons, woodcuts, watercolours and writings.
You’ll be dazzled by the numerous voluptuous nudes on display. Lindsay rejected Christianity, and his art depicts Bohemianism and Arcadian pantheism madly admixed in a fantasy world. His early work was deemed blasphemous; in 1930 his novel Redheap was banned. Today, Lindsay’s works are covetable collector’s items; and Albert, the loyal but cranky pudding from his classic children’s book, The Magic Pudding (1918), is as popular today as ever.
Scenic World – a must for families, with the world’s steepest passenger incline railway, the Scenic Railway.
Waradah Aboriginal Centre (Katoomba) – with daily dance and didgeridoo performances by the Aboriginal owners from the local Darug and Gundungurra tribes.
Drives: A great way to explore the region is on the Greater Blue Mountains Drive. 18 discovery trails branch off the main route, taking you on a unique adventure through a network of national parks and conservation areas.