A walk down The Mall, with its vast number of tea houses, gift shops, restaurants and cafes, is like nothing else in the Blue Mountains. If there is an up market area of the mountains then Leura is it. The Candy Store is an old-time lolly shop with over 1000 jars of sweets.
Completed in1903, the naming of this historic hotel at 62 Great Western Highway reflects the contemporary popularity of King Edward VII's wife, Queen Alexandra, in the years immediately following Queen Victoria's death. It was built on land offering fine views over the Leura Gap by a Mr Kensett who aspired to the construction of 'a first class residential hotel.'
The spacious and gracious design was executed by local architect F.C. Goyder, whose father had bought the Great Western Hotel and settled in Katoomba after enrolling his son at the Katoomba College. Goyder's design was an adaptation of the Queen Anne style with a 26-metre front balcony offering excellent views, 22 bedrooms with electric service bells, three bathrooms offering hot water, a large dining room, smoking room, recreation room, drawing room, fine interior arches and an admirable staircase made of kauri pine. Its construction proved a boost to local tourism which had already benefited from the establishment of a railway station to service the Ritz Hotel in 1881.
Today it is the only hotel in Leura, offering fine dining in the restaurant, accommodation and entertainment. It is one of the thirteen historic inns listed on the excellent History Highway Inns website. Check it out at History Highway Inns which offers detailed information about the historic inns in the Blue Mountains.
Fairmont Resort - an exercise in excess or classiness, according to your tastes. Set in landscaped gardens and lodged between the Leura Golf Course and the Jamison Valley - it boasts some of the best views in the mountains - it has four all-weather tennis courts, two squash courts, a gymnasium, games room, indoor swimming pool and a wide range of suitably up market eating places. There are also two pleasant bushwalks to Gladstone Lookout and Cathedral Point. The resort has good bushwalking and driving maps.
Head down to the bottom of the Leura Mall road, turn left into Olympian Parade and, along here and to the left, is Leuralla which is open on weekends. This impressive art deco mansion houses the NSW Toy and Railway Museum and Gardens.
Gordon Falls Reserve
At the end of Olympian Parade is Gordon Falls Reserve, which offers excellent views of the falls and over the Jamison Valley. This is the departure point for the easy, 2-km, one-way Gordon Falls to Leura Falls Walk, offering excellent views over Gordon Falls and the Jamison Valley. Gordon Falls Reserve is also the starting point for the moderately difficult 2-km Lyrebird Dell/Pool of Siloam Circuit Walk
Sublime Point Lookout
One of the highlights of the area is Sublime Point Lookout, regarded by many as the finest of all the lookouts in the Blue Mountains. Access is gained by heading off Railway Parade into Gladstone Road, turning left into Fitzroy St, right into Watkins Rd then right again intom Sublime Point Road. There are excellent views of the Three Sisters and the Jamison Valley.
Apart from the lookout there is also Everglades Gardens (turn right off Gladstone Rd into Fitzroy St then left into Everglades Ave), a National Trust property with 5 hectares of gardens which mix native bushland with displays of bluebells, daffodils, rhododendrons and azaleas. It was created in the 1930s by Danish-born landscape designer Paul Sorenson who was working, sometimes with as many as 60 assistants, for Henri Van de Velde, a wealthy Sydney businessman. The Gardens retain memorabilia relating to Sorensen, as well as a National Trust Gift Shop, an Art Deco residence, tea rooms (open on weekends only), a photographic gallery, picnic areas and excellent views. It is open from 9.00 a.m. daily, tel: (02) 4784 1938.
Bushwalking Around Leura
'Bushwalking in the Katoomba Leura Area', produced by the National Parks and Wildlife Service' provides a detailed contour map of the Leura area and describes walks in the area. It would be easy to spend three or four days bushwalking at Leura and, quite frankly, it would be hard to think of a more pleasant way of exploring the Blue Mountains.
Near the end of Leura Mall turn right into Gordon Rd and it leads to Cliff Drive which winds around the edges of the cliffs to Katoomba, taking in the picnic and parking areas near the Three Sisters. This road is a highlight of any visit to the area. The views across the Megalong and Jamison valleys, the different angles on the Three Sisters, the Ruined Castle and Mount Solitary, the variety of excellent picnic spots and the range of lookouts make this a must for anyone wanting to experience the full beauty of the area. A particularly pleasant stop is at the Leura Falls Picnic Area along Chelmsford Drive (which branches off Cliff Drive). This is the starting point for the difficult, 3-km Leura Cascades/Leura Forest Walk which goes down the side of the cliff into the Leura Forest in the Jamison Valley. The latter has abundant birdlife and magnificent stands of eucalypts. Bridal Veil Falls, Linda Falls and Lila Falls are also found in this area.
Leura Country Gardens Nursery
At the rear of 156 Megalong St, Leura, is a nursery stocking some of the horticulture of the Blue Mountains, tel: (02) 4784 3146.
Quality hand-carved woodwork is on sale at Leura Fine Woodwork, located at 130 The Mall. Telephone (02) 4784 1768 or email the gallery at firstname.lastname@example.org. At 167 The Mall is Breewood Gallery which hosts regular exhibitions, tel: (02) 4784 2094.