The Winter Weekender's Guide to Leura
Clear your head with an escape to NSW's Blue Mountains.
August 03, 2018
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Nothing gets you out of a winter funk like a weekend away, and the crisp mountain air of Leura is particularly up to the task. This picturesque town, just two hours west of Sydney on the train, puts you at the doorstep of all the outdoor adventures of the Blue Mountains while nailing the kind of cosy indoor culture that wraps you in a big warm hug at the end of the day.
Set up home base at the very scenic Fairmont Resort and Spa Blue Mountains, and spend your days trekking along ancient trails and your nights indulging in hearty meals, local wines and fireside chat. Here's our guide to a winter short stay in the area.
EAT AND DRINK
After the journey in, your first stop in Leura should be for a little sustenance. Fortunately, the cafe culture here is another part of what makes this town a winter dream. Among the best cafes in the region, the hidden Lily's Pad Cafe has just-baked breads and cakes — including gluten-free options aplenty — along with homemade toppings like chutneys, jams and curds. The courtyard is covered, heated and, best of all, dog-friendly.
On Leura's main street, the leafy Red Door Cafe is a standout for healthy eating, with organic coffees and freshly squeezed juices. For eats, we're all about the zucchini and feta fritters, served with cumin yoghurt and mesclun salad, as well as the smoked rainbow trout with rocket and lentil salad, all topped with a poached egg. View-seekers should head to Solitary, set in a 100-year-old cottage overlooking the valley. Its fireplace makes this an ideal sanctuary after a winter's hike through the nearby Leura Cascades.
For fireside dining in the evening, look no further than the appropriately named Embers restaurant at the Fairmont Resort and Spa. Enjoy views over the Jamison Valley along with the soundtrack of crackling flames and the flavours of a classic beef brisket given a contemporary twist.
Back in town, unassuming North Indian restaurant Tamarin offers some serious eats in the most unlikely of places, just across from the station. The samosas trump most in Australia, as does its samosa chaat — a smashed and dressed version.
For a dinner to remember, book yourself a table at the award-winning Leura Garage. Set in a repurposed mechanic's workshop (hence the name), the environmentally conscious restaurant focuses on locally sourced and seasonal ingredients. We suggest going with the surprisingly affordable tasting menu, which includes plenty of winter warmers, like 12-hour braised lamb shoulder and truffle mashed potatoes. Accompanying drops come from NSW wine regions like Orange and Mudgee.
Your wine journey doesn't have to stop at dinner. Meander down the street to bar and bistro Bon Ton for after-dinner drinks. For winter, sip a martini in the protected comfort of the enclosed terrace.
For a nightcap, stop in at the Sublime Lounge, another fire-warmed space within the Fairmont Resort and Spa. Their signature cocktail is the Berry Sublime, designed to evoke the nearby orchards with its mix of strawberry, tequila, lime, mint and an unexpected dash of white balsamic.
If this isn't your first rodeo in the Blue Mountains, chances are you've already frequented the landmarks of Three Sisters and Wentworth Falls. And that's fine, because the region has much more to offer, with a seemingly endless number of bushwalks, lookouts, caves and valleys to explore.
For a different mountain view, check out Evans Lookout, 20 minutes' drive away in Blackheath, then continue on the steep clifftop walk to Govetts Leap. If you'd rather a more leisurely stroll (and one walking distance from town), Leura Cascades is a serene canopy walk through tall eucalyptus trees. Take a short trek along the rapids on Leura Falls Creek down to Bridal Veil Falls and Leura Falls. Several walks can be accessed from here, including the Fern Bower Circuit, Echo Point and Leura Forest.
Feeling like a serious adventure? Then book yourself into an abseiling and canyoning day trip. A few businesses in nearby Katoomba run tours, including the Australian School of Mountaineering and the Blue Mountains Adventure Company. They'll have you abseiling waterfalls and trekking through ancient crevices and canyons.
For a more leisurely level of activity, stroll the boutiques along Leura Mall and do a spot of shopping at the likes of Quidditas General Store. If you visit during the first Sunday of the month, you can also hit Leura's flea market for everything from jewellery, clothes and homewares to local eats. For a full dose of the quirky and quaint history Leura is known for, drop by the Leuralla Toy & Railway Museum, Bygone Beautys' Teapot Museum or the National Trust property Everglades Gardens. In what might be the high tea capital of Australia, the latter two are good spots to partake.
Once night falls, take a short drive over to Blackheath to catch an indie film at Mount Vic Flicks. The renovated 1930s movie theatre makes for a relaxing night out and offers house-baked treats.
While Leura offers an array of accommodation options, the Fairmont Resort and Spa Blue Mountains is an enduring classic. The hotel's boutique rooms and suites are individually decorated for that personalised touch, while its public spaces offer sweeping views across the Jamison Valley. It's close to the Leura Cascades, Inspiration and Sublime Points, and Empress, Gordon and Wentworth Falls, so you're well situated for many of the region's best hikes and treks.
Taking time to relax within the vast gardens and grounds should also be on the itinerary. The resort houses a golf club, four luxury restaurants and a lounge. The new Ubika Day Spa opens on August 13, so now's your chance to be one of the first to lie across their massage tables and be pampered with local organic iKOU products.
Don't miss the resort's signature high tea, where your miniature cakes and sandos come with a pretty spectacular view.
A perfect preformed weekender comes in the shape of the MGallery Memorable Moment package, which includes one night accommodation, a full buffet breakfast and a wilderness experience for two. At the heart of the getaway is a four-hour bushwalk led by a tour guide dedicated to reconnecting you with nature — an experience exclusive to the Fairmont Resort and Spa.
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