A Special Stay in the Blue Mountains near Sydney

30th Anniversary stay at Lilianfels February 2016 (4)

It’s almost three months since our short stay in the Blue Mountains about three hours drive away, and I meant to do this post so much earlier. Better late than never, as they say.

As you can see, it was a special occasion – our thirtieth wedding anniversary, and so we spoiled ourselves with two nights at the luxurious Lilianfels Resort and Spa, splurging on a Deluxe Valley View room. We arrived in time to have a walk around the formal English garden, which includes the original owner’s country mansion – now a restaurant called Darleys. Why? Because the original owner was the New South Wales Chief of Justice Sir Frederick Darley (1830 – 1910). His ghost lives on in Sir Fred, a lovable teddy bear mascot who can be found relaxing in the lounge area, and who is always ready for a cuddle.

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Darleys is closed on a Monday night, which turned out to be an opportunity, as we discovered Silk’s Brasserie in Leura who treated us like royalty for our special anniversary dinner. If you are in the area, I highly recommend it. I wrote a Tripadvisor review in which I got quite carried away by the whole experience!

Anniversary 2016-02-23 004

The next morning we woke to mist shrouding the valley, so, forgoing breakfast, we set off to explore before the tourist buses started to arrive from Sydney. Rather than take the cable car to the other side of the Jamison Valley, we followed an easy walking path, taking care not to take the branch that goes down to the valley floor, as we heard that was steep and hard on the thighs. It was magical to be in the bush so early in the morning, while it was still cool and quiet and moist. We even had a cheeky magpie keep us company part of the way.

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In the below photo with the cable car in the distance, even further in the background you can see the famous Three Sisters. Later we took a closer photo from inside the cable car, and I have cropped it so you can get a better look. Another formation in the photos is called Orphan Rock. . . . On one day trip to the Blue Mountains, the Three Sisters could not be seen from the usual lookout. I overheard one little child whining to her father. “Well,” he said, “I guess they’ve gone shopping!”

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When I was a child of eleven, my aunt and uncle brought me for a two week holiday to this area. The story even occupies a few paragraphs in my book. Even then, 1966, the old mining railway had a couple of decades before been converted for tourism, and there was a gondola spanning the valley, but the whole thing has been given a make-over. It is now called Katoomba Scenic World, and for an all-inclusive price, tourists can ride the Railway, Skyway, and Cableway as many times as they like. Each of the rides affords different views and experiences of this beautiful area, without much effort on the part of the tourist, apart from queuing.

The Scenic Railway is very special. It is the steepest cable-driven cliff railway in the world (so they say) inclining 52 degrees over a distance of 310 metres (1,020 ft). It was constructed in the 1880s to haul coal and shale from the valley floor up to the escarpment. In true “reliving my youth days”, I made Bill ride it five times 🙂

Jamison Valley Katoomba February 2016 (14)

The ticket also allows you to walk along the Katoomba Scenic Walkway, a 2.4 km elevated boardwalk through ancient rainforest on the valley floor. Within this commercially developed perimeter, the experience is more of a walk in the bush, rather than a bush-walk. Very easy-peasy. You see lots of bush, and lots of placards telling you about the flora and fauna. It’s a bit rough nick-naming a plant the Lawyer Vine, don’t you think? (see photo below) We were lucky enough to spot a lyre bird, busy scrabbling for food. You often hear them, but rarely see them. It’s a surprisingly plain looking bird, with long trailing tail feathers which the male uses as part of its courtship dance. They are amazing mimics, even taking off the sound of a chain saw or a camera clicking.

Motivated by this experience, we got up early again the next day and walked in the National Park area of Leura Cascades. It is a really tough job to narrow this down to just a few photographs! We took over 80 in the space of a couple of hours.

Finally, for a complete change of scenery, we drove on a bit further to Medlow Bath, to the Hydro Majestic Hotel, which was originally built to be a health spa along the lines of Bad in Germany. It had fallen into disrepair and was closed for several years, much to the disappointment of many who remembered the beautiful high teas and fabulous views from its restaurant and terrace. It has now had a revamp, (although the Health and Safety police have closed the terrace, so you can no longer stand on the edge of the precipice and gaze dreamily into the distance). The hotel is a string of buildings built along the escarpment, so each area has a different feel and not all are accessible unless you are a paying guest. They do, however, offer a one hour historical tour, which I also recommend. I posed in front of the fireplace, as it triggered a memory of an old photograph I had at home.

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With the help of the Hydro Majestic historian, I was able to identify that the photograph of my grandmother was indeed taken at this hotel, but in front of a different fireplace in the lobby of an accommodation wing called the Belgravia.

Grandmother at Katoomba Year Unknown

Garrulous Gwendoline, February 22-24, 2016

24 thoughts on “A Special Stay in the Blue Mountains near Sydney

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  3. Happy anniversary! I almost can’t keep up with reading blogs these days much less posting my own! Sounds like a lovely trip. You always provide such detail I could almost be wisked away. …
    I love TripAdvisor and often post reviews.


    • I am struggling with reading blogs at the moment. Can you believe I am currently sitting in an airport terminal at Broome, waiting for a flight to Darwin. There will be many more travel stories to come as soon as I am back home from this trip in mid June!


  4. Congratulations on your anniversary. A great big number, well done you guys xx 30 years is ‘the pearl anniversary’, I can hear my mother exclaim in horror ‘no pearls, they are tears’ so for anyone superstitious I have no idea why they made it a wedding anniversary thing. Love your post, and, naturally, the last photo 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. hi Gwen and Bill, Congrats on the wedding anniversary. we are on the first leg of walking the West Highland Way with Sheila and Bill, set off from near Glasgow this morning and walked a gentle 12 miles in sunshine, to Drymen. total distance 94 miles, finish next Sunday at Fot William.
    remember our trips to Leura with fondness.
    lots of love, Sue and Ian xx


  6. Congrats on the 30 years Gwen. Romantic countryside and romantic cable cars – what more could you wish for. Lovely photos – I really like the look of the long red/dark pink room with sofas and chairs at the Hydro Majestic Hotel, so inviting. And, those great big lamps with blue shades!!


  7. Another lovely, happy story Gwen – thanks! Incidentally Rob and I have been together 37 years – married 24 – and that’s a 3rd marriage for both of us!


  8. Wow! Thirty years is an accomplishment in these modern times. Our thirty year anniversary was nine years ago. Yes, we are THAT old but she is still my Child Bride. We celebrated by taking a cruise to the Caribbean with her two sisters and their husbands. Each sister is still married to the first guy. At the time we totaled 96 years of marriage that we can now add on 36 more. Congratulations!

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    • We had some beautiful walks, and they were only easy options. If you are properly prepared and fit, there are hundreds of more extensive walks in this region. I do hope people realise they can click on the photos to see them better. We had so many on the laptop!


      • I think one of the most spiritual things for me to do is walk, and when it is in a natural environment that is breathtaking, it somehow seems amplified. I often get carried away when surrounded by so much beauty, and I must say that I never regret taking far too many photographs on those occasions, Gwen. We are living in a digital age after all. I love how you included so many photographs. When I started blogging I wanted my words to paint the picture alone, but I have come to realize that a combination of words and photographs are powerful in transporting readers to a place they may never visit, or entice them to do just that.


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