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Out and About in Katoomba

Friday 4th September 2015

semi-overcast 16 °C

We woke up again to a beautiful view out over the Blue Mountains.

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When we dragged ourselves out of bed we both decided to go for Veronica's full cooked breakfast, although I had mine without any eggs as normal. Having spent most of our time in the Blue Mountains by the edge of the escarpment we decided to venture a bit further including seeing a bit of the local towns. I had read about a circular hop on hop off tram that went around the towns of Katoomba where we were staying and nearby Leura. We were able to catch it from just round the corner from our B & B and buy the tickets from the driver. We were able to get discounted tickets as YHA members and the very friendly driver introduced himself as another Nigel. We travelled on board into Katoomba were we intended to spend more time at later in the day. From there the tram continued on to Leura which is known as the garden town of the Blue Mountains.

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Nigel gave us some advice as to the best places to visit while we were in the town, starting off with a good place for coffee. It is a very pretty town and the shops reflected the type of place it is, with lots of smart craft and gift shops, delicatessens and cafes. We had a look in a few and bought a little bit of shopping, but were aware that we would be getting on and off the bus during the day so didn't want to have to carry too much stuff.

We had also been told about a tea rooms in Leura which was meant to really good and as it was gone midday we decided to go there rather than try to find somewhere else for lunch. It was also a tea pot museum although this aspect was less appealing to us than the Devonshire cream tea, and as a Devon lass it would have been churlish not to give it a try.

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When we were on the tram, Nigel the driver had given us a voucher which meant that we could get two for the price of one. It immediately seemed rather a strange place. It was almost deserted when we arrived, made more obvious by the large number of tables. We ordered our tea which was duly delivered. There was something going on in the street outside, a police officer was putting a number of traffic cones out, and lots of people seemed to be organising things and setting up equipment outside the church on the opposite side of the street. It turned out later that the funeral of a local teenager was taking place that afternoon and they were expecting about 1,500 mourners. This was too many to fit in the church and so the service was going to be relayed onto a TV screen outside. This was all very sad, especially when we saw the first mourners arrive. Just as we were about to leave the cafe two Australian women came in and opted for the larger 'traditional tea'. We had seen in the menu that this is brought to out on a tea trolley and served silver service style by a waiter. It was the funniest thing I have seen in years. The waiter was young and a bit spotty faced, very self conscious looking and stooped pushing his tea trolley in his rather crumpled top hat and tails. Just to add an extra bit of gravitas it was wheeled out to an accompaniment of Land of Hope and Glory. I joked with the women, confirming that this is how English people always receive their afternoon tea. We had a little time left after eating so had a bit of a look round the teapot shop and museum.

We left this strange place in time to get back on the tram in order to travel to our next destination which we had agreed would be a house and gardens called Everglades. It is situated in one of the highest points in the Blue Mountains and was the idea of Henri Van de Velde and was designed by the architect Paul Sorensen. Both the house and gardens are now looked after by the the National Trust in Australia. As members in the UK we were able to get in for free. The house is architecturally very Art Deco and is still very much decorated and furnished in that style, although they are slowly selling off some bits of furniture to replace them with items that are even more authentic. Although there were a couple of volunteers, you were very much left on your own to wander around the rooms.

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The gardens are a fascinating mix of Australian vegetation, edged by the eucalyptus (gum) trees that make the Blue Mountains the colour they are, Mediterranean terracing and English formal garden design. There are several viewpoints where you can look towards the Jameson valley and little pathways that wind through the garden.

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Overall Everglades isn't that big and it took us just under an hour to look round house and gardens and so we were out by the road in plenty of time to catch the tram on its next circuit.

There had been a different driver on the last leg, but this time we were back with our initial driver Nigel, who carried on chatting and joking with us. He continued to point out sights on our way, and he stopped the bus at a couple of viewpoints so that people could get off and take photographs.

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One such place was called Honeymoon Lookout and when we told him about our recent engagement he insisted that we had our photograph taken in front of the sign. It was only a short drive back to Echo Point and then up to the centre of Katoomba. We stayed on the bus as we wanted to look around the town and do a few bits of shopping. Nigel and I went into a very well established hat shop and both brought new hats (very Aussie in style) and we hunted around looking to see if we could find anywhere we fancied returning to for an evening meal.

Nothing particularly appealed but during the rather long walk down Lurline Street towards our B & B we saw somewhere called Pins in Lurline that looked as if it might have potential. We looked it up on Trip Advisor when we got back and it had very good reviews. When we rang they said they could fit us in if went quite early and were able to vacate the table by just after 7pm. The reviews were justified; the food which was a mixture of Australian, Asian and Italian was wonderfully cooked by the Scottish chef and the service from the Japanese owner (front of house person) was friendly and helpful. Nigel had calamari to start (and I tried a couple of bits) followed by curry and I had a lovely steak in a sauce followed by a delicious baked Alaska dessert. I also had a glass of wine and Nigel low alcohol cider. It was one of the best meals we had eaten so far and was pretty reasonable at under £50 for the two of us. When we went back to Windradyne we were pretty full, and tired but had thoroughly enjoyed our day.

Posted by Gill's Travels 19:17 Archived in Australia

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