Once thought to be an impenetrable barrier to inland Australia, the mountains rise to over one thousand metres. Whilst the height is small by world standards, the terrain is particularly hostile.
“Geologically, the Blue Mountains is comprised so jagged ridges, steep, narrow valleys, sheer rock walls and dense bush that is carpeted by thicker undergrowth.”
They are called the Blue Mountains because they do indeed look to be a deep blue when viewed from afar. This is caused by eucalyptus oils, from the predominantly eucalyptus trees, evaporating in the hit and dispersing into the atmosphere. The chemicals within those oils let more of the blue spectrum of light through, so to human eyes, the mountains look blue.
A group of explorers did seriously begin to find a route over the mountains in 1813, and once the mountains were conquered people started to flock there.
Because the mountains, particularly around the towns of Katoomba and Leura, are cooler than Sydney, and because the mountain scenery is spectacular, both places became popular holiday destinations. In the late 1800’s, after the railway had been built, Katoomba, Leura, and other towns saw grand hotels, shops and mansions built and visitors sought out both public and private accommodation.
Many of those homes and businesses were renovated during the 1920s and 1930s, during the Art Deco period, and so today the Blue Mountains has many homes and businesses that still reflect the style of either the early 29th century or Art Deco periods, and the are enough of these homes, hotels and businesses still open to entice visitors with an interest in history back to the mountains to enjoy the remnants of life as it was during those times.
A walk along, steep, Katoomba Street in the centre of town is the best way to get an idea of what awaits you in the mountains. Many of the shop fronts are still Art Deco in style.
“The Paragon Restaurant is the perfect example of original Art Deco style as its decor has remained unchanged since the 1930s.”
Every furnishing in the restaurant is authentic as purchased in the 1930s. At the back of the restaurant are two themed rooms that are also genuinely Art Deco. It is a great place to visit, particularly for Baby Boomers, for the Paragon still serves many of the foods and refreshments that were popular back in the 40s, 50s and 60s.
Just up the road is the magnificent Carrington Hotel, which is a mixture of styles ranging from the 1880s and beyond. This was once the grandest hotel in the mountains, and it reflects all of those luxuries that were in vogue from its inception through until the 1930s, with vast guest rooms, a grand entrance, magnificent gardens, large public rooms such as ornate dining room library, billboards room, and magnificent bar which contains comfortable formal sofas.
Further afield in Leura is the magnificent Everglades Historic House and Gardens, an Art Deco gem, and Leuralla, a mansion that was built in 1912 and is still in original condition, with its original furnishings, but with the addition of beautiful gardens and a fascinating toy and train museum.
A visit to the Blue Mountains does allow you to step back in time to re-visit several different eras, and to give you a most enjoyable trip down Memory Lane.