Archive for the 'Mountains Life' Category

ABC 4 Corners examines Homelessness in Katoomba

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

Locals might be surprised to see how centrally Katoomba features in this week’s 4 Corners documentary about families facing accommodation crisis in Western Sydney.

The documentary, The Last Chance Motel,  features interviews with a number of families in housing stress, many who pass through Katoomba in the search for a permanent home. Unflatteringly, a local  landlord is also portrayed as exploiting these people.

The video and transcript can be found here.

Leura Village Fair October 10 – 11 2009

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

The annual village fair is due to start on the 10th of October.  It provides the culmination to the Leura Gardens Festival that begins a week earlier on 3rd October.

The Garden Festival will showcase 9 private gardens, open for visitors to raise money for Katoomba Hospital. The separate Village Fair will see Leura Mall closed off to allow local shop keepers and others to setup stalls in the main block between Railway Parade and Megalong St.

More in fo at and

Alex Hotel set for sale

Monday, August 17th, 2009

The Sydney Morning Herald, in an article about declining pub valuations, reveals the Alex is expected to sell for $2.3million. This is substantially lower than the $4.9m for which it last changed hands. No mention of who the new owners may be.

Leura Mormon Chapel Architecture

Friday, August 7th, 2009

I saw a nice post on the architecture of the Leura Church of Latter Day Saints chapel. Worth a read if you have been curious about this striking building.

Church of Latter Day Saints Chapel in Leura

Church of Latter Day Saints Chapel in Leura

Renaissance Centre/Mount Saint Mary’s Convent For Sale

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

After sitting vacant for over a decade, the old Convent at Katoomba is set for an auction on the 23rd of July.

The building was built as a convent and used as a boarding school before being sold off. The site re-emerged as the Renaissance Centre for a short stint as a tourism/cultural centre before sitting empty since the 1990s.

Regular coverage in the media in 1998, 2001, 2002 and heritage listing in 2003 kept the site in the public eye. If you are curious to see inside and views from around the 4 acres of grounds, check out the listing

Petition oposing bad development

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

We, the undersigned residents, businesses and visitors of Katoomba, oppose the LED X/204/2009 on the corners of Great Western Highway and Albion and Cooper Streets in Katoomba, currently before the Blue Mountains City Council.

Any (not just Woolworths) petrol station built there would:

– generate large additional volume of traffic on the already busy highway as well as on the streets around the project

– create more traffic accidents in already dangerous and accident-prone bend of the highway, one of its few blind corners, as well as on Albion Street

– create far too great disturbance of residences surrounding the site

– would destroy both living and visual environment through its light- and aesthetic- pollution

– would endanger water catchment area north of Katoomba town, including the Minni-haha Falls, one of the tourist attractions in the area which is an inseparable part of the World Heritage Area, and the Grose River which is a tributary of Hawkesbury River, Sydney’s playground

– would endanger local pristine environment-dependent business such as organic farming and tourism

– because there already are enough service stations in the area, the Woolworths one would most probably destroy – not create – local work opportunities.

We are asking the BMCC to reject the development proposal.

(To sign this Petition, please visit )

Rally to Support Katoomba Maternity Services

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

The Blue Mountains Maternity Coalition is organising a rally tomorrow at the Anzac Memorial Hospital in Katoomba in response to rumours the maternity wing is to be closed permanently. If you care about birthing in the mountains, consider lending your support. Meet t the hospital 1:30pm 14/5/09.

Rally Poster

Rally Poster

BMCC loses millions more.

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

In the 19 November 2008 edition, the Gazette reported that council had a number of investments with Grange Securities (part of Lehman Brothers) that had their value reduced.

The auditors at that time wrote down the value of the then $25m investment fund by $4.1m. The report also noted some direct investments in sub-prime mortgage CDOs, which it claimed would be repaid at maturity.

Recent reports in the SMH and Age newspapers show that BMCC losses could be much greater. A table from The Age shows that BMCC had $11.3m invested with Grange, and a 20 April 2009 report in the SMH states councils have been offered only 5.6c in the dollar repayment of their capital.

If this figure is accurate, BMCC faces losses of over $10m, or in excess of $800 per ratepayer.

In November, council suggested that these problem investments would come good, but current reports suggest that council may be forced to accept the 5.6c in the dollar payment, throwing the council budget into disarray for years to come.

Reports of a Blue Mountain Bigfoot

Friday, April 17th, 2009

I think I’ll take this one with a big grain of salt, but a local Yowie would help tourism ;-)

All News Web is reporting two Euro backpackers spotted a ‘bigfoot’ like creature near Leura recently. No other evidence besides the verbal testimony was reported.

The report speculates that the area has long been associated with Yowies in Aboriginal folklore.

Whatever the Weather

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

With all the rain this week, its nice to keep an eye on the weather up in the mountains wherever you may be.

Earlier this year the BMCC released its upgraded weather station, after lots of reliability issues with the old station.

The new software looks great, and is easy to use. Check it out.


Upper Mountains low risk for Employment Vulnerability

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

The SMH reports a study evaluating NSW areas for sensitivity to increasing unemployment.
Wentworth Falls and Leura were rated a low risk, while Katoomba and Blackheath were ranked medium low risk.
Full results are HERE, with local results for Katoomba, Leura, Wentworth Falls and Blackheath.

While Katoomba and Blackheath had unemployment rates slightly higher than the state and national average, the study suggests any increases will be proportionally smaller than high risk areas such a south west Sydney.

Interestingly, it showed residents of the upper mountains are significantly more likely to have post-school qualifications than NSW in general, which contributes to increased overall job security.

Bushfire Benefit Performance

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

This Saturday 7th March at Wentworth Falls School of Arts

Tickets/Enquiries:  0408330388 or 04392928014

Door opens 5.15pm show starts 6pm

Tickets $25 aDULTS




Blue Mountains Bush Fire Preparedness

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

With the terrible bush fires in Victoria fresh in our minds, now is a good time to review plans to cope with the bush fire risk in the upper Blue Mountains.
The BMCC has developed a Local Disaster Plan that covers roles and responsibilities in the case of bushfire or other serious situations. It can be downloaded here:
It rates the risk of fire throughout the mountains as ‘major’, the highest level.
This plan also notes the major avenue of communication to the public in the event of a disaster is via the media, with mobile PA systems on emergency vehicles and door to door as back-ups.
The second document of help when considering bushfire preparedness is the
This document, provided by the RFS, takes a simple approach to developing either a stay and defend, or evacuate early plan.

Katoomba suffering high mortgage failures

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

Ratings agency Fitch reported yesterday that Katoomba experienced the fourth highest rate of mortgage delinquancy in its latest review of the state of loan solvency.

While still at historically low levels, the high ranking is a concern for mountains residents as it points to a potentially growing number of locals struggling to make ends meet.

Free low energy light bulbs available again

Monday, November 17th, 2008

A year or two ago, there were lots of people offering compact flourescent light bulbs for no charge in order to claim the RECS (Renewable Energy Certificates) for the carbon emission savings over the life of the bulbs. More recently, the price of the RECS fell, and many organisations stopped offering the replacement globes.

Green Alliance are again offering the service and can arrange appointments in the upper mountains now. We had Keith install a bunch in our new house, and they are very good. If you are unhappy with the harsh cold light that these bulbs cast, consider the “Warm White” version that produces a light identical to a traditional incandescent globe. They turn on almost instantly, and are rated at 15w, suitable to replace 75w or 60w globes. Of course, its good for the environment too!

Green Alliance can be contacted on 1300 787 749

Upper Mountains shivers

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

Mt Boyce recorded a 1°C minimum, snow fell across the upper mountains (and hail and sleet) and produce crops across the central tablelands (and in my garden) will be at risk of frost damage. Yeah, just spring in the mountains! OK, it was the coldest October day for a few years, and records for cold are usually set in the first few days of the month, not the 22nd. SMH reports that it has snowed in October only 5 times in the last 50 years.

Google Maps adds photos

Tuesday, August 12th, 2008

The upper mountains have been included in Googles impressive, if privacy invasive Street View service.

90%+ of Katoomba and Leura are covered, along with just about all of Wenty, Blackheath and Medlow Bath.

Take a look here.

Commuting by train from the Upper Mountains

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

This post is primarily aimed at people outside the mountains. I know when we were considering moving here the prospect of commuting to the city was rather daunting, and I didn’t know anybody who was doing it at the time.

First off, the journey is long. From Leura it is 100km, and about 2 hours. Heading to the city the main commuter trains are the 6:01am (the Fish), the 6:18am (the Chips) and the 6:44am (no fancy name). On the return leg trains leave Central at 5:09 (The Fish), 5:24 (The Chips) and 5:39 (The Heron, an explanation for these names is here).

The trip is a little like what I imagined from British TV shows, everyone having their own special seats, standing in the same place on the platform every day, but also quite different. There is little talk, and rarely do groups of friends play cards or similar.

Mainly, people quietly read or tap away on a laptop. It is quiet enough to sleep, and certainly the mountain half of the journey (as opposed to the Penrith-City half) usually happens without people having cell phone conversations.

In my experience, commuting five days is close to unsustainable. The lack of sleep compounds to destroy weekends, and leaves you grumpy. Perhaps if you are one of those souls who only require 5 or 6 hours of sleep you could keep it up.

Otherwise, the grind of working all day, travelling 2+ hours, arriving home at 7:30pm and only having 2 1/2hours before you need to be asleep in order to snatch the 7 1/2hours minimum sleep you can survive on before you get up again at 5:30am is pretty dispiriting.

A lot of people catch up on sleep, but I found it damaged my back to twist sideways with my head on the window to snooze. The extra shut-eye wasn’t worth the ongoing dull ache of sciatic pain.

The other big drawback is the impact on your social life and community. My kids school P&C meeting is at 6pm – meaning I must miss it, and I am not home early enough to even mind the kids while my spouse attends. Even if functions are on later, it is a tall order to get off the train and head straight to a Rotary meeting or similar.

On the plus side, heading down the mountain you will always get a seat, and almost always on the return journey. Beware though, if you board the return trip at Parramatta, the train is pretty full of passengers travelling to Penrith and Emu Plains, so you might have to stand for half an hour.

The service is fairly reliable, it is unusual to be more than 10mins late either way, less than once a month I estimate, and disruptions and delays occur more frequently on the way home – presumably as there has been a whole day of operations for issues to reverberate through, while the early morning leads to a pretty clear run.

I think I have been more than 20mins delayed on the way to the city only twice in 5 years.

In any case, you will certainly have the chance to catch up on your reading.

A good program looking at the life and philosophy of the mountains commuter is at the ABC

Leura Playgroups

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

Getting the kids out of the house for a play, and a chance for some adult conversation, is what play group is all about. The two below welcome new members.

Monday Playgroup, run by St Aidan’s Anglican Church, Megalong Street, Leura 10am-12pm, $2 per week per family.

Thursday, Playgroup Association Playgroup, Leura Baptist Church Hall, cnr GWH & Leura Mall, 10am to 12pm, $2 per family per week plus yearly registration fee to Playgroups NSW of $32 (which covers insurance). You can have 2 free visits before you have to sign up.

You can just show up to either group, no need to contact anyone first. Neither group meets during School holidays.