Jeep x Empty Esky journey to the Blue Mountains

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Jeep Blue Mountains

“I bought a Jeep” as the saying goes, but not quite, it was on loan and I was hitting the road around regional New South Wales with an empty esky. This is the first of four places I’ll be visiting, looking for places to support local business (yes to eat, drink and sightsee) and what to fill my esky with.

For some, winter is the perfect time to escape the cold and head somewhere warm, whilst others hit the slopes for the powder snow. I decided to go west to the Blue Mountains and the greater surroundings.

Picked up the Jeep Compass S-Limited 2020 and what an adventure I had with peace of mine.

• SUV, 5 doors, 5 Seats
• 4cyl, 2.4L
• 9 speed automatic
• 9.7L/100KM
• Dual-Pane panoramic sunroof
• Black leather seats with tungsten accent stitching
• Bi-Xenon headlamps

The Jeep Compass S-Limited is extremely comfortable when driving (average drive for me was three hours), it had contemporary interior styling, premium audio system and great cargo/boot space. Side note: It was not until the second day I accidentally pressed a button behind the steering wheel with my fingers and… the radio changed. Life changing!! Behind the wheel (at 10 and 2) there are buttons where you can easily change the radio station and adjust the volume. Yes, I know most steering wheels will have options front facing, but this was different. Anyways..

For the first few nights I stayed in Leura, Blue Mountains, on the first night at a historic pub called The Alexandra Hotel and for the second night at the Nesuto Leura Gardens.

The Alexandra Hotel was originally built in 1903, named after Queen Alexandra, the consort of King Edward VII. Nowadays, it is referred to as The Alex, a local pub with cosy and spacious accommodation rooms upstairs and a range of rooms offered from its hilltop location. It is on point in all directions, from the friendly staff and extremely great value. Getting here was easy and parking is free, alternatively you can catch the train to Leura station and it is across the road

With the current restrictions, The Bar was the only section that was opened that offered lunch and dinner service. With two seperate leather couches seating area (one looks like a library), high tables and a pizza oven (you can smell that dough baking). The Bistro and outdoor courtyard of Platform 3 remains closed, but still a charming area to dine. With Spring around the corner, it is no doubt a popular place.

Side note: in my early twenties I lived in Leura and went to the Blue Mt’s Hotel School. We loved The Alex as it was a place to meet friends and make new ones. It was a community and you definitely felt that. Great to see that they still do fun promotions; like pizza specials, trivia nights, raffle draws and more. But I do recall there were pool tables somewhere, but didn’t see them this time.

On my second night I stayed at the Nesuto Leura Gardens, which is located within a four and a half acres of landscaped gardens and overlooking Leura Golf Course. Side note: this hotel works closely with the students from the hotel school.

The Nesuto portfolio features hotels and apartment-hotels with public spaces full of character and thoughtfully created guest apartments. Offering a more comfortable, personalised and memorable stay for my one night.

Why here? It also has a history, facilities (note: due to Covid-19 certain facilities were closed), and nearby local Leura natural attractions.It offers a variety of flexible rooms and larger Family guest rooms (perfect for larger groups).Majority of the guest rooms feature a balcony complete with views overlooking the outdoor swimming pool or the heritage landscaped gardens within the hotel.

Shame the pool and the Olive Tree Restaurant were closed, however breakfast was still catered for with a ‘pack & go’ style package delivered to your room. Handy, as I was up early and ate on the road. I’m told there is a guest lounge with fireplace, games room with pool table and table tennis table – but I didn’t check this out.

Places to visit

Sublime Point Lookout – You’ll feel like you’re on the edge of the world as the views go on forever, offers pretty epic views of the Jamison Valley. Free, light walking track.
Gordon Falls Lookout – A popular spot for a family day-trip, sweeping views, excellent birdwatching, and a playground for the kids. Free, light walking track.
Leura Cascades *Closed –  From the Leura Cascades picnic area, go through the stone arch and descend the stairs alongside the Leura Falls Creek. Cross Prince Henry Cliff Walk at the foot bridge, then turn right downstream.Free, 4.5km loop (approx 3hrs).
Three Sisters Echo Point – Blue Mountains’ most spectacular landmark located at Echo Point Katoomba. Standing proudly in the land of the Gundungurra and Darug People, the traditional custodians. Free

Places to eat, drink and fill up your esky

Leura Village itself is a treasure with many fine coffee shops, restaurants, boutiques and galleries. Visitors to Leura are guaranteed to experience the relaxed nature of the town.
Leura Vintage – Vintage inspired fashion, accessories & more – perfect spot to pick up some nostalgia items.
Moontree – Creative haven of inspiration and tranquility. The warmth and sense of candle light smells and local art
Bygone Beautys – Treasured Teapot Museum & Tearooms offering a unique experience and home to one of the largest private collection of teawares.
The Candy Store – An old time candy store where you will find walls of sweets with over 2000 unique unusual candies, chocolates, fudges, nougats, novelties and toffees.
Red Door Cafe – A favourite breakfast spot where it feels like your at home. Friendly service and homestyle cooking offering gluten free and vegetarian options.
Leura Garage – Cafe, restaurant and bar using locally sourced produce and wines. A popular favourite with the locals and a good spot for dinner. Their cafe offers homemade sweets, honey and balsamic oil.

Katoomba is a vibrant and historic town at the heart of the Blue Mountains, Katoomba spoils every visitor with spectacular walks and lookouts, rich cultural heritage and the community.
Lost Bear Gallery – an exciting collection of paintings, sculpture, ceramics and hand blown glass from a diverse combination of contemporary artists.
Mountain Culture Beer Co – A new brewery in Katoombalocated in a magnificently restored heritage building, the brewery has at least 10 different beers on tap. From session ales made for drinking after a canyon or climb, to lagers crisper than pre-dawn mountain air and one-off limited releases. Perfect spot to grab a burger, have a tasting paddle and grab some tinnier for the esky. Note: taproom and tours are closed due to Covid-19.
The Bootlegger Bar – Bar specialising in exquisite smoked meats, chunky grills, and a range of unique specialty cocktails and a whisky tasting flight. Hopefully the return of live acoustic music and to dine in and I’ll be returning.