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Blue Mountains Tourist : Summer 2008-09
California was “the largest and most palatial guesthouse in the Southern Hemisphere, with hot and cold water in each room, a ballroom, an in house entertainer and a permanent orchestra.” During the ‘30s it became a favourite haunt for stars of the stage, screen and radio. In 1942, the Department of the Interior leased The California as accommodation for female munitions workers at the Lithgow Small Arms Factory. After the war it was purchased by the Australian Government to house the families of British naval personnel recruited to work on the aircraft carriers HMAS Sydney and HMAS Melbourne. It was renamed The Naval Guesthouse. In 1955 the property was sold again, this time to the Kramer family who had run a guesthouse in the Burragorang Valley until it was flooded for the construction of the Warragamba Dam. The local community was obviously happy to have the property operating again, with THE BLUE MOUNTAINS COURIER saying it “looks like the old California will be in full swing again. With The California something more than a lot of empty rooms, Katoomba should benefit.” Unfortunately, neither The California nor any other of the grand guesthouses and hotels in the Mountains prospered, and in 1972 the Kramers sold the property to an eastern suburbs developer. For a period it was used as a religious retreat and the building and grounds gradually fell into disrepair. In 1979 the estate was sold to the current owners, Garry and Beverley Crockett, and their continued effort to rejuvenate the building has seen it become Australia’s only remaining grand guesthouse. In 1980 they created the first winter Christmas – or Yulefest as it has become known – and in the late ‘80s they began a refurbishment program with the goal of bringing the property back to its former glory. In 1991 the name was changed to The Mountain Heritage, paying tribute to both the grand guesthouse era and the history of the property. Completion of a $5-million refurbishment program has ensured the preservation of a piece of Australia’s heritage for the enjoyment of future generations. 5555 4 Star Deluxe B&B Accommodation Romantic Historic Retreat Circa 1880 Spacious rooms, private en-suites, balconies and magnificent views. Built on Leura’s highest point and surrounded by English gardens, Leura House is located close to all the famous tourist attractions and is only metres to Leura Village! A cosy 3 bedroom cottage that sleeps 6 is also available. Ph: (02) 4784 2035 7 Britain Street, Leura www.leurahouse.com.au firstname.lastname@example.org summer 2008/9 www.bluemountainstouristnewspaper.com.au 17