It’s been dubbed that a trip to Sydney is not complete without going to the Blue Mountains, and as a Sydneysider, I cannot agree more. The Blue Mountains gives you a glimpse of the unique and dry Australian landscape, as well as many world-class hikes for all abilities. While I’ve been to the Blue Mountains many times in my life, I am so ashamed to say that I’ve never actually stayed here overnight. Garden of the Stars was my first overnight stay in the Blue Mountains, and I now have a favourite getaway place.
Introduction to Katoomba:
Katoomba is home to the Three Sisters and Scenic World, both of which are must-sees for tourists. There are also plenty of international food options available, as well as a wide range of accommodation options, from youth hostels to boutique home-stays and Eco-lodges.
Introduction to Garden of the Stars:
Garden of the Stars was the home of the famous astrologer Richard Sterling. It has unimpeded clifftop views overlooking the Jamison Valley and Mt Solitary. This property is so famous that it was often featured on the popular gardening show Burke’s Backyard. Besides its views, the garden here is organised into 12 sections dedicated to the 12 different star signs.
While this property is famous for its garden, the house itself is just as impressive. With 1277 square metres of land, two-storeys and five bedrooms, I was lucky enough to find the ‘backroom’ listed on Airbnb, so without hesitation, I booked a two-night stay for two. Little did I know that Garden of the Stars was going to ignite my love for short getaways in the Blue Mountains.
The check-in process:
Garden of the Stars operates on an easy self check-in basis, so before our arrival we were given very specific instructions on how to enter. Dalia (the host) has also kindly created a YouTube video that walks you through the different parts of your room, so make sure you watch it before you arrive (Don’t be like us. We took a while to find the key, and then tried to use it to open every door before finally finding our room).
Did I say the property’s huge? Be prepared to walk through 2 doors – one with a cockatoo on it and a white door – before you find your room to the right.
As you open the glass door, there’s a twin bed, with beautifully rolled towels, some chocolate to indulge in, and the parking permit for you to leave in your car. Nearby is a small TV (with DVDs too), some water, and miscellaneous decorations from around the world.
To the left of the master bedroom is the en suite spacious bathroom, with a heated rack and a window looking out into the backyard.
To the right of this master bedroom is a corridor that connects another bedroom, but first, you will see a massive built-in wardrobe full of extra bedding and sheets. Trust me, Blue Mountains gets cold in winter.
The other bedroom has two king-sized single beds and a huge window for the sunlight. And because this room was at least twice the size of the master bedroom, everything was in here – a bench top full of kitchenware and some kitchen appliances, a study table with board games, coffee machine and tourist information, and an adjoining room that held the fridge.
I had no problems with the wifi while I was inside the house, but as soon as we stepped outside we had no wifi. This was probably a good thing as we were able to enjoy our alfresco meals with a view, various species of birds and no distraction from our electronics.
Garden of the Stars is famous for their garden, and I cannot agree more. We ended up spending our first moments of the day in the garden, and also farewelled each day here.
Each day, we would eat breakfast at Aries, which at the highest point of the terraced garden, with views overlooking the Jamison Valley.
Alternatively, we could have had breakfast in the gazebo, which was roughly in the middle of the garden.
Another option would be to walk down into the Aquarius section beside the water fountain, in amongst the beauty and serenity of the terraced garden, and right next to the dry landscape that is the Australian bush.
No matter where we chose to eat, we could always hear and see at least 5 different species of birds, some of whom were tame and some were cheeky and would ask for food (N.B. Don’t feed the birds. This makes them reliant on people to give them food).
I wasn’t staying at Garden of the Stars during spring, but if you do, you are in luck. There are so many different types of flowers on either side of the footpath, like rhododendrons, magnolia, azalea, camellia, daffodils, tulips and the list goes on.
My only regret was that I didn’t actually explore the whole garden until the day of our departure. If I knew how big the garden was my plans would have been changed dramatically. This garden really is an oasis. It offers a magical space that inspires creativity, appreciation and biophilia.
You should be prepared for:
Although we were in the Blue Mountains during summer, we still needed a jacket. If you’re coming in any other season, I would recommend bringing lots of warm clothes, especially if you’re coming in winter. Luckily, Garden of the Stars has hydronic heating, electric blankets and lots of extra blankets available to keep you warm when inside.
I should mention that the room does not have a kitchen, so make sure you bring some food with you if you want to eat in the garden. Alternatively, there are many restaurants in Katoomba (but the garden’s too beautiful to NOT dine there!).
You should also be prepared to do some walking. Garden of the Stars is called an escarpment for a reason. The steps are small and steep, so it’s not suitable for those who find walking difficult. But luckily you don’t need to venture into the garden to have views overlooking the valley.
The special touch:
Other than the whole beauty of Garden of the Stars, I would say that my experience would not have been the same if the host was someone else. Dalia spoke to us when she first saw us sitting on the chairs in the back courtyard. She offered us some advice on some of the off-the-beaten-path walks. Whenever she saw us, she would greet us, but would also allow some privacy. Her love for this property was reflected in the way she spoke about it, which made me love Garden of the Stars even more.
This place is an oasis in the middle of the Blue Mountains. I cannot recommend it more!