Spotlight on: The Everglades
Tucked away in the elegant village of Leura is the Everglades House and Gardens. You could drive past the Everglades residence without knowing the magic that is behind its gates. Its 1930s Modern-style home sits on almost 13 acres of land, with gardens and terraces that would astound you to know that it was created during the Great Depression. With incredible views over the Jamison Valley and Mount Solitary, you could spend hours embracing the beauty of the Blue Mountains at this estate.
However, only an hour is all you have during these COVID-19 times. The team at Everglades has adapted and adhered to the rules of social distancing and applied restrictions on visiting. You must pre-purchase your ticket before arriving. The house, which its main attraction is its Tea Rooms for visitors, is now only open for a quick walkthrough. The safest place on the property is the gardens – so spacious that you be rarely caught standing next to another person.
Despite some restrictions, the Everglades is still such a delight to visit. Its history and creation is simply a wonder for its time. Now belonging to the National Trust – and looked after by a dedicated team of minimal staff and local volunteers – they have maintained the magnificent standard of the Everglades House and Gardens.
The Everglades story
‘The Everglades’ was the name given by the original owner in 1923, but its story began when Belgian-born Henri Van de Velde purchased the overgrown orchard and bushland in 1932. Van de Velde was an industrialist and the wealthy owner of Feltex – a carpet and floor covering business.
The following year, Van de Velde commissioned Danish-born landscape designer and horticulturalist, Paul Sorensen. He was given the enormous task to convert the steep and rugged bushland into the spectacular gardens we see today.
The pair of Euro-Australians combined to create a transformation unlike anything else during the inter-war period. Over four years, a team of local craftsmen and labourers built a terraced paradise showcasing many modern and European styles with a backdrop of the Jamison Valley.
The undeniable passion of Van de Velde and the incredible skills of Sorensen is genuinely evident when visiting the property. This partnership went on to create one of the most beloved gardens in Australia.
Sorensen continued to work on the gardens until Van de Velde died in 1947. When the National Trust attained the property in 1962, Sorensen was contracted to oversee restorations. He remained involved with the Everglades until 1970. It is known to be one of Sorensen’s favourite gardens to have worked on.
The beauty of the Blue Mountains region
The Everglades is remarkable in the way it highlights the habitat it resides. Further down from the house, a path leads down to a couple of lookout points. These outlooks allow you to enjoy the views of the Jamison Valley and the surrounding bushland on the property. You can also hear Gordon Falls from these spots. Continue down the stone path and it leads to one of the most notable aspects of the Everglades: the Grotto pool.
Although it looks like a completely natural landmark, the grotto pool is indeed man-made. The team worked with the raw land and cliffs to develop something magical, and arguably the best feature of the property. The watercourse on the estate leads to the grotto, creating a gorgeous waterfall. You can also view the grotto pool from above when walking around the watercourse.
The architecture of the home and the crafting of the terraced land makes this property unforgettable. As one of the most stunning gardens in all of Australia, we’re lucky that the Everglades is only a short drive away. Unsure of what time of year to go? A catalogue of seasons is printed on the back of the garden map given to you at reception. This informs you on when and which flora is in bloom over the 12 months of the year. No matter when you visit, the charm and grace of the Everglades will have you planning your next trip back.