Michael and Shaina Hennessey had a shared vision to transform the dilapidated, run-down buildings that made up the Old Leura Dairy into luxurious, eco-friendly accommodation. Rather than destroy the old buildings and create something new in their place, the couple has spent years painstakingly restoring the buildings and regenerating the landscape to create six beautifully unique cottages.
Leura is one of the prettiest towns in Australia’s Blue Mountains and a popular starting point for bush walks in the area. Quaint cafes, galleries and boutiques line the leafy streets, and the area is well known for its beautiful gardens which are privately owned, but open to the public at certain times of the year.
Ingenious eco design
The Old Leura Dairy is made up of six cottages and houses that sleep 2 to 11 people. The Workers Cottage was the first building to be restored. What was once a 1920s weatherboard cottage built to house the workers of the dairy, is now a character filled 3-bedroom retreat. The cottage has timber floors, stained glass windows and is filled with quaint features such as fence paling walls and handmade furniture. There’s also an open fireplace and a free-standing cow-foot bath for those cosy winter nights.
For each restoration, 80% of the materials used are recycled, including 8,500 metres of timber, old fence palings and 40 tonnes of bricks from the old Katoomba Ice Works.
The Straw Bale House, which sleeps 11 people, is a masterpiece of ingenuity. The walls are made of straw, which have an extremely high insulation value and are bushfire, wind and rain resistant. The aspect of the building also allows the sun’s warming rays to enter the house in winter, heating the thermal mass of the tile floors and mud brick walls. This heat is, in turn, released back into the room at night.
As an alternative to air conditioning, the beautifully constructed central cooling tower creates an airflow channel within the house – hot summer air rises up the tower and out of the open vents while drawing air in from the cooler southern side of the house.
The Straw Bale House is filled with handcrafted furniture and rustic treasures collected from 6 years of auction hunting across Australia. There are two wings of the house – a living wing and a sleeping wing. So families can put the children to bed and not worry about disturbing them while they continue to chat around the open fire with a glass of wine.
Gentle on the planet, good for the soul
It’s not just the design of the Old Leura Dairy that is good for the planet, they have considered the environment is every aspect of the business. Walking around the gardens, that were once just a weed-infested paddock, you’ll now find native plants, fruit trees and flowers that have attracted native birds, reptiles and animals back to the site. The garden is also watered using storm water drained from the roof.
They only use recycled toilet paper, bathroom toiletries are organic and all cleaning is done using the most environmentally-friendly products available. Guests are encouraged to recycle and use compost bags for their fruit and vegetable scraps which are then used to feed the garden.
Their approach to sustainability is to respect the rights of all living things to live in a way that meets their needs, both now and for future generations. Staying at The Old Leura Dairy, in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Blue Mountains is a restorative experience that doesn’t cost the earth.
Address: 61 Kings Road (corner of Eastview Avenue), Leura NSW 2780, Blue Mountains