The Story of Cloudlands

History of CloudlandsAt the turn of last century, around 1916, a beautiful lodge in a unique “Arts and Crafts-style” design comprising vertical jarrah weatherboards and redwood shingling, was built supposedly for the Swiss Consul as a Summer House - overlooking the escarpment, on over an acre of land. Gradually, a terraced, escarpment garden was created and steps leading down through it to Prince Henry Cliff Walk.

During the early 1930’s, a writer’s retreat/library was also built, copying the lines of the main house, so that the writer, Frank Dyson, could enjoy some privacy – especially when his grandchildren came to visit.

There have been a number of owners over the years, including the Catholic Church and we also know that the Cummings (both keen horticulturalists) were here for over 20 years, having originally bought the property because of the garden. Mr Cummings lived till well in his 80s, so obviously gardening and terraced gardening in particular, is very good for one’s health!

When the property was purchased in May 1997, the main house and “library/retreat” were in derelict condition, the garden needed considerable work and the garden steps leading down to Prince Henry Cliff Walk were in disrepair.

Ornate plaster ceilings in the main house had experienced major water damage (since lovingly-restored via “elbow grease” and a kitchen knife !) and fortunately the valuable interior and exterior timbers in both the retreat/library and main house could be saved.

The painstaking restoration work involved recycling the old materials wherever possible. Even the old horsehair plaster walls have been retained. Timbers featured include jarrah, Californian redwood, Cyprus pine, Sydney Blue gum, American oak, Oregon and Baltic pine. One delightful discovery during the restoration was finding old coins in the walls of the Retreat, which we’ve since discovered was a building custom in days gone by to encourage good luck. Several years ago 42 solar panels were installed, providing grid-connected solar energy to both properties an during restoration, insulation was placed in walls (where possible) and ceiling.

It is privilege and responsibility to be custodian of this unique property and enormously satisfying sharing its joys with others. While both my late husband and myself have done considerable work, others before us left a marvellous legacy. Just the sheer effort in getting the jarrah delivered to this region at the turn of last century must have been considerable. First, transported via big ships from Western Australia and then brought to the Blue Mountains. The durable and dense nature of jarrah (one of Australia’s best hardwoods) helped this property to survive after years of neglect After a break from providing holiday accommodation here between late 2013 and 2015, it is again a pleasure to welcome guests to Cloudlands.

You might also be interested to read the story of "The Megalong Piano".