Heritage and History

The Braes is a private property which has an area in excess of 2 hectares. Eight of the twelve lots of the present area are listed as a Heritage Item in the Blue Mountains City Council Local Environment Plan 1991 as "a good representative example of the garden design and constructions of Paul Sorensen, a noted Blue Mountains landscape consultant".

The Braes was one of three Sorensen gardens in Leura noted for their heritage value in the first heritage study of the Blue Mountains commissioned by the Blue Mountains City Council in the early 1980s. The other two gardens so identified were the National Trust's Everglades and Sorensen's Nursery (now a development site) which remains in private ownership.

The earliest documented information on The Braes land-use relates to the owners of Chateau Napier. According to the Blue Mountains Shire 1920-1922 rate books Lots 14 to 18 Tennyson Street were owned by the Estate of McSweeney and identified as a "Dairy". There is also a 1923 reference for the same lots being owned by the McSweeney family with the property identified as "Napier Poultry Farm". (Information contained in letter from Local History Section, Blue Mountains City Library, dated 24th February, 1989).

A major period of development in Leura was from 1910 through to the 1920s. Leura was actively promoted as a tourist destination and there was a local boom in the development of weekend cottages, hotels and guesthouses, especially during the inter-war period. One of the locally popular guesthouses at the time was Chateau Napier which was owned by the McSweeney family and located at the corner of the Great Western Highway and Leura Mall.

Opened in 1910 the Chateau Napier guesthouse was extended five years later to increase the accommodation capacity to 150 people. On the 2nd of December 1957, a major bushfire, originating from the northern Grose Valley side, swept through Leura. Chateau Napier was burned down in that fire along with 127 other properties in the area.

A lands title search reveals that members of the McSweeney family owned The Braes from 1914 to 1943. It is therefore conceivable that part of The Braes could have been used to provide fresh produce for Chateau Napier. The adjacent property Lot 33 was owned by the Knight family and operated as a market garden.

The property includes a small weatherboard cottage known to have been built early in the 20th century with ancillary structures and interlocking ponds principally developed in the 1970s.

Drystone wall built in the 1940s.

Front Entrance Wall

Remediated Braes creek environs