Please Note: The images on this post are from the website of the Japanese Bath House. - http://www.japanesebathhouse.com.au as no cameras are permitted inside.
We’ve decided to have a spontaneous Easter Weekend, so have made no fixed plans of places to get to or people to see. It is turning out to be a wonderfully relaxed way to enjoy the long-weekend where people will spend most of Friday sitting in traffic trying to get somewhere and then most of Monday sitting in traffic trying to get back home. I’ve been there many times myself (and probably will again) but this time its time to try something different. Yesterday while driving to Church Point we heard an ad on the radio that we couldn’t pass up so we came home and googled the Japanese Bathhouse. It is exciting to discover hidden treasures in a City that you think you know so well and to learn that despite my travels around the world, there is much still to discover in the place I call home.
Our destination is a place called Hartley about 30 minutes west of Katoomba. I have been to historic Hartley previously but never really discovered Lake Lyell and certainly not this Sparadise! Despite it being Saturday we end up sitting in traffic. It appears it is unavoidable on a Easter Weekend in Sydney but we eventually get to our destination in time for our 3 pm appointment. Even before we have stepped into the beautifully converted Tudor building we feel the stress of the drive from Sydney evaporate. The views of Lake Lyell are stunning and the location for a retreat could not have been much better. We are greeted at the door by a Japanese lady who asks we remove our shoes for a pair we are given and escorted inside for a tour and a briefing.
The Japanese bathhouses have a long tradition, starting out in the hot springs and later migrating to public bathhouses not dissimilar to the Roman or Turkish baths. They were community meeting places where people gathered not just to wash but also to find out the neighbourhood gossip and indulge in a ritual that we certainly could do more of in Australian society. So many people are caught up in the mad dash to work then the mad dash home for more domestic duties. We spend far too little time with our families and friends, just chilling out..and enjoying the bliss of doing nothing and getting a little bit of pampering.
The baths are filled with water from underground hot springs in the area. They have varying temperatures from very hot to very cold. I love the outdoor pool where you can feel the fresh mountain air, drink in the view and relax your muscles in the warm waters of a natural spring. It is set in a Japanese zen garden not unlike my own pebble garden at back home and I start to fantasise about the possibility of building an outdoor spa…a community gathering place for my friends in the neighbourhood!
We have opted for the ultimate luxury and booked a 1-hour massage. As I listen to the soft strains of Japanese music I feel my muscles unknot and the stress from weeks of sitting at a computer finally unravel.
It is almost seven at night when we finally call it a day. We have soaked in hot springs, walked the reflexology path and de-tressed in a herbal steam bath. Now its time for dinner. The Tea Shack serves simple Japanese cuisine and as we tuck into eel and curried beef and sip a beautiful herbal tea, we congratulate ourselves on another fabulous spontaneous getaway!