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Deep Hill Media is the independent media partnership of Blue Mountains Australia-based Ellen and David Hill. We specialise in brand journalism and corporate storytelling and photography, media advice, editorial and travel articles and images.

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Christian fellowship tours a world vision

Christian Fellowship Tours managing director Jason Cronshaw is excited at the new partnership with World Vision Australia

A partnership between a travel company and a charity is set to transform the way Christians consider and conduct holidays.

Christian Fellowship Tours (CFT) guided trips to remote World Vision projects supporting  First Nation Communities in Australia will give donors firsthand insight into how their donations are being spent, with half the profits of each tour going to World Vision Australia to fund its community development work, along with 50 per cent of profits from all CFT international tours.

The first trip will be a 26-day trip to Oberammergau for the Passion play, which is staged once every decade, and foodie destinations throughout Europe in July 2020.

Also in July will be a trip from Broome to Darwin with the opportunity to meet World Vision staff in the Kimberley.

CFT managing director Jason Cronshaw said the initiative would help reduce the perceived distance of the charity work to the donor and personalise the cause to donors.

During some trips, donors would have the opportunity to meet World Vision program recipients and learn about their circumstances and needs.

Each would have a Christian tour leader, daily devotions and Sunday worship, along with sightseeing and activities, with accommodation, most meals, airfare and transfers included.

The partnership aligned with the CFT philosophy of travelling with purpose and offered travellers a more meaningful holiday with like-minded people, Mr Cronshaw said.

It helped both organisations expand and diversify their charitable capacity, a fundamental goal under their Christian charter.

World Vision Australia Strategic Alliances acting manager (private funding division) David Towill said teaming up with CFT made sense, given the shared philosophies and goals of both organisations to care for all people regardless of race, gender and creed.

It was also a creative way of encouraging charitable support in a growing pool of worthy causes and would encourage staff working in those areas.

And the partnership was the ideal vehicle to drive the Bush Church Aid model of tours to remote Australian destinations to give encouragement to far-flung Christian communities, which CFT had conducted for 40 years, into a more public and global arena.

Mr Cronshaw said while CFT and its sister companies (Fantastic Aussie Tours and Blue Mountains Explorer Bus) had given 10 per cent of profits to charity for many years, studying for a Masters in Business Administration (Social Impact) at the University of NSW helped him clearly identify charitable initiatives within his company.

“There were things we were doing as a company without really knowing that there were actual names for them or that they could – and should – be woven into our business model to stretch our giving and good works further.’’

The World Vision partnership has also helped Mr Cronshaw become a proud Christian businessman.

For years, he struggled as “an embarrassed Christian’’, giving the impression of simply continuing his Anglican lay preacher father John’s business.

“And then I thought: `How stupid Jason, you also say that you run Christian Fellowship Tours’. It’s probably rather obvious.

“I had a lightbulb moment where somebody on stage at a conference said: `Don’t think there’s a Christian world and a separate secular business world. If you’re in business, God’s called you to be in business as a Christian’.

“It’s still a work in progress for me, but I now truly believe there is no line – it’s just one Christian life.’’

While World Vision was the first such partnership for CFT, Mr Cronshaw hoped it would lead to many more relationships with like-minded businesses, of which he had several on his wish list.

“It’s certainly not an exclusive deal. I believe in this model, and if we can get it right with World Vision we’ll be able to get it right with everybody else.’’

  • The 26-day Oberammergau & a Taste of Europe tour will depart July 7, 2020. Highlights of the international World Vision partnered tour will include the Oberammergau Passion Play as well as food and sightseeing activities in Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland and France.
  • The 16-day Visionary Top End tour from Broome to Darwin will depart July 22, 2020. During the trip to the Kimberley, passengers will meet the inspiring people of the region, visit with World Vision staff and learn more about programs the tour helps to support. They will also be awed by the spectacular Outback landscapes and thrilled by unique experiences along the way.

Bookings and information: christianfellowshiptours.com or 1300 635 358.

 

Christian Fellowship Tours’ new world vision

Christian Fellowship Tours managing director Jason Cronshaw is excited about the new partnership with World Vision Australia

Charity donors will have firsthand insight into how their donations are used, thanks to a new partnership between Christian Fellowship Tours (CFT) and World Vision Australia.

During some trips, donors would have the opportunity to meet World Vision program recipients and learn about their circumstances and needs.

Christian Fellowship Tours (CFT) guided trips to remote World Vision First Nations projects in Australia will give charity donors firsthand insight into how their donations are spent, with half the profits of each tour going to World Vision to fund its community development work, along with 50 per cent of profits from all CFT international tours.

The first tour will be a 26-day trip to Oberammergau for the Passion play, which is staged once every decade, and foodie trail throughout Europe in July 2020.

Also in July will be a trip from Broome to Darwin with a visit to remote World Vision projects in the Kimberley.

CFT managing director Jason Cronshaw said the initiative will help reduce the perceived distance between charity work locations and donors and personalise the cause to givers.

During some trips, donors will have the opportunity to meet World Vision program participants and staff, learn about their circumstances and see firsthand how their donations are making a difference.

Each tour will have a Christian tour leader, daily devotions and Sunday worship, along with sightseeing and activities, with accommodation, most meals, airfare and transfers included.

Such tours align with the CFT philosophy of travelling with purpose and offer travellers a more meaningful holiday with like-minded people, Mr Cronshaw said.

He had the idea for a World Vision partnership 10 years ago, and it began to take shape when he heard Platinum Foundation’s Joshua Nicholls speak about his high profile One Van One Child sponsorship project.

That prompted Mr Cronshaw to instigate the One Bus One Child program under the World Vision umbrella, through which CFT and sister companies Fantastic Aussie Tours and Blue Mountains Explorer Bus sponsor 14 children in Zambia.

While the company has long given 10 per cent of profits to charity, charitable works became part of the company’s official business strategy when Mr Cronshaw began to study a Masters in Business Administration (Social Impact) at the University of NSW.

The course has helped him identify initiatives and expand the company’s social impact potential, which is a large part of his Christian faith.

“We were doing stuff out of the generosity of our heart more than weaving it into the business model,’’ he said.

The first step is the World Vision partnership, which will help both organisations expand and diversify their charitable capacity.

Mr Cronshaw said he was pleased to see that philanthropy is becoming a larger part of Australian business culture, particularly among young entrepreneurs who are now likely to make ethics and cause-based decisions.

“Any business out there can do something. You don’t have to be an established business. If every business did a little bit it would help society enormously.’’

World Vision Australia Strategic Alliances acting manager (private funding division) David Towill said the CFT partnership makes sense, given the shared philosophies and goals of the organisations to care for all people regardless of race, gender and creed.

Teaming up with CFT is also a creative way of encouraging charitable support in a growing pool of worthy causes and visits will encourage staff working in remote areas in challenging circumstances, he said.

While World Vision was the first such partnership for CFT, Mr Cronshaw hoped it would lead to many more relationships with like-minded businesses, of which he had several on his wish list.

“It’s certainly not an exclusive deal. I believe in this model, and if we can get it right with World Vision we’ll be able to get it right with everybody else.’’

  • The 26-day Oberammergau & a Taste of Europe tour will depart July 7, 2020. Highlights of the international World Vision partnered tour will include the Oberammergau Passion Play as well as food and sightseeing activities in Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland and France.
  •  The 16-day Visionary Top End tour from Broome to Darwin will depart July 22, 2020. During the trip to the Kimberley, passengers will meet the inspiring people of the region, visit with World Vision staff and learn more about programs the tour helps to support. They will also be awed by the spectacular Outback landscapes and thrilled by unique experiences along the way.

Bookings and information: christianfellowshiptours.com or 1300 635 358.

Now & Zen wins gold at landscaping awards

 

The Blue Mountains has cemented its place at the leading edge of landscape design, after Now & Zen Landscapes won two gold awards at the industry’s most prestigious awards earlier this month [Nov 8].

All NSW & ACT Landscape Industry Awards were for work completed in the Blue Mountains by a completely local team.

Headed by master landscaper Shannon Decker, Now & Zen Landscapes took out best in category and gold for Residential Construction $100,000 to $150,000 for work on a property in Sublime Point Rd, Leura.

It also brought home bronze awards in the residential construction section ($100,000 to $150,000 category) for projects at Leura and Wentworth Falls and $150,000 to $300,000 for a Leslie Rd, Glenbrook property.

The highest accolades in the industry, the annual TLA Landscape Excellence Awards recognise innovation, creativity and outstanding craftsmanship in landscape construction, design and maintenance residential and commercial sectors.

Sublime Point Rd, Leura, property owners Jane and Alan Cooper, who have commissioned Now & Zen for garden design and maintenance work for more than a decade, said they were “thrilled with the final result and the attention to detail’’ and not surprised their new outdoor living area and kitchen won the top award.

“We wanted to have a beautiful and functional outdoor area that blended with the modern lines of the house design and the water feature.’’

The Now & Zen design gave the space a modern feel and made the most of the magnificent view over the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.

Committed to excellence, Mr Decker said he was proud to continue the tradition of landscaping excellence the likes of Danish-born Paul Sorensen who created renowned Blue Mountains gardens such as Everglades and Leuralla.

“It’s nice to swap our cargo pants for a bag of fruit now and then and celebrate the collective achievements of our industry.

“I was stoked to win these awards, but I was even more excited at the number of talented people in our industry, including here in the Blue Mountains, doing some truly outstanding work, which pushes us all to reach higher standards.

“It’s such an exciting time for landscaping, with new technology and products coming out all the time and property owners who embrace sustainability, water-saving designs and drought resistant gardens yet without compromise on beauty.

“I’m especially excited that regional landscaping has been recognised and the possibilities that presents to landscapers in some of the nation’s most significant rural and country areas, where the scope of design can be greatly magnified by the scale of the landscape.”

Now & Zen (derived from the common saying “now and then’’) has operated in the Blue Mountains for 20 years supporting sustainability and resourcefulness and is the yardstick for the highest end bespoke garden market in the Nepean valley, Greater Blue Mountains and Central West.

Mr Decker himself is the local industry authority, recently headhunted by one of Australia’s oldest recognised training organisations, The Management Edge (TME), to run its NSW and broad horticultural training program working with employers and was recently invited to sit with the board of directors of The landscape Association, given his cohesion with metropolitan and regional areas and passion for training.

As well as an 80-acre property at Mt Victoria where concrete and soil is recycled and green waste composted, Mr Decker has built an off-the-grid ironstone and iron bark house and he and his family recently opened The Source bulk foods store focusing on zero waste shopping with an old charm shopping experience.

Talisman Gallery creates upscaled jewellery to adorn the home

Traipsing the Victorian goldfields with his father in the 1960s, a young Ron Fitzpatrick could never have known how those gold hunting jaunts would influence an art show at Hartley, NSW, in November 2019.

The Blackheath metal artist’s show, Adorn, at Hartley Historic Site, blurs the line between jewellery and sculpture by upscaling jewellery designs into forged iron sculptural pieces incorporating semi-precious gems and opals.

Every time I go prospecting or to a gem fare I think of my dad,’’ Ron says.He had one of the first metal detectors around. He actually made himself a special tripod with a winch on it so he could lower himself down mine shafts.

“When I was young I was interested in being a gemstone dealer and a jeweller. It’s like its coming full circle and melding into my forged work.’’

Ron’s artistic journey began at school with a teacher who taught mechanics and metal skills. He left school for a fitter and turner apprenticeship at age 15.

During a trip around America when he was 20, Ron “met this guy in San Francisco who made the most amazing handmade knives, just beautiful – all etched on the blades’’.

On his return, Ron opened a shop in Caulfield, Melbourne, in the 1980s and sold the knives and Thai Chi dancing swords he made.

“It was a pretty tumultuous kind of time in my life and I probably didn’t have the discipline and the life skills and marketing skills needed, so I didn’t pursue that.’’

Ron next took up tree surgery work, travelled to India, worked as a cook, then got a job installing security grills, where he was introduced to the wrought iron work he is renowned for.

Today, in an old woolshed clinging to the side of a hill overlooking a clutch of sandstone colonial buildings, the circle meets at Talisman Gallery.

But this time, Ron has brought to the forge the experience and skills needed to understand the metal and coax it into the shapes of beauty and art from his imagination.

“It feels like the older you get, the more you gravitate towards what’s in your soul,’’ he says.

Ron’s work has changed tack several times since he opened Talisman Gallery at Hartley.

There was wrought iron pieces, polished dragons and mirrors. Then came the exploration of driftwood and large coloured glass garden sculptures.

Through it all have been recurring themes – gemstones, ammonites and nautilus shells, Fibonacci spirals and the Balinese jewellery he imports.

So the upscale jewellery concept for the Adorn range was no great stretch.

Meaning “to decorate or add beauty to, as by ornaments’’, the Adorn pieces are embellishments for the house or environment in the way that small-scale jewellery is for the body.

The new pieces show Ron’s experimentation with gemstones such as labradorite, moonstone, tiger’s eye and opal.

Their shapes reveal the feminine balance of fine jewellery design with the masculine of metal and scale – “the balance we’re all looking at in ourselves ‘’.

The new range also shows Ron’s new skills like splitting metal to make fine features such as strands of hair, feathers or claws.

“Every time I teach myself a new skill, it opens me up to a new piece in a new direction and new design possibilities,’’ Ron says.

Adorn will be held in the historic Corney’s Garage below Talisman Gallery throughout the November 30-December 1 weekend, with an official opening at 2pm on the Saturday.

Talisman Gallery at Hartley historic village, Great Western Hwy (400m before turn off to Jenolan Caves heading west) is open from 10am to 5pm Tuesday to Sunday. Details: Ron 0407 723 722, talismangallery@bigpond.com or the Facebook page @Talisman Gallery Hartley.

  • Create your own piece of art on the anvil by beating red hot steel into the shape at a guided workshop. Cost: fire poker $45, decorative wall hook $60, sculpture $65, additional element costs vary. A great family activity available to anyone aged 13 years and older on December 28 & 29. The 2-hour Creative Fire experience is also available as a couples’ workshop activity anytime at the special price of $275 per couple until February 15, 2020. Bookings essential. Gift vouchers also available.

`Tis the Blue Mountains Australia season

Easy gift voucher shopping, all-inclusive party packages and cleanup-free feasts, memorable experiences, endless pampering and sublimely beautiful timeout zones – the Blue Mountains is a stress-free Christmas and New Year’s Eve destination beginning just 60 minutes from Sydney.

From daytrips to multi-day stays, festivities begin at the foothills where a river cruise into the far reaches of the Nepean River laps at the edges of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.

Nepean Belle Paddlewheeler owner Carol Bennett said: “Christmas should be a season of joy and fun with loved ones where you can take time out to relax after a busy year, be pampered, indulge in tasty food and create memories through exciting activities.

“But YOU shouldn’t have to put in the effort. Treat yourself to an unforgettable experience in one of the world’s most recognisable landscapes and let us do the work for you.’’

From the banks of the river, Mrs Bennett encourages visitors to spend at least one night in the region to fully explore the bushwalks and nature, attractions, dining options and activities available.

Here’s a sample of Christmas cheer and New Year’s Eve options available:

TALISMAN GALLERY, Hartley Historic Site, Great Western Hwy (400m before turn off to Jenolan Caves heading west)

Gift idea:
Millennia in the making, shaped in fire on the forge and presented in a piece of colonial heritage, metal artist Ron Fitzpatrick’s collection includes large high-end pieces along with signature metal art mirrors, small affordable sculptures and candleholders, an extensive collection of imported jewellery and crystal pieces.

A show of Ron’s new range inspired by jewellery-inspired designs will be held in the historic Corney’s Garage below the gallery at 2pm on Saturday, November 30. Can’t choose? Gift vouchers are also available.

Memorable activity:
Unleash your inner creative fire, work off some energy and learn an ancient art under guidance. Create your own piece of art on the anvil by beating red hot steel into the shape of a fire poker, decorative wall hook or small sculpture. Cost: fire poker or decorative wall hook $45, small piece of metal art mounted on sandstone $65 (additional element costs vary). A great 30-minute family activity for anyone aged 13 years and older, the Creative Fire experience is also available as a couples’ workshop activity at the special price of $275 per couple until February 15, 2020. No experience necessary. All materials supplied.

Creative Fire sessions available December 28 & 29. Talisman Galley is open from 10am to 5pm Tuesday to Sunday.

Bookings, details and vouchers: Ron 0407 723 722 or Facebook page Talisman Gallery Hartley/events, website: www.talismangallery.com.au.

ECHOES BAR & RESTAURANT, Lilianfels Ave, Katoomba
Christmas cocktails
Perched on the very edge of the Blue Mountains escarpment just 200m from the Three Sisters rock formation at Echo Point, drink in sublime uninterruped panoramas of the Jamison Valley while sipping on a Christmas cocktail. Renowned for its modern Australian cuisine using fresh, local produce with an Asian influence, the award-winning fine dining Echoes Restaurant is idea for a casual lunch or romantic dinner for two.

Bookings: echoeshotel.com.au

HYDRO MAJESTIC HOTEL, Great Western Hwy, Medlow Bath
Christmas Day (December 25)
LUNCH: Indulge in a three-tier festive lunch in the Wintergarden overlooking the magnificent Megalong Valley while you tuck into fresh seafood, charcutier and carvery selections, followed by traditional desserts. Package includes a three-hour beverage package, Christmas decorations, bon bons and even a special visit from Santa for the children. Cost: $199 adults, $125 teenagers (13 – 17 years), $85 children (4 – 12 years) and children under-4 complimentary seating only.

DINNER: Treat yourself to a decadent five-course degustation dinner featuring fresh seafood, traditional roasts and dessert with glass of sparkling on arrival in the Wintergarden Restaurant while soaking up the sunset over the Megalong Valley. Includes Christmas decorations and bon bons. Cost: $125 adults, $99 teenagers (13-17 years), $65 children (4 – 12 years) and children under-4 complimentary seating only.

Boxing Day (December 26, 10.30am to 3pm)
HIGH TEA: Take full advantage of the holiday season and nibble on high tea delicacies in the Wintergarden Restaurant while gazing over panoramic Megalong Valley views. Cost: $65pp.

LUNCH: Extend celebrations over a two-course casual lunch and a glass of sparkling arrival in the Boilerhouse Restaurant with unrivalled views over the Megalong Valley. Cost: $75 adults, $65 teenagers (13-17 years old). Bookings: reservations@hydromajestic.com.au or 02 4782 6885.

New Year’s Eve
Bid adieu to 2019 and welcome 2020 with a vibrant evening of live entertainment from The Australian INXS Show, magnificent sunset views and a five-course degustation dinner with glass of midnight sparkling.

The covers band celebrates and honours the memory of rock legend Michael Hutchence and brings back to life the halcyon days of INXS from their self-titled debut to Elegantly Wasted with songs like Need You Tonight, Never Tear Us Apart, Don’t Change, Live Baby Live and New Sensation. Cost: $199 adults, $159 teenagers (13 – 17 years), $95 children (4 – 12 years) and children under-4 complimentary seating.

Bookings: reservations@hydromajestic.com.au or 02 4782 6885.

BLUE MOUNTAINS LIMOUSINE
Party transport:
The team of professional chauffeurs is always alert and always sober 24/7 – so festive partygoers don’t have to be.

Two luxury sedans are at guests’ service, along with the only stretch limousine in the Blue Mountains ready to transfer passengers between functions and venues.

Guests ($59pp, minimum two passengers per trip) will be collected from and returned to any location between Hazelbrook and Mt Victoria in the Blue Mountains (hotels, guesthouses, railway stations or private homes) between 4pm and midnight any Friday and Saturday from November 15 to December 30, and until 3am on January 1.

Bookings: Rob on 0400 500 542.

BLUE MOUNTAINS VINTAGE CADILLACS
Gift idea:
An ideal romantic gesture or retro reminisce, a sightseeing tour of Australia’s first tourist destination in a 1929 Cadillac LaSalle car is a gift as distinctive as the vehicle itself.

The vintage ride will pootle past the breathtaking scenery of one of the most recognisable landscapes on Earth – the Three Sisters rock formation at Echo Point, just as the well-heeled of the Roaring `20s era used to do. Cruise upmarket Leura Mall for head-turning effect. Take in the sights of historic Cliff Drive, pausing for reflection at jaw-droppingly gorgeous vistas along the way.

Details: info@bmlimo.com.au or phone Robert on 0400 500 542 or Don on 0455 352 976.

THE POLISHED OPAL, Leura
Gift idea:
Opal polishing under the guidance of expert Sonja van As is ideal for gemstone buffs and people difficult to buy for. Each participant receives three opals to polish, as well as a small display case in which to take them home.

Memorable activity:
Experience the thrill of releasing the iridescent fire from stone and learn about Australia’s national gemstone at a hands-on workshop.

Opal polishing with Sonja van As is available at 9am and 1pm daily. Limited to four people per session, children aged under 15 must be supervised by an adult (not suitable for those under 8). Sessions last up to three hours.

No prior experience necessary. Participants should wear short sleeves and tie long hair back.
Cost: $195 per person. Bookings essential: Sonja on 0448 725 830 or contact@thepolishedopal.com.au.

NEPEAN BELLE PADDLEWHEELER (Tench Reserve jetty, Tench Ave, Jamisontown)
Gift idea:
Perfect for those difficult to buy for, vouchers are available to explore the deep reaches of the aquatic heart and lifeblood of the region. Experience the natural wonders of the landscape and its fauna over morning tea, lunch or dinner.

Christmas party venue:
Smooth water cruising, an ever-changing 40 million-year-old backdrop at the foothills of the Blue Mountains and old-fashioned hospitality makes for an ideal festive venue. Choose from lunch or evening, weekday or weekend packages. Passengers on each are served hearty festive fare and may book a public cruise (price from $53 per adult) or charter the vessel for a private function with onboard PA system and optional DJ (price from $84pp). Cash or tab bar only.

Bookings and vouchers: nepeanbelle.com.au, info@nepeanbelle.com.au or 02 4733 1274.

Western Sydney aged/disability care jobs blitz

Dozens of aged and disability care jobs are available in Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains with leading care support organisation Wendy’s Home Care – close to home, with flexible hours and opportunities to link into training to help build a career.

The company’s annual recruitment blitz emphasises life experience, character and attitude, not just qualifications, and targets those seeking meaningful work that helps their community yet also gives them an ideal work/home balance.

The organisation, which offers in-home aged and disability care, needs more than 20 new casual staff to meet increasing demand in The Hills, Penrith, Blacktown, Blue Mountains and Parramatta regions.

Information sessions will be held at:

  • Castle Grand, Wexford Room, Castle Hill Cultural Centre, Pennant St, Castle Hill, from 10.30am to 12.30pm Wednesday, August 21.
  • Vikings Club, 35 Quarry Rd, Dundas Valley, from 10.30am to 12.30pm Friday, August 30
  • Penrith Library Theatrette, High St, Penrith, from 10.30am to 12.30pm Wednesday, August 28

Operating between Parramatta and Lithgow, Wendy’s Home Care is an approved service provider for many non-government agencies, government services including the National Disability Insurance Scheme, and Veterans’ Home Care and is an aged care provider approved by the Federal Government.

It also services private clients and now offers government subsidised home care packages through MyAgedCare.

Wendy’s Home Care general manager Alannah Norman said the casual positions are ideal for people wanting a career or lifestyle change which offers a more flexible work/home balance but involves learning new skills in a rewarding community role.

“Our staff are the best in the business, which is why we have such demand for our services. We just need more of them.

“People new to the industry often underestimate themselves – life skills and experience are extremely important and we can then provide training to build your knowledge and competencies. One of our team was a swimming coach for fifty-five years before joining us, John was in retail, Sandra was a hairdresser.

“And don’t use age as an excuse – most of our staff are aged over thirty-five, one is seventy-one and many came to us in middle age from other industries without previous aged and disability experience.

“What’s more important to us are practical people with a great attitude and life skills, who love people and want to help them.’’

Staff are matched to clients to suit their needs, which may vary from domestic assistance (housework, shopping and meal preparation), personal care, respite, emergency or short-term care, monitoring and supervision, social support and transport.

“Care support work is an opportunity to make connections, especially in areas where there are lots of new people looking to forge relationships and find their place in the community,’’ Ms Norman said.

Community care roles would especially suit people who had worked in a high intensity facility such as a nursing home, who would like to work more flexible hours close to home and give one-on-one support to clients.

However, people new to the industry were also encouraged to apply, as were those from varied cultural backgrounds, especially people with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds.

Care workers must have a reliable vehicle, a mobile phone, a current driver’s licence and a first aid certificate with additional opportunities available to those who have Certificate III in individual Support, Aged, Home Care or Disability Care and/or other industry qualifications.

Register your interest in the information sessions with Wendy’s Home Care on (02) 4587 5999 or at hradmin@wendyshome.com.au.

Spring in the Blue Mountains

Cool sun-splashed days, crisp evenings, leisurely sightseeing tours, charming accommodation and a blooming abundance of cool climate flowers – it’s time to shed those winter woolies and rejuvenate in Australia’s original romance destination this spring.

The National Trust’s manager of the famous Everglades House & Gardens, Guy McIlrath, said the Blue Mountains in spring was breathtaking.

“After the long winter months of short, cold days, bare tree branches and even snow, it’s wonderful to see nature burst forth with the vibrant colour of azaleas, daffodils, rhododendrons, tulips and, of course, the many native wildflowers in the bush.’’

Mr McIlrath encouraged visitors to spend at least one night in the region which had lured lovers for more than a century to fully explore any number of bushwalks, activities, dining options and gardens within the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.

Book your romantic spring getaway early for maximum brownie points with your love:

 

Springtime Deal: Shelton-Lea B&B, 159 Lurline St, Katoomba

Relax and rejuvenate in the romantic surrounds of a delightfully restored 1920s Californian-style bungalow a short stroll from the eclectic Katoomba café/restaurant and retail strip, interesting art galleries and the world-famous Three Sisters landmark.

Enter your classic Blue Mountains accommodation via your own private entrance and soak up the ambience with open gas fires, spa baths and period decor.

Book a romantic minimum two-night getaway any day of the week between September 1 and November 30, 2019, to receive a 10 per cent discount, complimentary bottle of local wine and chocolates.

Use the promotion code “Spring Deal 2019’’. Bookings open August 1, 2019. Promotion only available at www.sheltonlea.com.

 

Western Wine Tours

Indulge in the distinctive flavours of wines from the Central West and freshly crushed apple ciders from the upper Blue Mountains straight from the cellar door.

Guests can choose from a range of half and full-day tours which take in vineyards and cider sheds between Bilpin, the Megalong Valley and the Mudgee wine district. Each includes luxury chauffeured transport, wildlife sightings, food refreshments and spectacular views.

Guests of Shelton-Lea B&B receive a 10 per cent discount on all Western Wine Tours.

Bookings: www.westernwinetours.com.au or 0437 746 833.

 

Botanica Touring

Board the brand new Blue Mountains Shuttle to access seasonal fruit picking, cellar doors, eclectic shopping, exquisite gardens, dining and spectacular views along the Bells Line of Road between Katoomba and Richmond for the first time by public transport.

The twice-daily 57-seat air-conditioned coach service will stop at the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah and Bilpin along the way.

Featured pick-up and drop-off locations will include the world-famous Echo Point Lookout, seasonal orchards, Blue Mountains Botanic Garden at Mt Tomah and a cider shed.

Along the route, passengers can learn about the region from the on-board video, surf the net using free wifi or watch the untamed landscape while charging technology in provided USB ports.

The bus service will run from Katoomba at 9.30am and 1.50pm and Richmond at 11.35am and 4.10pm Thursday to Monday.

Details: www.botanicatouring.com or 0423 361 616.

  

Blue Mountains Limousine & Vintage Cadillacs

Be transported back this Spring to the most romantic of retro eras when Australia’s first tourist destination was at its ultimate flamboyant luxe.

Explore the breathtaking scenery of one of the most recognisable landscapes on Earth, the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, just like the well-heeled of the Roaring `20s era. Cruise upmarket Leura Mall for head-turning effect. Take in the sights of historic Cliff Drive, pausing at Echo Point overlooking the Three Sisters rock formation along the way.

Arrive for refreshments at a grand hotel, restaurant or cafe in the upper Blue Mountains in the glamorous style of old Hollywood in the magnificent Ava (Gardner) 1928 five-passenger Coupe LaSalle model Cadillac, Ella (Fitzgerald) the 1929 convertible Landau Cabriolet or Flora the cherry red coloured 1929 four-passenger Phaeton named after the owner Donald Millar’s mother.

There’s a timelessness to the shape of Cadillac LaSalles, and that’s part of that art deco era,’’ he said.Old cars can have a beauty because they’re old, but these cars have a beauty inherent in themselves. They have a distinct beauty, class and rarity.’’

Bookings: info@bmlimo.com.au or phone Robert on 0400 500 542 or Don on 0455 352 976.

 

 Everglades House & Gardens, Everglades Ave, Leura

Amid a spectacular kaleidoscope of floral colour, from flowering cherry trees, carpets of daffodils and early bluebells to tulips, azaleas and rhododendrons, the historic art deco property will host a vibrant round of events and activities against an awe-inspiring bush backdrop throughout spring.

Events will include art exhibitions showcasing the talents of youngsters in a Schools Reconciliation Challenge (August 2 – September 29) and established artists Owen Thompson (September 7 – 29) and The Wild and the Cultivated of Gardens and Beyond collective (October 5 – 27), a Japanese tea ceremony event (August 31), The Fabulous Fifties luncheon fashion event (September 14) and the famous Leura Gardens Festival (October 5 – 7 & 11 – 13).

Details: www.nationaltrust.org.au/places/everglades-house-gardens/.

 

Nepean Gorge Discovery Tour (September 28): Nepean Belle Paddlewheeler, Jamisontown

Explore the deep reaches of the historic heart and lifeblood of the Nepean and Blue Mountains region aboard the iconic paddlewheeler.

Cruise as far as possible along the tranquil waters of the Nepean River into the Nepean Gorge and Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, pausing along the way at spots with historic significance to learn interesting facts and anecdotes.

Experience the natural wonders of the landscape and its inhabitants, including eagles, cormorants, azure kingfishers, bellbirds and more. There have been reports of a dingo and those with binoculars may even spot an echidna hidden among the scrub.

Tickets: $125 adults, $110 seniors, $65 children 3 – 16 years (0 – 2 years free) includes 5.5-hour cruise (9.30am to 3pm), Devonshire tea, two-course lunch and light afternoon tea. Bookings: www.nepeanbelle.com.au or 4733 1274.

 

Mountain Whispers The MW Collection

From beautifully manicured Edwardian and sprawling English cottage gardens, magnificent vistas across the Jamison Valley to being conveniently located to the Three Sisters landmark, each Mountain Whispers property offers guests the perfect setting to take in as much – or as little, as they please.

French champagne on ice, in-house massage and/or facial in opulent surrounds, private picnics and sunset watching. At Mountain Whispers, your every detail matters.

Owner Lorraine Allanson said: “With the smell of spring lingering in the air already and a healthy anticipation for the newness and warmer weather, the gardens at Mountain Whispers promise a show-stopping natural display for our guests.’’

Spring is the perfect time to come out of hibernation and be one with nature. Shed the winter blues and escape to the Blue Mountains for the perfect mind, body and soul rejuvenation.

Mountain Whispers offers five luxuriously appointed self-contained escapes. Each of the multi-award-winning properties – Varenna, Leura Rose and Strawberry Patch in Leura and The Gatsby and Chatelaine in Katoomba – promise a bespoke getaway in total privacy and comfort for couples and small groups.

Details: www.mountainwhispers.com.au or 1300 721 321.

Chasing rainbows with expert opal polisher

Experience the thrill of releasing the fire from stone and learn about Australia’s national gemstone at hands-on workshops at The Polished Opal.

Each visitor receives three opals to polish under the guidance of opal polishing expert Sonja van As, as well as a small display case in which to take them home.

Opals are the Leura artist’s latest obsession.

More specifically, the roulette game of polishing them to discover hidden treasure and release the iridescent fire – and value, within a gem of rare bank balance-boosting proportions.

I think I've found my nirvana – this is all my loves in one,’’ she says.It’s the damn colour. I just need to capture iridescence, that three dimensional depth. I don’t know why – I’m in love with rainbows maybe.’’

Opal polishing is like chasing the rainbow’’:It’s like gambling, very exciting.’’

Van As’ artistic journey began “the day I was born’’ in Rotterdam, Holland, in 1962.

“I think every Dutch person has a famous artist in them somewhere in the past,’’ she says.

Her grandparents were artists, her brother, father and grandfather were photo lithographers.

“I just always loved to draw and create. Everybody else would be outside playing and I’d be drawing my hands or feet in every possible way.’’

After earlier dropping out of art class when her children were babies, van As achieved a TAFE fine arts diploma in the 1990s and was introduced to the whole gamut of mediums.

In 1999, she was one of 15 sculptors involved in the Blue Mountains Council Wentworth Falls Sculpture Project using local sandstone to create seed pods of local native plants.

She has been involved in many exhibitions and community events, and in 2013 won the Artifact, Art Based on Waste competition locally, going on to claim the NSW title in the Dubbo Art To Waste competition in the “open functional’’ category with a necklace made with resistors with resined butterfly wings as pendants.

During the years, she has dabbled in pen and ink works, focused on resin layering and polymer clay, felting and stained glass, and mastered printmaking.

Silver jewellery is a latest fad – along with metal stamping, soldering, 3D resin painting and stone polishing.

However, her art is always inspired by beauty and nature, like her bark pieces, silver jewellery and the butterfly wings she sets in resin.

“I think nature is amazing and I want to set it off as well as I can because nature is better than anything we can make. I try to capture the beauty of nature but I also try to imitate it.’’

Opal polishing with Sonja van As is available at her Leura studio at 9am and 1pm daily. Limited to four people per session, children aged under 15 must be supervised by an adult (not suitable for those under 8). Sessions last up to three hours.

No prior experience necessary. Participants should wear short sleeves and tie long hair back.

Cost: $190 per person. Bookings essential: phone Sonja van As on 0448 725 830 or email contact@thepolishedopal.com.au.

OFFICIAL STATEMENT: Hydro Majestic Hotel (Escarpment Group, Blue Mountains)

Source: Escarpment Group operations manager Adam Holmes

We have a long history of hosting interns from multi-racial multi-cultural backgrounds. They are qualified, skilled and highly motivated to train and progress in hospitality.

All of our trainees apply for a training internship with the Hydro Majestic Hotel through government-approved internship agencies who conduct a skills audit and develop their training plan for them.

Escarpment Group does not charge any fees for their training. Rather, we pay the trainee a full-time salary of at least $49,950 pa plus superannuation to undertake work-based training with us for an average of 12 months.

We deny any allegations of underpayment or exploitation. All trainees are paid in accordance with the award and have a minimum salary of $49,950p.a plus superannuation. We do not deduct their rental and they receive their salary in full.

The boarding fees are paid separately and the cost is at market rate of $67 per day (or $480 per week) for 3 meals and furnished accommodation with internet, laundry, linen. This is similar to the Blue Mountains International Hotel School which charges around $495pw.

Most interns arrive in Australia without property rental history and understanding of rental requirements. As their host and as per our training agreement lodged with DOHA, we have the responsibility for their personal safety and welfare and, being in a location like the Blue Mountains, it is essential for trainees to be supported with a training package that provides full boarding so that they can focus on the purpose of their internship which is to undertake work-based training under a training visa for 12-13 months only.

References to Escarpment Group churning through cheap labour from India, the Philippines and Vietnam is certainly not true. These are skilled trainees who are well paid and we proud of their achievements. They are not “cheap labour”. We find this derogatory and offensive for the multi-racial staff at the Hydro Majestic, who are well paid professionals. As mentioned, all of our trainees are offered a minimum salary of $49,950 p.a plus superannuation and they pay market rates for full boarding, which they approve separately and there is no deduction.

Most of our staff are paid full-time annualised wages which include 25% loading to cover overtime, which is monitored and managed by relevant department heads.

We are a multicultural and ethical company which respects people’s rights. We are disappointed to see this being portrayed differently. We have always assisted new migrants in this country and any references of exploitation are simply not true.

Brushes poised for annual Springwood Art Show

Brushes, lenses and pencils poised – artist registrations are now open for the annual Springwood Art Show to be held during the August 2-4 weekend.

The Musician by Glo Hill.

The first and longest running art show in the Blue Mountains, which helped establish the Blue Mountains’ reputation as an arts hub and recognised “city of the arts’’, will again showcase the best established and emerging talent in the area.

The art show, which will feature more than 400 pieces of original art from more than 100 predominantly local artists, is an opportunity for artists to showcase their work to shrewd investors and art collectors as well as casual buyers.

As well as painting, sculpture and photography, the art show will include a range of quality artisan crafts such as leather handbags, jewellery, woodwork and textiles.

Held at Springwood High School and co-ordinated by the Parents & Citizens Association (P&C), the event directly supports students of the school with 25 per cent of all sales of artworks and crafts, and all money raised from admission, café and raffle used to buy educational resources.

Artworks by 2018 featured artist Robyn Woodward.

Generous local and corporate sponsors will ensure a prize pool of more than $4000 which, this year, includes categories for portraiture, landscape and a viewers’ choice, along with a new still life category and the coveted $1500 Rose Lindsay Award.

This year’s show will be judged by photographer Ben Pearse, landscape painter Corinne Loxton and mixed media artist Tim Newman.

P&C president Elaine Tjoelker said: “The art show without fail uncovers so much fabulous talent from within our student and wider community.

“It’s so exciting to see our kids’ masterpieces hanging alongside established artists and, going by the number of student pieces bought by savvy investors and talent scouts, art lovers obviously think they are of a high standard too.’’

The P&C appreciated the involvement of the professional arts community, including Blue Mountains Cultural Centre and established artists for many years, she said.

School principal Dr Mark Howie said Springwood Art Show was a long-recognised event on the wider community calendar attended by several thousand people.

“Not only do artists have the opportunity to sell pieces directly to an interested market, the 25 per cent retained from sales is a competitive gallery commission which directly benefits the wellbeing of students of the school,’’ he said.

Springwood Art Show will be held at Springwood High School, Grose Rd, Faulconbridge, from August 2 to 4, with an official opening program on the Friday evening and activities and a café throughout the weekend. Go to springwoodartshow.org.au for more information.

Register your interest in submitting art to springwoodartshow@gmail.com.

 

A violinist performs in front of a portrait of Blue Mountains State MP Trish Doyle by Victor Alejandro Peralta.

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