By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group Photos: David Hill, Deep Hill Media
A piece of Australian sporting and cultural history has been brought back to life at the grandest of the grand hotels of the Blue Mountains this Christmas.
Standing taller than 6m, Candy the Kewpie doll has taken her position under the grand chandelier in the famous Casino Lobby of the Hydro Majestic Hotel at Medlow Bath.
Along with Scarlett, who now lives at the Powerhouse Museum, and Betty who resides at the National Museum in Canberra, Candy is one of 12 giant Kewpie dolls that twirled around Stadium Australian during the unforgettable Sydney 2000 Olympic Games closing ceremony.
Candy and her Kewpie sisters were designed by Brian Thompson based on the Marcella Kewpie, a flapper-girl Japanese version of American magazine illustrator Rose O’Neill’s cowlicked, roly-poly original.
O’Neill created her first Kewpie doll in 1907 for Ladies Home Journal.
The name refers to “little Cupid, spelling it with a K because it seemed funnier’’.
The characters were an instant hit and O’Neill drew them for magazines and advertisers for more than 25 years, with the dolls spawning a range of merchandising and given as popular carnival prizes.
Characterised by big eyes in shy, sideways glancing expressions, a single topknot of blond hair, splayed “starfish’’ hands, and an exaggerated potbelly, the mischievous baby-like elves were children’s guardian angels in her stories (specifically, they protected the human girl Dottie Darling).
While Cupid “gets himself into trouble. The Kewpies get themselves out, always searching out ways to make the world better and funnier’’, O’Neill said.
Visitors to the Hydro Majestic can see Candy as they assemble for hotel history tours and enter the elegant Wintergarden Restaurant for high tea or fine dining meals until early January.
Escarpment Group Christmas theming creator Greg Tomkinson said Candy was right at home in the flamboyance of Mark Foy’s “Palace in the wilderness’’.
Candy, Betty, Scarlett and friends were the centrepieces of artistic director David Atkins’ backyard-themedparty to end all parties’’ and the Hydro Majestic is the original Blue Mountains party palace.
“The Christmas tree in the Casino Lobby must fill one of the grandest spaces in the country and competes with the famous dome in scale and design. Needless to say, it has to be fabulous.’’
Along with elaborate decorations throughout the hotel, the Hydro Majestic will celebrate the festive season with a schedule of music and dining events beginning with an opera dinner concert on December 22, Christmas lunch and dinner, a global fusion evening on December 29 and New Year’s Eve celebrations.
Go to hydromajestic.com.au or phone (02) 4782 6885 to book events, accommodation and dining.
By Ellen Hill for Katoomba Christian Convention
Katoomba Christian Convention (KCC) management is considering its options after a Sydney Western City Planning Panel refused its development application to upgrade its site.
KCC executive director Jonathan Dykes said: “We’re disappointed.
“We were willing to be flexible with various aspects of the design and had hoped to work with Council and the Rural Fire Service further for a mutually beneficial outcome, but that didn’t happen.’’
While the panel chairman, who acknowledged the excellence of the design, voted in favour of deferral to allow KCC time to work with Blue Mountains City Council and the RFS further and present amended plans, the four other panel members voted for refusal.
The development application was submitted to Council in February and outlined a $63 million staged plan over 30 years to revamp outdated facilities at the bushland property next to Scenic World in Cliff Drive and Violet St.
The proposal for an environmentally-considerate overhaul of a portion of the property included a 3500-seat auditorium, new bookshop, toilets, meeting rooms, dining hall and café, revegetation and landscaping and replacing existing accommodation buildings with eco lodges.
The improvements would have benefited both Christian and secular groups who use the site, the largest conference facility in the Blue Mountains.
“We would simply like to improve our existing old assets by upgrading buildings,’’ Mr Dykes said.
“Our use of the property and number of people we have there would not increase.
“In fact, the upgrade would reduce the current noise impact on neighbours and the fire safety of the buildings would be improved.’’
An improved KCC facility would also create more jobs and ensure visitors kept coming and spent money locally while they took part in events at the site, Mr Dykes said.
“This will allow KCC to support sustainable tourism in the Blue Mountains, which is a primary economic driver for the area.
“KCC’s development aspirations are responsive to a significant number of local, regional and state strategies for increasing overnight visitation to the area.’’
A not-for-profit interdenominational Bible-preaching convention ministry that relies on volunteers, donations and financial support of visiting delegates, KCC was founded in 1903 in the tradition of the Keswick Convention in England.
“We’ve been around for nearly 120 years and we plan to be around for the next 120 years,’’ Mr Dykes said.
While “we’ll be considering our options’’, with the usual busy-ness in the lead up to Christmas and the need for meetings among the KCC board and consultants, a pathway forward would not be decided until next year.
By Ellen Hill for Grace Kim Photos: David Hill, Deep Hill Media
How does a child with Asperger’s syndrome experience everyday life? How does it feel to be child who is different?
New children’s book Noah’s Story answers those questions and more, and gives children with the condition a tool with which to explain their condition, their symptoms and how they feel.
Bullaburra resident Grace Kim wrote the book to help her son Noah Hylkema, his friends and teachers understand his Asperger’s diagnosis in 2016 after a long period of challenging experiences at school.
Noah illustrated the book.
Written in Noah’s “voice’’, it uses examples of behaviours a person whose brain works differently and offers practical suggestions for how others can respond.
Ms Kim wrote the book after Noah’s diagnosis after she and husband Teije Hylkema had read numerous books and attended workshops and seminars about autism to understand the condition and find a way to disclose the information to Noah and his classmates.
“After reading a mountain of books, I still couldn’t find a book that resonated with us personally,’’ she said.
“So one desperate night, I decided to write a story from Noah’s perspective to help him, his friends and teachers understand him and his diagnosis.
“I showed it to Noah to check with him if I represented his feelings correctly (thankfully, yes!) and asked if he would like to do some drawings for it to take it to school the next day.
“This ended up being a wonderful way to introduce the subject and for him to be fully involved and in control of his `coming out’.’’
Hazelbrook Public School student Noah, 9, who has written stories and illustrated since he was four years old, said the book was a way to explain Asperger’s to his classmates in a format they would understand and relate to – “my class likes stories’’.
He summed up Asperger’s in one sentence: “I have a brain that’s a bit different to yours – I find some things easy that other people find hard (like computer coding and haiku poems) and some things hard that other people find easy (like handwriting).’’
Endorsing the book, Friends and Ben Bumblefoot author Teena Raffa-Mulligan said Noah’s Story “presents the message `Sometimes I will make mistakes but I am learning just like you’ with beautiful simplicity’’.
A concert pianist, artistic director and Churchill Fellow, Ms Kim said she never intended to write a book for public publication but hoped Noah’s Story would encourage others to share their own stories.
The book complemented the Sensory Concerts she instigated last year to provide access to quality live music to people with sensory issues that prevent them from attending public events such as concerts.
Run by the Your Music Inc registered charity and always featuring Ms Kim and often cellist Mr Hylkema, the concerts have been designed for people of all ages, especially families with sensory or special needs such as autism spectrum disorder, physical or intellectual disabilities who experience feelings of being overwhelmed by crowd, noise, light, smell and touch.
Performed to small groups in a relaxed atmosphere, they have a range of seating options and a retreat space where audience members can self-regulate or seek support from the onsite occupational therapist and psychologist.
Your Music Inc also holds tailored concerts in aged care facilities, hospitals, schools and private homes.
The free Noah’s Story book launch will be held at Bullaburra Village Green (wet weather option Bullaburra Progress Hall), Noble St, from 10.30am to 12.30pm Sunday, December 16. Signed copies of the book will be available for purchase, and there will be live music, reading and a playground for children. RSVP.
By Ellen Hill for Queen of Hearts Foundation
A proposal to continue Penrith-based child sexual abuse and domestic violence support service the Queen of Hearts Foundation under a revised business plan has been declined by the board.
The final decision was made “with heavy hearts’’ by the four-member board at a meeting on Tuesday [November 27].
It follows an approach to operate the charity service under a revised business plan with a new CEO after the notice to Queen of Hearts Foundation members in October of the board’s intention to wind up the charity.
Last month it was reported that the foundation established in 2014 had become increasingly financially unsustainable.
A planned restructure from a service orientated not-for-profit charity run almost entirely on community donations to a pre-funded program model with timeframes and monitored outcomes could not be successfully implemented by a board of volunteers, all of whom were small business owners in the Penrith community.
Despite the generosity of the Penrith community, the growing number of charity organisations in the area had broadened the giving pool, meaning less available funds for each worthy cause.
The proposed revised business plan was seriously considered by the board and discussions held with Penrith Council.
However, a board spokesperson said it relied on community funding and grant success as well as charging for counselling services.
“Whilst considerable effort would be required to continually fundraise to meet the financial obligations set forth in the proposals, a fee for service model is not in line with the stated mission of the Queen of Hearts Community Foundation.
“Unfortunately, given the parameters of the current economic climate, the inability to rely solely on fundraising and the generous donations from our community and the chance of being successful with any grant applications, the board did not feel that the proposed plan would ensure long-term success of the foundation.’’
The proposal was discussed at length at a November 15 meeting, which was adjourned until this past Tuesday [November 27] to allow further time for the proposal to be worked through.
“Given the experience of the board and the member in attendance, we did not believe it would be a viable long-term solution given the struggle it has been the past twelve months to fundraise funds.
“Should Queen of Hearts stay trading, we believe it would likely be in the same, if not worse, position than it is now in another twelve months’ time.
“On that basis, and with heavy hearts, the board resolved to place the Queen of Hearts Foundation into the hands of a liquidator to wind up.’’
Surplus funds will be donated to the national Bravehearts Foundation and unfulfilled grants will be returned to their respective government agencies.
The Queen of Hearts Foundation board encouraged the Penrith community to continue to support similar organisations such as the Bravehearts Foundation, The Haven Nepean Women’s Shelter and Penrith Women’s Health Centre.