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Archive for July, 2019

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.