Writing, photography, content creation & communications

Blue Mountains

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.


Historic Blue Mountains airfield plans public

Plans to upgrade an historic Blue Mountains airfield vital to emergency services during bushfires and as an air “safety ramp’’ have been made public.

Opened on October 5, 1968, and operated continuously as a commercial venture since, Katoomba Airfield is located about 4km east of the famous Hydro Majestic Hotel at Medlow Bath in the upper mountains.

(l-r) Floyd and Derek Larsen

With a dirt pothole-scarred runway, it is currently open only to helicopters and to fixed-winged aircraft for emergency landings.

However, a plan to upgrade the site by new lessee FLYBLUE Management Pty Ltd will see the dilapidated property upgraded and brought in line with modern safety standards and leading edge environmental initiatives.

The plans for Katoomba Airfield are outlined in documents now available on the Department of Industry (Crown Land and Water) website at industry.nsw.gov.au, which also includes a link through which to submit letters of support for the plans.

They include higher flight levels, residential no-fly zones, a new enforceable Fly Neighbourly policy, “light footprint tourism’’, community charity events and a suite of green initiatives.

FLYBLUE voluntarily published their vision on flyblue.com.au following the department awarding the company a three-year commercial licence in February 2018.

While Katoomba Airfield had operated continuously since it opened in 1968, its runways fell into dangerous disrepair from 2016 when long-term lessee flying instructor Rod Hay died in a single engine plane crash in nearby scrub.

(l-r) Derek and Floyd Larsen

The level of disrepair resulted in FLYBLUE temporarily closing the airfield to fixed-wing aircraft except in emergencies, although helicopter operations including emergency services and Defence Force aircraft have continued to land and take-off there as usual.

FLYBLUE director Floyd Larsen said the recent decreased use of the airfield had led some people to believe it had closed.

It hasn’t,’’ she said.In fact, its original purpose continues as it has done for the past fifty years.

“For example, Katoomba Airfield has provided an air `safety ramp’ for general aviation since it opened in 1968, and twice in the past 18 months (that we know of) aircraft have made emergency landings here.’’

FLYBLUE had already begun restoration work on the 36ha site.

Obsolete and dilapidated structures had been removed, along with abandoned waste materials and equipment. Two new windsocks had been installed, along with a weather station and camera for use by general aviation (katoomba.skycam.net.au) and the site made more secure to prevent illegal access.

FLYBLUE plans to restore, protect and enhance the site including sealing the main airstrip and tackle weed invasion, soil erosion and other issues.

The environmental centrepiece would be a Greenfleet carbon offset program which would see one tree planted for every flight which left the airfield.

FLYBLUE’s plan includes a new enforceable Fly Neighbourly policy with appropriate flight paths away from residential zones, operating hours and general use of the airfield with noise abatement procedures.

“While FLYBLUE can’t influence aircraft that originate from other airfields because they fall under the control of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), our Fly Neighbourly policy already has the support of Blue Mountains Aviators Club and pilots who do not comply with our Fly Neighbourly policy will not be permitted to use Katoomba Airfield,’’ Mrs Larsen said.

“FLYBLUE will manage all aspects of the airfield, including noise abatement procedures, curfews and flight paths within an approved lease.

“However, we can assure the community that our Fly Neighbourly policy categorically bans flights over populated areas.’’

She emphasised that Katoomba Airfield and FLYBLUE did not encourage or conduct “joy flights’’ (short low-flying swoops over populated or sensitive areas such as Echo Point, the Three Sisters, the Grose Valley or up the Grand Canyon).

Rather, they actively fostered “light footprint tourism’’ which had minimum negative impact on the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.

(l-r) Floyd and Derek Larsen of FlyBlue Management Pty Ltd

Mrs Larsen expected the airfield upgrades to help lure more tourism and overnight stays to the Blue Mountains including private plane and helicopter owners who would stay in local hotels and B&Bs at least one night, visit attractions, dine in restaurants and shop – in line with Blue Mountains City Council’s original intent for the airfield.

A report to the council on October 29, 1968, showed how the airfield was a long-time major part of the council’s tourism strategy, stating that it was established “to encourage tourists and visitors to fly to the Blue Mountains area’’.

FLYBLUE’S other future plans included forming a stakeholder group, new hangars (subject to approval), community and charity events, public aviation viewing areas and dedicating half the airfield to non-aviation uses such as bushwalking, a radio club, star gazers and RAAF cadet and school bivouacs.

A public exhibition period will be held in June and the airfield lease proposal displayed, along with a fact sheet, on the Department of Industry (Crown Land and Water) website at https://www.industry.nsw.gov.au/lands/public/on-exhibition/proposed-lease-of-katoomba-airfield until August 4.

Letters of support may be submitted to https://www.nsw.gov.au/improving-nsw/have-your-say/katoomba-airfield-lease/ or emailed to airfield.submissions@crownland.nsw.gov.au using the reference number LX 602686 in the subject line.

The department will also hold two drop-in information sessions at Hotel Blue, Lurline St, Katoomba, from 11am to 1pm and 5pm to 7pm on June 19 and 25.


Katoomba Airfield: public submissions invited

Higher flight levels, residential no-fly zones, a new enforceable Fly Neighbourly policy, “light footprint tourism’’, community charity events and a suite of green initiatives.

These are just some of the plans that new lessee FLYBLUE Management Pty Ltd has for Katoomba Airfield which are outlined in documents soon to be available on the industry.nsw.gov.au website of the Department of Industry (Crown Land and Water).

FLYBLUE voluntarily published their vision on flyblue.com.au following the department awarding the company a three-year commercial licence in February 2018.

While Katoomba Airfield had operated continuously since it opened on October 5, 1968, its runways fell into dangerous disrepair from 2016 when long-term lessee flying instructor Rod Hay died in a single engine plane crash in nearby scrub.

The level of disrepair resulted in FLYBLUE temporarily closing the airfield to fixed-wing aircraft except in emergencies, although helicopter operations including emergency services and Defence Force aircraft have continued to land and take-off there as usual.

FLYBLUE director Floyd Larsen said the recent decreased use of the airfield had led some people to believe it had closed.

“It hasn’t,’’ she said.

“In fact, its original purpose continues as it has done for the past fifty years.

“For example, Katoomba Airfield has provided an air `safety ramp’ for general aviation since it opened in 1968, and twice in the past 18 months (that we know of) aircraft have made emergency landings here.’’

A report to Blue Mountains Council on October 29, 1968, showed how the airfield was a long-time major part of the council’s tourism strategy, stating that it was established “to encourage tourists and visitors to fly to the Blue Mountains area’’.

(l-r) Floyd and Derek Larsen of FlyBlue Management Pty Ltd

“Joy flights are scheduled every Sunday at a cost of $3 per flight.

“This matter has been reported for information the Council’s Public Relations Department will include these features in future advertising of the area.’’

However, Mrs Larsen emphasised that Katoomba Airfield and FLYBLUE did not encourage or conduct “joy flights’’ (short low-flying swoops over populated or sensitive areas such as Echo Point, the Three Sisters, the Grose Valley or up the Grand Canyon).

Rather, they actively fostered “light footprint tourism’’ which had minimum negative impact on the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.

FLYBLUE’s plan includes a new enforceable Fly Neighbourly policy with appropriate flight paths away from residential areas, operating hours and general use of the airfield with noise abatement procedures.

“While FLYBLUE can’t influence aircraft that originate from other airfields because they fall under the control of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), our new Fly Neighbourly policy already has the support of Blue Mountains Aviators Club and pilots who do not comply with our Fly Neighbourly policy will not be permitted to use Katoomba Airfield,’’ Mrs Larsen said.

“FLYBLUE will manage all aspects of the airfield, including noise abatement procedures, curfews and flight paths within an approved lease.

“However, we can assure the community that our Fly Neighbourly policy categorically bans flights over populated areas.’’

FLYBLUE had already begun restoration work on the 36ha site, located about 4km east of Medlow Bath.

Obsolete and dilapidated structures had been removed, along with abandoned waste materials and equipment.

Two new windsocks had been installed, along with a weather station and camera for use by general aviation (katoomba.skycam.net.au) and the site made more secure to prevent illegal access.

FLYBLUE plans to restore, protect and enhance the site including sealing the main airstrip and tackle weed invasion, soil erosion and other issues.

The environmental centrepiece would be a Greenfleet carbon offset program which would see one tree planted for every flight which left the airfield.

(l-r) Derek and Floyd Larsen

Mrs Larsen expected the airfield upgrades to help lure more tourism and overnight stays to the Blue Mountains including private plane owners who would stay in local hotels and B&Bs at least one night, visit attractions, dine in restaurants and shop – in line with Blue Mountains Council’s original intent for the airfield.

Other future plans included the installation of new hangars (subject to approval), community charity events, public aviation viewing areas and dedicating half the airfield to non-aviation uses such as bushwalking, a radio club, star gazers and RAAF cadet and school bivouacs.

A public exhibition period with dates to be confirmed but expected to be held in June and the airfield lease proposal displayed on the Department of Industry (Crown Land and Water) industry.nsw.gov.au website for at least 42 days.

Letters of support may be submitted to the NSW Government via a link on the website.

The department will hold public drop-in information sessions at Hotel Blue, Lurline St, Katoomba, from 11am to 1pm and 5pm to 7pm on June 19 and 25.

(l-r) Floyd and Derek Larsen


Book now for Blue Mountains Yulefest

The first flurries of snow have fallen over the wild Blue Mountains landscape – just in time for Yulefest in Australia’s first tourist destination.

Bookings are now open for warming winter activities such as toasty fireside dining, river cruising, vintage motorcar tours and heartwarming classic humour, all just 90 minutes from Sydney.

A regional tradition since 1980, mid-winter Yulefest is the season for which the Blue Mountains is most famous.

Darley’s Restaurant

After the exhilarating zing of a chilly day spent exploring the lookouts and bushwalking tracks of the magnificent Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, shopping at charming villages and visiting attractions, sojourners are warmly invited indoors for steaming drinks, fireside dining and rousing entertainment.

Numerous hotels, guesthouses, B&Bs, cafes and restaurants celebrate the winter festival, enlivened by warming entertainment.

Guest services manager of Escarpment Group collection of luxury hotels, Meagan Iervasi, encouraged visitors to immerse themselves in the festive atmosphere by staying at least one night: “Yulefest in the Blue Mountains offers the European-style atmosphere people associate with Christmas – a chilly landscape outside and cosiness inside with roaring fires, hot food and drinks, traditional decorations and festive music, but without the stress and frosty relatives. Sometimes there’s even snow.’’

Book your Yulefest bed, table and experience early so you’re not left out in the cold:

Flemish Flavours, 117/121 The Mall, Leura (restaurant from 5.30pm Thursday & Friday, from 12pm weekends; beer garden from 12pm til late Thursday to Sunday)

Celebrate Yulefest in traditional European style – with a modern Australian twist – overlooking the enchanting village of Leura from June 20 and throughout July. Dine on a five-course menu featuring distinctive European flavours of juniper berry and horseradish-cured salmon, pickled mussels, wakame, black bean, miso and sesame paste; maple bourbon glazed ham, star anise and cloves; turkey stuffed with salsa verde, cranberry and chestnut, duck fat chats; followed by mulled wine sorbet then sticky date pudding, honey comb, salted butter crumble and tonka bean ice cream. Retreat into the wooden cosiness of the 19th century mansion for roaring fireplace dining, or take in the spectacular mountains view in the crisp fresh air from the beer garden while sipping on a Belgium beer.

Further details and bookings: flemishflavours.com.au or 02 4784 3265.

Blue Mountains Chocolate Company, 176 Lurline St, Katoomba (open 10am to 6pm seven days)

Wrap your hands around a mug of steaming hot chocolate within this warm cocoon right in the scrumptious centre of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. Shelves are dripping with an extensive range of luscious handmade goodies crafted from the finest Belgian couverture and locally sourced premium grade flavour fillings.

Grab a fireside seat, sip a hot chocolate drink melted over a romantic candle and nibble on a luxuriant cake while watching the in-house chocolatier create mouthwatering decadence.

Afterwards, drench your tastebuds in velvety sweet ooze from the selection of chocolate bars, individual treats, gift boxes and other items.

Blackheath Golf & Community Club, Brightlands Ave, Blackheath

 The most magnificent golf club in the region will celebrate Yulefest with a special mid-winter dinner in its restaurant from 7pm on Saturday, July 20.

Tuck into a belly-warming two-course buffet feast of all your favourite roasts accompanied by an array of side dishes and dessert, heralded by carols and other entertainment, with a special appearance by Father Christmas especially for the children.

Surrounded by glass, daytime diners have a spectacular view of the 18-hole golf course and its spectacular cool-climate gardens and waterways, and the club has plenty of cosy spots heated by slow combustion fire in which to relax anytime.

Cost: $55pp includes glass of red wine on arrival. Bookings: 02 4787 8406 or barmanager@blackheathgolf.com.au. 

Blue Mountains Vintage Cadillacs

Blue Mountains Limousine & Vintage Cadillacs

Vintage vroom or modern glitz: you choose how you make a grand entrance this Yulefest.

Guests (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) in a stretch limo ($59pp) or LaSalle model Cadillac ($69pp), driven by a local driver dressed in formal attire, between 4pm and midnight any Friday and Saturday during July.

Arrive the long way round after exploring the breathtaking scenery of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area or cruising upmarket Leura Mall for head-turning effect.

“Whichever car you choose will make for an unforgettable, head-turning experience,’’ co-owner Robert Spitz said.

Go to bluemountainslimo.com.au, email info@bmlimo.com.au or phone Robert on 0400 500 542 or Don on 0455 352 976 for more details and bookings.

Bygone Beautys Treasured Teapot Museum & Tearooms, Grose & Megalong streets, Leura

Yulefest luncheon is served at 1.15pm every day among one of the world’s largest private collections of teawares, including more than 5500 teapots from all over the world and spanning five centuries, most of which were collected within Australia.

Guests can tuck into a traditional Northern Hemisphere Christmas-style feast with all the trimmings (bon bons, serviettes and table decorations), beginning with a canape platter and soup, followed by a traditional roast with seasonal vegetables and plum pudding or pavlova dessert, tea/coffee and homemade shortbread.

Minimum of four people per booking. Cost: $79.50pp, $69.95pp groups of 10-19 people or $66pp groups of 20 or more and complimentary teapot talk, $29.95 children under-12.

Bookings essential: (02) 4784 3117 or info@bygonebeautys.com.au. Details: bygonebeautys.com.au.

Mountain Whispers Luxury Collection

Mountain Whispers, Leura and Katoomba

French champagne on ice, handmade chocolates, scattered fresh rose petals, a private chef to cook a three-course festive dinner and a personal waiter to serve it, followed by an in-house massage and/or facial in opulent surrounds. Yulefest equals romance, an escape with the girls or a group of great friends at Mountain Whispers MW Collection, where every minor detail matters.

Owner Lorraine Allanson said: “While Christmas is about family, Yulefest is a great time to take a mid-year break to focus on romance or time with your friends to indulge and escape the daily grind.’’

Each of the multi-award winning self-contained immaculately restored heritage properties – Varenna, Leura Rose and Strawberry Patch in Leura and The Gatsby and Chatelaine in Katoomba – promises a luxurious getaway in total privacy and comfort for couples and small groups.

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

The Goon Show LIVE! Dinner and show

The cult comedy tour de overacting incorporates loads of sound effects, silly voices and a platoon of crazy characters which promise to have audiences belly laughing all evening.

It regales the stories of Neddie Seagoon, a good-natured and hairy sort, albeit short and rotund and the victim of a terrible weakness – greed. Coupled with his innate gullibility, Neddie’s covetous nature makes him easy prey to confidence schemes courtesy of the conniving cads Grytpype-Thynne and Moriarty.

Peppered with one-liners, the high energy show will feature a plethora of characters including the world’s most famous idiot Eccles (yes, even more infamous than Neddie), the squeaky-voiced boy-scout Bluebottle (who reads his stage-directions out loud), Major Dennis Bloodnok a devout coward, and Miss Minnie Bannister the sexy senior citizen who lives in sin with crumbling, fumbling old man Henry Crun.

The dinner and show will be held in le Salon Grand at the Palais Royale, Katoomba, each Saturday night from June 29 to July 20, with a special afternoon tea on July 14. Tickets: $135 Saturdays, $80 Sunday afternoon tea, seniors and group discounts available. Bookings and details: www.goons.com.au.

Nepean Belle river luncheon cruise, Jamisontown

`Tis the season to cruise the tranquil waters of the Nepean River aboard the regional aquatic icon on your way to or from the Blue Mountains.

The heritage-style Nepean Belle paddlewheeler will be festooned with festive decorations and guests will board for luncheon to the strains of popular carols against the picturesque backdrop of the Blue Mountains escarpment.

Tuck into two-course Yulefest fare with all the trimmings, beginning with a shared platter of succulent roast turkey with fruit seasoning and tender roast pork with apple sauce and gravy garnished with honey-roasted vine tomatoes and accompanied by creamy sautéed potato; a selection of hot seasonal vegetables; steamed broccoli, carrots and peas; and a Greek salad with feta.

A dessert platter of festive favourites will follow, with White Christmas, chocolate rum balls, fruit cake, chocolate mud cake and rich butter shortbread biscuits washed down with your choice of freshly brewed tea or coffee.

Nepean Belle owner Carol Bennett said: “We love Christmas so much that we’re holding it again in July – but without the in-laws, expensive pressies and weather that matches the heat of the roast dinner.’’

Cost: Monday to Friday – $59 adults, $53 seniors, $39 teens (13-16 years), $20 children (3-12 years); Weekends – $65 adults, $58 seniors, $39 teens, $25 children. Bookings: nepeanbelle.com.au or 4733 1274. 

Opera tenor Brad Cooper

Hydro Majestic Hotel, Medlow Bath

A Night in Vienna: In the lead-up to Yulefest, relish the romance and nostalgia of Austria’s operatic golden age led by Opera Australia, Oper Köln, Opéra Comique & Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris and English National Opera tenor Brad Cooper against the magnificent backdrop of the Megalong Valley on June 22. The Wintergarden Restaurant performance will be matched with a five-course degustation dinner. Tickets: $135pp. Bookings: (02) 4782 6885.

Diesel Live@theHydro: One of Australia’s favourite adopted sons, Mark Lizotte (aka Diesel) will entertain fans on July 20, three decades after he stepped off a bus with his band Johnny Diesel and the Injectors and set off on a chart-topping 15-album career. Cost: $150pp dinner and show, $40pp show only. Bookings: hydromajestic.com.au/events/diesel.

Traditional high tea: This elegant three-tier serving will feature nostalgic flavours such as ginger, cranberry and roast pork in the elegant Wintergarden Restaurant overlooking the Megalong Valley. Accompany your repast with a delicate blossom tea, freshly brewed coffee or a glass of sparkling wine.

Lilianfels Resort & Spa, Katoomba

Sink into the refined 5-star surrounds to nibble on delicate finger sandwiches, fluffy scones with homemade jam and fresh clotted cream, and a selection of Yulefest sweet treats beside a cosy fireplace.

Darley’s Restaurant, Katoomba

For the ultimate Yulefest decadence, the hatted restaurant in the historic home of former Chief Justice of NSW Sir Frederick Darley will serve five and seven-course degustation dinners each Saturday throughout July with special winter flavours.

Flurries of snow swirling around the Three Sisters,


Blue Mountains: Winter warmers for cool Yule

Darley’s Restaurant

Bon bons and plum pud among myriad teapots, belly laughs at classic humour, river cruising, and luxury digs and dining accessed by vintage motorcar and modern glitzy wheels. There’s even a chance of snow flurries around one of the most famous landmarks on the planet.

Visitors to the Blue Mountains are in for a cool Yule this July.

A regional tradition since 1980, mid-winter Yulefest is the season for which Australia’s first tourist destination is most famous.

After the exhilarating zing of a chilly day spent exploring the lookouts and bushwalking tracks of the magnificent Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, shopping at charming villages and visiting attractions, sojourners are warmly invited indoors for steaming drinks, fireside dining and rousing entertainment.

Numerous hotels, guesthouses, B&Bs, cafes and restaurants celebrate the winter festival, enlivened by warming entertainment.

Guest services manager of Escarpment Group collection of luxury hotels, Meagan Iervasi, encouraged visitors to immerse themselves in the festive atmosphere by staying at least one night: “Yulefest in the Blue Mountains offers the European-style atmosphere people associate with Christmas – a chilly landscape outside and cosiness inside with roaring fires, hot food and drinks, traditional decorations and festive music, but without the stress and frosty relatives. Sometimes there’s even snow.’’

Book your Yulefest bed, table and experience early so you’re not left out in the cold:

 

Co-director Robert Spitz at the wheel of a limousine

Blue Mountains Limousine & Vintage Cadillacs

Vintage vroom or modern glitz: you choose how you make a grand entrance this Yulefest.

Guests (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) in a stretch limo ($59pp) or LaSalle model Cadillac ($69pp), driven by a local driver dressed in formal attire, between 4pm and midnight any Friday and Saturday during July.

Arrive the long way round after exploring the breathtaking scenery of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area or cruising upmarket Leura Mall for head-turning effect.

“Whichever car you choose will make for an unforgettable, head-turning experience,’’ co-owner Robert Spitz said.

Go to bluemountainslimo.com.au, email info@bmlimo.com.au or phone Robert on 0400 500 542 or Don on 0455 352 976 for more details and bookings.

 

Bygone Beautys is home to more than 5500 teapots from around the world

Bygone Beautys Treasured Teapot Museum & Tearooms, Grose & Megalong streets, Leura

Yulefest luncheon is served at 1.15pm every day among one of the world’s largest private collections of teawares, including more than 5500 teapots from all over the world and spanning five centuries, most of which were collected within Australia.

Guests can tuck into a traditional Northern Hemisphere Christmas-style feast with all the trimmings (bon bons, serviettes and table decorations), beginning with a canape platter and soup, followed by a traditional roast with seasonal vegetables and plum pudding or pavlova dessert, tea/coffee and homemade shortbread.

Minimum of four people per booking. Cost: $79.50pp, $69.95pp groups of 10-19 people or $66pp groups of 20 or more and complimentary teapot talk, $29.95 children under-12.

Bookings essential: (02) 4784 3117 or info@bygonebeautys.com.au. Details: bygonebeautys.com.au.

 

All about the romance at Mountain Whispers collection of luxury venues

Mountain Whispers, Leura and Katoomba

French champagne on ice, handmade chocolates, scattered fresh rose petals, a private chef to cook a three-course festive dinner and a personal waiter to serve it, followed by an in-house massage and/or facial in opulent surrounds. Yulefest equals romance, an escape with the girls or a group of great friends at Mountain Whispers MW Collection, where every minor detail matters.

Owner Lorraine Allanson said: “While Christmas is about family, Yulefest is a great time to take a mid-year break to focus on romance or time with your friends to indulge and escape the daily grind.’’

Each of the multi-award winning self-contained immaculately restored heritage properties – Varenna, Leura Rose and Strawberry Patch in Leura and The Gatsby and Chatelaine in Katoomba – promises a luxurious getaway in total privacy and comfort for couples and small groups.

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

 

Guffaws and belly laughs in store with classic humour

The Goon Show LIVE! Dinner and show

The cult comedy tour de overacting incorporates loads of sound effects, silly voices and a platoon of crazy characters which promise to have audiences belly laughing all evening.

It regales the stories of Neddie Seagoon, a good-natured and hairy sort, albeit short and rotund and the victim of a terrible weakness – greed. Coupled with his innate gullibility, Neddie’s covetous nature makes him easy prey to confidence schemes courtesy of the conniving cads Grytpype-Thynne and Moriarty.

Peppered with one-liners, the high energy show will feature a plethora of characters including the world’s most famous idiot Eccles (yes, even more infamous than Neddie), the squeaky-voiced boy-scout Bluebottle (who reads his stage-directions out loud), Major Dennis Bloodnok a devout coward, and Miss Minnie Bannister the sexy senior citizen who lives in sin with crumbling, fumbling old man Henry Crun.

The dinner and show will be held in le Salon Grand at the Palais Royale, Katoomba, each Saturday night from June 29 to July 20, with a special afternoon tea on July 14. Tickets: $135 Saturdays, $80 Sunday afternoon tea, seniors and group discounts available. Bookings and details: www.goons.com.au.

 

Cruising a mighty waterway with all the festive trimmings

Nepean Belle river luncheon cruise, Jamisontown

`Tis the season to cruise the tranquil waters of the Nepean River aboard the regional aquatic icon on your way to or from the Blue Mountains.

The heritage-style Nepean Belle paddlewheeler will be festooned with festive decorations and guests will board for luncheon to the strains of popular carols against the picturesque backdrop of the Blue Mountains escarpment.

Tuck into two-course Yulefest fare with all the trimmings, beginning with a shared platter of succulent roast turkey with fruit seasoning and tender roast pork with apple sauce and gravy garnished with honey-roasted vine tomatoes and accompanied by creamy sautéed potato; a selection of hot seasonal vegetables; steamed broccoli, carrots and peas; and a Greek salad with feta.

A dessert platter of festive favourites will follow, with White Christmas, chocolate rum balls, fruit cake, chocolate mud cake and rich butter shortbread biscuits washed down with your choice of freshly brewed tea or coffee.

Nepean Belle owner Carol Bennett said: “We love Christmas so much that we’re holding it again in July – but without the in-laws, expensive pressies and weather that matches the heat of the roast dinner.’’

Cost: Monday to Friday – $59 adults, $53 seniors, $39 teens (13-16 years), $20 children (3-12 years); Weekends – $65 adults, $58 seniors, $39 teens, $25 children. Bookings: nepeanbelle.com.au or 4733 1274.

 

Hydro Majestic Hotel, Medlow Bath

The Hydro Majestic Hotel is magic in winter

A Night in Vienna: In the lead-up to Yulefest, relish the romance and nostalgia of Austria’s operatic golden age led by Opera Australia, Oper Köln, Opéra Comique & Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris and English National Opera tenor Brad Cooper against the magnificent backdrop of the Megalong Valley on June 22. The Wintergarden Restaurant performance will be matched with a five-course degustation dinner. Tickets: $135pp. Bookings: (02) 4782 6885.

 

Diesel Live@theHydro: One of Australia’s favourite adopted sons, Mark Lizotte (aka Diesel) will entertain fans on July 20, three decades after he stepped off a bus with his band Johnny Diesel and the Injectors and set off on a chart-topping 15-album career. Cost: $150pp dinner and show, $40pp show only. Bookings: hydromajestic.com.au/events/diesel.

 

Traditional high tea: This elegant three-tier serving will feature nostalgic flavours such as ginger, cranberry and roast pork in the elegant Wintergarden Restaurant overlooking the Megalong Valley. Accompany your repast with a delicate blossom tea, freshly brewed coffee or a glass of sparkling wine.

 

High tea is a highlight

Lilianfels Resort & Spa, Katoomba

Sink into the refined 5-star surrounds to nibble on delicate finger sandwiches, fluffy scones with homemade jam and fresh clotted cream, and a selection of Yulefest sweet treats beside a cosy fireplace.

 

Historic setting for fine dining

Darley’s Restaurant, Katoomba

For the ultimate Yulefest decadence, the hatted restaurant in the historic home of former Chief Justice of NSW Sir Frederick Darley will serve five and seven-course degustation dinners each Friday and Saturday throughout July with special winter flavours.

There’s even a chance of snow


Blue Mountains: Echoes Restaurant to serve Lindsay lunch musing

Muse, nurturer, creative force and “feminine dominant’’ Rose Lindsay circa 1919. Photo courtesy of Norman Lindsay Gallery

Blue Mountains actresses are invited to audition to play muse, nurturer, creative force and “feminine dominant’’ Rose Lindsay in a monthly artistic theatre lunch event at Echoes Restaurant from May to October.

The event will be part of the new Art of Lunch series to be held simultaneously at five Blue Mountains restaurants every last Sunday from May 26 and October 27, featuring a different theme, exhibition and performance at each venue.

The works of Norman Lindsay will be showcased at Escarpment Group-owned Echoes Restaurant in Katoomba by Norman Lindsay Gallery under the theme Blue Mountains Bohemia, during which his wife and muse Rose will make a theatrical appearance in period costume to deliver a series of vignettes drawn from her memoir, Model Wife, evoking the Lindsay’s artistic bohemian lifestyle.

Escarpment Group head chef Saran Sasikumar will dream up an exotic menu with a mysterious Magic Pudding.

After the sumptuous meal there will be a 30-minute concert with a musician, varying each month starting the season with jazz giant James Greening and concluding with classical composer/musician Me-Lee Hay.

Norman Lindsay has a lasting reputation as the Blue Mountains’ most luminary and controversial artist, although he does not overshadow his second wife Rose – his muse, model, wife and mother of their two daughters.

Rose Lindsay in costume for the 1928 Artists’ Ball. Photo courtesy of Norman Lindsay Gallery

Rose was also an exceptional printmaker and archivist who editioned Norman’s etchings, as well as an astute business manager.

 The couple’s granddaughter Helen Glad wrote: “Rose Lindsay’s commanding personality assured she would never be overwhelmed by her husband’s genius or that of anyone else.

“A forthright individual all her life, she personified Norman’s concept of the `feminine dominant’ – woman as nurturer and creative force.

“Rose was essential to his continuing and prodigious creative output. Rose stood in no one’s shadow – during her long life she made sure she was acknowledged. She survived many things, all without loss of dignity or style.’’

Auditions for the role of Rose Lindsay will be held at Norman Lindsay Gallery, 14 Norman Lindsay Cres, Faulconbridge, at noon on Sunday, May 5.

The actress must be available to perform each last Sunday of the month between May and October 2019 at the Art of Lunch at Echoes Restaurant, Katoomba.

The actress will be paid for performances and rehearsals.

Contact meg@artoflunch.com.au by close of business May 2 to express interest in the audition.

The Art of Lunch project was created by Earthly Delights Events and has received funding from the Federal Government’s Building Better Regions Fund, as well as support from local enterprises such as Scenic World and BMR Accounting. Details: artoflunch.com.au.

The Art of Lunch will be held at Echoes Restaurant & Bar, Lilianfels Ave, Katoomba, the last Sunday of each month from May to October 2019. Bookings: reservations@echoeshotel.com.au or 4782 1966.


Global flavours for Blue Mtns majestic Harmony Day

The uniting force of food will be the binding tie of inclusiveness, respect and belonging when the multicultural staff at the Hydro Majestic Hotel celebrate Harmony Week with international cuisine from March 18 to 31.

Visitors will embark on a global food journey when they nibble on a special multicultural high tea of duck rice paper roll, Aussie beef mini pie, Sri Lankan fish cutlet, pulled pork adabo, green papaya slaw, chicken tikka wrap, mint chutney, kachumber salad, mini naan followed by sweet pastries, berry pavlova, Gajar ka halwa, Maja blanca, pandan cake, Watalappan and scones.

The dishes will be prepared by the international kitchen team.

Hydro Majestic guest services manager Meagan Iervasi said more than 30 languages were spoken and staff ethnic origins from six continents, from Asia to Africa: “The only continent we haven’t interviewed anyone from yet is Antarctica.’’

While all Escarpment Group properties, which also include Lilianfels Resort & Spa, Miss Lilian Teahouse, Darley’s Restaurant, Echoes Boutique Hotel & Restaurant and Parklands Country Gardens & Lodges, align well with the strong national multicultural population today, the Blue Mountains and the Hydro Majestic have a multicultural heritage stretching back to the days of original owner Mark Foy.

During the post-Bathurst gold rush era around the turn of the 20th century numerous Chinese workers reverted to their traditional skills across the Blue Mountains, with many working as butlers, cooks, nannies, maids and produce suppliers to inns, guesthouses and manor houses.

One was Louie Goh Mong (nicknamed `Charlie’), who worked as a cook at department store doyenne, sportsman and flamboyant playboy Foy’s home and managed the mayhem at the Hydro Majestic for 35 years.

Go to hydromajestic.com.au or phone (02) 4782 6885 to book a Harmony Week high tea.


Wolfe Brothers play majestic Blue Mtns venue

By Ellen Hill

Tamworth Country Music Festival Golden Guitar winners The Wolfe Brothers will rock the Blue Mountains escarpment when they bring their Country Heart National Tour to the most majestic live gig venue in the region on March 30.

Riding high after taking home the genre’s top gong, the Tasmanian country rockers also continue to celebrate after their latest offering debuted on the ARIA Charts at #9 last March.

Since then, the former postman, refrigeration mechanic and builder’s labourer and carpenter have played to packed houses around the country as a standalone act as well as alongside mate Lee Kernaghan on his Boys From the Bush 25th anniversary tour.

Bassist Tom Wolfe said touring with the established legend had been a dream come true: “He has taught us so much and it is still a little surreal to look across the stage and realise we are actually performing with one of our childhood heroes.’’

Second place-getters in the 2012 Australia’s Got Talent, The Wolfe Brothers are riding a massive wave after snagging an ARIA nomination for Best Country Album last year and five Golden Guitar nominations at this year’s Tamworth Country Music Festival.

All four Wolfe Brothers albums have entered the Australian Top 20 charts, with the last three (Nothin’ But Trouble, This Crazy Life and Country Heart) all debuting at #2.

The band penned the latest album in Nashville.

Lead singer Nick Wolfe: “None of us were interested in playing it safe this time. We basically took the process we have used to make our albums previously, turned it on its head and came at it from a completely different angle. The goal was to give each song its own personality, not just set up some guitars, amps and drums and bash out 12 tracks with the same core set up as we have done in the past. The interesting thing is even though it’s very different, it’s still us and, if anything, the songs are more real and honest.’’

The Wolfe Brothers will play the Hydro Majestic Hotel, Great Western Hwy, Medlow Bath under the Live@theHydro banner on Saturday, March 30. Tickets: $40 show only, $135 dinner and show. Bookings: 4782 6885 or reservations@hydromajestic.com.au.

The Hydro Majestic Hotel. Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media


Winter in the Blue Mountains – Yule love it!

Tenor Brad Cooper performs at the Hydro Majestic Hotel. Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

The enchantment of opera at a legendary party palace, river cruising along a mighty waterway, belly laughs at timeless humour, the intimate luxury of crackling fireplaces and even the possibility of snow-dusted landscapes. Yulefest in the Blue Mountains is the most magical season.

After the exhilarating zing of a chilly day spent exploring the lookouts and bushwalking tracks of the magnificent Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, shopping at charming villages and visiting attractions, sojourners are warmly invited indoors for steaming drinks, fireside dining, festive decorations, music and rousing entertainment.

A regional tradition since 1980, Yulefest is held mid-winter (officially throughout July but often beginning in June and extending into August), with many hotels, guesthouses, B&Bs and restaurants taking part.

Escarpment Group of luxury hotels guest services manager Meagan Iervasi encouraged visitors to immerse themselves in the festive atmosphere by staying at least one night: “Yulefest in the Blue Mountains offers the European-style atmosphere people associate with Christmas – a chilly landscape outside and cosiness inside, but without the stress and frosty relatives. Sometimes there’s even snow.’’

Here’s an early bird Yulefest list to choose from:

Mountain Whispers, Leura and Katoomba
French champagne on ice, handmade chocolates, scattered fresh rose petals, a private chef to cook a three-course festive dinner and a personal waiter to serve it, followed by an in-house massage and/or facial in opulent surrounds. Yulefest equals romance, an escape with the girls or a group of great friends at Mountain Whispers MW Collection, where every minor detail matters.

Owner Lorraine Allanson said: “While Christmas is about family, Yulefest is a great time to take a mid-year break to focus on romance or time with your friends to indulge and escape the daily grind.’’

Each of the multi-award winning self-contained immaculately restored heritage properties – Varenna, Leura Rose and Strawberry Patch in Leura and The Gatsby and Chatelaine in Katoomba – promises a luxurious getaway in total privacy and comfort for couples and small groups.

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

Hydro Majestic Hotel. Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

Hydro Majestic Hotel, Medlow Bath
A Night in Vienna: In the lead-up to Yulefest, relish the romance and nostalgia of Austria’s operatic golden age led by Opera Australia, Oper Köln, Opéra Comique & Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris and English National Opera tenor Brad Cooper against the magnificent backdrop of the Megalong Valley on June 1. The Wintergarden Restaurant performance will be matched with a five-course degustation dinner. Tickets: $135pp. Bookings: (02) 4782 6885.

Diesel Live@theHydro: One of Australia’s favourite adopted sons, Mark Lizotte (aka Diesel) will entertain fans on July 20, three decades after he stepped off a bus with his band Johnny Diesel and the Injectors and set off on a chart-topping 15-album career. Cost: $150pp dinner and show, $40pp show only. Bookings: hydromajestic.com.au/events/diesel.

Traditional high tea: This elegant three-tier serving will feature nostalgic flavours such as ginger, cranberry and roast pork in the elegant Wintergarden Restaurant overlooking the Megalong Valley. Accompany you repast with a delicate blossom tea, freshly brewed coffee or a glass of sparkling wine.

Lilianfels Resort & Spa, Katoomba
Sink into the refined 5-star surrounds to nibble on delicate finger sandwiches, fluffy scones with homemade jam and fresh clotted cream, and a selection of Yulefest sweet treats beside a cosy fireplace.

Darley's Restaurant. Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

Darley’s Restaurant. Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

Darley’s Restaurant, Katoomba
For the ultimate Yulefest decadence, the hatted restaurant in the historic home of former Chief Justice of NSW Sir Frederick Darley will serve five and seven-course degustation dinners each Friday and Saturday throughout July with special winter flavours.

 

Nepean Belle river luncheon cruise, Jamisontown
`Tis the season to cruise the tranquil waters of the Nepean River aboard the regional aquatic icon on your way to or from the Blue Mountains.

The heritage-style Nepean Belle paddlewheeler will be festooned with festive decorations and guests will board for luncheon to the strains of popular carols against the picturesque backdrop of the Blue Mountains escarpment.

Tuck into two-course Yulefest fare with all the trimmings, beginning with a shared platter of succulent roast turkey with fruit seasoning and tender roast pork with apple sauce and gravy garnished with honey-roasted vine tomatoes and accompanied by creamy sautéed potato; a selection of hot seasonal vegetables; steamed broccoli, carrots and peas; and a Greek salad with feta.

A dessert platter of festive favourites will follow, with White Christmas, chocolate rum balls, fruit cake, chocolate mud cake and rich butter shortbread biscuits washed down with your choice of freshly brewed tea or coffee.

Nepean Belle owner Carol Bennett said: “We love Christmas so much that we’re holding it again in July – but without the in-laws, expensive pressies and weather that matches the heat of the roast dinner.’’

Cost: Monday to Friday – $59 adults, $53 seniors, $39 teens (13-16 years), $20 children (3-12 years); Weekends – $65 adults, $58 seniors, $39 teens, $25 children. Bookings: nepeanbelle.com.au or 4733 1274.

The Goon Show LIVE! Dinner and show
The cult comedy tour de overacting incorporates loads of sound effects, silly voices and a platoon of crazy characters which promise to have audiences belly laughing all evening.

It regales the stories of Neddie Seagoon, a good-natured and hairy sort, albeit short and rotund and the victim of a terrible weakness – greed. Coupled with his innate gullibility, Neddie’s covetous nature makes him easy prey to confidence schemes courtesy of the conniving cads Grytpype-Thynne and Moriarty.

Peppered with one-liners, the high energy show will feature a plethora of characters including the world’s most famous idiot Eccles (yes, even more infamous than Neddie), the squeaky-voiced boy-scout Bluebottle (who reads his stage-directions out loud), Major Dennis Bloodnok a devout coward, and Miss Minnie Bannister the sexy senior citizen who lives in sin with crumbling, fumbling old man Henry Crun.

The dinner and show will be held in le Salon Grand at the Palais Royale, Katoomba, each Saturday night from June 29 to July 20, with a special afternoon tea on July 14. Tickets: $135 Saturdays, $80 Sunday afternoon tea, seniors and group discounts available. Bookings and details: www.goons.com.au.

 

Hydro Majestic Hotel. Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media


Miss Lilian’s lucky Blue Mtns Lunar New Year

By Ellen Hill       Photos: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

Celebrate family unity, vitality and respect for your elders with the exotic flavours of the Orient when the Miss Lilian Teahouse heralds the Year of the Pig throughout February.

The new Echo Point dining venue which serves a tasty array of popular Asian street foods, will serve a special Chinese Lunar New Year tasting menu this month.

Escarpment Group, which also operates the adjoining Darley’s Restaurant and the Hydro Majestic Hotel among other tourism ventures, the venue is already festooned outside with coloured lanterns and inside with latticework, dozens of bird cages and other Eastern decorations.

Escarpment Group guest services manager Meagan Iervasi said the Miss Lilian Teahouse was well placed to greet thousands of Asian tourists who flocked to the region during Chinese Lunar New Year given its blend of local and international staff and authentic dishes.

“Lunar New Year is the only time of year in China when people really rest, relax and take time out to focus on family unity, vitality and longevity. This is often the only time of year when people can go home to visit relatives, especially elderly ones. It’s also the time when Chinese people spend money, believing that one must spend money to attract more money.

“We can help you fulfil all those requirements.’’

Lunar New Year and all things Oriental is not new to the Blue Mountains, with Australia’s first tourist destination experiencing Eastern obsession during the roaring 20s’’ including at department store doyenne Mark Foy’sPalace in the wilderness’’ and modern sister property to the Miss Lilian Teahouse, the Hydro Majestic Hotel at Medlow Bath.

During the post-Bathurst gold rush era around the turn of the 20th century numerous Chinese workers reverted to their traditional skills across the Blue Mountains, with many working as butlers, cooks, nannies, maids and produce suppliers to inns, guesthouses and manor houses. One was Louie Goh Mong (nicknamed `Charlie’), who worked as a cook at Foy’s home and managed the mayhem at the Hydro Majestic for 35 years.

Lunar New Year will be celebrated at the new Miss Lilian Teahouse on the Lilianfels Resort & Spa property, Echo Point Rd and Panorama Drive, Katoomba, with an evening tasting menu. Cost: $75pp includes complimentary sparkling cocktail. Bookings: misslilian.com.au.


Chutzpah returns for majestic vintage festival

By Ellen Hill       Photos: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

The chutzpah of the golden age of jazz music, elegant fashion, speakeasies and all things Oriental will return in majestic style when the grandest of the grand Blue Mountains hotels hosts Roaring 20s Festival events on February 23 – 24.

The annual celebration of modern freedom, fashion and fun between the drabness of World War I and the restrictions of the Great Depression will high kick off at the Hydro Majestic Hotel with the popular Charleston Dance for Charity at 11am on the Saturday.

The community event is open to anyone dressed in 1920s costume (a feather boa, Mary Jane-style shoes and string of pearls for the ladies and a Fedora hat and pair of spats for the gents will do) and will be led by the Swing Katz and Music in the Mountains.

Gold coin donations will raise funds for Blue Mountains Rural Fire Service. There will also be prizes for the best dance performances and costumes.

The Charleston Dance for Charity will be followed by the Majestic Long Lunch, an indulgent shared feast showcasing the best regional produce and presented by event ambassadors food luminary Lyndey Milan OAM and The Darnell Collection fashion anthropologist Charlotte Smith.

Guests will graze on decadent fare from the Hydro Majestic culinary team with offerings from Parklands Country Gardens & Lodges, Lushious Gourmet Catering, The Carrington Cellars & Deli and Josophan’s Fine Chocolates under the ornate vaulted ceiling of the Majestic Ballroom.

Tickets: $95pp includes complimentary cocktail on arrival, live entertainment and dancing, a fashion show of 1920s garments and prizes galore.

Hydro Majestic guest services manager Meagan Iervasi said: “The Roaring 20s Festival relives the golden age of the Blue Mountains generally and the hotel specifically, when exquisitely dressed glamorous people lived a hedonistic life of endless parties.

“It was an era of great social change, of new freedoms and, for some, sumptuous excess.

Thousands of visitors streamed off the trains to check into the guesthouses and grand hotels of Wentworth Falls, Leura, Katoomba, Mt Victoria and, the grandest of them all, Mark Foy’sPalace in the wilderness’’, the Hydro Majestic Hotel at Medlow Bath.’’

Retro enthusiasts can fully immerse themselves in that ultimate vintage experience on February 23 by riding into the art deco era aboard the Hydro Express from Central

station to the world-famous hotel in time for an evening of decadence, fine dining and mischievous revelry.

Travel in your choice of carriage class aboard our heritage train hauled by restored NSW Rail Museum-owned 1950s diesel locomotive 4201 from Sydney to Medlow Bath and return.

Tickets: from $130.

The Hydro Express will revisit the original Blue Mountains party palace for a 1920s-themed afternoon high tea on Sunday, February 24.

Upon arrival, passengers bedecked in elegant 1920s attire will nibble on a selection of petite pastries, finger sandwiches and freshly baked scones served with homemade jam and fresh clotted cream, with freshly brewed specialty teas and coffees.

Photo submitted

Visitors can also be wowed by the opulent refurbishment of the famous hotel on an optional complimentary history tour.

Tickets: from $110.

The Charleston Dance for Charity, Majestic Long Lunch and Hydro Express Deco Dinner will be held at the Hydro Majestic Hotel, Great Western Hwy, Medlow Bath.

Bookings: 4782 6885 or hydromajestic.com.au/events/roaring-20s-festival.


Blue Mountains sweetheart options for Valentine’s Day

Plenty of elegant options to celebrate Valentine’s Day in the Greater Blue Mountains. Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

By Ellen Hill

Cupid’s day of love is almost here, and lovers of all ages can celebrate amore in unforgettable style with fine dining, majestic venues and even a private table aboard the region’s very own love boat.

Sweetheart options include:

Nepean Belle Paddlewheeler, Tench Reserve:

Float along the tranquil waters of the Nepean River aboard the regional aquatic icon against the picturesque backdrop of the Blue Mountains escarpment.

After exploring Nepean Gorge while sipping a complimentary beverage, passengers can request songs special to them and slow dance on the dance floor.

For those planning a milestone romantic event such as a proposal, two specially decorated private balcony tables surrounded by fairy lights and lanterns are available. A dedicated waiter will serve sparkling wine, and a red rose and chocolates will help set the scene.

Nepean Belle owner Carol Bennett said: “We’ll provide the dinner and unique experience. We’ll even set the scene and present each lady with a rose and a gift on boarding. The rest is up to you.’’

Cost: $110pp, $338 special table (cruise not suitable for children aged under 16 years). Bookings: nepeanbelle.com.au or 4733 1274.

 

Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

Hydro Majestic Hotel, Medlow Bath

Begin your majestic experience with a complimentary glass of sparkling wine before indulging in a three-course menu of seasonal delights featuring oysters, lamb and chocolate with truffle-infused vegetarian options overlooking panoramic views of the magnificent Megalong Valley.

Cost: $95pp. Bookings: hydromajestic.com.au, reservations@hydromajestic.com.au or 4782 6885.

 

 

Darley’s Restaurant, Echo Point:

Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

Located within the historic home of former Chief Justice of NSW Sir Frederick Darley, the hatted restaurant is within the Lilianfels Resort & Spa property and offers ultimate indulgence with outstanding service among sumptuous décor.

Dine on a five or seven-course seasonal degustation menu featuring the flavours of foie gras, elderflower, caviar, wagyu beef, black garlic, marigold and almond.

Escarpment Group guest services manager Meagan Iervasi said: “Darley’s Restaurant has long been recognised as the ultimate venue for romantic dinners.’’

Cost: $135 five-course, $165 seven-course. Bookings: darleysrestaurant.com.au, reservations@lilianfels.com.au or 4780 1200.

Romantic views abound at the Hydro Majestic Hotel. Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

 


Blue Mountains landscapes for now and then

Now & Zen Landscapes director Shannon Decker

By Ellen Hill for Now & Zen Landscapes       Photos: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

CRUISING the tree-lined avenues of Wentworth Falls, the vibrant rhododendron gardens of Blackheath and the heritage properties of Leura encased by drystone walls, Shannon Decker envisages his own garden designs a century from now.

“I can see the moss and lichens on the stones, how tall the trees will grow and where their canopies will span to a hundred years from now,’’ he says.

“When I drive around and I see a beautiful copper beech tree planted 80 years ago I am so thankful to the forefather who planted it for us.

“Likewise, what we’re planting today is for people to enjoy in the future.’’

Inspired by Danish garden designer Paul Sorensen, whose work can be seen throughout the upper Blue Mountains, and Edna Walling whose garden designs are renowned around the Dandenong area of Victoria, Shannon was grateful that “plenty of people have had that vision up here in the Mountains’’.

“A hundred years ago, fifty years ago even, properties were bigger, materials were cheaper, the stone was readily available and labour was much more affordable.

“Stunning gardens also evolved because people had time, valued quality and the architecture, design, engineering and craftsmanship of the pioneers was second to none, with a lot of those skills applied to the gardens.’’

Shannon acquired an appreciation for quality during his apprenticeship as a teenager working on upmarket estates in The Hills district, landscaping properties to complement the mega mansions constructed by premium builders.

The boy larrikin who left school at age 14 on the brink of expulsion now heads a multi-million dollar business incorporating landscaping and garden design, a civil division, a recycling and composting property and an organic bulk food store.

Now living at Wentworth Falls, he was introduced to Blue Mountains life during a break from landscaping while he managed the Lapstone Hotel between 1997 and `99.

Now & Zen Landscapes (derived from the common saying now and then’’) was established the year heneeded to step up’’. In 1999 he bought a house at Lawson, his then fiancé became pregnant and their son was born.

With only a few other such businesses in the Mountains at the time, Shannon’s drive to succeed and the work ethic his parents instilled in him, the business was an immediate success:

“In 2000, my second year of business, my turnover was the same as it is today.’’

Now & Zen has maintained that strength and market share during the past 20 years

Just 22, he had four vehicles and a skid steer machine, an acreage property and a landscape supply yard at Blaxland.

Then in 2005, Shannon’s life underwent personal challenges and he lost everything, moved to

Wollongong and commuted to a part-time TAFE teaching job at Richmond.

Now & Zen lay dormant.

Now & Zen Landscapes foreman Ben Lane (r) discusses plans on site with director Shannon Decker (l)

“But we had 15 years of trading history in the Mountains and the phone didn’t stop ringing, so after a while I’d say `No worries, I’ll do it’. I just made it happen.’’

After two years shuffling between Wollongong, Leura and Richmond, Shannon moved back to the Mountains in 2012.

Seven years later in a local industry that now sustains more than 20 landscaping businesses, Now & Zen Landscapes is the yardstick of the highest end market in the Greater Blue Mountains and Central West where projects are limited only by imagination.

“Although we consider ourselves to be at the peak of our game, we’re surrounded by other great landscape companies who keep us on our toes and keep raising the benchmark, which is wonderful for the area.’’

Shannon himself is the local industry authority, responsible for the education and training of the next generation in landscaping.

He was recently headhunted by one of Australia’s oldest recognised training organisations, The Management Edge (TME), to run its NSW and Victoria landscape training program working with employers.

Using as examples the master landscapers of the past, the bedrock of Decker’s Now & Zen Landscapes business is enduring quality, timeless beauty and sustainability, principals he hoped to pass on through TME and his own apprentices.

Garden design has given me a creative outlet, it’s an expression of me,’’ he says.It’s a timeless piece of art.’’

While skills were being lost generally through quick builds and cheap alternatives, master landscapers such as Now & Zen created and maintained bespoke gardens to a long-term vision featuring individual pieces created by artisans, stonemasons and expert gardeners.

Shannon also owns an 80-acre property at Mt Victoria, where concrete is recycled and green waste composted, which provided a solution to expensive transport and tipping costs.

Shannon has constructed an off-the-grid ironstone and iron bark house, and Shannon and his family will soon open an organic zero waste bulk food store in late February in Katoomba.

“But underlying it all is the soil we stand on and being grounded to the earth.’’


Majestic tree-topper at Hydro party palace

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.

 


Creative fire unleashed at Talisman Gallery blacksmithing workshop

An example of what participants will make. Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

By Ellen Hill for Talisman Gallery

Unleash your inner creative fire, work off some energy and learn an ancient art under guidance from an experienced artisan at Talisman Gallery this festive season.

Burgeoning metal artists will create their own piece of art in the 30-minute blacksmithing session on the anvil by beating red hot steel into the shape of a fire poker, decorative wall hook or small sculpture.

Extra decorative elements such as crystals may also be added.

Metal artist Ron Fitzpatrick at work. Photo submitted by Talisman Gallery

Talisman Gallery metal artist Ron Fitzpatrick of Blackheath said the activity would interest beginners as well as those who had previously taken the Fire Poker Challenge at the gallery, located in the historic woolshed behind Hartley Historic Site.

“Creating metal art is very satisfying. It’s quite physical and people love the fact they can make something with their own hands, which we don’t do a lot of anymore in this modern society.’’

While the location amid undulating pasturelands with the dramatic backdrop of the Blue Mountains escarpment helped, Fitzpatrick believed the attraction to lay in the metal itself representing the romantic notion of a lost era; a simpler lifestyle; clearly defined values; and endurance and quality.

“It’s an ancient material that comes straight from the earth. That you can make something so beautiful out of something with such strength fascinates me and draws me to it. I think it’s the same for a lot of other people.’’

An example of what participants will make. Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

Fitzpatrick’s artistic journey began in the early 1980s, creating handmade knives and Tai Chi dancing swords in a small shop in Melbourne.

Since moving to Sydney in the late 1980s, his art and business has evolved from a need to provide for his family by making his own furniture from scrap metal to trendy inner west wrought iron work to finally settling in the Blue Mountains and Hartley.

He and Lithgow-based metal artist Steve Cunningham will be on hand to guide you through the process.’’

“You remove the red hot steel from the fire, bringing it to the anvil you begin to beat the hot metal. You watch as it changes shape, yielding under the blows. Working quickly before it cools, you wrap it around a form into a spiral shape. Before you know it you have created your first piece of metal art.

“So put your phone down and come and make something!’’

A great family activity available to anyone aged 13 years and older, the Creative Fire experience will be held daily from December 27 to 30. Cost: fire poker $35, decorative wall hook $40, sculpture $65, additional elements costs vary.

A participant in action. Photo submitted by Talisman Gallery

Visitors to Talisman Gallery can browse the collection of large high-end pieces along with signature metal art mirrors, small affordable sculptures and candleholders and an extensive collection of imported jewellery and new crystal pieces.

The gallery, Hartley Historic Site, Great Western Hwy (400m before turn off to Jenolan Caves heading west) is open from 10am to 5pm Tuesday to Sunday. Details and bookings: Ron 0407 723 722 or Facebook page Talisman Gallery Hartley/events, website: www.talismangallery.com.au.

 

 


KCC considering options after DA refusal

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.


Asperger’s syndrome explained in Noah’s Story

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.

Noah’s Story ($37.80) is available on Amazon and from publisher Karen Mc Dermott ($26.77).

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.


Silent Night fills majestic Blue Mtns venue

By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group        Photos: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

Indulge in a feast of the senses this festive season as the Konzert Kollektiv fills the grandest of the grand Blue Mountains hotels with majestic Christmas music on December 22.

(l-r) Tenor Brad Cooper and soprano Catherine Bouchier

Accompanied by fine food and sublime sunset views, soprano Catherine Bouchier will join tenor Brad Cooper and concert pianist Katherine Day for an unforgettable evening at the Hydro Majestic Hotel in the Blue Mountains to mark the 200th anniversary of loved Christmas carol Silent Night.

The event will include well known pieces by Adolf Schulz-Evler, Percy Grainger, Richard Strauss, Peter Alexander, Peter Cornelius, Franz Lehár, Erich Korngold, Adolphe Adam and more.

As well as favourites such as Joy to the World and The Holy City (Jerusalem), the great carol of peace will receive special attention on its 200th anniversary.

According to legend, Silent Night was sung for the first time on Christmas Eve 1818 in a little church in the Austrian village of Oberndorf outside Salzburg. The story goes that the choirmaster hurriedly penned the hymn to be played on a guitar when it was discovered mice had chewed through the bellows of the church organ.

Escarpment Group guest services manager Meagan Iervasi said: “The story of Silent Night pefectly complements the Hydro Majestic, with that just right blend of magic, mischief and majesty.’’

The program will be accompanied by a five-course “taste of Christmas’’ degustation dinner of fresh regional produce showcasing the culinary talents of an international team of chefs.

Tickets: $145pp includes welcome cocktail, dinner and concert. BOOKINGS.

The Silent Night event will open a Christmas and New Year’s season of operatic proportions at Escarpment Group collection of luxury hotels.

Christmas Eve – December 24

HYDRO MAJESTIC HOTEL

Inspired by the sparkle of Christmas lights and the warm glow they bring to the festive season, the Wintergarden Restaurant will host a decadent five-course degustation with all the trimmings overlooking the spectacular views of the Megalong Valley. Cost: $125 adults, $65 children (3-12 years), children aged 0-2 years complimentary. BOOKINGS.

Christmas Day – December 25

ECHOES RESTAURANT

Lunch: five-course lunch infused with Asian flavours overlooking the Jamison Valley. Cost: $189 adults, $65 children (4 – 12 years).

Dinner: five-course Asian-inspired degustation with a glass of sparkling cocktail on arrival. Cost: $169 adults, $65 children (4 – 12 years).

DARLEY’S RESTAURANT

Lunch: seven-course contemporary Australian degustation featuring the freshest seasonal local ingredients served in the historic multi award-winning building. Cost: $229 adults, $119 children (4 – 12 years).

LILIANFELS RESORT & SPA

Lunch: five-course degustation featuring hot and cold traditional Christmas fare including a three-hour beverage package (standard beer, wine, soft drinks). Cost: $199 adults, $179 teenagers (13 – 17 years), $90 children (4 – 12 years).

HYDRO MAJESTIC HOTEL

Lunch: sumptuous three-tier feast featuring fresh seafood, charcutier selections, carvery and traditional Christmas desserts as well as a three-hour beverage package (standard beer, wine, soft drinks) in the understated elegance of the Wintergarden Restaurant. Cost: $199 adults, $149 teenagers (13 – 17 years) and $85 children (4 – 12 years).

Dinner: lavish five-course degustation featuring an elegant array of seafood, traditional Christmas roasts and dessert, with a glass of sparkling on arrival while enjoying the sunset over the Megalong Valley. Cost: $159 adults and $85 children (4 – 12 years).

  • Each venue will be decked in traditional decorations, with bon bons on the table and even a visit from Santa for the children. Children aged under 4 years complimentary.

Boxing Day (Wednesday, December 26)

HYDRO MAJESTIC HOTEL

High Tea: Take advantage of the holiday season and extend celebrations to a three-tiered indulgence in the Wintergarden Restaurant against the backdrop of sublime panoramic views over the Megalong Valley. Cost: $75 adults and $45 children (4-12 years old).

BOILERHOUSE CAFÉ, Hydro Majestic Hotel

Lunch: Two-course casual meal in a funky venue with a glass of sparkling on arrival and views over the Megalong Valley. Cost: $75pp.

Rio to Rome – December 29

HYDRO MAJESTIC HOTEL

Celebrate global fusion with an evening of world music, a five-course degustation meal featuring outstanding fresh seasonal produce and the culinary talents of our team of international chefs. Tickets: $135pp includes glass of sparkling on arrival, degustation dinner and performance. BOOKINGS.

New Year’s Eve – December 31

HYDRO MAJESTIC HOTEL

Retro Grooves: Dust off those platform shoes and Motown moves for a night of `70s DJ dance music. Make your New Year transition unforgettable with an extravagant five-course degustation, glass of sparkling on arrival and live entertainment and panoramic views over the Megalong Valley. Smart casual dress code applies. Cost: $159 adults, $85 children aged 4-12. BOOKINGS.

Go to hydromajestic.com.au or phone (02) 4782 6885 to book events, accommodation and dining.


Blue Mountains: Life-changing journey

(L-R) Urban Caves owner Guy Brown with Nova client Wayne Marmion

By Ellen Hill for Urban Caves       Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

For the past five months, Wayne Marmion and Guy Brown have traversed a shared path of self-discovery, reflection and challenge.

Their journey has earned Mr Brown and his business, Urban Caves, a place among the finalists in the 2018 Blue Mountains Business Awards in the Employee Inclusion Award category.

Mr Brown employed Mr Marmion under a Nova Employment and Training subsidy program he learned about after meeting a Nova representative at a Blue Mountains Regional Business Chamber event.

It has been a life-changing experience for both of them.

Suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety, former navy marine technical hull specialist, Mr Marmion struggled to leave his Wentworth Falls home before becoming a Nova client and being placed in a job at the Katoomba-based Urban Caves.

These days, he works alongside Mr Brown installing pre-fabricated cabins (urban caves), micro shelters and glampervans between Glenbrook and Lithgow.

“I like to give people a go,’’ Mr Brown said.

“It’s been a really good experience for me because I had a lot of prejudices about hiring people who were older, but Wayne is a bloody good asset to the business.’’

As well as having a wealth of experience and maturity, Mr Marmion was well presented, friendly, reliable and confident making suggestions.

“I’m definitely happy and proud to have Wayne onsite with me and I’d recommend people be open-minded and give people a go.’’

As well as investing again in his tool kit, Mr Marmion has regained his passion for building, creating, drawing, playing guitar and writing stories, pastimes he was emotionally unable to engage in for years.

“I’m reconnecting with who I was even before I was in the navy. I’m using my hands again,’’ the father-of-five said.

“Guy says he doesn’t want to take credit for this, but he should. There’s been a lot of benefits for me working for him that I don’t know how to quantify.’’

  • Urban Caves is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media

    (L-R) Wayne Marmion and Guy Brown work on another Urban Caves cabin


Discounts, deals & specials reward Greater Blue Mountains locals

Locals are rewarded for dining at Leura Garage

 

Free rides, discounts, two-for-one deals, birthday bubbly – just some of the perks handed out to residents by some of the region’s most popular tourist businesses just for being a Greater Blue Mountains local.

Bilpin Cider Co, Leura Garage, Miss Lilian’s Teahouse and Blue Mountains Explorer Bus reward locals for living in a tourist zone that attracts an estimated four million visitors from around the world every year.

Here are some special offers you are entitled to simply for choosing to live here:

 

Locals ride Blue Mountains Explorer Bus free with a paying passenger

Blue Mountains Explorer Bus. Operates 9.15am – 5.30pm every day. Details: explorerbus.com.au.

The fleet of red double-decker sightseeing buses operates 15 times a day between 29 stops around Leura and Katoomba. Passengers can stay on the bus for the entire one-hour circuit or hop on and hop off anywhere along the route, which takes in retail strips, tourist attractions, lookouts and bushwalking tracks leading to secret waterholes and hidden picnic spots.

Managing director Jason Cronshaw said: “We know that lots of residents have visitors from outside the area, and we want to reward locals for the fantastic job they do promoting this region to their visiting friends and family.’’

Locals deal: Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon residents ride free when accompanying a paying passenger.

 

Choose from a menu of locals deals at Leura Garage

Leura Garage, 84 Railway Pde, Leura. Open all day, every day from 12pm. Details: 4784 3391 or leuragarage.com.au.

The converted mechanics workshop, now award-winning funky eco café/restaurant, serves a menu of seasonal, regionally-sourced produce accompanied by regional wines and craft beers.

Owner James Howarth said: “Most locals want to avoid the weekend tourist crowds and we rely on our resident community during the week, so everyone wins with our locals deals.’’

Locals deal: 10 per cent discount off the final bill Monday to Thursday or two pizzas for the price of one; a free meal for the birthday person and free glass of bubbles on arrival for the table group when the party table is booked BYO (birthday cake allowed); free bottle of wine per couple with every main meal or large share meal (unconsumed open bottles may be taken away); or a free chef’s choice dessert per person with every main meal or large share meal. Conditions apply.

 

Receive 10% off your Miss Lilian’s Teahouse bill just for being a local

Miss Lilian’s Teahouse, Echo Point Rd and Panorama Drive, Echo Point. Open 11am – 7pm Sunday to Thursday, 11am – 8.30pm Friday and Saturday. Bookings: misslilian.com.au or 4780 1200.

Decorated with bamboo screens, colourful teapots, antique urns and myriad bird cages, the newest dining venue in the area offers an immersive culinary journey to the Orient blending the freshest local produce with generations-old recipes in a dine-in and takeaway. Guests can savour Asia’s favourite comfort foods infused with cinnamon, star anise, cloves, chives, chillies and lemongrass and elegantly served in a refined setting within the grounds of the magnificent Lilianfels Estate.

Escarpment Group guest services manager Meagan Iervasi said: “You can be an international tourist right here in your own backyard. And your culinary journey will be so much tastier when we roll out our new locals loyalty program soon.’’

Locals deal: a 10 per cent locals discount after the venue opening in August/September will be followed by a new loyalty program soon.

 

Locals get 10% off everything at the Bilpin Cider cellar door

Bilpin Cider Co, 2369 Bells Line of Rd, Bilpin. Open 10am – 4pm Monday to Sunday. Details: 4567 0704 or bilpincider.com.

Nestled in the “land of the mountain apple’’, the Bilpin Cider cellar door is a great rural activity for the whole family. With alpacas and lambs, outdoor games and picnic spots, the property is ideal for leisurely moments. Grab a gourmet picnic hamper and a drink and pause from everyday life to take in the view of rolling hills and orchards before stocking up on the range of seasonal local fruit, vegetables and honey, and fresh ciders crushed and bottled on site.

Owner Sean Prendergast said: “There’s nothing better than a relaxed natter over a drink with family and friends. We want to make that pastime as affordable as possible for the locals who are so loyal to us.’’

Locals deal: 10 per cent discount on any items sold at the cellar door.

  • All businesses mentioned are commercial clients of Deep Hill Media

Blue Mountains Explorer Bus: Locals Ride Free

By Ellen Hill for Blue Mountains Explorer Bus    Photos: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

What’s big, red, the only one of its kind in the world in a national park and the only one that doesn’t live in a city? The hop-on/hop-off Blue Mountains Explorer Bus.

And Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon locals can use it to explore their own backyard for free for one weekend only – September 22 to 23.

The Locals Ride Free weekend will be a chance to check out secret swimming holes, waterfalls and lush rainforest as well as cafes and restaurants offering special locals-only deals along the route of 29 stops around Katoomba and Leura.

Owned by the Katoomba-based Fantastic Aussie Tours (FAT), the buses run 15 times a day between 9.15am and 5.30pm, 365 days of the year.

FAT managing director Jason Cronshaw, whose father John started the Explorer Bus in 1986, said the free weekend would also help locals connect with community and familiarise them with facilities and attractions available to them and their visitors within their neighbourhood.

“The Blue Mountains has seen a mass migration of new residents, mainly from Sydney, and this is an opportunity for us to extend a hand of welcome and show our new neighbours around,’’ he said.

“It’s also a chance to experience what the four million tourists from around the world do each year and appreciate the fantastic blessing of living within the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area

“I recommend bagging a seat on the top deck for a truly inspiring perspective, and make sure you jump off at Echo Point to see the Three Sisters rock formation to remind yourself of the extraordinary patch of earth we all call home.’’

Environmentally conscious locals can trundle the highway and byways with a clear conscience after Blue Mountains Explorer Bus became the first tourism operator in Australia to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to a big fat zero last year.

It was the first tourism operator in the country to be certified under the Australian Government’s Carbon Neutral Program as 100 per cent carbon neutral. The company also signed the pledge to join the Climate Neutral Now initiative run by the United Nations.

Locals Ride Free will be held during the September 22 – 23 weekend. Simply show proof of residency (eg: driver’s licence, rates notice) when boarding. Register your interest on the Locals Ride Free event on the @bmexplorerbus Facebook page.

  • Blue Mountains Explorer Bus is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media

    Explorer Bus promo pics. Client: BMAG.


Blue Mountains: Majestic entertainment line-up at Hydro

 

By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group         Main photos: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

Australia’s first tourist destination – the Blue Mountains – has wooed and wowed with luxurious romantic hideaways, fine food and sophisticated nightlife for more than a century.

Hundreds of the Sydney well-heeled poured off the steam trains and motorcades into the upmarket guesthouses and grand hotels to “take the air’’ on exhilarating bushwalks through untamed wilderness, indulge in spa treatments and embark on automotive adventures to charming picnic spots and thrilling cave systems.

At night they retreated into the opulence of sumptuous restaurants and lounges filled with exotic furnishings and artwork from around the world to indulge in cigars, cocktails, gossip and mischief.

The smoke has now cleared but the essence of that halcyon era remains in the dining rooms, ballrooms and discretely lit nooks under ornately decorated vaulted ceilings and domes of heritage establishments around the upper Blue Mountains.

The grandest of the grand Blue Mountains hotels (the Hydro Majestic Hotel at Medlow Bath), which once hosted legendary costume parties and opera performances by the world-class likes of Dame Nellie Melba, is again gearing up for a vibrant spring entertainment line-up accompanied by a host of seasonal food offerings.

First to command the iconic venue under the Live@theHydro banner will be Havana Nights, an evening of authentic Cuban music and seductive Saturday, September 29. Musical globetrotters can journey to Havana as they sway to the soulful sounds of Cuba, dance the salsa, rumba, mambo and cha cha cha and sip on rum mojitos and daiquiris in the Majestic Ballroom.

Then, on Saturday, November 3, the original Blue Mountains party palace will be taken over by retro grooves when The Australian Bee Gees Show – A Tribute to the Bee Gees performs the greatest hits of the adored `70s sibling trio. Straight from Vegas, the covers band featuring lookalike Barry, Maurice and Robin Gibb will rock the Blue Mountains escarpment when it recreates hits like Staying Alive, You Should Be Dancing, How Deep Is Your Love, and Jive Talkin’.

Guest services manager of Escarpment Group, which owns the Hydro Majestic, Meagan Iervasi said: “Combined with fortnightly live music gigs in our Boiler House Café space, fine dining and opulent architecture and décor, the Hydro Majestic is fast becoming THE place to be for anyone looking for sophisticated weekend nightlife at reasonable prices in a seriously upmarket venue.’’

Tickets for both shows: $40pp entertainment only includes complimentary welcome cocktail; $135pp three-course dinner and show package featuring the freshest seasonal produce sourced by an internationally-trained team of award-winning chefs.

Dinner, show and accommodation bookings: hydromajestic.com.au or phone (02) 4782 6885.


Blue Mountains, NSW: Snow-dusted Yulefest

By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group       Photos: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

The enchantment of opera performed within a legendary party palace, fine dining, the intimacy of crackling fireplaces and even the possibility of snow-dusted landscapes this Yulefest with Escarpment Group.

High tea with a view at the Hydro Majestic Hotel

Locals and sojourners are warmly welcomed into any of its boutique hotels for steaming drinks, fireside dining and rousing entertainment to celebrate the season for which the Blue Mountains is most famous.

Walk up an appetite by wandering sumptuously refurbished, exotically-named spaces like Cat’s Alley and Salon du The on a guided history tour of the Hydro Majestic Hotel at Medlow Bath while listening to saucy tales of indiscretion on a luxurious scale.

Then, indulge in a traditional high tea repose featuring nostalgic flavours such as ginger, cranberry and roast pork in the elegant Wintergarden Restaurant overlooking the Megalong Valley.

Alternatively, sink into the refined surrounds of the 5-star Lilianfels Resort & Spa lounge at Echo Point to nibble on delicate finger sandwiches, fluffy scones with homemade jam and fresh clotted cream, and a selection of Yulefest sweet treats beside a cosy fireplace.

High tea in plush comfort at Lilianfels Resort & Spa

The decadent Yulefest theme continues with degustation dinners each Friday and Saturday throughout July in the historic Darley’s Restaurant on the Lilianfels property, as well as in the adjacent Echoes Restaurant and the Wintergarden Restaurant at the Hydro Majestic.

Escarpment Group guest services manager Meagan Iervasi encouraged locals to immerse themselves in the festive atmosphere by attending an event.

Hatted decadence at Darley’s Restaurant

“Yulefest in the Blue Mountains offers the European-style atmosphere people associate with Christmas – a chilly landscape outside and cosiness inside with roaring fires, hot food and drinks, traditional decorations and festive music, but without the stress and frosty relatives.

“It’s also a great way for people who have made a recent tree change to mingle with their neighbours and make new community connections.’’

On July 21, one of Australia’s favourite adopted sons, Mark Lizotte (aka Diesel) will celebrate with a special performance at the Hydro Majestic, 30 years since he literally stepped off the bus with his band Johnny Diesel and the Injectors and set off on a chart-topping 15-album career. Cost: $150pp dinner and show, $40pp show only.

Tenor Brad Cooper brings to enchantment of opera to the Hydro Majestic Hotel

On August 18, relish the romance and nostalgia of Austria’s golden age with a program of crowd favourites from the best Viennese waltzes, gorgeous Wienerlieder (Vienna songs) and operetta to the wild world of the 1920s and `30s Berlin cabaret with a splash of comedian harmonists.

Opera Australia, Oper Köln, Opéra Comique & Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris and English National Opera tenor Brad Cooper and Johann Strauss Ensemble Vienna leader, violinist Russell McGregor, will be joined by Austrian accordionist Pavel Singer in the Wintergarden Restaurant performance, which will be matched with a five-course degustation dinner. Tickets: $135pp. Bookings: (02) 4782 6885.

Then, on August 25, experience opulence and history on a grand scale when the Hydro Express vintage train returns to the Blue Mountains.

Travel from Central in your choice of class carriage (standard, premier or lounge) aboard a heritage train hauled by restored 1950s diesel locomotive 4201. After a scenic two-hour rail journey to the Blue Mountains, be guided to the beautifully refurbished Hydro Majestic Hotel for a luxe afternoon high tea.

Go to escarpmentgroup.com.au or phone (02) 4780 1200 for more information about accommodation packages, dining options and events.

*Escarpment Group is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media

Fireside dining at Darley’s Restaurant


Blue Mountains hospitality apprenticeship opportunities

Free 5-star training available for would-be hospitality workers in some of the best hotels in the Blue Mountains

By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group     Photos: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

Would-be hospitality workers can receive 5-star training in the region’s top hotels for free after the State Government scrapped TAFE fees for 100,000 apprentices, saving students about $2000 per course in order to combat the national trades drought.

Escarpment Group of hotels will contribute to the training investment, to be facilitated by the Skilling Australia Fund from July 1, and has invited applicants to submit their details.

The company operates the most awarded resorts in regional NSW including Lilianfels Resort & Spa, Darley’s Restaurant, Echoes Boutique Hotel & Restaurant, the iconic Hydro Majestic Hotel and Parklands Country Gardens & Lodges in the Blue Mountains. Further north, it also owns the historic Convent in the Hunter Valley and the multi award-winning paddock-to-plate restaurant Circa 1876.

Apprenticeships are available in various roles

With 10 busy dining outlets, the need for skills is significant.

Escarpment Group operations manager Adam Holmes said training trades and tourism workers under an apprenticeship enrolment with TAFE would help top up falling worker numbers in the industry.

“Over the past five years the numbers of apprentices has reduced year on year to almost nil and we need more motivated skilled staff for regional tourism to thrive.

“Escarpment Group is a dynamic operator of premium hotels and resorts and needs trainees to future-proof the region for economic growth.’’

Apprenticeships are available in the roles of chef, housekeeping, food and beverage service, customer service and reception.

Mr Holmes, originally from Cronulla and recently returned to Australia from Mauritius, said: “Escarpment Group is the largest tourism employer in the Blue Mountains with numerous staff with experience in some of the top restaurants and hotels in the world, ready and willing to share their knowledge and skills with trainees.

“With five luxury properties across two mature tourism regions, there is plenty of opportunity for growth and diversity in a versatile career that can take you anywhere in the world.’’

Potential apprentices have been invited to submit details to recruitment@escarpmentgroup.com.au.

*Escarpment Group is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media

Apprentices will learn on the job from experienced staff