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
Penrith-based child sexual abuse and domestic violence support service Queen of Hearts Foundation will close.
The four-member board has distributed a proposal to its members to fold the organisation at its next meeting and anticipates majority support.
The decision was a difficult one for the board and took some time to reach. However, the Queen of Hearts Foundation has become increasingly financially unsustainable.
A planned restructure from a service orientated not-for-profit charity run almost entirely on community donations to a pre-funded program model with timeframes and monitored outcomes could not be successfully implemented by a board of volunteers, all of whom are small business owners in the Penrith community.
Despite the generosity of the Penrith community, the growing number of charity organisations in the area has broadened the giving pool, meaning less available funds for each worthy cause.
The board has been unable to fill the part-time volunteer CEO position vacated when Queen of Hearts Foundation founder Michelle Ellery resigned from the role in March. The major fundraiser, a charity ball in July, also failed to raise sufficient funds.
Surplus funds will be donated to the national Bravehearts Foundation and unfulfilled grants will be returned to their respective government agencies.
Queen of Hearts Foundation was established in 2014 by current Penrith Citizen of the Year Ms Ellery and operates from the old Penrith Council chambers building in Henry St.
A board spokesperson thanked Ms Ellery for her tireless efforts and passion in raising awareness for the needs of survivors of child sexual abuse and domestic violence: “Everyone involved in the Queen of Hearts Foundation is proud to have been part of such a high profile organisation and is disappointed to have to make this decision.
“However, we are realistic and know that a charity that struggles to keep its doors open week to week cannot provide the ongoing support and services our customers need.’’
The Queen of Hearts Foundation board encouraged the Penrith community to continue to support similar organisations such as the Bravehearts Foundation, The Haven Nepean Women’s Shelter and Penrith Women’s Health Centre.
- Queen of Hearts Foundation is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media
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:
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
Journalists, photographers, researchers and sub-editors who have been made redundant, retired or otherwise farewelled from a media outlet can learn how to re-establish themselves at a workshop at Parramatta RSL Club on Friday, August 24.
Through practical exercises, Create Your Post-media Success will help participants understand the fundamentals of business, discover the numerous career options available in a changing landscape and pinpoint their focus.
They will leave with practical tools such as a simple business plan, a required income calculation and a rates card tailored to their needs.
Participants will also learn where to find commercial clients and freelance story leads, how to pitch PR leads and editorial articles to media and where to find further ongoing support, training and resources.
The full-day Create Your Post-media Success workshop will be presented by Deep Hill Media, the Blue Mountains-based communications consultancy and freelance journalism business of photojournalist David and journalist Ellen Hill.
“We know exactly what our colleagues are going through because we’ve been through it ourselves – and we’ll be sharing honest, sometimes excruciating anecdotes of our mistakes and achievements along the way,’’ Mrs Hill said.
After taking voluntary redundancy from a multinational media company in 2009, the couple banked a small fortune; self-published a book; sold fine art prints, books and natural laundry products at market stalls; and mowed lawns while chasing ever-elusive business rainbows.
In the process, they have been hurt, burnt, humiliated, ripped off and faced poverty too many times to count.
“We want to help others leapfrog years of mistakes, heartache and financial ruin,’’ Mrs Hill said.
“We also want to help preserve an industry many have said is dying.
“Journalism and media is not dying.
“It is merely adapting and we want to help shape the future that was – and is – our life.
“Society and culture needs the skills and experience our colleagues have, but to continue working in their field may require a little creative thinking.’’
The Create Your Post-media Success workshop will be held at Parramatta RSL Club from 9am to 5pm on Friday, August 24. Cost: $347 includes lunch, morning/afternoon tea and resources. Bookings essential: Click HERE.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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
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.
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 email@example.com.
*Escarpment Group is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media
By Ellen Hill for Christian Fellowship Tours
Towering waterfalls, rugged Outback landscapes, ancient Aboriginal art and abundant wildlife. Discover the remarkable Kimberley Coast on the Christian Fellowship Tours (CFT) cruise of the West Australia area in August.
Tour passengers will see the most recognisable natural and manmade attractions of the Kimberley Coast during 10 escorted, unforgettable days cruising between Darwin and Broome.
In the north, discover the majestic King George River with its towering 80m twin falls and the mysterious Bradshaw paintings of Bigge Island.
Explore the Mitchell plateau and cruise the Kimberley’s “big’’ rivers before experiencing beautiful King Cascades, remarkable Montgomery Reef and the amazing natural phenomenon of the Horizontal Falls in the south.
With two landings most days by the unique “Explore’’ excursion vessel or inflatable zodiacs, passengers will have more opportunities to fully immerse in the spectacular setting.
Each evening, passengers will retire to comfortable accommodation with private facilities after dining together.
The tour will include a Christian tour leader throughout the entire trip, daily devotions and Sunday worship, a 10-day cruise, accommodation, most meals, airfare and transfers.
CFT managing director Jason Cronshaw, who will lead the tour, said: “Exploring the remarkable Kimberley Coast by small ship helps you grasp the majesty of the landscape and the awesomeness of our Creator’s handiwork by being amongst it.
“It’s such a privilege to be walk across the salt flats to view the wreckage of a US Air Force DC3 which crash landed on the beach during World War II and visit secluded spots not many other people get to see.’’
More than a leisure cruise, the Kimberley Coastal Cruise will be an opportunity to learn about the history, culture and landscapes of each location visited through on-board commentary, presentations and briefings.
Past travellers have come from varied backgrounds and churches, yet enjoyed the shared experience of travelling with likeminded people.
One said they appreciated the care and support they received on tour, while another enjoyed the bond they formed with fellow travellers.
“The drivers and tour leaders are always helpful especially for those who have physical or other issues or who travel alone.’’
Others also commented that travelling with CFT was an excellent way for single people, especially women, to explore the world in a safe group where they could make new friends.
Travellers on the Kimberley Coastal Cruise tour will have the opportunity to worship together on board the ship on Sunday and take part in the daily devotions for which CFT has become renowned.
The Kimberley Coastal Cruise tour departs from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane on August 1 and returns August 14.
Bookings and information: www.christianfellowshiptours.com or 1300 635 358.
- Christian Fellowship Tours is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media
By Ellen Hill for Fantastic Aussie Tours
Rail riders can experience a great fat look at the Blue Mountains when the Indian Pacific pulls into Mt Victoria each week.
The optional off-train excursion for passengers travelling from Perth is the result of a new partnership between Fantastic Aussie Tours (FAT), Great Southern Rail which owns the iconic Indian Pacific touring train, Scenic World, Blue Mountains Guides and the Trippas White Group which owns The Lookout Restaurant at Echo Point.
FAT managing director Jason Cronshaw said the Blue Mountains excursion would be an option each Wednesday, with passengers alighting the train at Mt Victoria after breakfast.
A FAT bus would then transport them to Scenic World to experience the range of thrilling rides or a trek through awe-inspiring landscapes along Prince Henry Walk with Blue Mountains Guides.
All passengers would then assemble for lunch at The Lookout Restaurant near the Three Sisters rock formation overlooking the Jamison Valley before being returned to the Indian Pacific in a FAT bus and continuing their rail journey to Sydney.
“For many years, Indian Pacific passengers caught glimpses of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area as they hurtled through the bush and the villages,’’ Mr Cronshaw said.
“Now, whatever activity they choose to do here they will experience what we are blessed with every day.’’
The package had taken five years to finalise, with the main challenge reserving a rail pathway in the increasingly busy Blue Mountains rail line timetable.
“This is a fantastic coup for the businesses directly involved in this package including us of course, but it has the potential to bring hundreds of visitors to the region who will hopefully return to stay at least one night in a hotel or B&B, eat out in our cafes and restaurants and visit the attractions and retail outlets throughout the area,’’ Mr Cronshaw said.
Each train had a potential load of 252 passengers.
Indian Pacific manager Penelope Milne said the daytrip option would be expanded to an overnight stay by 2019.
In the meantime, the excursions would encourage longer return visits among passengers.
In fact, one passenger on the inaugural trip on April 4 spent the night in the Blue Mountains before returning home via the public rail network.
- Fantastic Aussie Tours is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media
By Ellen Hill for Katoomba Christian Convention
A multi-million dollar upgrade of the Katoomba Christian Convention (KCC) site would solve parking and noise problems and provide a state-of-the-art venue for large conferences and sporting events for Christian and secular groups alike.
A development application before Blue Mountains Council outlines the plan to revamp outdated facilities at the bushland property next to Scenic World in Cliff Drive and Violet St.
Costing an estimated $25 million, phase one of the redevelopment would replace the existing 2100-seat auditorium with a 3500-seat structure, re-orientated to funnel noise away from neighbours.
There would be a new bookshop and modern toilet facilities and seven breakout spaces/meeting rooms.
Future plans include a new reception, administration and laundry building; replacing the 200-seat volunteer-built dining hall and kitchen with a 500-seat one; and a new café fronting Violet St.
Existing accommodation buildings would be replaced and include six eco lodges each with 56 beds and three 18-bed eco chalets, boosting accommodation capacity by 170 beds to a total of 390 beds.
There would also be new internal access roads and 75 car spaces, landscaping and revegetation.
The development application before the council only seeks approval for works at the Cliff Drive section of the site.
The KCC property also includes Clairvaux Oval in Cedar St, which is used for car parking and has three dormitory-style accommodation buildings, a playground and basketball court.
KCC executive director Jonathan Dykes said the upgrade was needed to bring the “tired’’ facilities up to standard and visitor expectation.
“Things have been adapted and updated as finances and resources have allowed, but we can only stretch that so far for so long.’’
Works conducted over the years to ensure standards compliance (including asbestos removal) had reduced the capacity of the site yet still did not deliver accessible accommodation for people with a disability, he said.
The redevelopment would actually lessen the site’s impact on surrounding residents – aside from its long-time alcohol ban which ensured more moderate patrons, Mr Dykes said.
A larger auditorium with breakout spaces and seminar rooms would contain such events to the property and lessen the number of traffic movements coming and going from the site.
The new facilities had been designed to be respectful of the location and its significant environmental values and the upgrade would be a more environmentally sensitive facility.
“We are pleased that a staff report to the council recommends approval of the DA subject to conditions,’’ he said.
As well as being the largest conference venue in the Blue Mountains, the property was a valuable resource for the region, used as a staging base for emergency services and community information meetings during the 2013 bushfires.
The proposed upgrades would expand the site’s potential as a venue for secular not-for-profit organisations like schools and events such as the annual Ultra Trail Australia running event and corporate groups seeking low-cost accommodation, although its main purpose would remain as a place of worship for Christian groups.
KCC also held seven worship events a year, the largest being its Easter Convention (3100 people attended last year) and the KYCK youth events.
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.
Growing from a small gathering of Christians in a children’s playroom in Katoomba, the first convention was held at Khandala, a house at the end of Katoomba St.
By the 1930s, 800 people attended the annual gatherings each Christmas.
In the 1940s KCC operated from a site in Forester Rd near Echo Point and in the 1950s the current site was acquired and several developments have taken place.
The site was zoned Special Uses 5ACU (Church) in 1985 and includes a baptismal pool carved out of rock.
* Katoomba Christian Convention is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media
By Ellen Hill for Grace Kim
People with sensory issues that prevent them from attending public events such as concerts can immerse themselves in a specially designed live music performance at Glenbrook on April 23.
To be held on a weekday during school holidays to cater for aged care facilities, centres for people with a disability and families, it will feature internationally acclaimed musicians Erica Kennedy on violin, flautist Lisa Osmialowski and Bullaburra concert pianist Grace Kim.
Part of the Sensory Concerts series, it has 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, there will be 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.
“We really don’t mind if people need to move around, lie on a crash mat or take time out from everyone else for a while,’’ Ms Kim said.
“We select music especially so that everyone benefits from the power of the music without feeling overwhelmed or restricted.’’
As an internationally renowned professional concert pianist and music educator Ms Kim knows firsthand the benefits of music to health and wellbeing, and strives to make it accessible to everyone who needs it.
A mother of two young children, one with Asperger’s syndrome, Ms Kim said: “Young children are especially sensitive to their surroundings and tend to react in certain ways like moving or making noise, to cope.
“That’s why families with children tend to shy away from traditional concerts for fear of disrupting others.
“But we all know that music is one of the best things for the brain development, and these families miss out on the crucial time when their brain are developing.’’
Subsidised through a Blue Mountains City of the Arts grant, Sensory Concerts are offered at affordable prices to ensure they are accessible to all.
The next Sensory Concerts will be held at Lower Mountains Anglican Parish, 1 Wascoe St, Glenbrook, at 10.45am and 12pm on Monday, April 23. Tickets: $25 adults, $65 families (2 adults, up to 3 children), $15 children under 16 years. Click HERE to book.
- Grace Kim is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media
By Ellen Hill for Faeriestorm Nanny Service Photo: David Hill
An influx of families making the tree change to the Blue Mountains and Penrith areas has resulted in a spike in demand for professional nannies to care for children which in turn, has led to job opportunities in the sector.
Faeriestorm Nanny Service owner Brenda Edwards said: “We are seeing a lot of families moving to the area from Sydney for the lifestyle and more affordable housing which they love, but then parents have to make the daily commute to city offices and are away from home for long hours or, increasingly, need child-free quiet to work from home offices.’’
More than just a babysitting business, Faeriestorm Nanny Service did everything a favourite aunty or grandma would do with clients’ children, from educational play, personal care, supervision and transporting to activities and appointments to light household chores and meal preparation.
The aim of the whole-family approach was to help parents create time to foster healthy, positive relationships with their children.
“It can be tough juggling work and family life, so it’s our job to help alleviate that stress a wee bit by tidying the kitchen and preparing a basic meal or school lunches,’’ Mrs Edwards (Miss Brenda to her charges) said.
“Other tasks like stripping and making beds, dusting, ironing, folding clean washing, baking, gardening or window cleaning can be negotiated between individual families and nannies.
“I like to say we bring calm to the faeriestorms for our families.’’
Apart from requiring her team to wear branded uniforms on duty and have current qualifications, police and working with children checks, banning the use of phones, computers and social media, Mrs Edwards said the ideal Faeriestorm nanny and manny was respectful, discrete, unflappable and, above all, loved children and the ideal of family.
“It helps if you’ve run a home for the little things – you won’t step over the toys, you’ll ask the children to help pick them up or you will pick them up yourself; you’ll wipe the kitchen counter over; you’ll fold the washing. You won’t have to be asked to do those things.’’
The service was tailored to each family’s short or long-term needs and nannies were matched to families, Mrs Edwards said.
The mother-of-six became a nanny in 2009 and for two years worked six days a week, rarely seeing her own family before employing other nannies.
Today, Faeriestorm Nanny Service operates in private homes throughout the Penrith, Blue Mountains and Sydney region, can cater for children with special needs and has experience with children under welfare care and in high profile families where security is an issue.
Faeriestorm nannies also care for tourist children in hotels during holidays and at conferences and events such as weddings, functions and parties.
Contact Brenda Edwards on 0417 448 318 or at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
* Faeriestorm Nanny Service is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media
By Ellen Hill for Everglades Historic House & Gardens
Photos: David Hill, Deep Hill Media
Possums, bats, birds and other native critters can make a tree change with million dollar views, thanks to new nesting boxes carved into a dead tree at Everglades Historic House & Gardens.
Financed by a grant from Greater Sydney Local Land Services through NSW Government funding, the habitat tree is located in The Glades at the edge of the Leura property, famous for its magnificent 1930s art deco house and set amid spectacular gardens and formal terraces overlooking sweeping views of the Jamison Valley.
Arborists using a chainsaw fast-tracked the natural process in the bush when tree hollows are formed by limbs dropping from trees, creating a hole in the tree trunk or limb.
Over time (sometimes more than 100 years), these holes become larger and eventually form tree hollows.
Land clearing and urbanisation has led to a shortage of hollows across the Greater Sydney area, meaning there are fewer havens for small animals to shelter, hide from predators, breed and raise their young.
Of the 174 native animal species in NSW which rely on tree hollows, 40 are listed as threatened.
Everglades manager Guy McIlrath said: “Because tree hollows are becoming increasingly rare and their formation slow, it is very important to retain habitat trees, so when this big gum tree died it was an opportunity to provide a safe haven for some of the small animals who live at Everglades.’’
The Blue Mountains ash (Eucalyptus oreades) was pruned so it was safe for the many visitors to wander the tiered gardens and picnic under the tree canopy in the cool glade.
Experts from Sydney Arbour Trees, who have carved similar habitat hollows in dead trees across the Cumberland Plain area of Western Sydney, then created three artificial nest hollows for birds in the upper limbs and trunk and two openings for bats in the lower portion.
The arborists first sliced off a “faceplate’’ before using new chainsaw techniques to carve habitat chambers into the tree branches and trunk and reattaching the faceplate to protect the resident animals which enter the readymade homes through custom-designed slits and holes.
Birds can still perch on the remaining branches while hollow-dependent animals such as Crimson Rosellas, Southern Boobook owls, Owlet-nightjars, Eastern Rosellas and Chocolate Wattled bats can move in to the new hollows.
While the creatures may be too tiny, timid or nocturnal for visitors to Everglades to see, an interpretive sign at the base of the tree explains the purpose of the habitat tree.
“What we’re doing here at Everglades to help provide shelter and food sources for native animals is an example of what everyone in the Blue Mountains can easily do to help conserve wildlife,’’ Mr McIlrath said.
As well as plant a native garden, residents could retain safe dead trees with hollows, install nest boxes or become involved in Blue Mountains City Council’s (BMCC) Bushcare Program.
National Trust, which owns the Everglades property, and BMCC Bushcare volunteers have worked for years to ensure exotic plant species do not escape into bushland.
However, that is not always easy to do along cliff edges so, as part of the grant, specialist teams used rope access techniques to scale the cliffs around Everglades and remove weeds, thus preventing the spread into the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.
Everglades Historic House & Gardens, 37 Everglades Ave, Leura, is open from 10am to 5pm daily during daylight savings and from 10am to 4pm during autumn and winter. Entry: $13 adults, $8 concessions, $4 children, National Trust members free. Contact: (02) 4784 1938 or email email@example.com.
This project is supported by Greater Sydney Local Land Services through funding from the NSW Government. For further information phone 4724 2100
* Everglades Historic House & Gardens is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media
By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group
The naughty and the nice will soon be revealed as stockings are opened around the world, but it appears Santa Claus is paying special attention to Blue Mountains locals and visitors.
A TV weather camera last week captured what appeared to be Santa reverse parking over the Hydro Majestic Hotel at Medlow Bath. The above image was taken at 4.05am last Monday [December 11] by the unmanned camera and has generated much interest on social media.
The unknown element above the building on the left side of the photograph could be interpreted as a herd of reindeer reverse parking in formation, while the light in the middle of the picture above the spire atop the Belgravia accommodation wing is an unidentified flying object (Santa’s sleigh perhaps?).
Neither of those objects are usually in the night sky over the Hydro Majestic and appeared for just a minute.
Hydro Majestic guest services manager Meagan Iervasi said: “No one has actually seen Santa in the past few days but the Hydro Majestic has so many rooms, even a couple that have been boarded up, and a rumoured secret passage that he could very well be roaming around upstairs unbeknown to us.
“The reindeers have eight kilometres of bush from the back of the hotel right down to the Megalong Valley to hide in.
“Our chefs have noticed a slice of Christmas cake missing from the fridge and a used glass with traces of milk in the sink each morning though.’’
In any case, visitors to Mark Foy’s legendary “Palace in the wilderness’’ can experience the magic of Christmas from the moment they enter the Casino Lobby under the famous Hydro Majestic dome where they are greeted with snow domes, sparkling sentinels and an enormous tree twinkling with baubles, while the Wintergarden Restaurant has been adorned with wreaths and table decorations, watched over by two massive golden reindeers.
- Escarpment Group is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media
By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group Photos: David Hill
The Hydro Majestic Hotel will revive its most mischievous traditions and host the ultimate day-long vintage revelry on Saturday, February 24.
The Roaring 20s Festival celebrations will high kick off with a community Charleston Challenge for Charity dance in front of the Majestic Pavilion at 11am.
The naughty knees-up will be an opportunity for art deco buffs to don their most sophisticated 1920s-inspired costumes befitting the elegant venue (eg: feather boas, spats, fedora hats).
There will be prizes galore for best dressed lady, man, couples and hats. Cost: gold coin donation towards Blue Mountains Rural Fire Service.
The Charleston for Charity will be followed by a decadent regional food and wine showcase of shared plates featuring the culinary skills of the Hydro Majestic kitchen team as well as other exceptional local producers.
A fashion parade of exquisite 1920s clothing will add an extra course to the long lunch menu. Cost: $95pp.
Sumptuous high tea will be available in the Wintergarden Restaurant overlooking the Megalong Valley throughout the day, along with history tours of the world-famous hotel.
That evening, the grandest of the grand Blue Mountains hotels will again resound with the likes of Al Capone, Dutch Schultz and Bugsy Siegel when the Hydro Majestic holds a Gangster Casino Night in support of Katoomba Hospital.
Guests can play all the traditional games at casino-quality tables with professionally trained casino standard croupiers.
There will be an array of prizes, and money raised at the 18 years plus-restricted event will go towards refurbishing the waiting room in the local Katoomba Hospital emergency department. Cost: $55 per person general admission to Casino includes welcome cocktail.
Visitors are encouraged to fully immerse themselves in the Roaring 20s Festival by staying for at least one night at the Hydro Majestic Hotel or one of its nearby sister properties Parklands Country Gardens & Lodges, Echoes Boutique Hotel or Lilianfels Resort & Spa.
Go to www.hydromajestic.com.au or phone (02) 4782 6885 to book any/all of the Roaring 20s Festival events, accommodation and dining.
- The Hydro Majestic Hotel is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media
By Ellen Hill for Springwood High School P&C
Reminisce over the detention books, catch up on who married whom, what happened to such-and-such and where the maths whiz ended up when Springwood High School celebrates its 50th anniversary on December 8-9.
Students past and present have been invited to a function in the school hall on the evening of Friday, December 8, where childhood friends and schoolyard foes can cram into the souvenir photo booth, pore over the commemorative booklet, pick out faces from the photo montage and memorabilia displayed while the school’s current hospitality students serve light refreshments.
Then, on Saturday, December 9, the school will hold an open day from 10am to 2pm, during which visitors can explore classrooms and sit in on modern lessons to experience how school and teaching has changed during the past 50 years.
There will be cooking displays, the archives will be open and the canteen will sell refreshments, while a jumping castle and slushy machines will operate for children.
Built in 1967 to relieve overcrowding at Katoomba and Nepean High schools, Springwood High School’s original six building plan was constructed in three stages at a cost of $1.2 million.
The first classes for the 124 students and nine teachers under principal Mr H. Watkin-Smith were held at Penrith on February 1, 1967. Lessons continued there until the new Springwood High School was ready for occupation that September.
The school’s population swelled to more than 1600 students before Blaxland High School opened in 1977.
Springwood High School alumni includes actress and singer Amie McKenna, former Australian cricket fast bowler Nathan Bracken who opened the new cricket nets in 2009, Pacific Magazines home and food magazines general manager and former House Rules judge Wendy Moore, award-winning photographer David Darcy and ABC Open North Coast producer Catherine Marciniak (new Ragen).
A Springwood High School student from 1978 to 1981, Edward Versteeg was one of the first students with a physical disability (congenital spina bifida) in Australia to be integrated into mainstream schooling.
Reunion organizer Belinda Collings said: “The weekend will be a wonderful opportunity for ex-students to `walk down memory lane’ and for current students to be inspired by those who have gone before them. Who knows who you’ll bump into.
“With so many new residents moving into the area, the open day will also be a good chance to visit the school, see what facilities it offers, chat with some teachers and see how the school is part of our community.’’
School principal Dr Mark Howie said: “Springwood High School has yielded a professional Australian cricketer, a Disney cartoonist, a singer, an army major, a magazine editor and an award-winning photographer, to name just a few high profile professions.
“Our classrooms have also nurtured numerous plumbers, academics, teachers, nurses, barristers, policemen, retailers, chefs and everything in between.
“Many of our current crop of students are children of former students and several of our teachers were inspired to teach from these classrooms.’’
SHS had a proud history of academic excellence along with creative and performing arts success, and its combined senior curriculum with concentrated studies was a noteworthy feature of the school, Dr Howie said.
Ms Collings encouraged visitors to stay in the Blue Mountains for at least one night to fully immerse themselves in the event and give themselves time to reconnect with old friends. Go to bluemountainscitytourism.com.au for accommodation and dining options in the area.
The Springwood High School 50th anniversary function will be held at the school, Grose Rd, Faulconbridge, from 6.30pm to 9.30pm on Friday, December 8. Tickets: $20 adults over 16 years, $15 pensioners include souvenir photo, commemorative booklet, light refreshments and entertainment. Bookings: click HERE or phone Springwood High School office on (02) 4751 2111.
Celebrations will continue at the school throughout Saturday, December 9. Cost: free. Details: Facebook.
By Ellen Hill for Leura Garage Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media
Begin the Christmas countdown early, get ahead of community festivities and unleash your kids’ creative side with lantern-making workshops at Leura Garage.
The award-winning funky eatery off the top of Leura Mall will hold three workshops in the lead-up to Leura Village Association’s December 15 Christmas festival.
With its polished concrete floors, wide benches, light-filled windows and interesting features, the former car garage will be the ideal workspace for children aged four to 12 to create their own lanterns.
Leura Garage owner and father-of-two James Howarth said: “My wife Anika has very fond memories of lantern parades from her childhood in Germany and our kids have also had lots of fun experiencing this wonderful festive community activity while visiting family over there.
“So we’re excited to be transforming our restaurant into a lantern-making workshop space – it’s going to be great fun for everyone.’’
“The lanterns will then be on display at 8pm on December 15 when the children will showcase their creations during the lantern parade in Leura.’’
Participating children will have the chance to win prizes from Leura Toy Store, Megalong Books and Teddy Sinclair.
The workshops would be an opportunity for parents to bond with their children, get into the Christmas spirit and gear up for the festivities, Mr Howarth said.
Lantern-making workshops will be held from 3pm to 5pm on November 28 and December 4 and 13. Cost: $10 per child (must be accompanied by an adult with maximum three children per adult) includes full lantern kit and drinks and nibbles. Proceeds will be donated to Leura Village Association and will contribute to its Christmas festival at 8pm on December 15.
Leura Garage, 84 Railway Pde, Leura, is open from 12pm til late seven days. Bookings (including for Christmas parties) and details: (02) 4784 3391, firstname.lastname@example.org or leuragarage.com.au/lantern.
* Leura Garage is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media
By Ellen Hill Photos: David Hill, Deep Hill Media
The chirp of cicadas competing with Christmas carols, an awe-inspiring backdrop of towering golden escarpments and dramatic valleys and a cooling breeze carrying the subtle scent of eucalyptus. Welcome to an Aussie bush Christmas and summer holiday season in the Blue Mountains.
Begin the Christmas countdown early with lantern-making workshops for kids aged four to 12 at Leura Garage funky eatery off the top of Leura Mall from 3pm to 5pm on November 28 and December 4 and 13 in the lead-up to Leura Village Association’s December 15 Christmas festival. Cool prizes from upmarket local shops. Cost: $10 per child (must be accompanied by an adult) includes lantern kit and drinks and nibbles. Bookings: (02) 4784 3391, email@example.com or leuragarage.com.au/lantern.
Give your adult loved ones some grown-up time with a Faeriestorm Nanny Service voucher. Available in hourly blocks (minimum two hours *conditions apply), the fully qualified nannies will care for their kids while the adults enjoy some down time. Purchases: Brenda Edwards 0417 448 318 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A night away with a day spa pamper package at a blissful retreat such as Parklands Country Gardens & Lodges or dinner at a swanky restaurant such as the Wintergarden Restaurant at the Hydro Majestic Hotel are always popular.
A truly unique way of sightseeing in style is with Blue Mountains Vintage Cadillacs from within a vintage Cadillac car. Dressed in formal attire, your local driver will collect you from and return you to any location in the Blue Mountains. Bookings: email@example.com or Donald on 0455 352 976.
Tuck into a sumptuous feast with all the trimmings, decorations, bon bons, beverage package and even a visit from Santa for the children at the 5-star Lilianfels Resort & Spa near Echo Point or a seven-course degustation at the multi award-winning hatted Darley’s Restaurant. Bookings: escarpmentgroup.com.au or (02) 4780 1200.
NEW YEAR’S EVE:
For an unforgettable Auld Lang Syne moment, feast in the New Year at the chic Echoes Restaurant at Katoomba or the world-famous Cat’s Alley at the Hydro Majestic Hotel after watching a sublime sunset over a blue haze-shrouded valley while sipping a cocktail and resolving to take more time out in 2018. Bookings: escarpmentgroup.com.au or (02) 4780 1200.
SCHOOL HOLIDAY ACTIVITIES:
Talisman Gallery, Hartley historic village, Great Western Hwy (400m before turn off to Jenolan Caves heading west): Try your hand at the time honoured art of blacksmithing and make your very own fire poker on the forge and anvil on January 26 and 27. Cost: $25 includes materials and tuition. Decent footwear required. Bookings essential: Ron 0407 723 722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Everglades Historic House & Gardens, 37 Everglades Ave, Leura: Kids aged three to six can learn about heritage conservation and the natural environment in one of the most enchanting historic properties in the Blue Mountains through the My Adventure at Everglades activity book ($10 and $5 per subsequent book). Entry: $13 adults, $8 concessions, $4 children, National Trust members free. Details: (02) 4784 1938 or email email@example.com.
* All businesses mentioned are commercial clients of Deep Hill Media
By Ellen Hill for Everglades Historic House & Gardens Photos: David Hill, Deep Hill Media
Celebrate the simplicity, subtlety and emptiness of “white’’ when the richly designed and furnished Everglades Historic House & Gardens, Leura, holds a luminous twilight soiree to launch the White Exhibition on November 11.
Featuring three Blue Mountains artists (James Gordon, Julie Martin and Helen Sturgess), exhibition curator and art consultant Louise Abbott of iArt has based the exhibition around the White book by Japanese designer and curator Kenya Hara, the art director of Muji since 2001 who designed the opening and closing ceremony programs of the Nagano Winter Olympic Games 1998.
In his book Designing Design, Hara elaborates on the importance of “emptiness’’ in the visual and philosophical traditions of Japan and its application to design.
“In summary, `white’ symbolises simplicity and subtlety,’’ Abbott said.
“Hara attempts to explore the essence of `white’, which he sees as being closely related to the origin of Japanese aesthetics. The central concepts discussed by Hara are emptiness and the absolute void. He also sees his work as a designer as a form of communication. Good communication has the distinction of being able to listen to each other, rather than to press one’s opinion onto the opponent.’’
Hara compares that form of communication with an empty container.
“In visual communication there are equally signals whose signification is limited as well as signals or symbols such as the cross or the red circle on the Japanese flag which, like an empty container, permit every signification and do not limit imagination,’’ Abbott said.
“The Japanese character for white also forms a radical of the character for emptiness. Therefore, we can closely associate the colour white with emptiness.’’
Launched with a White soiree, the exhibition will be held in the magnificent 1930s art deco Everglades House set amid spectacular gardens, formal terraces and overlooking sweeping views of the Jamison Valley.
Dressed in white, guests will be served a selection of canapes and locally-produced drinks sponsored by Dryridge Estate, while floral arrangements will be provided by Floral Ink and musical duo Rachel Hannan and John Stuart will set the tone with smooth grooves.
All the artworks will be white-themed.
Everglades manager Guy McIlrath said: “With its progressive ideas and stark philosophies, the White exhibition is as avant garde as the property itself.
“The soiree event will be a reminder of Everglades in its heyday when you can imagine beautiful people floating around the gardens in beautiful clothes on summer evenings.
“In November the evenings are balmy, cool breezes and summer scents float through the trees and the formal ponds help cool the air, so it will be a very dreamy atmosphere.’’
The White exhibition official opening soiree event will be held at Everglades Historic House & Gardens, 37 Everglades Ave, Leura, from 5pm to 8pm on Saturday, November 11. Tickets: $55pp, $50pp National Trust members. Bookings essential: 0467 332 591 or 0410 312 827 or email firstname.lastname@example.org (please dress in white).
The exhibition will be displayed in the main house for a month thereafter. Everglades is open from 10am to 5pm daily during daylight savings and from 10am to 4pm during autumn and winter. Entry: $13 adults, $8 concessions, $4 children, National Trust members free.
Contact: (02) 4784 1938 or email email@example.com.
*Everglades Historic House & Gardens is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media
By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group Photos: David Hill, Deep Hill Media
Circa 1876 is the best fine dining restaurant in regional NSW, with the Pokolbin restaurant’s win at the prestigious Restaurants & Catering Industry Association Australia (R&CA) awards last week [September 18] cementing its culinary reputation.
Executive chef Trent Barrett and his team brought home the NSW Regional Fine Dining award from the Savour Australia Restaurant & Catering Hostplus Awards for Excellence. Circa 1876 also earned an honourable mention in the NSW Regional Restaurant Caterer category.
Circa 1876 executive chef Trent Barrett, whose sustainable dining philosophy fuels his menu through the restaurant’s kitchen garden, onsite bee hives, quails and chooks, praised his team: “No one can achieve excellence without the commitment and skills of a team, and I am blessed to work with so many talented chefs and wait staff here.
“While we appreciate that our guests expect to be wowed by our meal designs, our aim is always to nourish diners with ingredients of the freshest and highest quality. This award confirms we are on the right track.’’
Located next to Peppertree Wines, Circa 1876 and The Convent boutique hotel on the same property recently joined the Escarpment Group collection of luxury properties which also includes Lilianfels Resort & Spa, Echoes Boutique Hotel, Parklands Country Gardens & Lodges and the famous Hydro Majestic Hotel in the Blue Mountains.
Escarpment Group general manager Ralf Bruegger said: “There are many fantastic restaurants in Australia and the Hunter Valley is home to some of the best, so this is a terrific achievement and a wonderful acknowledgment of the calibre of our business and the team behind it.’’
The R&CA Awards for Excellence is a nationally recognised, independently judged awards program that recognises exceptional service and culinary talent in restaurants, cafes, takeaway and catering businesses across Australia. It provides publicity for hospitality businesses, a chance to network with key suppliers and acknowledges the achievements of hospitality staff.
* Escarpment Group is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media
By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group
Masterpieces performed by some of the finest operatic and classical music talent followed by the unique tones of the Steve Hunter Trio will help jazz up the Blue Mountains nightlife scene in time for summer from the end of this month.
Celebrate the long weekend in a sensual atmosphere of music, heartbreaking tragedy, passion and cheeky fun when the operatic traditions of the grandest of the region’s grand hotels are revived during the Blue Mountains Opera Festival on Saturday, September 30, and Sunday, October 1.
Opera buffs can choose from one or more of the following performances:
- High tea, Saturday: Mozart’s magnificent masterpiece, his Clarinet Quintet, will begin the weekend on a high note featuring Sydney Symphony Orchestra clarinettist Frank Celata with the Enigma Quartet (you may even catch the singers giving a sneak preview of the evening concert).
Opera Gala Dinner Concert, Saturday: After a glowing inaugural success last year, Opera Australia tenor Brad Cooper, mezzo/soprano Sally Wilson and bass Damian Whiteley will take guests on an evening of drama, passion and cheeky fun. The singers will be accompanied by Sun Yi and Monique Irik on violin, Neil Thompson (viola), Minah Choe (cello) and Grace Kim (piano). Guests will also enjoy drinks and canapes on arrival at 5.30pm followed by an alternate two-course dinner with four-hour beverage package before the 7pm concert. Cost: $150pp.
- High tea, Sunday: The festivities crescendo when eight of the finest string players perform with the ever popular Mendelssohn Octet featuring the talents of Sun Yi, Marianne Broadfoot, Monique Irik and Kerry Martin on violins, Rosemary Curtin and Neil Thompson on violas and Minah Choe and Rowena Macneish on cello.
Each high tea concert package ($65pp) includes a glass of sparkling wine or cocktail on arrival with a sumptuous three-tier offering including a selection of gourmet sandwiches, scones, pastries and handmade desserts served with tea and coffee. High tea will be served between 10.30am and 12pm with the concert from 12pm to 1pm.
Then, surrounded by the rustic industrial textures of brick and steel in the historic Boiler House Restaurant, the Steve Hunter Trio will kick off a new monthly Live@TheBoilerHouse music series on Saturday, October 7, with an intimate musical experience.
Featuring the internationally-renowned Steve Hunter on electric bass, Matt Keagan (sax) and Gordon Rytmeister (drums), the band encourages unique input from its individual musicians. Instead of taking on one typical jazz style, the composition style sees a focus on the strength of the “voices’’ of the players.
Joined by Michael Storey on guitar and Mervyn Sequeria on bass, singer Rebekka Neville will perform her repertoire of jazz standards, Latin and contemporary grooves on November 4.
The renowned George Washingmachine Quartet will play the Boiler House with his special blend of music and visual talent on November 25.
General manager of Escarpment Group, which owns the Hydro Majestic, Ralf Bruegger said: “With a more casual atmosphere, contemporary music lineups, tapas food and reasonably-priced beverages, Boiler House events will introduce a new generation to the original Blue Mountains party palace.
“Music, parties and general revelry have always been a signature of the Hydro Majestic experience. People came here a hundred years ago to indulge and have fun, and we encourage the same today (elegantly of course).’’
The Steve Hunter Trio will play the Boiler House Restaurant from 7.30pm to 10pm Saturday, October 7. Tickets: $35. Bookings: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Go to www.hydromajestic.com.au or phone (02) 4782 6885 to book concerts, accommodation and dining.
*Escarpment Group is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media