Cool sun-splashed days, crisp evenings, leisurely sightseeing tours, charming accommodation and a blooming abundance of cool climate flowers – it’s time to shed those winter woolies and rejuvenate in Australia’s original romance destination this spring.
The National Trust’s manager of the famous Everglades House & Gardens, Guy McIlrath, said the Blue Mountains in spring was breathtaking.
“After the long winter months of short, cold days, bare tree branches and even snow, it’s wonderful to see nature burst forth with the vibrant colour of azaleas, daffodils, rhododendrons, tulips and, of course, the many native wildflowers in the bush.’’
Mr McIlrath encouraged visitors to spend at least one night in the region which had lured lovers for more than a century to fully explore any number of bushwalks, activities, dining options and gardens within the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.
Book your romantic spring getaway early for maximum brownie points with your love:
Springtime Deal: Shelton-Lea B&B, 159 Lurline St, Katoomba
Relax and rejuvenate in the romantic surrounds of a delightfully restored 1920s Californian-style bungalow a short stroll from the eclectic Katoomba café/restaurant and retail strip, interesting art galleries and the world-famous Three Sisters landmark.
Enter your classic Blue Mountains accommodation via your own private entrance and soak up the ambience with open gas fires, spa baths and period decor.
Book a romantic minimum two-night getaway any day of the week between September 1 and November 30, 2019, to receive a 10 per cent discount, complimentary bottle of local wine and chocolates.
Use the promotion code “Spring Deal 2019’’. Bookings open August 1, 2019. Promotion only available at www.sheltonlea.com.
Western Wine Tours
Indulge in the distinctive flavours of wines from the Central West and freshly crushed apple ciders from the upper Blue Mountains straight from the cellar door.
Guests can choose from a range of half and full-day tours which take in vineyards and cider sheds between Bilpin, the Megalong Valley and the Mudgee wine district. Each includes luxury chauffeured transport, wildlife sightings, food refreshments and spectacular views.
Guests of Shelton-Lea B&B receive a 10 per cent discount on all Western Wine Tours.
Bookings: www.westernwinetours.com.au or 0437 746 833.
Board the brand new Blue Mountains Shuttle to access seasonal fruit picking, cellar doors, eclectic shopping, exquisite gardens, dining and spectacular views along the Bells Line of Road between Katoomba and Richmond for the first time by public transport.
The twice-daily 57-seat air-conditioned coach service will stop at the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah and Bilpin along the way.
Featured pick-up and drop-off locations will include the world-famous Echo Point Lookout, seasonal orchards, Blue Mountains Botanic Garden at Mt Tomah and a cider shed.
Along the route, passengers can learn about the region from the on-board video, surf the net using free wifi or watch the untamed landscape while charging technology in provided USB ports.
The bus service will run from Katoomba at 9.30am and 1.50pm and Richmond at 11.35am and 4.10pm Thursday to Monday.
Details: www.botanicatouring.com or 0423 361 616.
Blue Mountains Limousine & Vintage Cadillacs
Be transported back this Spring to the most romantic of retro eras when Australia’s first tourist destination was at its ultimate flamboyant luxe.
Explore the breathtaking scenery of one of the most recognisable landscapes on Earth, the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, just like the well-heeled of the Roaring `20s era. Cruise upmarket Leura Mall for head-turning effect. Take in the sights of historic Cliff Drive, pausing at Echo Point overlooking the Three Sisters rock formation along the way.
Arrive for refreshments at a grand hotel, restaurant or cafe in the upper Blue Mountains in the glamorous style of old Hollywood in the magnificent Ava (Gardner) 1928 five-passenger Coupe LaSalle model Cadillac, Ella (Fitzgerald) the 1929 convertible Landau Cabriolet or Flora the cherry red coloured 1929 four-passenger Phaeton named after the owner Donald Millar’s mother.
There’s a timelessness to the shape of Cadillac LaSalles, and that’s part of that art deco era,’’ he said.Old cars can have a beauty because they’re old, but these cars have a beauty inherent in themselves. They have a distinct beauty, class and rarity.’’
Everglades House & Gardens, Everglades Ave, Leura
Amid a spectacular kaleidoscope of floral colour, from flowering cherry trees, carpets of daffodils and early bluebells to tulips, azaleas and rhododendrons, the historic art deco property will host a vibrant round of events and activities against an awe-inspiring bush backdrop throughout spring.
Events will include art exhibitions showcasing the talents of youngsters in a Schools Reconciliation Challenge (August 2 – September 29) and established artists Owen Thompson (September 7 – 29) and The Wild and the Cultivated of Gardens and Beyond collective (October 5 – 27), a Japanese tea ceremony event (August 31), The Fabulous Fifties luncheon fashion event (September 14) and the famous Leura Gardens Festival (October 5 – 7 & 11 – 13).
Nepean Gorge Discovery Tour (September 28): Nepean Belle Paddlewheeler, Jamisontown
Explore the deep reaches of the historic heart and lifeblood of the Nepean and Blue Mountains region aboard the iconic paddlewheeler.
Cruise as far as possible along the tranquil waters of the Nepean River into the Nepean Gorge and Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, pausing along the way at spots with historic significance to learn interesting facts and anecdotes.
Experience the natural wonders of the landscape and its inhabitants, including eagles, cormorants, azure kingfishers, bellbirds and more. There have been reports of a dingo and those with binoculars may even spot an echidna hidden among the scrub.
Tickets: $125 adults, $110 seniors, $65 children 3 – 16 years (0 – 2 years free) includes 5.5-hour cruise (9.30am to 3pm), Devonshire tea, two-course lunch and light afternoon tea. Bookings: www.nepeanbelle.com.au or 4733 1274.
Mountain Whispers The MW Collection
From beautifully manicured Edwardian and sprawling English cottage gardens, magnificent vistas across the Jamison Valley to being conveniently located to the Three Sisters landmark, each Mountain Whispers property offers guests the perfect setting to take in as much – or as little, as they please.
French champagne on ice, in-house massage and/or facial in opulent surrounds, private picnics and sunset watching. At Mountain Whispers, your every detail matters.
Owner Lorraine Allanson said: “With the smell of spring lingering in the air already and a healthy anticipation for the newness and warmer weather, the gardens at Mountain Whispers promise a show-stopping natural display for our guests.’’
Spring is the perfect time to come out of hibernation and be one with nature. Shed the winter blues and escape to the Blue Mountains for the perfect mind, body and soul rejuvenation.
Mountain Whispers offers five luxuriously appointed self-contained escapes. Each of the multi-award-winning properties – Varenna, Leura Rose and Strawberry Patch in Leura and The Gatsby and Chatelaine in Katoomba – promise a bespoke getaway in total privacy and comfort for couples and small groups.
Details: www.mountainwhispers.com.au or 1300 721 321.
By Ellen Hill for Hartley Historic Site Photos: David Hill
New upmarket accommodation at the gateway to the NSW Central West gives visitors the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in Australia’s colonial past.
Surrounded by pastures, heritage orchards, cottage gardens and charming sandstone buildings, the St Bernard’s Presbytery and Old Trahlee properties at Hartley Historic Site will open for bookings from June.
Managed by the National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) since 1972 under the NSW Office of Environment & Heritage, the buildings are among the collection of 17 historic structures at the site.
Hartley Historic Site manager Steve Ring said: “Visitors to the site can already catch a glimpse into colonial Australian life during the day. Now they can soak up the full experience overnight.’’
“These are not just pleasant rooms in a nice but generic hotel. Like all NPWS accommodation experiences throughout the state, we have used unique antique knick-knacks and quality furnishings to complement the special character of both properties.’’
Set on the side of a hill overlooking the picturesque village, St Bernard’s Presbytery accommodates up to four people in one twin and one double bedroom. It has a full kitchen, spa bathroom, dining room and living room for guest use.
The presbytery building is believed to have been built about 1860 and used as the home of the resident priest to St Bernard’s Catholic Church next door until the mid-1880s, after which it was leased by local families until coming under NPWS management in 1972 and used as a visitor centre until the mid-1980s.
“Just imagine sitting on the verandah with a glass of exceptional regional wine watching the sandstone of the buildings in the foreground and the Blue Mountains escarpment in the distance light up at sunset,’’ Mr Ring said.
“In winter, what better way to end a day exploring the region than with a hot drink in front of a roaring fire?’’
While St Bernard’s Presbytery would be ideal for couples seeking a romantic retreat, the Old Trahlee property is best suited to families.
Built between 1846 and 1854 by John and Mary Finn, Old Trahlee accommodates six people in two double rooms and another with bunk beds.
There is also a baby’s cot in a separate room and standard wheelchair access to half the property including the kitchen, ambulant bathroom and one of the double bedrooms.
While at Hartley Historic Site, guests can take a self-guided tour of the Hartley Courthouse and St Bernard’s Catholic Church, browse affordable Aboriginal art at the Kew-Y-Ahn Art Gallery, stroll along the Kew-Y-Ahn Bell Rock Heritage Trail, have refreshments at the Old Post Office Café and visit Talisman Gallery showcasing Ron Fitzpatrick’s metal art.
Mr Ring also encouraged visitors to explore the wider region: “If you’re coming from Sydney, travel up the Great Western Highway and see the Blue Mountains, spend time with us, then drive into Lithgow and head home via the Bells Line of Road through the Hawkesbury to experience the World Heritage Area from a very different perspective.’’
St Bernard’s Presbytery ($390 per night, minimum two-night stay on weekends) and Old Trahlee ($280 per night, minimum two-night stay on weekends) are located at Hartley Historic Site, Old Bathurst Rd (just off Great Western Hwy), Hartley. Bookings: (02) 6355 2117 or www.bluemountainsgetaways.com.
Go to lithgowtourism.com, bluemountainscitytourism.com.au or visitnsw.com.au for information about dining options and activities in the region.
- Hartley Historic Site is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media and Headline Publicity
By Ellen Hill for Hartley Historic Site Photos: David Hill
Explore one of the best examples of colonial history afresh when Hartley Historic Site holds its annual Back to Hartley family fair on Sunday, October 25.
Be entertained with live music by Lithgow Folk Club; take a trike or pony ride; have a close encounter with a furry friend at the petting zoo; make a fire poker with metal artist Ron Fitzpatrick at Talisman Gallery; and hit a bullseye at the archery.
There will be the Galloping Gumnut travelling playgroup for pre-schoolers, face painting, sheep shearing, a reptile show, locally-made handmade arts and crafts stalls, vintage cars and dancing demonstrations. New this year will be a rock climbing wall.
This year’s Back to Hartley will also commemorate the first 100 mile motorcycle race in the Hartley Valley and motorcyclists are invited to submit their bikes for judging by Lithgow Motorcycle Club with a range of prizes and categories up for grabs.
The Hartley Vale Circuit was originally marked out on public roads in 1915 just south of Lithgow. The circuit was first used by the Sydney-based Canberra Motorcycle Club to hold its first annual 100 mile race. The circuit was 6km long and a gravel surface. Racing was conducted in a clockwise direction and later controlled by Western Suburbs Motorcycle Club. It closed in 1936.
Hartley Historic Site manager Steve Ring said funds raised from the day would go towards Paxton – MPS Journey to help pay for treatment for Lithgow one-year-old Paxton who was diagnosed with the rare and incurable MPS II disease also known as Hunters Syndrome when he was nine months old.
“Back to Hartley is a good chance for NPWS to work with the community to raise funds for a local charity or causes we both feel are important. This year we are pleased to be helping young Paxton.’’
Hartley Historic Site is managed by National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) and buildings tell the story of the village from the 1837 Greek Revival courthouse to Corneys Garage built in 1945 of timber and iron.
Set among pastures, orchards, native plants and 19th and 20th century cottage gardens, the village’s sandstone buildings preserve an important piece of history – the settlement of inland Australia.
The settlement began when a need for a police centre in the Hartley Valley led to the construction of Hartley Court House in 1837.
During the next 50 years a bustling village grew around the courthouse, the judicial and administrative centre surrounded by churches and accommodation, a post office and staging facilities.
The village served travellers and settlers west of the Blue Mountains until it was surpassed by the Great Western Railway in 1887 and became stagnant and fell into decline.
In 1972 the village was declared an historic site under the management of NPWS.
Today, it includes 17 buildings of historical significance, two privately owned, including Old Trahlee (1840), Post Office (1846), St Bernard’s Presbytery and St Bernard’s Church (1842) still operating as a Catholic church, Shamrock Inn Cottage (1841) and the Court House (1837).
“We have recently completed many improvements and added new attractions to the site including an Aboriginal art gallery, café, the Kew-Y-Ahn walk and modern toilet facilities, new gardens and fences,’’ Mr Ring said.
He also encouraged visitors to explore the wider region.
“If you’re coming from Sydney, travel up the Great Western Highway and see the Blue Mountains, spend the day with us at Back to Hartley, then drive into Lithgow and head home via the Bells Line of Road through the Hawkesbury to experience the World Heritage Area from a very different perspective.’’
Visitors can choose from a range of accommodation and dining options in the Lithgow area.
Go to lithgowtourism.com for more information.
Back to Hartley will be held at Hartley Historic Site, Old Bathurst Rd (just off Great Western Hwy), Hartley, from 9am to 4pm Sunday, October 25. Cost: $5 per vehicle. Details: (02) 6355 2117 or firstname.lastname@example.org.