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.
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 Hillbilly Cider Photos: David Hill
Hillbillies at heart can escape the big smoke and experience nature for real at the newly opened Hillbilly Cider Shed in the heart of Bilpin apple country.
Wend your way up the famed Bells Line of Rd and follow the comforting aroma of fermented apples into the Hillbilly Cider Shed to discover a hidden refuge of Prohibition-era speakeasy ambience overlooking a working apple orchard.
There, you can escape the foot-stomping winter chill outside and imbibe in a belly-warming mulled cider and munch on fresh salted popcorn while learning about the cidermaking process and the Hillbilly philosophy from Hillbilly Shane or Hillbetty Tessa McLaughlin themselves.
In 2007, the couple shifted to a bohemian existence on 35-acres at Bilpin, where fourth generation farmer and Canonbah Bridge winemaker Shane (“Dodge’’ to his mates) set about making a cider in a cellar he dug by hand under the house.
The result? Just apples. With altitude. And a squeeze of good old Hillbilly magic.
We don’t add sugar, we don’t pasteurise and we don’t add artificial flavours,’’ the Cider Australia treasurer says.We’re all about keeping it real and honest – 100 per cent crushed fruit fermented with minimal intervention for an easy bohemian bubble.’’
Dedicated Hillbillies can seek out the uninhibited honest earthiness, mountain air, memories of good times with friends and fermented fruit of Hillbilly Cider straight out of the barrels at the new cider shed.
Tasting cider straight from the barrel is but one experience available exclusively at the inner Hillbilly sanctum.
In season, pick the very apples that go into the cider.
Stock up on the new Scrumpy and Sweet Julie ciders – the ones you don’t see around too much outside the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury, and grab new ciders the moment Hillbilly Shane releases them.
In fact, the Sweet Julie is the only cider in the world made from the Julie apple, discovered and grown at the orchard onsite and the newest apple discovered in the area since the Granny Smith 100 years ago.
Environmentally conscious cider lovers can reduce packaging purchase to zero by investing in their own 1.854lt Hillbilly Cider growler, only at the Hillbilly Cider Shed.
It’s also the only place in the country to buy a cider canimal. Filled with nearly a litre of Hillbilly liquid goodness, canimals “are mini kegs so they’ll keep you going for a while – you won’t lose your place around the bonfire’’, Shane says.
Have your canimal filled on the spot with your choice of cider straight off the barrel and pressure sealed by the first and only canimal machine used for cider in Australia.
Hillbillies can picnic under the trees with the company of cider shed dog Star or sit on the deck and soak up the vibes of raw Hillbilly music, meaningful conversation and the nostalgic scent of crushed cider on the breeze.
After tasting the award-winning alcoholic and non-alcoholic apple and pear ciders, cleansing the palette with salted popcorn, stocking up on your chosen flavour of bottled bohemian lifestyle, be sure to proclaim your Hillbillification with pride on clothing and other items available at the cider shed.
Hillbilly Cider is also available throughout the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury and beyond via independent bottle shops, funky bars and restaurants, or catch the Hillbillies at farmers markets and music festivals.
The Hillbilly Cider Shed, Shields Orchard, 2270 Bells Line of Rd, Bilpin, is open from 12pm to 5pm Friday and 11am to 5pm Saturday and Sunday (check website for extra open days during school holidays). Go to hillbilly.com.au for more information.
- Hillbilly Cider is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media