Writing, photography, content creation & communications

Posts tagged “Blue Mountains

Workshop: Create Your Post-media Success

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.

Deep Hill Media photojournalist David Hill

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.

Deep Hill Media communications consultant & journalist Ellen Hill

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.


Blue Mountains, NSW: Snow-dusted Yulefest

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

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

High tea with a view at the Hydro Majestic Hotel

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

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

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

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

High tea in plush comfort at Lilianfels Resort & Spa

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

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

Hatted decadence at Darley’s Restaurant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*Escarpment Group is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media

Fireside dining at Darley’s Restaurant


Blue Mountains hospitality apprenticeship opportunities

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

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

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

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

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

Apprenticeships are available in various roles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*Escarpment Group is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media

Apprentices will learn on the job from experienced staff


Great fat rail coup for Blue Mountains tourism

A Fantastic Aussie Tours bus at Echo Point Lookout

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.

(l-r) Fantastic Aussie Tours managing director Jason Cronshaw, Indian Pacific manager Penelope Milne and Jay Yip from Trippas White Group celebrate the official tour package launch at The Lookout Restaurant overlooking the Jamison Valley. Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

“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.

Click HERE to book a seat on the Indian Pacific. Click HERE for information about Fantastic Aussie Tours.

  • Fantastic Aussie Tours is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media

    (l-r) Fantastic Aussie Tours managing director Jason Cronshaw and Indian Pacific restaurant manager Stacey Chau celebrate the official tour package launch. Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media


Blue Mountains, NSW: KCC redevelopment to solve parking, noise

An artist’s impression of the proposed redevelopment of the KCC auditorium and bookshop space

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.

(l-r) KCC executive director Jonathan Dykes and operations manager (functions) Shelley Taylor in front of the existing bookshop. Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

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

 


Concert to calm the senses

Sensory Concerts are designed for anyone with sensory needs, particularly children on the autism spectrum. Photo: Jenny Wu

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.

Concert pianist Grace Kim. Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

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.

Violinist Erica Kennedy will perform at the Glenbrook concert

“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.’’

Flautist Lisa Osmialowski will perform at the Glenbrook concert

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 

    Concert pianist Grace Kim. Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media


Blue Mountains, Penrith: Job opportunities for nannies

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 nanny@bluemountainsnanny.com.au for more details.

* Faeriestorm Nanny Service is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media


Tree change for wildlife at Everglades, Blue Mountains

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 everglades@nationaltrust.com.au.

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

Habitat Creationists: (l-r) Sydney Arbor Trees aborist Peter Bowles, Everglades head gardener Dave Gray, Sydney Arbor Trees consulting arborist Michael Sullings, BMCC community conservation officer Linda Thomas, Greater Sydney Local Land Services officer Linda Dedovic and Everglades Historic House & Gardens manager Guy McIlrath


Festive arrival for Santa at Hydro Majestic Hotel, Blue Mountains

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

Roaring 20s Festival: art deco weekend at Hydro Majestic Hotel

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

Blue Mountains, NSW: Springwood High School 50th anniversary reunion

 

The first intake of Springwood High School students in 1967

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.

Springwood High School staff in 1970


Leura Garage lights up Christmas early with kids’ lantern-making workshops

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, service@leuragarage.com.au or leuragarage.com.au/lantern.

* Leura Garage is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media


Blue Mountains bush Christmas with altitude

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.

PRE-CHRISTMAS:

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, info@leuragarage.com.au or leuragarage.com.au/lantern.

GIFT IDEAS:

 

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 nanny@bluemountainsnanny.com.au.

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: info@bluemountainslimo.com.au or Donald on 0455 352 976.

CHRISTMAS DAY:

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 info@talismangallery.com.au.

 

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 evergladesgarden@nationaltrust.com.au.

* All businesses mentioned are commercial clients of Deep Hill Media

 


Talisman lights historic village with colour

By Ellen Hill for Talisman Gallery

Take a pilgrimage to Talisman Gallery at Hartley historic village and discover metal artist Ron Fitzpatrick’s artistic journey from fitter and turner to zen iron master.

His latest exhibition, Colour & Light, will launch as an activity of the Back to Hartley community event this weekend and continue next weekend [November 5-6].

Visitors to the site can browse the installation of colourful glass and rusted steel sculptures placed along the path to the granite Tor behind the clutch of colonial-era sandstone buildings.

Colour & Light follows Fitzpatrick’s rusted forged steel garden art exhibition at Everglades Historic House & Gardens in the Blue Mountains recently (September 28 to October 8) and “feels like a culmination of a lot of ideas and skills picked up along my journey’’.

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

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

For the past five years since moving from a highway location, Fitzpatrick has created his art pieces at the Talisman Gallery under the watchful gaze of the huge outcrop of granite boulders.

Kew-Y-Ahn has inspired artists for more than 150 years. Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

It’s such an inspiring backdrop,’’ he said.So I thought: what better place for an art installation than along the path leading up to the rocks? It’s the ultimate outdoor gallery.’’

Colour & Light is his latest collection of colourful stained glass and rusted steel garden art pieces, each one mounted on Blue Mountains sandstone.

“I really like the uplifting happy feeling you get from the sun streaming through the glass and they are a great way to add colour to your garden or outdoor spaces.’’

Referred to by one customer as the zen iron master’’, most of Fitzpatrick’s designs are inspired by his daily meditations practice, when he oftensees’’ the shapes he creates. The Colour & Light exhibition was no different.

“One morning I saw four or five designs, one after the other. Each day I would come in and make a different piece. They just fell out of me – it was like they needed to be given a life.’’

Colour & Light will be displayed at Talisman Gallery, Hartley historic village, Great Western Hwy (400m before turn off to Jenolan Caves heading west) this weekend and next from 10am to 5pm. See a catalogue of works available for sale on the Talisman Gallery – Hartley Facebook page.  Tuesday to Sunday. Details: Ron 0407 723 722, talismangallery@bigpond.com or the Facebook page Talisman Gallery -Hartley.

 

*Talisman Gallery is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media


Blue Mountains, NSW: White art exhibition colours historic Everglades

Everglades manager Guy McIlrath holding artwork by Helen Sturgess, The Memory of Something Golden

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.

The White exhibition will be a great opportunity to explore the exquisite Everglades gardens

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 friendsofeverglades@gmail.com (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 everglades@nationaltrust.com.au.

*Everglades Historic House & Gardens is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media

The White exhibition will be a great opportunity to explore the exquisite Everglades gardens


Fine dining award win for Circa 1876 restaurant, Hunter Valley NSW

Circa 1876 executive chef Trent Barrett creates a culinary masterpiece

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


Hydro jazzes up Mountains’ nightlight

(l-r) Damien Whiteley and Brad Cooper perform at the Hydro Majestic Hotel at last year’s opera festival. Photo: David Hill, 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.

Bass Damian Whiteley. Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

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).

 

  • Pianists Kristian Chong and Grace Kim perform together at the Hydro Majestic recently. Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

    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.

The Boiler House Restaurant. Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

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.

 

Steve Hunter. Photo: Supplied

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: reservations@hydromajestic.com.au.

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

The Boiler House Restaurant. Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media


Blue Mountains: Talisman Gallery brings contemporary edge to Everglades

Metal artist Ron Fitzpatrick of Talisman Gallery with one of his sculptures at Everglades Historic House & Gardens

By Ellen Hill for Talisman Gallery        Photos: David Hill

The avant garde curves of Everglades Historic House & Gardens will be given a contemporary edge when metal artist Ron Fitzpatrick displays his distinctive garden art at the Blue Mountains heritage property this month and next.

The selection of outdoor pieces will be exhibited in the terraced space beneath the row of cherry trees next to the main building from September 30 to October 8

Set against the breathtaking backdrop of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, the graceful Moderne-style 1930s house at the Leura property is set among 5.2ha of native bush and gardens designed by Danish-born landscape gardener Paul Sorensen.

The magnificent inter-war period gardens feature formal European-style terraces and winding paths revealing the many moods of the property, from the tranquil Reflection Pool amid towering trees from all over the world to the subtle charms of the lookout and contemplative Grotto Pool. Visitors also enjoy the surprise unveiling of vistas through to Mt Solitary and the Jamison Valley.

To this setting, Fitzpatrick’s sculptures of rusted forged steel mounted on sandstone plinths textured in convict henpecked-style will introduce whimsy and colour.

“It’s a really tranquil experience to sit in the gardens with a Devonshire tea watching the light play on the flowers, the breeze moving the branches and leaves and how the artworks interact with the space,’’ he said.

“The Everglades house has lots of spectacular art deco wrought iron work so my sculpture pieces blend in too because of the materials I work with – steel and sandstone, the sandy colour of the building and its curves and patterned façade.’’

Referred to by one customer as “the zen iron master’’, Fitzpatrick creates his inspired metal art in his Talisman Gallery, an old woolshed behind the clutch of colonial-era sandstone buildings of Hartley historic village at the western foothills of the Blue Mountains.

Most of his designs are inspired by his daily meditations practice, when he often “sees’’ the shapes he creates.

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

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

Fitzpatrick’s exhibition of garden art will also coincide with the famous Leura Gardens Festival, with several pieces also to be displayed in select private gardens during the event.

Also on in the Everglades indoor art gallery, Nadege Lamy’s Dancer in the Dark exhibition will reflect on the visual and emotional of the then and now, of the ever-changing life journey of an artist through her body of work. The paintings and sculptures will shed light on the processes of art making and various subjects.

Talisman Gallery at Hartley historic village, Great Western Hwy (400m before turn off to Jenolan Caves heading west) is open from 10am to 5pm Tuesday to Sunday. Details: Ron 0407 723 722, talismangallery@bigpond.com or the Facebook page @Talisman Gallery -Hartley.

Everglades Historic House & Gardens, 37 Everglades Ave, Leura, which 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. Details: (02) 4784 1938 or email everglades@nationaltrust.com.au.


Blue Mountains NSW on global show

Celebrity chef Luke Nguyen with (l-r) Darley’s Restaurant third year apprentice chef Kian Llorente, executive chef Lee Kwiez and commis chef Jessie Hapuku)

By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group

The Greater Blue Mountains region will be showcased to billions of potential tourism visitors when SBS airs the next Luke Nguyen cultural foodie series early next year.

The celebrity chef spent a whirlwind two days in the area recently filming interviews with food producers in the Jamison and Megalong valleys, visits to cultural identities such as the Escarpment Group-owned Hydro Majestic Hotel at Medlow Bath, fusion cooking at Echoes Restaurant and inspiration gathering sessions with Darley’s Restaurant Hatted executive chef Lee Kwiez.

The SBS Food Diaries series, which will be shown in 160 countries, will trace Nguyen’s journey from his childhood roots and connections in Vietnam to his first restaurant in Surry Hills and his current international success.

Escarpment Group director Huong Nguyen has known Luke (no relation) since he was a child growing up in his family’s restaurant at Cabramatta: “Our fathers were both in the military before the war ended in 1975 and his family came to Australia shortly after mine.’’

Celebrity chef Luke Nguyen on location at Echoes Boutique Hotel filming his cultural foodie series SBS Food Diaries

Both Nguyen families were among two million Vietnamese to flee the Communist regime after it came to power in 1975. “Despite his humble background, Luke and siblings Pauline and Lewis were all resilient, creative and academically gifted and have all achieved outstanding success.’’

Nguyen is best known as the host of television series Luke Nguyen’s Vietnam and Luke Nguyen’s Street Food Asia. He is also a judge on MasterChef Vietnam and has appeared several times on MasterChef Australia as guest chef.

He also owns a cooking school and restaurants in Hong Kong and Vietnam, the Red Lantern in Surry Hills, Fat Noodle in The Star Sydney and the Treasury Hotel & Casino in Brisbane, and has penned several cookbooks.

“Now Luke is bringing Australia to the world. Yes, Luke’s latest series is definitely a fantastic showcase of our Blue Mountains properties, but it’s also great exposure for the region and will introduce millions, if not billions, of viewers throughout the world to the abundance of fresh regional produce available to them when they visit any restaurant, café, B&B or hotel that offers local flavours on their menus here,’’ Ms Nguyen said.

  • Escarpment Group is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media

First Blue Mountains art show on again

By Ellen Hill for Springwood Art Show       Photos: David Hill

The first and longest running art show in the Blue Mountains will once again showcase outstanding talent from established and emerging artists from the area and raise funds for school student resources from August 25 to 27.

Held at Springwood High School and co-ordinated by the Parents & Citizens Association (P&C), Springwood Art Show directly supports students of the school with 25 per cent of all sales plus all proceeds from admission, café, raffle and artworks used to buy educational resources.

The event which helped establish the Blue Mountains as a recognised “city of the arts’’ will be a chance to admire more than 400 artworks from more than 100 local artists, photographers and galleries.

Visitors can snap up an original work to decorate their home or office for reasonable prices, including from featured artist Sue Gasser who has built a career painting the natural beauty of her surrounds.

One lucky art show visitor will take home a Sue Gasser painting worth $850 as a raffle prize. Tickets for your chance to win Gasser’s King Parrots With a View painting will be $2 each or three for $5.

Also on sale will be a range of artisan work such as handcrafted jewellery, woodwork and gifts.

A highlight this year will be the encouragement of young and emerging artists through the `Make your mark’’ theme to celebrate Springwood High School’s 50th anniversary and more than $5000 in prizes across a range of medium and age categories

Springwood Art Show will be officially opened at 7pm on Friday, August 25, by Blue Mountains Cultural Centre exhibitions manager Sabrina Roesner.

Photo supplied

“The Springwood Art Show, the first and longest running art show in the Blue Mountains, is a wonderful initiative that provides a platform for our young emerging artists and celebrates the creative and vibrant community that we live in. I very much look forward to seeing the students’ work and opening the show on 25 August,’’ she said.

P&C president Julia Thurling said: “Everything we do as a P&C is for the benefit and wellbeing of students of Springwood High School. The art show not only raises funds for resources which support students of the school, it is a long-recognised event on the wider community calendar and fits nicely with the Blue Mountains community interest in the arts.’’

Springwood Art Show will be held at Springwood High School, Grose Rd, Faulconbridge, from August 25 to 27, with an official opening program on the Friday evening and activities and a café throughout the weekend. Opening hours from 7pm to 10pm Friday, 10am to 6pm Saturday and 10am to 4pm Sunday. Tickets: opening night $20 includes supper and wine; general admission $5 adults, $3 concessions, $10 families Saturday and Sunday. Go to springwoodartshow.org.au for more information.


New Hillbilly Cider Shed just apples

Hillbilly Cider maker Shane McLaughlin tests his latest batch at the Hillbilly Cider Shed

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.

Filling a 1.854 lt growler straight from the barrel at the Hillbilly Cider Shed

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.

Hillbillification begins at the Hillbilly Cider Shed at Bilpin

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

    Customers soak up the Prohibition-era speakeasy ambiance of the Hillbilly Cider Shed


Faeriestorm Nanny Service makes family life easier

By Ellen Hill for Faeriestorm Nanny Service             Photos: David Hill

Race home from work. Pick the kids up from school. Feed them afternoon tea. Get the washing off the line. Supervise homework. Take one child to music lessons, another to soccer training and a third to a play date. Bath the baby. Prepare dinner.

What if a fairy godmother did all that for you and all you had to do was enjoy your children? In your dreams right?

Wrong.

Brenda Edwards and her team at Faeriestorm Nanny Service take the hard work out of your busy life so your family can spend more time focusing on, well, being a family.

Running a household, holding down a job and dedicating time to your kids is hard work,’’ Mrs Edwards (Miss Brenda’’ to her charges) says. “Sometimes it’s even impossible. But we can make it easier.’’

While the central focus of all Faeriestorm nannies is always the children in their care, “our second priority is to make your life a little less stressful’’.

Unlike a babysitter who only looks after the child, a nanny cares about the whole family.

Most nannies conduct light duties around the home such as laundry, meal preparation and tidying depending on their individual skills and the wishes and needs of the family.

The first role is to look after the children: their washing, their learning, their food, their play,’’ Mrs Edwards says.But it’s also about helping parents have uninterrupted bonding time with their children.

“One of my clients needs to have her two boys picked up from school, homework done and a little bit of dinner preparation so that when she comes home she can just enjoy quality time with her boys.

“I’m like an aunty or another grandma.’’

All Faeriestorm nannies have Certificate III in Childcare and first aid certificate qualifications, a working with children check and wear a uniform while working.

Most have children of their own and many have worked in childcare centres.

 

“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.’’

While the service is tailored to each family’s short or long-term needs and nannies are matched to families, honesty, reliability and discretion are paramount in all cases, Mrs Edwards says.

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 with a team of nannies, and can cater for children with special needs.

Nannies are also available to care for individual children or groups when parents attend events such as weddings and parties and for travellers in hotels, especially while parents enjoy evening fine dining experiences or grown up activities such as adventure sports or ghost tours.

Contact Brenda Edwards on 0417 448 318 or at nanny@bluemountainsnanny.com.au for more information.

  • Faeriestorm Nanny Service is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media

Everglades opens closet of secrets

Born Free will be part of Rod McRae’s Wunderkammer exhibition at Everglades Historic House & Gardens, Leura

By Ellen Hill for Everglades Historic House & Gardens

Everglades Historic House & Gardens will provoke and challenge environmental change by opening its closet to a secret stash of exotic animals in June.

The Wunderkammer exhibition of ethically-sourced taxidermied animals by artist Rod McRae will be displayed at the Leura landmark from June 10 to August 27 (11am to 3pm), with one of the exhibits to be displayed at the Hydro Majestic Hotel at Medlow Bath.

Each exhibit explores an animal issue using real preserved animal bodies to tell their stories

Wunderkammer, which means “closet of secrets’’, has been on the regional art gallery circuit since 2013 and consists of 15 portals into what was, what is and what could be.

Each work explores an animal “issue’’ using real preserved animal bodies (taxidermy) to tell their stories including trophy hunting, displacement, poisoning.

A polar bear teeters on a refrigerator, a zebra is in a shipping crate on which is written a “shopping list’’ of animals available for hunt, there are penguin skeletons alongside shards of plastic and a list of harmful chemicals, a faceless baboon holding a mirror towards its head and the king of the jungle playing on a bed – with a chain around its neck.

However, no animal was harmed to make the artwork. The skins were the result of death by natural causes, medical euthanasia, hunting, culling and food production and had been traded on, sometimes multiple times before they became part of Wunderkammer. The skin of the baboon is a by-product of trophy taking.

McRae aimed to provoke thought, discussion and, ultimately, change through the sometimes hideous displays.

“I would like to believe that art can make a difference,’’ he said.

“Using the real thing creates art that is both authentic and empathetic. I argue that sculptures of animals rendered in resin, plastic, stone, wood or metal cannot speak as directly to us as the real animal.

“Each work touches on a different aspect of the human-animal relationship including biodiversity, pollution, climate change, conservation and stewardship. Each work asks us to examine our responsibilities as fellow travellers on this planet.’’

Wunderkammer will be hosted by Everglades Historic House & Gardens, Leura

A floor talk will be given at the official opening on June 10 by a curator from the Western Plains Cultural Centre. Then, on June 24, Everglades will be hosting a faux fur luncheon with Rod McRae giving another floor talk.

Everglades manager Scott Pollock said: “This exhibition is an opportunity to meet these exotic creatures up close in ways we could never do while they are alive.

“While this exhibition is provocative and even confronting, our environment surrounding us here in the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area with its vast wilderness of rare, unknown and thought-to-be-extinct plant and animal species demands that we give it consideration.’’

The art deco-style of the 1930s property and squash court building which is now used as the gallery is an apt venue to showcase the unusual.

“Visitors already expect the unexpected at Everglades. We have a manmade waterfall and bathing pond, exotic landscaped gardens amongst the native bushland, unusual columns, niches and drystone walls and live Shakespeare productions, so coming across a zebra in the a squash court or Polar bear wrapped around a refrigerator won’t be too extraordinary.”

“The exhibition is very Blue Mountains of the 1930s and the local community is very comfortable with the concepts of it today actually.’’

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 evergladesgarden@bigpond.com.

The works included in Wunderkammer are managed by the Western Plains Cultural Centre, a facility of Dubbo Regional Council.

Rod McRae began his visual journey as a children’s book author illustrator in the 1980s producing more than 50 books.

In the `90s he experimented with photography and was twice a finalist in the Blake Prize for Religious Art.

Since 2008, McRae has explored sculpture and installation art concentrating on conservation and human-animal themes and has been a finalist in several art prizes including the Wynne Prize for Australian landscape/figurative sculpture, Fishers Ghost Art Prize and Sculpture by the Sea.

Wunderkammer is McRae’s first travelling show. It has been on the regional art gallery circuit since 2013.

* Everglades Historic House & Gardens is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media

The beautiful Everglades Historic House & Gardens at Leura. Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media


Hydro Majestic gangsters raise funds for Katoomba Hospital

By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group            Photos: David Hill

The original Blue Mountains party palace will again resound with the likes of Al Capone, Dutch Schultz and Bugsy Siegel when the Hydro Majestic Hotel holds a Gangster Casino Night on Saturday, May 27, in support of Katoomba Hospital.

Guests can play Blackjack, Poker, Roulette, The Money Wheel with Majestic Money at casino-quality tables with professionally trained casino standard croupiers.

Prizes on the night will include accommodation packages, dinner and show tickets, day spa, high tea packages and more.

Money raised at the event will go towards refurbishing the waiting room in the Katoomba Hospital emergency department.

An 18 years plus age restriction applies for this event, which will begin with a three-course dinner in the Wintergarden Restaurant from 6pm-8pm during which there will be entertainment, followed by the casino in the Majestic Marquee from 8pm-11pm.

Escarpment Group general manager Ralf Bruegger said Escarpment Group was pleased to help Katoomba Hospital, which had a 92-year-long history of caring for the health and wellbeing of locals and visitors.

“While we do enjoy reliving the decadence and party lifestyle made famous by the first owner of the Hydro Majestic, Mark Foy, Escarpment Group is very much involved in the Blue Mountains community.

“The staff at Katoomba Hospital work tirelessly for the good of others including, occasionally, our guests, so if we can help make their job easier and have fun along the way, then everyone wins.’’

There will be no cigars or opium like there was in the gangster era of course “but there’s no prohibition in 2017 so our bars will be open and serving a range of exotic cocktails’’.

To look the part, gents could wear a three-piece suit (pinstriped if possible) accentuated by a contrasting tie (never a bow tie) and suspenders, with a dark overcoat, a fedora hat, black dress shoes with white spats, a pocket square, watch chain with a watch and a thin, straight moustache.

“Gangsters were most definitely criminals but the mob bosses weren’t ruffians. They always looked snazzy – Al Capone was just as sophisticated as Rudolph Valentino,’’ Mr Bruegger said.

Flappers sported short sleek hair, shorter shapeless shift dress, a flat chest, dramatic makeup (often applied in public) and exposed limbs accessorised with a long string of beads; a beaded skullcap, fascinator headpiece or scarf; long satin gloves; stockings rolled down just below the knee; and Mary Jane-style shoes. Hair was worn in a bob, a chignon; or waves or kiss-curls around the hairline.

Tickets: $55 per person general admission to Casino includes welcome cocktail; $150pp includes three-course dinner in Wintergarden Restaurant plus entry to Casino event. Bookings: hydromajestic.com.au.

  • Escarpment Group is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media