Bon bons and plum pud among myriad teapots, belly laughs at classic humour, river cruising, and luxury digs and dining accessed by vintage motorcar and modern glitzy wheels. There’s even a chance of snow flurries around one of the most famous landmarks on the planet.
Visitors to the Blue Mountains are in for a cool Yule this July.
A regional tradition since 1980, mid-winter Yulefest is the season for which Australia’s first tourist destination is most famous.
After the exhilarating zing of a chilly day spent exploring the lookouts and bushwalking tracks of the magnificent Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, shopping at charming villages and visiting attractions, sojourners are warmly invited indoors for steaming drinks, fireside dining and rousing entertainment.
Numerous hotels, guesthouses, B&Bs, cafes and restaurants celebrate the winter festival, enlivened by warming entertainment.
Guest services manager of Escarpment Group collection of luxury hotels, Meagan Iervasi, encouraged visitors to immerse themselves in the festive atmosphere by staying at least one night: “Yulefest in the Blue Mountains offers the European-style atmosphere people associate with Christmas – a chilly landscape outside and cosiness inside with roaring fires, hot food and drinks, traditional decorations and festive music, but without the stress and frosty relatives. Sometimes there’s even snow.’’
Book your Yulefest bed, table and experience early so you’re not left out in the cold:
Blue Mountains Limousine & Vintage Cadillacs
Vintage vroom or modern glitz: you choose how you make a grand entrance this Yulefest.
Guests (minimum two passengers per trip) will be collected from and returned to any location between Hazelbrook and Mt Victoria in the Blue Mountains (hotels, guesthouses, railway stations or private homes) in a stretch limo ($59pp) or LaSalle model Cadillac ($69pp), driven by a local driver dressed in formal attire, between 4pm and midnight any Friday and Saturday during July.
Arrive the long way round after exploring the breathtaking scenery of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area or cruising upmarket Leura Mall for head-turning effect.
“Whichever car you choose will make for an unforgettable, head-turning experience,’’ co-owner Robert Spitz said.
Bygone Beautys Treasured Teapot Museum & Tearooms, Grose & Megalong streets, Leura
Yulefest luncheon is served at 1.15pm every day among one of the world’s largest private collections of teawares, including more than 5500 teapots from all over the world and spanning five centuries, most of which were collected within Australia.
Guests can tuck into a traditional Northern Hemisphere Christmas-style feast with all the trimmings (bon bons, serviettes and table decorations), beginning with a canape platter and soup, followed by a traditional roast with seasonal vegetables and plum pudding or pavlova dessert, tea/coffee and homemade shortbread.
Minimum of four people per booking. Cost: $79.50pp, $69.95pp groups of 10-19 people or $66pp groups of 20 or more and complimentary teapot talk, $29.95 children under-12.
Bookings essential: (02) 4784 3117 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Details: bygonebeautys.com.au.
Mountain Whispers, Leura and Katoomba
French champagne on ice, handmade chocolates, scattered fresh rose petals, a private chef to cook a three-course festive dinner and a personal waiter to serve it, followed by an in-house massage and/or facial in opulent surrounds. Yulefest equals romance, an escape with the girls or a group of great friends at Mountain Whispers MW Collection, where every minor detail matters.
Owner Lorraine Allanson said: “While Christmas is about family, Yulefest is a great time to take a mid-year break to focus on romance or time with your friends to indulge and escape the daily grind.’’
Each of the multi-award winning self-contained immaculately restored heritage properties – Varenna, Leura Rose and Strawberry Patch in Leura and The Gatsby and Chatelaine in Katoomba – promises a luxurious getaway in total privacy and comfort for couples and small groups.
Details: mountainwhispers.com.au or 1300 721 321.
The Goon Show LIVE! Dinner and show
The cult comedy tour de overacting incorporates loads of sound effects, silly voices and a platoon of crazy characters which promise to have audiences belly laughing all evening.
It regales the stories of Neddie Seagoon, a good-natured and hairy sort, albeit short and rotund and the victim of a terrible weakness – greed. Coupled with his innate gullibility, Neddie’s covetous nature makes him easy prey to confidence schemes courtesy of the conniving cads Grytpype-Thynne and Moriarty.
Peppered with one-liners, the high energy show will feature a plethora of characters including the world’s most famous idiot Eccles (yes, even more infamous than Neddie), the squeaky-voiced boy-scout Bluebottle (who reads his stage-directions out loud), Major Dennis Bloodnok a devout coward, and Miss Minnie Bannister the sexy senior citizen who lives in sin with crumbling, fumbling old man Henry Crun.
The dinner and show will be held in le Salon Grand at the Palais Royale, Katoomba, each Saturday night from June 29 to July 20, with a special afternoon tea on July 14. Tickets: $135 Saturdays, $80 Sunday afternoon tea, seniors and group discounts available. Bookings and details: www.goons.com.au.
Nepean Belle river luncheon cruise, Jamisontown
`Tis the season to cruise the tranquil waters of the Nepean River aboard the regional aquatic icon on your way to or from the Blue Mountains.
The heritage-style Nepean Belle paddlewheeler will be festooned with festive decorations and guests will board for luncheon to the strains of popular carols against the picturesque backdrop of the Blue Mountains escarpment.
Tuck into two-course Yulefest fare with all the trimmings, beginning with a shared platter of succulent roast turkey with fruit seasoning and tender roast pork with apple sauce and gravy garnished with honey-roasted vine tomatoes and accompanied by creamy sautéed potato; a selection of hot seasonal vegetables; steamed broccoli, carrots and peas; and a Greek salad with feta.
A dessert platter of festive favourites will follow, with White Christmas, chocolate rum balls, fruit cake, chocolate mud cake and rich butter shortbread biscuits washed down with your choice of freshly brewed tea or coffee.
Nepean Belle owner Carol Bennett said: “We love Christmas so much that we’re holding it again in July – but without the in-laws, expensive pressies and weather that matches the heat of the roast dinner.’’
Cost: Monday to Friday – $59 adults, $53 seniors, $39 teens (13-16 years), $20 children (3-12 years); Weekends – $65 adults, $58 seniors, $39 teens, $25 children. Bookings: nepeanbelle.com.au or 4733 1274.
Hydro Majestic Hotel, Medlow Bath
A Night in Vienna: In the lead-up to Yulefest, relish the romance and nostalgia of Austria’s operatic golden age led by Opera Australia, Oper Köln, Opéra Comique & Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris and English National Opera tenor Brad Cooper against the magnificent backdrop of the Megalong Valley on June 22. The Wintergarden Restaurant performance will be matched with a five-course degustation dinner. Tickets: $135pp. Bookings: (02) 4782 6885.
Diesel Live@theHydro: One of Australia’s favourite adopted sons, Mark Lizotte (aka Diesel) will entertain fans on July 20, three decades after he stepped off a bus with his band Johnny Diesel and the Injectors and set off on a chart-topping 15-album career. Cost: $150pp dinner and show, $40pp show only. Bookings: hydromajestic.com.au/events/diesel.
Traditional high tea: This elegant three-tier serving will feature nostalgic flavours such as ginger, cranberry and roast pork in the elegant Wintergarden Restaurant overlooking the Megalong Valley. Accompany your repast with a delicate blossom tea, freshly brewed coffee or a glass of sparkling wine.
Lilianfels Resort & Spa, Katoomba
Sink into the refined 5-star surrounds to nibble on delicate finger sandwiches, fluffy scones with homemade jam and fresh clotted cream, and a selection of Yulefest sweet treats beside a cosy fireplace.
Darley’s Restaurant, Katoomba
For the ultimate Yulefest decadence, the hatted restaurant in the historic home of former Chief Justice of NSW Sir Frederick Darley will serve five and seven-course degustation dinners each Friday and Saturday throughout July with special winter flavours.
By Ellen Hill for Blue Mountains Attractions Group Photos: David Hill
Answer two easy questions and follow a simple directive and you could treat your family to the ultimate Blue Mountains holiday experience as guests of the premier attractions of the world-famous tourist destination.
BMAG president Louise Clifton said: “We invite families to come and play in our grand backyard. The Greater Blue Mountains has so much to see and do and it’s all right on Sydney’s doorstep.
“Our natural adventure playground has jaw-droppingly awesome views over prehistoric landscapes stretching beyond the horizon, exhilarating activities, inspiring art and culture, unique specialty shopping, mouth-watering food and so much more.’’
The seven-day odyssey will be a whirlwind all-expenses-paid* immersion in the best attractions on offer in Australia’s first tourist destination.
The winning family of up to two adults and two children will begin their Blue Mountains adventure with close encounters with native Aussie wildlife on a private tour of Featherdale Wildlife Park on July 1.
Embark on a shopping spree at Australia’s largest teddy bear specialty store, Nana’s Teddies & Toys at Blaxland, visit the home of the Magic Pudding (Norman Lindsay Gallery at Faulconbridge) and experience firsthand the dancing, song, didgeridoo, Dreamtime story and art of the oldest continuous human culture at Waradah Aboriginal Centre, Katoomba.
Discover the sites and sights of Katoomba and Leura on a Trolley Bus without the hassle of parking. Hop on and hop off at any (or all) of the 29 stops along the route including Everglades Historic House & Gardens at Leura featuring Paul Sorensen-designed gardens and an authentic art deco house, and where youngsters can learn about heritage and nature without realising through activities in the My Adventure at Everglades booklet.
Experience another aspect of the Blue Mountains when rambling the exquisite Blue Mountains Botanic Garden, Mount Tomah, 1000m above sea level and home to a world-class collection of cold climate plants, dramatic blooms, the Botanists Way Discovery Centre and pristine rainforest.
Wander the boutique shops of the famed Leura Mall and head to Bygone Beautys Treasured Teapot Museum & Tearooms to view one of the world’s largest private collection of teawares including more than 5500 teapots and over 100 varieties of tea and infusions.
Step back in time surrounded by the pastures, orchards, cottage gardens and picturesque sandstone buildings of Hartley Historic Site, browse the Kew-Y-Ahn Aboriginal Art Gallery and even make your very own firepoker with metal artist Ron Fitzpatrick at Talisman Gallery before stocking up on fabulous metal art, sculpture or silver jewellery.
Descend into the underworld to explore the most spectacular cave system in Australia and the oldest in the world at Jenolan Caves. Subtle technology and imagination make guided tours awe-inspiring before tucking into a special Yulefest dinner. Kids will meet Santa and there might even be snow.
The Ultimate Blue Mountains Family Holiday Experience winning family will receive complementary annual family InSign membership during their visit to Blue Mountains Cultural Centre, giving free entry to the Blue Mountains City Art Gallery and World Heritage Exhibition, discounts on events and public programs and the Gallery Café and Shop and invitations to members-only events.
No trip to the Blue Mountains would be complete without experiencing the thrill of riding the world’s steepest passenger railway at Scenic World, walking on air on the skyway or taking the cable car to the valley floor to stroll through ancient rainforest.
From a la carte dining at The Rooster Restaurant and morning reposes at the most famous hotel in Australia – the sumptuously refurbished Hydro Majestic Hotel, to lunches at charming venues such as the Post Office Café at Hartley Historic Site and breakfast at private retreats, the winning family is in for a delicious week-long treat.
Accommodation will be provided at the upmarket Bygone Beautys-owned St Raphael (The Convent) at Leura, Escarpment Group-owned Parklands Country Gardens & Lodges at Blackheath, The Mountain Lodge at historic Jenolan Caves, The Jungle Lodge at Blue Mountains Botanic Garden at Mt Tomah and Old Trahlee at Hartley Historic Site.
For your chance to win this incredible family experience, simply go to the Blue Mountains Australia website at bluemts.com.au between April 16 and 5pm on May 1, hit the “Enter Now’’ link at the top of the page and tell us: a) How many attractions are listed on the bluemountainsattractions.com.au website?
b) What is the famous landmark featured in the Blue Mountains Attractions Group Facebook profile picture at facebook.com/bluemountainsattractions (Like the page while you’re researching your answer)?
c) Tell us in 30 words or less why you would love to win a week away in the Blue Mountains.
Be sure to include your name and contact details. The winner will be drawn in Katoomba on May 4.
Judges’ decision will be final and no correspondence will be entered into with entrants. Employees of any Blue Mountains Attractions Group members associated with the promotion, and their immediate families, are ineligible to enter the competition. By claiming a prize, the winner accepts that the Blue Mountains Attractions Group may use the winner’s name and likeness for promotional and publicity purposes. Maximum size of family is two adults and two children up to the age of 16. Minimum size is two adults over the age of 18. The winner must be able to redeem their prize and make use of it from June 27 to July 3, 2016, inclusive with no alteration available. The cost of transport to and from the Blue Mountains, some meals and discretionary spending is at the expense of the winner.
- Blue Mountains Attractions Group is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media and Headline Publicity
By Ellen Hill for Bygone Beautys Photos: David Hill
Whether you like English or Irish breakfast, Oolong or Russian Caravan; white, green, orange or red; weak, strong or smoky, the long-awaited Bygone Beautys Treasured Teapot Museum & Tearooms revamp has been steeped to perfection and is ready to savour.
The major extensions and renovations of the popular Leura tourist attraction were officially opened by former NSW Governor Professor the Honourable Dame Marie Bashir AD CVO last Tuesday at a glittering soiree attended by a veritable who’s who of the local tourism industry and Macquarie Federal MP Louise Markus.
Local Aboriginal man Chris Tobin gave a Darug Welcome to Country. Dennis Barber, who gave an Acknowledgement to Country on behalf of the Gundungurra people, said tea drinking was a great equaliser of class and status and that many problems had been solved over a cuppa.
That theme was expanded on by Professor Dame Marie, who said Bygone Beautys was filling an important role in preserving the history and culture of tea, a significant part of Australian ethos and heritage.
She told the gathering about visiting the Blue Mountains, “one of the most beautiful places on the planet’’, as a child.
Professor Dame Marie also unveiled a commemorative plaque and spectacular custom-made Mad Hatter’s-inspired teapot sculpture by metal artists Ron Fitzpatrick and Steve Cunningham of Talisman Gallery at Hartley. The creation was made from a salvaged chimney stack from a steam engine, complete with a candy-like decorative steel handle, bow-tie-wearing rabbit and spout.
The Bygone Beautys revamp was created using local suppliers and tradespeople where possible and includes a new museum space, function room, formal tearoom and retail area specialising in all things tea-related.
Resplendent in a magnificent patterned jacket and trademark bow tie, Mr Cooper led Professor Dame Marie on a tour of the premises before more than 300 guests wandered the airy new spaces and inspected thousands of teapots, some debuting publically for the first time.
Mr Cooper acknowledged the efforts of owner of the original Bygone Beautys teapot collection Ron Hooper who began the collection in 1974 and with whom Mr Cooper went into business with in 1992.
“I was thinking about what I was going to do during my retirement at age 55, Ron had a teapot collection and I was a compulsive teapot buyer,’’ Mr Cooper said.
“When we took over this premises it was zoned as a tearoom so to comply we had this tiny little tearoom and a huge display of antiques.’’
Twenty-three years later, the teapot collection has grown to more than 5500 teapots and is the largest of its kind in Australia and one of the largest in the world. It spans five centuries and includes items from all over the world. It also includes 7000 teaspoons and 3000 tea towels among other artefacts.
The tearooms are also famous for decadent Devonshire tea and traditional high tea, served with a degree of pomp and ceremony on fine bone china from a tea trolley to the strains of Land of Hope & Glory.
Mr Cooper thanked the Bygone Beautys staff for their tolerance during the renovations and partner of 48 years Mr McKenzie, “my mentor, my partner and the person I most respect in the whole world’’.
The occasion was marked with a specially-penned poem by bush poetry champion Gregory North and cake made by Betty Reynolds and guests were entertained with a dance rendition of I’m a Little Teapot by pint-sized dancers from Blackheath’s Dance For Life! school and an opera performance by Opera Bites.
Bygone Beautys is located on the corner of Grose and Megalong streets in Leura, a short stroll from Leura Mall. Open seven days a week between 10am and 5.30pm, last tearoom orders taken at 5pm. Traditional High Tea is available 10.30am – 4pm weekdays and 10.30am – 4.30pm on weekends. Bookings essential: (02) 4784 3117 or email@example.com.
* Bygone Beautys is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media