Easy gift voucher shopping, all-inclusive party packages and cleanup-free feasts, memorable experiences, endless pampering and sublimely beautiful timeout zones – the Blue Mountains is a stress-free Christmas and New Year’s Eve destination beginning just 60 minutes from Sydney.
From daytrips to multi-day stays, festivities begin at the foothills where a river cruise into the far reaches of the Nepean River laps at the edges of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.
Nepean Belle Paddlewheeler owner Carol Bennett said: “Christmas should be a season of joy and fun with loved ones where you can take time out to relax after a busy year, be pampered, indulge in tasty food and create memories through exciting activities.
“But YOU shouldn’t have to put in the effort. Treat yourself to an unforgettable experience in one of the world’s most recognisable landscapes and let us do the work for you.’’
From the banks of the river, Mrs Bennett encourages visitors to spend at least one night in the region to fully explore the bushwalks and nature, attractions, dining options and activities available.
Here’s a sample of Christmas cheer and New Year’s Eve options available:
TALISMAN GALLERY, Hartley Historic Site, Great Western Hwy (400m before turn off to Jenolan Caves heading west)
Millennia in the making, shaped in fire on the forge and presented in a piece of colonial heritage, metal artist Ron Fitzpatrick’s collection includes large high-end pieces along with signature metal art mirrors, small affordable sculptures and candleholders, an extensive collection of imported jewellery and crystal pieces.
A show of Ron’s new range inspired by jewellery-inspired designs will be held in the historic Corney’s Garage below the gallery at 2pm on Saturday, November 30. Can’t choose? Gift vouchers are also available.
Unleash your inner creative fire, work off some energy and learn an ancient art under guidance. Create your own piece of art on the anvil by beating red hot steel into the shape of a fire poker, decorative wall hook or small sculpture. Cost: fire poker or decorative wall hook $45, small piece of metal art mounted on sandstone $65 (additional element costs vary). A great 30-minute family activity for anyone aged 13 years and older, the Creative Fire experience is also available as a couples’ workshop activity at the special price of $275 per couple until February 15, 2020. No experience necessary. All materials supplied.
Creative Fire sessions available December 28 & 29. Talisman Galley is open from 10am to 5pm Tuesday to Sunday.
Bookings, details and vouchers: Ron 0407 723 722 or Facebook page Talisman Gallery Hartley/events, website: www.talismangallery.com.au.
ECHOES BAR & RESTAURANT, Lilianfels Ave, Katoomba
Perched on the very edge of the Blue Mountains escarpment just 200m from the Three Sisters rock formation at Echo Point, drink in sublime uninterruped panoramas of the Jamison Valley while sipping on a Christmas cocktail. Renowned for its modern Australian cuisine using fresh, local produce with an Asian influence, the award-winning fine dining Echoes Restaurant is idea for a casual lunch or romantic dinner for two.
HYDRO MAJESTIC HOTEL, Great Western Hwy, Medlow Bath
Christmas Day (December 25)
LUNCH: Indulge in a three-tier festive lunch in the Wintergarden overlooking the magnificent Megalong Valley while you tuck into fresh seafood, charcutier and carvery selections, followed by traditional desserts. Package includes a three-hour beverage package, Christmas decorations, bon bons and even a special visit from Santa for the children. Cost: $199 adults, $125 teenagers (13 – 17 years), $85 children (4 – 12 years) and children under-4 complimentary seating only.
DINNER: Treat yourself to a decadent five-course degustation dinner featuring fresh seafood, traditional roasts and dessert with glass of sparkling on arrival in the Wintergarden Restaurant while soaking up the sunset over the Megalong Valley. Includes Christmas decorations and bon bons. Cost: $125 adults, $99 teenagers (13-17 years), $65 children (4 – 12 years) and children under-4 complimentary seating only.
Boxing Day (December 26, 10.30am to 3pm)
HIGH TEA: Take full advantage of the holiday season and nibble on high tea delicacies in the Wintergarden Restaurant while gazing over panoramic Megalong Valley views. Cost: $65pp.
LUNCH: Extend celebrations over a two-course casual lunch and a glass of sparkling arrival in the Boilerhouse Restaurant with unrivalled views over the Megalong Valley. Cost: $75 adults, $65 teenagers (13-17 years old). Bookings: firstname.lastname@example.org or 02 4782 6885.
New Year’s Eve
Bid adieu to 2019 and welcome 2020 with a vibrant evening of live entertainment from The Australian INXS Show, magnificent sunset views and a five-course degustation dinner with glass of midnight sparkling.
The covers band celebrates and honours the memory of rock legend Michael Hutchence and brings back to life the halcyon days of INXS from their self-titled debut to Elegantly Wasted with songs like Need You Tonight, Never Tear Us Apart, Don’t Change, Live Baby Live and New Sensation. Cost: $199 adults, $159 teenagers (13 – 17 years), $95 children (4 – 12 years) and children under-4 complimentary seating.
Bookings: email@example.com or 02 4782 6885.
BLUE MOUNTAINS LIMOUSINE
The team of professional chauffeurs is always alert and always sober 24/7 – so festive partygoers don’t have to be.
Two luxury sedans are at guests’ service, along with the only stretch limousine in the Blue Mountains ready to transfer passengers between functions and venues.
Guests ($59pp, 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) between 4pm and midnight any Friday and Saturday from November 15 to December 30, and until 3am on January 1.
Bookings: Rob on 0400 500 542.
BLUE MOUNTAINS VINTAGE CADILLACS
An ideal romantic gesture or retro reminisce, a sightseeing tour of Australia’s first tourist destination in a 1929 Cadillac LaSalle car is a gift as distinctive as the vehicle itself.
The vintage ride will pootle past the breathtaking scenery of one of the most recognisable landscapes on Earth – the Three Sisters rock formation at Echo Point, just as the well-heeled of the Roaring `20s era used to do. Cruise upmarket Leura Mall for head-turning effect. Take in the sights of historic Cliff Drive, pausing for reflection at jaw-droppingly gorgeous vistas along the way.
Details: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone Robert on 0400 500 542 or Don on 0455 352 976.
THE POLISHED OPAL, Leura
Opal polishing under the guidance of expert Sonja van As is ideal for gemstone buffs and people difficult to buy for. Each participant receives three opals to polish, as well as a small display case in which to take them home.
Experience the thrill of releasing the iridescent fire from stone and learn about Australia’s national gemstone at a hands-on workshop.
Opal polishing with Sonja van As is available at 9am and 1pm daily. Limited to four people per session, children aged under 15 must be supervised by an adult (not suitable for those under 8). Sessions last up to three hours.
No prior experience necessary. Participants should wear short sleeves and tie long hair back.
Cost: $195 per person. Bookings essential: Sonja on 0448 725 830 or email@example.com.
NEPEAN BELLE PADDLEWHEELER (Tench Reserve jetty, Tench Ave, Jamisontown)
Perfect for those difficult to buy for, vouchers are available to explore the deep reaches of the aquatic heart and lifeblood of the region. Experience the natural wonders of the landscape and its fauna over morning tea, lunch or dinner.
Christmas party venue:
Smooth water cruising, an ever-changing 40 million-year-old backdrop at the foothills of the Blue Mountains and old-fashioned hospitality makes for an ideal festive venue. Choose from lunch or evening, weekday or weekend packages. Passengers on each are served hearty festive fare and may book a public cruise (price from $53 per adult) or charter the vessel for a private function with onboard PA system and optional DJ (price from $84pp). Cash or tab bar only.
Bookings and vouchers: nepeanbelle.com.au, firstname.lastname@example.org or 02 4733 1274.
Blue Mountains actresses are invited to audition to play muse, nurturer, creative force and “feminine dominant’’ Rose Lindsay in a monthly artistic theatre lunch event at Echoes Restaurant from May to October.
The event will be part of the new Art of Lunch series to be held simultaneously at five Blue Mountains restaurants every last Sunday from May 26 and October 27, featuring a different theme, exhibition and performance at each venue.
The works of Norman Lindsay will be showcased at Escarpment Group-owned Echoes Restaurant in Katoomba by Norman Lindsay Gallery under the theme Blue Mountains Bohemia, during which his wife and muse Rose will make a theatrical appearance in period costume to deliver a series of vignettes drawn from her memoir, Model Wife, evoking the Lindsay’s artistic bohemian lifestyle.
Escarpment Group head chef Saran Sasikumar will dream up an exotic menu with a mysterious Magic Pudding.
After the sumptuous meal there will be a 30-minute concert with a musician, varying each month starting the season with jazz giant James Greening and concluding with classical composer/musician Me-Lee Hay.
Norman Lindsay has a lasting reputation as the Blue Mountains’ most luminary and controversial artist, although he does not overshadow his second wife Rose – his muse, model, wife and mother of their two daughters.
Rose was also an exceptional printmaker and archivist who editioned Norman’s etchings, as well as an astute business manager.
The couple’s granddaughter Helen Glad wrote: “Rose Lindsay’s commanding personality assured she would never be overwhelmed by her husband’s genius or that of anyone else.
“A forthright individual all her life, she personified Norman’s concept of the `feminine dominant’ – woman as nurturer and creative force.
“Rose was essential to his continuing and prodigious creative output. Rose stood in no one’s shadow – during her long life she made sure she was acknowledged. She survived many things, all without loss of dignity or style.’’
Auditions for the role of Rose Lindsay will be held at Norman Lindsay Gallery, 14 Norman Lindsay Cres, Faulconbridge, at noon on Sunday, May 5.
The actress must be available to perform each last Sunday of the month between May and October 2019 at the Art of Lunch at Echoes Restaurant, Katoomba.
The actress will be paid for performances and rehearsals.
Contact email@example.com by close of business May 2 to express interest in the audition.
The Art of Lunch project was created by Earthly Delights Events and has received funding from the Federal Government’s Building Better Regions Fund, as well as support from local enterprises such as Scenic World and BMR Accounting. Details: artoflunch.com.au.
The Art of Lunch will be held at Echoes Restaurant & Bar, Lilianfels Ave, Katoomba, the last Sunday of each month from May to October 2019. Bookings: firstname.lastname@example.org or 4782 1966.
By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group Photos: David Hill, Deep Hill Media
The enchantment of opera performed within a legendary party palace, fine dining, the intimacy of crackling fireplaces and even the possibility of snow-dusted landscapes this Yulefest with Escarpment Group.
Locals and sojourners are warmly welcomed into any of its boutique hotels for steaming drinks, fireside dining and rousing entertainment to celebrate the season for which the Blue Mountains is most famous.
Walk up an appetite by wandering sumptuously refurbished, exotically-named spaces like Cat’s Alley and Salon du The on a guided history tour of the Hydro Majestic Hotel at Medlow Bath while listening to saucy tales of indiscretion on a luxurious scale.
Then, indulge in a traditional high tea repose featuring nostalgic flavours such as ginger, cranberry and roast pork in the elegant Wintergarden Restaurant overlooking the Megalong Valley.
Alternatively, sink into the refined surrounds of the 5-star Lilianfels Resort & Spa lounge at Echo Point to nibble on delicate finger sandwiches, fluffy scones with homemade jam and fresh clotted cream, and a selection of Yulefest sweet treats beside a cosy fireplace.
The decadent Yulefest theme continues with degustation dinners each Friday and Saturday throughout July in the historic Darley’s Restaurant on the Lilianfels property, as well as in the adjacent Echoes Restaurant and the Wintergarden Restaurant at the Hydro Majestic.
Escarpment Group guest services manager Meagan Iervasi encouraged locals to immerse themselves in the festive atmosphere by attending an event.
“Yulefest in the Blue Mountains offers the European-style atmosphere people associate with Christmas – a chilly landscape outside and cosiness inside with roaring fires, hot food and drinks, traditional decorations and festive music, but without the stress and frosty relatives.
“It’s also a great way for people who have made a recent tree change to mingle with their neighbours and make new community connections.’’
On July 21, one of Australia’s favourite adopted sons, Mark Lizotte (aka Diesel) will celebrate with a special performance at the Hydro Majestic, 30 years since he literally stepped off the bus with his band Johnny Diesel and the Injectors and set off on a chart-topping 15-album career. Cost: $150pp dinner and show, $40pp show only.
On August 18, relish the romance and nostalgia of Austria’s golden age with a program of crowd favourites from the best Viennese waltzes, gorgeous Wienerlieder (Vienna songs) and operetta to the wild world of the 1920s and `30s Berlin cabaret with a splash of comedian harmonists.
Opera Australia, Oper Köln, Opéra Comique & Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris and English National Opera tenor Brad Cooper and Johann Strauss Ensemble Vienna leader, violinist Russell McGregor, will be joined by Austrian accordionist Pavel Singer in the Wintergarden Restaurant performance, which will be matched with a five-course degustation dinner. Tickets: $135pp. Bookings: (02) 4782 6885.
Then, on August 25, experience opulence and history on a grand scale when the Hydro Express vintage train returns to the Blue Mountains.
Travel from Central in your choice of class carriage (standard, premier or lounge) aboard a heritage train hauled by restored 1950s diesel locomotive 4201. After a scenic two-hour rail journey to the Blue Mountains, be guided to the beautifully refurbished Hydro Majestic Hotel for a luxe afternoon high tea.
Go to escarpmentgroup.com.au or phone (02) 4780 1200 for more information about accommodation packages, dining options and events.
*Escarpment Group is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media
By Ellen Hill Photos: David Hill, Deep Hill Media
The chirp of cicadas competing with Christmas carols, an awe-inspiring backdrop of towering golden escarpments and dramatic valleys and a cooling breeze carrying the subtle scent of eucalyptus. Welcome to an Aussie bush Christmas and summer holiday season in the Blue Mountains.
Begin the Christmas countdown early with lantern-making workshops for kids aged four to 12 at Leura Garage funky eatery off the top of Leura Mall from 3pm to 5pm on November 28 and December 4 and 13 in the lead-up to Leura Village Association’s December 15 Christmas festival. Cool prizes from upmarket local shops. Cost: $10 per child (must be accompanied by an adult) includes lantern kit and drinks and nibbles. Bookings: (02) 4784 3391, email@example.com or leuragarage.com.au/lantern.
Give your adult loved ones some grown-up time with a Faeriestorm Nanny Service voucher. Available in hourly blocks (minimum two hours *conditions apply), the fully qualified nannies will care for their kids while the adults enjoy some down time. Purchases: Brenda Edwards 0417 448 318 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A night away with a day spa pamper package at a blissful retreat such as Parklands Country Gardens & Lodges or dinner at a swanky restaurant such as the Wintergarden Restaurant at the Hydro Majestic Hotel are always popular.
A truly unique way of sightseeing in style is with Blue Mountains Vintage Cadillacs from within a vintage Cadillac car. Dressed in formal attire, your local driver will collect you from and return you to any location in the Blue Mountains. Bookings: email@example.com or Donald on 0455 352 976.
Tuck into a sumptuous feast with all the trimmings, decorations, bon bons, beverage package and even a visit from Santa for the children at the 5-star Lilianfels Resort & Spa near Echo Point or a seven-course degustation at the multi award-winning hatted Darley’s Restaurant. Bookings: escarpmentgroup.com.au or (02) 4780 1200.
NEW YEAR’S EVE:
For an unforgettable Auld Lang Syne moment, feast in the New Year at the chic Echoes Restaurant at Katoomba or the world-famous Cat’s Alley at the Hydro Majestic Hotel after watching a sublime sunset over a blue haze-shrouded valley while sipping a cocktail and resolving to take more time out in 2018. Bookings: escarpmentgroup.com.au or (02) 4780 1200.
SCHOOL HOLIDAY ACTIVITIES:
Talisman Gallery, Hartley historic village, Great Western Hwy (400m before turn off to Jenolan Caves heading west): Try your hand at the time honoured art of blacksmithing and make your very own fire poker on the forge and anvil on January 26 and 27. Cost: $25 includes materials and tuition. Decent footwear required. Bookings essential: Ron 0407 723 722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Everglades Historic House & Gardens, 37 Everglades Ave, Leura: Kids aged three to six can learn about heritage conservation and the natural environment in one of the most enchanting historic properties in the Blue Mountains through the My Adventure at Everglades activity book ($10 and $5 per subsequent book). Entry: $13 adults, $8 concessions, $4 children, National Trust members free. Details: (02) 4784 1938 or email email@example.com.
* All businesses mentioned are commercial clients of Deep Hill Media