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Posts tagged “Greater Blue Mountains

Historic Blue Mountains airfield plans public

Plans to upgrade an historic Blue Mountains airfield vital to emergency services during bushfires and as an air “safety ramp’’ have been made public.

Opened on October 5, 1968, and operated continuously as a commercial venture since, Katoomba Airfield is located about 4km east of the famous Hydro Majestic Hotel at Medlow Bath in the upper mountains.

(l-r) Floyd and Derek Larsen

With a dirt pothole-scarred runway, it is currently open only to helicopters and to fixed-winged aircraft for emergency landings.

However, a plan to upgrade the site by new lessee FLYBLUE Management Pty Ltd will see the dilapidated property upgraded and brought in line with modern safety standards and leading edge environmental initiatives.

The plans for Katoomba Airfield are outlined in documents now available on the Department of Industry (Crown Land and Water) website at industry.nsw.gov.au, which also includes a link through which to submit letters of support for the plans.

They include higher flight levels, residential no-fly zones, a new enforceable Fly Neighbourly policy, “light footprint tourism’’, community charity events and a suite of green initiatives.

FLYBLUE voluntarily published their vision on flyblue.com.au following the department awarding the company a three-year commercial licence in February 2018.

While Katoomba Airfield had operated continuously since it opened in 1968, its runways fell into dangerous disrepair from 2016 when long-term lessee flying instructor Rod Hay died in a single engine plane crash in nearby scrub.

(l-r) Derek and Floyd Larsen

The level of disrepair resulted in FLYBLUE temporarily closing the airfield to fixed-wing aircraft except in emergencies, although helicopter operations including emergency services and Defence Force aircraft have continued to land and take-off there as usual.

FLYBLUE director Floyd Larsen said the recent decreased use of the airfield had led some people to believe it had closed.

It hasn’t,’’ she said.In fact, its original purpose continues as it has done for the past fifty years.

“For example, Katoomba Airfield has provided an air `safety ramp’ for general aviation since it opened in 1968, and twice in the past 18 months (that we know of) aircraft have made emergency landings here.’’

FLYBLUE had already begun restoration work on the 36ha site.

Obsolete and dilapidated structures had been removed, along with abandoned waste materials and equipment. Two new windsocks had been installed, along with a weather station and camera for use by general aviation (katoomba.skycam.net.au) and the site made more secure to prevent illegal access.

FLYBLUE plans to restore, protect and enhance the site including sealing the main airstrip and tackle weed invasion, soil erosion and other issues.

The environmental centrepiece would be a Greenfleet carbon offset program which would see one tree planted for every flight which left the airfield.

FLYBLUE’s plan includes a new enforceable Fly Neighbourly policy with appropriate flight paths away from residential zones, operating hours and general use of the airfield with noise abatement procedures.

“While FLYBLUE can’t influence aircraft that originate from other airfields because they fall under the control of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), our Fly Neighbourly policy already has the support of Blue Mountains Aviators Club and pilots who do not comply with our Fly Neighbourly policy will not be permitted to use Katoomba Airfield,’’ Mrs Larsen said.

“FLYBLUE will manage all aspects of the airfield, including noise abatement procedures, curfews and flight paths within an approved lease.

“However, we can assure the community that our Fly Neighbourly policy categorically bans flights over populated areas.’’

She emphasised that Katoomba Airfield and FLYBLUE did not encourage or conduct “joy flights’’ (short low-flying swoops over populated or sensitive areas such as Echo Point, the Three Sisters, the Grose Valley or up the Grand Canyon).

Rather, they actively fostered “light footprint tourism’’ which had minimum negative impact on the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.

(l-r) Floyd and Derek Larsen of FlyBlue Management Pty Ltd

Mrs Larsen expected the airfield upgrades to help lure more tourism and overnight stays to the Blue Mountains including private plane and helicopter owners who would stay in local hotels and B&Bs at least one night, visit attractions, dine in restaurants and shop – in line with Blue Mountains City Council’s original intent for the airfield.

A report to the council on October 29, 1968, showed how the airfield was a long-time major part of the council’s tourism strategy, stating that it was established “to encourage tourists and visitors to fly to the Blue Mountains area’’.

FLYBLUE’S other future plans included forming a stakeholder group, new hangars (subject to approval), community and charity events, public aviation viewing areas and dedicating half the airfield to non-aviation uses such as bushwalking, a radio club, star gazers and RAAF cadet and school bivouacs.

A public exhibition period will be held in June and the airfield lease proposal displayed, along with a fact sheet, on the Department of Industry (Crown Land and Water) website at https://www.industry.nsw.gov.au/lands/public/on-exhibition/proposed-lease-of-katoomba-airfield until August 4.

Letters of support may be submitted to https://www.nsw.gov.au/improving-nsw/have-your-say/katoomba-airfield-lease/ or emailed to airfield.submissions@crownland.nsw.gov.au using the reference number LX 602686 in the subject line.

The department will also hold two drop-in information sessions at Hotel Blue, Lurline St, Katoomba, from 11am to 1pm and 5pm to 7pm on June 19 and 25.


Katoomba Airfield: public submissions invited

Higher flight levels, residential no-fly zones, a new enforceable Fly Neighbourly policy, “light footprint tourism’’, community charity events and a suite of green initiatives.

These are just some of the plans that new lessee FLYBLUE Management Pty Ltd has for Katoomba Airfield which are outlined in documents soon to be available on the industry.nsw.gov.au website of the Department of Industry (Crown Land and Water).

FLYBLUE voluntarily published their vision on flyblue.com.au following the department awarding the company a three-year commercial licence in February 2018.

While Katoomba Airfield had operated continuously since it opened on October 5, 1968, its runways fell into dangerous disrepair from 2016 when long-term lessee flying instructor Rod Hay died in a single engine plane crash in nearby scrub.

The level of disrepair resulted in FLYBLUE temporarily closing the airfield to fixed-wing aircraft except in emergencies, although helicopter operations including emergency services and Defence Force aircraft have continued to land and take-off there as usual.

FLYBLUE director Floyd Larsen said the recent decreased use of the airfield had led some people to believe it had closed.

“It hasn’t,’’ she said.

“In fact, its original purpose continues as it has done for the past fifty years.

“For example, Katoomba Airfield has provided an air `safety ramp’ for general aviation since it opened in 1968, and twice in the past 18 months (that we know of) aircraft have made emergency landings here.’’

A report to Blue Mountains Council on October 29, 1968, showed how the airfield was a long-time major part of the council’s tourism strategy, stating that it was established “to encourage tourists and visitors to fly to the Blue Mountains area’’.

(l-r) Floyd and Derek Larsen of FlyBlue Management Pty Ltd

“Joy flights are scheduled every Sunday at a cost of $3 per flight.

“This matter has been reported for information the Council’s Public Relations Department will include these features in future advertising of the area.’’

However, Mrs Larsen emphasised that Katoomba Airfield and FLYBLUE did not encourage or conduct “joy flights’’ (short low-flying swoops over populated or sensitive areas such as Echo Point, the Three Sisters, the Grose Valley or up the Grand Canyon).

Rather, they actively fostered “light footprint tourism’’ which had minimum negative impact on the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.

FLYBLUE’s plan includes a new enforceable Fly Neighbourly policy with appropriate flight paths away from residential areas, operating hours and general use of the airfield with noise abatement procedures.

“While FLYBLUE can’t influence aircraft that originate from other airfields because they fall under the control of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), our new Fly Neighbourly policy already has the support of Blue Mountains Aviators Club and pilots who do not comply with our Fly Neighbourly policy will not be permitted to use Katoomba Airfield,’’ Mrs Larsen said.

“FLYBLUE will manage all aspects of the airfield, including noise abatement procedures, curfews and flight paths within an approved lease.

“However, we can assure the community that our Fly Neighbourly policy categorically bans flights over populated areas.’’

FLYBLUE had already begun restoration work on the 36ha site, located about 4km east of Medlow Bath.

Obsolete and dilapidated structures had been removed, along with abandoned waste materials and equipment.

Two new windsocks had been installed, along with a weather station and camera for use by general aviation (katoomba.skycam.net.au) and the site made more secure to prevent illegal access.

FLYBLUE plans to restore, protect and enhance the site including sealing the main airstrip and tackle weed invasion, soil erosion and other issues.

The environmental centrepiece would be a Greenfleet carbon offset program which would see one tree planted for every flight which left the airfield.

(l-r) Derek and Floyd Larsen

Mrs Larsen expected the airfield upgrades to help lure more tourism and overnight stays to the Blue Mountains including private plane owners who would stay in local hotels and B&Bs at least one night, visit attractions, dine in restaurants and shop – in line with Blue Mountains Council’s original intent for the airfield.

Other future plans included the installation of new hangars (subject to approval), community charity events, public aviation viewing areas and dedicating half the airfield to non-aviation uses such as bushwalking, a radio club, star gazers and RAAF cadet and school bivouacs.

A public exhibition period with dates to be confirmed but expected to be held in June and the airfield lease proposal displayed on the Department of Industry (Crown Land and Water) industry.nsw.gov.au website for at least 42 days.

Letters of support may be submitted to the NSW Government via a link on the website.

The department will hold public drop-in information sessions at Hotel Blue, Lurline St, Katoomba, from 11am to 1pm and 5pm to 7pm on June 19 and 25.

(l-r) Floyd and Derek Larsen


Blue Mountains: Winter warmers for cool Yule

Darley’s Restaurant

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:

 

Co-director Robert Spitz at the wheel of a limousine

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.

Go to bluemountainslimo.com.au, email info@bmlimo.com.au or phone Robert on 0400 500 542 or Don on 0455 352 976 for more details and bookings.

 

Bygone Beautys is home to more than 5500 teapots from around the world

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 info@bygonebeautys.com.au. Details: bygonebeautys.com.au.

 

All about the romance at Mountain Whispers collection of luxury venues

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.

 

Guffaws and belly laughs in store with classic humour

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.

 

Cruising a mighty waterway with all the festive trimmings

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

The Hydro Majestic Hotel is magic in winter

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.

 

High tea is a highlight

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.

 

Historic setting for fine dining

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.

There’s even a chance of snow


Global flavours for Blue Mtns majestic Harmony Day

The uniting force of food will be the binding tie of inclusiveness, respect and belonging when the multicultural staff at the Hydro Majestic Hotel celebrate Harmony Week with international cuisine from March 18 to 31.

Visitors will embark on a global food journey when they nibble on a special multicultural high tea of duck rice paper roll, Aussie beef mini pie, Sri Lankan fish cutlet, pulled pork adabo, green papaya slaw, chicken tikka wrap, mint chutney, kachumber salad, mini naan followed by sweet pastries, berry pavlova, Gajar ka halwa, Maja blanca, pandan cake, Watalappan and scones.

The dishes will be prepared by the international kitchen team.

Hydro Majestic guest services manager Meagan Iervasi said more than 30 languages were spoken and staff ethnic origins from six continents, from Asia to Africa: “The only continent we haven’t interviewed anyone from yet is Antarctica.’’

While all Escarpment Group properties, which also include Lilianfels Resort & Spa, Miss Lilian Teahouse, Darley’s Restaurant, Echoes Boutique Hotel & Restaurant and Parklands Country Gardens & Lodges, align well with the strong national multicultural population today, the Blue Mountains and the Hydro Majestic have a multicultural heritage stretching back to the days of original owner Mark Foy.

During the post-Bathurst gold rush era around the turn of the 20th century numerous Chinese workers reverted to their traditional skills across the Blue Mountains, with many working as butlers, cooks, nannies, maids and produce suppliers to inns, guesthouses and manor houses.

One was Louie Goh Mong (nicknamed `Charlie’), who worked as a cook at department store doyenne, sportsman and flamboyant playboy Foy’s home and managed the mayhem at the Hydro Majestic for 35 years.

Go to hydromajestic.com.au or phone (02) 4782 6885 to book a Harmony Week high tea.


Winter in the Blue Mountains – Yule love it!

Tenor Brad Cooper performs at the Hydro Majestic Hotel. Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

The enchantment of opera at a legendary party palace, river cruising along a mighty waterway, belly laughs at timeless humour, the intimate luxury of crackling fireplaces and even the possibility of snow-dusted landscapes. Yulefest in the Blue Mountains is the most magical season.

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, festive decorations, music and rousing entertainment.

A regional tradition since 1980, Yulefest is held mid-winter (officially throughout July but often beginning in June and extending into August), with many hotels, guesthouses, B&Bs and restaurants taking part.

Escarpment Group of luxury hotels guest services manager 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, but without the stress and frosty relatives. Sometimes there’s even snow.’’

Here’s an early bird Yulefest list to choose from:

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.

Hydro Majestic Hotel. Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

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 1. 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 you 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. Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

Darley’s Restaurant. Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

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.

 

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.

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.

 

Hydro Majestic Hotel. Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media


Miss Lilian’s lucky Blue Mtns Lunar New Year

By Ellen Hill       Photos: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

Celebrate family unity, vitality and respect for your elders with the exotic flavours of the Orient when the Miss Lilian Teahouse heralds the Year of the Pig throughout February.

The new Echo Point dining venue which serves a tasty array of popular Asian street foods, will serve a special Chinese Lunar New Year tasting menu this month.

Escarpment Group, which also operates the adjoining Darley’s Restaurant and the Hydro Majestic Hotel among other tourism ventures, the venue is already festooned outside with coloured lanterns and inside with latticework, dozens of bird cages and other Eastern decorations.

Escarpment Group guest services manager Meagan Iervasi said the Miss Lilian Teahouse was well placed to greet thousands of Asian tourists who flocked to the region during Chinese Lunar New Year given its blend of local and international staff and authentic dishes.

“Lunar New Year is the only time of year in China when people really rest, relax and take time out to focus on family unity, vitality and longevity. This is often the only time of year when people can go home to visit relatives, especially elderly ones. It’s also the time when Chinese people spend money, believing that one must spend money to attract more money.

“We can help you fulfil all those requirements.’’

Lunar New Year and all things Oriental is not new to the Blue Mountains, with Australia’s first tourist destination experiencing Eastern obsession during the roaring 20s’’ including at department store doyenne Mark Foy’sPalace in the wilderness’’ and modern sister property to the Miss Lilian Teahouse, the Hydro Majestic Hotel at Medlow Bath.

During the post-Bathurst gold rush era around the turn of the 20th century numerous Chinese workers reverted to their traditional skills across the Blue Mountains, with many working as butlers, cooks, nannies, maids and produce suppliers to inns, guesthouses and manor houses. One was Louie Goh Mong (nicknamed `Charlie’), who worked as a cook at Foy’s home and managed the mayhem at the Hydro Majestic for 35 years.

Lunar New Year will be celebrated at the new Miss Lilian Teahouse on the Lilianfels Resort & Spa property, Echo Point Rd and Panorama Drive, Katoomba, with an evening tasting menu. Cost: $75pp includes complimentary sparkling cocktail. Bookings: misslilian.com.au.


Blue Mountains sweetheart options for Valentine’s Day

Plenty of elegant options to celebrate Valentine’s Day in the Greater Blue Mountains. Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

By Ellen Hill

Cupid’s day of love is almost here, and lovers of all ages can celebrate amore in unforgettable style with fine dining, majestic venues and even a private table aboard the region’s very own love boat.

Sweetheart options include:

Nepean Belle Paddlewheeler, Tench Reserve:

Float along the tranquil waters of the Nepean River aboard the regional aquatic icon against the picturesque backdrop of the Blue Mountains escarpment.

After exploring Nepean Gorge while sipping a complimentary beverage, passengers can request songs special to them and slow dance on the dance floor.

For those planning a milestone romantic event such as a proposal, two specially decorated private balcony tables surrounded by fairy lights and lanterns are available. A dedicated waiter will serve sparkling wine, and a red rose and chocolates will help set the scene.

Nepean Belle owner Carol Bennett said: “We’ll provide the dinner and unique experience. We’ll even set the scene and present each lady with a rose and a gift on boarding. The rest is up to you.’’

Cost: $110pp, $338 special table (cruise not suitable for children aged under 16 years). Bookings: nepeanbelle.com.au or 4733 1274.

 

Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

Hydro Majestic Hotel, Medlow Bath

Begin your majestic experience with a complimentary glass of sparkling wine before indulging in a three-course menu of seasonal delights featuring oysters, lamb and chocolate with truffle-infused vegetarian options overlooking panoramic views of the magnificent Megalong Valley.

Cost: $95pp. Bookings: hydromajestic.com.au, reservations@hydromajestic.com.au or 4782 6885.

 

 

Darley’s Restaurant, Echo Point:

Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

Located within the historic home of former Chief Justice of NSW Sir Frederick Darley, the hatted restaurant is within the Lilianfels Resort & Spa property and offers ultimate indulgence with outstanding service among sumptuous décor.

Dine on a five or seven-course seasonal degustation menu featuring the flavours of foie gras, elderflower, caviar, wagyu beef, black garlic, marigold and almond.

Escarpment Group guest services manager Meagan Iervasi said: “Darley’s Restaurant has long been recognised as the ultimate venue for romantic dinners.’’

Cost: $135 five-course, $165 seven-course. Bookings: darleysrestaurant.com.au, reservations@lilianfels.com.au or 4780 1200.

Romantic views abound at the Hydro Majestic Hotel. Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

 


Blue Mountains landscapes for now and then

Now & Zen Landscapes director Shannon Decker

By Ellen Hill for Now & Zen Landscapes       Photos: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

CRUISING the tree-lined avenues of Wentworth Falls, the vibrant rhododendron gardens of Blackheath and the heritage properties of Leura encased by drystone walls, Shannon Decker envisages his own garden designs a century from now.

“I can see the moss and lichens on the stones, how tall the trees will grow and where their canopies will span to a hundred years from now,’’ he says.

“When I drive around and I see a beautiful copper beech tree planted 80 years ago I am so thankful to the forefather who planted it for us.

“Likewise, what we’re planting today is for people to enjoy in the future.’’

Inspired by Danish garden designer Paul Sorensen, whose work can be seen throughout the upper Blue Mountains, and Edna Walling whose garden designs are renowned around the Dandenong area of Victoria, Shannon was grateful that “plenty of people have had that vision up here in the Mountains’’.

“A hundred years ago, fifty years ago even, properties were bigger, materials were cheaper, the stone was readily available and labour was much more affordable.

“Stunning gardens also evolved because people had time, valued quality and the architecture, design, engineering and craftsmanship of the pioneers was second to none, with a lot of those skills applied to the gardens.’’

Shannon acquired an appreciation for quality during his apprenticeship as a teenager working on upmarket estates in The Hills district, landscaping properties to complement the mega mansions constructed by premium builders.

The boy larrikin who left school at age 14 on the brink of expulsion now heads a multi-million dollar business incorporating landscaping and garden design, a civil division, a recycling and composting property and an organic bulk food store.

Now living at Wentworth Falls, he was introduced to Blue Mountains life during a break from landscaping while he managed the Lapstone Hotel between 1997 and `99.

Now & Zen Landscapes (derived from the common saying now and then’’) was established the year heneeded to step up’’. In 1999 he bought a house at Lawson, his then fiancé became pregnant and their son was born.

With only a few other such businesses in the Mountains at the time, Shannon’s drive to succeed and the work ethic his parents instilled in him, the business was an immediate success:

“In 2000, my second year of business, my turnover was the same as it is today.’’

Now & Zen has maintained that strength and market share during the past 20 years

Just 22, he had four vehicles and a skid steer machine, an acreage property and a landscape supply yard at Blaxland.

Then in 2005, Shannon’s life underwent personal challenges and he lost everything, moved to

Wollongong and commuted to a part-time TAFE teaching job at Richmond.

Now & Zen lay dormant.

Now & Zen Landscapes foreman Ben Lane (r) discusses plans on site with director Shannon Decker (l)

“But we had 15 years of trading history in the Mountains and the phone didn’t stop ringing, so after a while I’d say `No worries, I’ll do it’. I just made it happen.’’

After two years shuffling between Wollongong, Leura and Richmond, Shannon moved back to the Mountains in 2012.

Seven years later in a local industry that now sustains more than 20 landscaping businesses, Now & Zen Landscapes is the yardstick of the highest end market in the Greater Blue Mountains and Central West where projects are limited only by imagination.

“Although we consider ourselves to be at the peak of our game, we’re surrounded by other great landscape companies who keep us on our toes and keep raising the benchmark, which is wonderful for the area.’’

Shannon himself is the local industry authority, responsible for the education and training of the next generation in landscaping.

He was recently headhunted by one of Australia’s oldest recognised training organisations, The Management Edge (TME), to run its NSW and Victoria landscape training program working with employers.

Using as examples the master landscapers of the past, the bedrock of Decker’s Now & Zen Landscapes business is enduring quality, timeless beauty and sustainability, principals he hoped to pass on through TME and his own apprentices.

Garden design has given me a creative outlet, it’s an expression of me,’’ he says.It’s a timeless piece of art.’’

While skills were being lost generally through quick builds and cheap alternatives, master landscapers such as Now & Zen created and maintained bespoke gardens to a long-term vision featuring individual pieces created by artisans, stonemasons and expert gardeners.

Shannon also owns an 80-acre property at Mt Victoria, where concrete is recycled and green waste composted, which provided a solution to expensive transport and tipping costs.

Shannon has constructed an off-the-grid ironstone and iron bark house, and Shannon and his family will soon open an organic zero waste bulk food store in late February in Katoomba.

“But underlying it all is the soil we stand on and being grounded to the earth.’’


Discounts, deals & specials reward Greater Blue Mountains locals

Locals are rewarded for dining at Leura Garage

 

Free rides, discounts, two-for-one deals, birthday bubbly – just some of the perks handed out to residents by some of the region’s most popular tourist businesses just for being a Greater Blue Mountains local.

Bilpin Cider Co, Leura Garage, Miss Lilian’s Teahouse and Blue Mountains Explorer Bus reward locals for living in a tourist zone that attracts an estimated four million visitors from around the world every year.

Here are some special offers you are entitled to simply for choosing to live here:

 

Locals ride Blue Mountains Explorer Bus free with a paying passenger

Blue Mountains Explorer Bus. Operates 9.15am – 5.30pm every day. Details: explorerbus.com.au.

The fleet of red double-decker sightseeing buses operates 15 times a day between 29 stops around Leura and Katoomba. Passengers can stay on the bus for the entire one-hour circuit or hop on and hop off anywhere along the route, which takes in retail strips, tourist attractions, lookouts and bushwalking tracks leading to secret waterholes and hidden picnic spots.

Managing director Jason Cronshaw said: “We know that lots of residents have visitors from outside the area, and we want to reward locals for the fantastic job they do promoting this region to their visiting friends and family.’’

Locals deal: Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon residents ride free when accompanying a paying passenger.

 

Choose from a menu of locals deals at Leura Garage

Leura Garage, 84 Railway Pde, Leura. Open all day, every day from 12pm. Details: 4784 3391 or leuragarage.com.au.

The converted mechanics workshop, now award-winning funky eco café/restaurant, serves a menu of seasonal, regionally-sourced produce accompanied by regional wines and craft beers.

Owner James Howarth said: “Most locals want to avoid the weekend tourist crowds and we rely on our resident community during the week, so everyone wins with our locals deals.’’

Locals deal: 10 per cent discount off the final bill Monday to Thursday or two pizzas for the price of one; a free meal for the birthday person and free glass of bubbles on arrival for the table group when the party table is booked BYO (birthday cake allowed); free bottle of wine per couple with every main meal or large share meal (unconsumed open bottles may be taken away); or a free chef’s choice dessert per person with every main meal or large share meal. Conditions apply.

 

Receive 10% off your Miss Lilian’s Teahouse bill just for being a local

Miss Lilian’s Teahouse, Echo Point Rd and Panorama Drive, Echo Point. Open 11am – 7pm Sunday to Thursday, 11am – 8.30pm Friday and Saturday. Bookings: misslilian.com.au or 4780 1200.

Decorated with bamboo screens, colourful teapots, antique urns and myriad bird cages, the newest dining venue in the area offers an immersive culinary journey to the Orient blending the freshest local produce with generations-old recipes in a dine-in and takeaway. Guests can savour Asia’s favourite comfort foods infused with cinnamon, star anise, cloves, chives, chillies and lemongrass and elegantly served in a refined setting within the grounds of the magnificent Lilianfels Estate.

Escarpment Group guest services manager Meagan Iervasi said: “You can be an international tourist right here in your own backyard. And your culinary journey will be so much tastier when we roll out our new locals loyalty program soon.’’

Locals deal: a 10 per cent locals discount after the venue opening in August/September will be followed by a new loyalty program soon.

 

Locals get 10% off everything at the Bilpin Cider cellar door

Bilpin Cider Co, 2369 Bells Line of Rd, Bilpin. Open 10am – 4pm Monday to Sunday. Details: 4567 0704 or bilpincider.com.

Nestled in the “land of the mountain apple’’, the Bilpin Cider cellar door is a great rural activity for the whole family. With alpacas and lambs, outdoor games and picnic spots, the property is ideal for leisurely moments. Grab a gourmet picnic hamper and a drink and pause from everyday life to take in the view of rolling hills and orchards before stocking up on the range of seasonal local fruit, vegetables and honey, and fresh ciders crushed and bottled on site.

Owner Sean Prendergast said: “There’s nothing better than a relaxed natter over a drink with family and friends. We want to make that pastime as affordable as possible for the locals who are so loyal to us.’’

Locals deal: 10 per cent discount on any items sold at the cellar door.

  • All businesses mentioned are commercial clients of Deep Hill Media

Blue Mountains Explorer Bus: Locals Ride Free

By Ellen Hill for Blue Mountains Explorer Bus    Photos: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

What’s big, red, the only one of its kind in the world in a national park and the only one that doesn’t live in a city? The hop-on/hop-off Blue Mountains Explorer Bus.

And Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon locals can use it to explore their own backyard for free for one weekend only – September 22 to 23.

The Locals Ride Free weekend will be a chance to check out secret swimming holes, waterfalls and lush rainforest as well as cafes and restaurants offering special locals-only deals along the route of 29 stops around Katoomba and Leura.

Owned by the Katoomba-based Fantastic Aussie Tours (FAT), the buses run 15 times a day between 9.15am and 5.30pm, 365 days of the year.

FAT managing director Jason Cronshaw, whose father John started the Explorer Bus in 1986, said the free weekend would also help locals connect with community and familiarise them with facilities and attractions available to them and their visitors within their neighbourhood.

“The Blue Mountains has seen a mass migration of new residents, mainly from Sydney, and this is an opportunity for us to extend a hand of welcome and show our new neighbours around,’’ he said.

“It’s also a chance to experience what the four million tourists from around the world do each year and appreciate the fantastic blessing of living within the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area

“I recommend bagging a seat on the top deck for a truly inspiring perspective, and make sure you jump off at Echo Point to see the Three Sisters rock formation to remind yourself of the extraordinary patch of earth we all call home.’’

Environmentally conscious locals can trundle the highway and byways with a clear conscience after Blue Mountains Explorer Bus became the first tourism operator in Australia to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to a big fat zero last year.

It was the first tourism operator in the country to be certified under the Australian Government’s Carbon Neutral Program as 100 per cent carbon neutral. The company also signed the pledge to join the Climate Neutral Now initiative run by the United Nations.

Locals Ride Free will be held during the September 22 – 23 weekend. Simply show proof of residency (eg: driver’s licence, rates notice) when boarding. Register your interest on the Locals Ride Free event on the @bmexplorerbus Facebook page.

  • Blue Mountains Explorer Bus is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media

    Explorer Bus promo pics. Client: BMAG.


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


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


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.


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


Greater Blue Mountains: Summer school holiday fun

Greater Blue Mountains – one ginormous holiday playground

By Ellen Hill for Blue Mountains Attractions Group

From furry critters and underground caves to enchanted gardens, bushwalks for small people, cool art and Aboriginal culture, the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area is one big playground.

Have a close encounter with a furry friend at Featherdale Wildlife Park

Blue Mountains Attractions Group president Louise Clifton said: “Australia’s first tourist destination has had a long time to perfect the visitor experience and the premier attractions of the Greater Blue Mountains cater for the whole family – not just adults and not just children.

“Everyone loves the adorable animals at Featherdale Wildlife Park, the exciting rides at Scenic World and the fascinating indigenous cultural experience at Waradah Aboriginal Centre is tailored to appeal to all ages, while other attractions are multi-tiered.’’

One of the world’s most spectacular cave systems, Jenolan Caves offers a range of guided tours from easy strolls through the Grand Arch to strenuous explorations of the underworld.

Meet classic storybook characters at Norman Lindsay Gallery & Museum

Children will be captivated by meeting their favourite Magic Pudding characters and exploring their gardens at Norman Lindsay Gallery & Museum while grown-ups sneak into the art gallery to view the famous paintings.

Everglades Historic House & Gardens and Blue Mountains Botanic Garden at Mt Tomah have open areas for children to let off some steam and run while adults wander the exquisite avenues. Both properties also have activity books for kids.

Like all the premier attractions in Leura and Katoomba, Blue Mountains Cultural Centre can be accessed easily via a vintage-style hop-on/hop-off Trolley Tours bus. Grown-ups will be wowed by the world-class artworks on display in Blue Mountains City Art Gallery while kids will be amazed at the interactive World Heritage Exhibition.

Stroll in the shade along the Scenic World boardwalk

No trip to the Blue Mountains is complete without a visit to Scenic World where the young and the young at heart can experience the thrill of the world’s steepest passenger railway, walk on air on the skyway and take the cable car to the valley floor to stroll through ancient rainforest.

Stay overnight at Hartley Historic Site to fully immerse yourselves in colonial Australia (the Old Trahlee property sleeps six and has a cot for babies). Tour the courthouse, admire the artwork along the sculpture walk and the Kew-Y-Ahn Art Gallery. Visit metal artist Ron Fitzpatrick at Talisman Gallery where adults can browse the art and jewellery while the kids make their very own fire poker.

Casual lunch at the Hydro Majestic Hotel’s Boiler House Cafe

Families can refuel on any budget when visiting the Greater Blue Mountains. Myriad cafes, kiosks and restaurants including those at Everglades, Hartley Historic Site, Jenolan Caves, the Boiler House Café at the Hydro Majestic Hotel and Blue Mountains Cultural Centre serve the full gamut of treats.

Alternatively, numerous picnic spots in picturesque locations such as Euroka Clearing in Blue Mountains National Park Glenbrook entrance, Jenolan Caves, Wentworth Falls Lake, Hartley Historic Site and Everglades are ideal for home-brought fare.

Explore the underground at Jenolan Caves

The Greater Blue Mountains also has a range of other accommodation options suitable for families from caravan parks and self-contained cottages to upmarket hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs including St Raphael (The Convent) at Leura, The Mountain Lodge at Jenolan Caves and The Jungle Lodge at Blue Mountains Botanic Garden at Mt Tomah.

Go to bluemountainsattractions.com.au for information about where to stay and what to do in the Greater Blue Mountains region or visit the Blue Mountains Attractions Group Facebook page.

  • Blue Mountains Attractions Group is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media

    Fun and learning for all ages at Blue Mountains Botanic Garden, Mt Tomah


Lithgow, NSW: Immersive colonial experience at Hartley

St Bernard's Presbytery at Hartley Historic Site.

St Bernard’s Presbytery at Hartley Historic Site.

By Ellen Hill for Hartley Historic Site            Photos: David Hill

New upmarket accommodation at the gateway to the NSW Central West gives visitors the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in Australia’s colonial past.

Hartley Accomodation 03Surrounded by pastures, heritage orchards, cottage gardens and charming sandstone buildings, the St Bernard’s Presbytery and Old Trahlee properties at Hartley Historic Site will open for bookings from June.

Managed by the National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) since 1972 under the NSW Office of Environment & Heritage, the buildings are among the collection of 17 historic structures at the site.

Hartley Historic Site manager Steve Ring said: “Visitors to the site can already catch a glimpse into colonial Australian life during the day. Now they can soak up the full experience overnight.’’

Hartley Accomodation 07St Bernard’s Presbytery and Old Trahlee both offer deluxe accommodation with carefully chosen colonial-style décor and furnishings yet with all the comforts of modern living.

“These are not just pleasant rooms in a nice but generic hotel. Like all NPWS accommodation experiences throughout the state, we have used unique antique knick-knacks and quality furnishings to complement the special character of both properties.’’

Set on the side of a hill overlooking the picturesque village, St Bernard’s Presbytery accommodates up to four people in one twin and one double bedroom. It has a full kitchen, spa bathroom, dining room and living room for guest use.

St Bernard's Presbytery at the Historic Village of Hartley.

 

The presbytery building is believed to have been built about 1860 and used as the home of the resident priest to St Bernard’s Catholic Church next door until the mid-1880s, after which it was leased by local families until coming under NPWS management in 1972 and used as a visitor centre until the mid-1980s.

“Just imagine sitting on the verandah with a glass of exceptional regional wine watching the sandstone of the buildings in the foreground and the Blue Mountains escarpment in the distance light up at sunset,’’ Mr Ring said.

 

 

Hartley Accomodation 30“In winter, what better way to end a day exploring the region than with a hot drink in front of a roaring fire?’’

While St Bernard’s Presbytery would be ideal for couples seeking a romantic retreat, the Old Trahlee property is best suited to families.

Built between 1846 and 1854 by John and Mary Finn, Old Trahlee accommodates six people in two double rooms and another with bunk beds.

 

Hartley Accomodation 11There is also a baby’s cot in a separate room and standard wheelchair access to half the property including the kitchen, ambulant bathroom and one of the double bedrooms.

While at Hartley Historic Site, guests can take a self-guided tour of the Hartley Courthouse and St Bernard’s Catholic Church, browse affordable Aboriginal art at the Kew-Y-Ahn Art Gallery, stroll along the Kew-Y-Ahn Bell Rock Heritage Trail, have refreshments at the Old Post Office Café and visit Talisman Gallery showcasing Ron Fitzpatrick’s metal art.

Old Trahlee at the Historic Village of Hartley.

Mr Ring also encouraged visitors to explore the wider region: “If you’re coming from Sydney, travel up the Great Western Highway and see the Blue Mountains, spend time with us, then drive into Lithgow and head home via the Bells Line of Road through the Hawkesbury to experience the World Heritage Area from a very different perspective.’’

St Bernard’s Presbytery ($390 per night, minimum two-night stay on weekends) and Old Trahlee ($280 per night, minimum two-night stay on weekends) are located at Hartley Historic Site, Old Bathurst Rd (just off Great Western Hwy), Hartley. Bookings: (02) 6355 2117 or www.bluemountainsgetaways.com.

Go to lithgowtourism.com, bluemountainscitytourism.com.au or visitnsw.com.au for information about dining options and activities in the region.

  • Hartley Historic Site is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media and Headline PublicityHartley Accomodation 09

Blue Mountains: New outlook for African choir

(l-r) Echoes Boutique Hotel waiter Leo Tran with Frank Kuteesa and Venerandah Nakato of Uganda.

(l-r) Echoes Boutique Hotel waiter Leo Tran with Frank Kuteesa and Venerandah Nakato of Uganda.

By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group           Photos: David Hill

Members of an African children’s choir experienced the diversity of the Aussie workforce during their visit to the Blue Mountains last week.

(l-r) Frank Kuteesa and Venerandah Nakato from Uganda with Lilianfels restaurant manager Jess Fisher in the Orangery dining venue.

(l-r) Frank Kuteesa and Venerandah Nakato from Uganda with Lilianfels restaurant manager Jess Fisher in the Orangery dining venue.

 

As well as enchanting audiences throughout the mountains and Emu Plains with vibrant singing and drumming performances, Ubuntu troupe members spent last Friday, May 20, “job shadowing’’ (observing) at Blue Mountains MP Trish Doyle’s electorate office at Springwood, Blue Mountains City Council, Nepean Hospital, RKE Engineering at Emu Plains, Katoomba Neighbourhood Centre, Rare Birds women’s fashion shop at Wentworth Falls and Selwood House Vet Hospital, Hazelbrook.

Blue Mountains tour organiser Brendan O’Reilly said the young men and women of Ubuntu were African Children’s Choir graduates with diverse career aspirations and were thankful for the opportunity to spend time in Australian workplaces learning about workplace culture and practices.

 

 

(l-r) Joash Kiraqqa and Hydro Pavilion supervisor Jake Lewer.

(l-r) Joash Kiraqqa and Hydro Pavilion supervisor Jake Lewer.

 

They’re about to study to become doctors, engineers, diplomats, designers – one wants to be a flight attendant,’’ he said.Blue Mountains employers have made a great contribution to their African guests as they work hard to expand their horizons and free themselves and their families from poverty.’’

Four young people spent the day at Escarpment Group luxury hotels Lilianfels Resort & Spa and Echoes Boutique Hotel at Katoomba, and in the Wintergarden Restaurant and providores pavilion at the Hydro Majestic Hotel at Medlow Bath before performing in a concert at Springwood High School that evening.

 

 

 

(l-r) Food & beverage manager Phu Le and Amos Emenyu in the Hydro Pavilion.

(l-r) Food & beverage manager Phu Le and Amos Emenyu in the Hydro Pavilion.

 

Escarpment Group general manager Ralf Bruegger said: “We welcome guests from around the world every day at our hotels so it was easy for us to host the young people from Ubuntu. We hope our new friends from Africa take home many good memories of their time in the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. With beautiful warm smiles and excellent etiquette, I’m sure they would be well suited to careers in the tourism and hospitality industry.’’

 

The African Children’s Choir uses money raised from concert tours organised by charity Kwaya Australia and donations to educate children in poverty in Uganda, Kenya and elsewhere from primary school to university. Such concerts in the Blue Mountains have raised tens of thousands of dollars for education in Africa in recent years.

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    (l-r) Escarpment Group training & business development co-ordinator Meagan Iervasi, Venerandah Nakato, Frank Kuteesa and Lilianfels restaurant manager dance on the lawns at Echoes.

    (l-r) Escarpment Group training & business development co-ordinator Meagan Iervasi, Venerandah Nakato, Frank Kuteesa and Lilianfels restaurant manager dance on the lawns at Echoes.


Blue Mountains: Escarpment Group gives your career the edge

Cocktails in Cats Alley 02

By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group

Young hospitality workers can learn how to take their careers to new heights when Escarpment Group takes part in the TAA Hotel Career Expo in Sydney on May 16.

Those who attend will have the chance to meet influential hotel industry professionals such as Escarpment Group general manager Ralf Bruegger, who can explain the many opportunities the luxury collection of hotels has to offer across its four Blue Mountains properties (Lilianfels Resort & Spa along with Echoes Boutique Hotel & Restaurant, Parklands Country Gardens & Lodges and the Hydro Majestic Hotel).

Escarpment Group career (1)“The expo will be a great opportunity to go behind the scenes at hotels such as ours and kick-start a new career in this fast-paced industry where you have the chance to travel around the world, meet lots of people from around the world and work in a rewarding career.’’

The free (although registration is essential) expo would be of interest to high school and university students, existing hotel staff and those looking for a career change.

Hotels are more than just check-in and housekeeping,’’ Mr Bruegger said.Like most hotels, Escarpment Group has lots of departments which ensure the smooth running of our properties, and they are all crucial in making sure our guests have a positive and memorable stay.’’

The hotel industry also stretches beyond major city borders into regional and even remote areas, offering staff further dimensions to their career and experience and authentic and creative hospitality experience.

Majestic Long Lunch 03For example, Escarpment Group had doubled its investment and staff numbers in the Blue Mountains in the past two years.

Staff of all experience levels worked with an international team of professionals and had the opportunity to work at properties across the group.

“While of course theory education is very important and we encourage it, we give our employees, especially the younger ones, practical training alongside those who have worked in the industry for a long time because we believe that learning from example is an experience that money cannot buy,’’ Mr Bruegger said.

Surrounded by the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, staff can also access a lifestyle like no other, spending leisure time exploring Australia’s most accessible wilderness and quaint villages which make up the community.

“It is a constant challenge for regional hotels like ours to attract dedicated skilled workers that are prepared to live in the area. Giving jobs to a local workforce is the ultimate goal,’’ Mr Bruegger said.

Escarpment Group career (6)Workers in the hotel industry on average stay in jobs for just 12 months or less, particularly those aged up to 21.

Escarpment Group, which has approximately 230 employees across its four Blue Mountains properties, hoped to combat the problems associated with a transient workforce with a new scholarship-style program and a first for Australia.

While the details of the new program would be announced shortly, Mr Bruegger said the aim was to foster more training pathways to create a stable, skilled workforce, which would lead to sustainable quality of product and service not just at Escarpment Group hotels but eventually throughout the region.

“This program will be a direct investment in the front and back of house workforce future of Escarpment Group hotels and beyond.’’

The free 2016 Hotel Career Expo will be held at the InterContinental, 117 Macquarie St, Sydney, from 10am to 6pm on May 16.

The expo will include inspiring seminars, exhibits from 20 hotel brands including Escarpment Group, career-focused interactive booths, the opportunity to connect with industry leaders and the chance to win fantastic prizes.

Go to www.hotelcareerexpo.com.au to register.

* Escarpment Group is a commercial client of Deep Hill MediaEscarpment Group career (2)


Ultimate Blue Mountains Australia holiday experience on us

Echo Point 03By 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.

An initiative of Blue Mountains Attractions Group (BMAG), prospective holidaymakers can enter the competition worth more than $4,400 through the online Blue Mountains Australia portal bluemts.com.au.

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.

Nana's Teddies & Toys

Nana’s Teddies & Toys

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.

Blue Mountains Botanic Garden

Blue Mountains Botanic Garden

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.

Blue Mountains Cultural Centre

Blue Mountains Cultural Centre

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.

Old Trahlee at Hartley Historic Site

Old Trahlee at Hartley Historic Site

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.

Everglades Historic House & Gardens

Everglades Historic House & Gardens

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.

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    Waradah Aboriginal Centre

    Waradah Aboriginal Centre


Blue Mountains: Burlesque to seduce Hydro Majestic Hotel

Burlesque performer Jacqueline Furey. Photo: Joel Devereux

Burlesque performer Jacqueline Furey. Photo: Joel Devereux

 

 By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group

Sheer enchantment, chimera and intrigue will herald a modern era of breathtaking drama for the original Blue Mountains party palace when the Australian Burlesque Festival performs at the Hydro Majestic Hotel in May.

The Australian Burlesque Festival featuring Shake-O-Rama will offer three hours of cheeky variety entertainment with more than a dozen buxom burlesque artists.

Shake-O-Rama promises a glamorous night of classic tease and modern neo-burlesque that will dazzle, delight and stimulate the senses featuring some of the best and most entertaining international and local performers.

Dolores Daiquiri. Photo: 3 Fates Media

Dolores Daiquiri. Photo: 3 Fates Media

Escarpment Group general manager Ralf Bruegger said: “The original owner of the Hydro Majestic, Mark Foy, held legendary parties here, so this kind of saucy entertainment is not new for the hotel – all performed with the famous Hydro elegance of course.’’

The sizzling adults-only show will celebrate traditional burlesque arts, vintage-flavoured tease, sensual cabaret and variety entertainment.

Guests will be delighted, tantalised and pleasantly entertained as they experience jaw-droppingly glamourous exotic and neo-burlesque seduction and titillating strip-tease shows from leading stars of the genre.

Directed, pro­duced, owned and operated by burlesque star and producer Dolores Dai­quiri, the Australian Burlesque Festival is the largest touring burlesque festival in the world.

Established in 2009 to cel­eb­rate the bur­lesque com­munity, the avant-garde troupe of performers deb­ut­ed in 2010 to sell-out audi­ences.

The Australian Burlesque Festival will seduce at the Hydro Majestic Hotel, Great Western Hwy, Medlow Bath, from 8pm to 11pm Saturday, May 28. Tickets: $75 + booking fee show only, $160 + booking fee dinner and show. Age restriction: 18+. Bookings and details: hydromajestic.com.au or (02) 4782 6885.

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Autumnal antics in Lithgow & Blue Mountains

Autumn in the Greater Blue Mountains

Autumn at Everglades Historic House & Gardens at Leura

By Ellen Hill           Photos: David Hill

From thrilling interactive history, magical adventures, lolly stores overflowing with sweet treats, exhilarating physical activity and gourmet delights, the Greater Blue Mountains and Lithgow region has the autumn school holidays sorted for frazzled parents and bored kids.

Whether you visit for the day or stay a night or more, families can experience an activity-filled break together throughout the Blue Mountains, out to the plains of Lithgow and back again.

Make memories together from this list of affordable activities:

Everglades Kids 06

Heritage, nature and education at Everglades Historic House & Gardens

Everglades Historic House & Gardens, 37 Everglades Ave, Leura: Children can learn about heritage conservation and the natural environment at one of the most enchanting historic properties in the region through the My Adventure at Everglades program. Activities include matching, drawing, colouring, identifying component parts, labelling and drawing from their surrounds along with counting, exploring and contemplating. Entry: $13 adults, $8 concessions, $4 children, National Trust members free. The children’s activity books cost $10 and $5 per subsequent book. Bookings and information: (02) 4784 1938 or email evergladesgarden@bigpond.com.

Blue Mountains Chocolate Company, 176 Lurline St, Katoomba: Treat yourself to the ultimate sweet indulgence with a visit to this scrumptious venue. Just minutes’ walk from the world-famous Echo Point Lookout and Three Sisters rock formations, the shelves are dripping with an extensive range of luscious hand-made goodies. Sip a hot chocolate drink melted over a romantic candle and nibble on a luxuriant cake while watching the in-house chocolatier create mouth-watering decadence.

 

Thrilling tours with Blue Mountains Mystery Tours

Thrilling tours with Blue Mountains Mystery Tours

Blue Mountains Mystery Tours (throughout the region): Shiver in ghoulish delight at deliciously dark tales of the sometimes bloody history behind the ruggedly beautiful landscape of the Greater Blue Mountains as you explore haunted buildings, abandoned cemeteries and other bereft locations. The experience can be tailored to suit children during the day or conducted at night for adults for spine-tingling effect. Cost: from $75 to $200 per person, includes all fees and charges. Bookings and details: phone 0418 416 403 or (02) 4751 2622 or email mysterytours@bigpond.com.

The Lolly Shop, Great Western Hwy, Little Hartley: Stock up on confectionary from more than 2000 products available from around the world including jelly belly, rock candy, choc coated, sugar and gluten free lollies, novelty items, gourmet food items, lollipops and more. Visit during the weekend and have a go at making your own fairy floss. Details: (02) 6355 2162.

Hartley Historic Site, Old Bathurst Rd (just off Great Western Hwy), Hartley: Soak up the atmosphere of one of the best examples of colonial Australia when you picnic among the 17 historic buildings, wander the Kew-Y-Ahn sculpture walk and visit the Kew-Y-Ahn Art Gallery, the only dedicated Aboriginal art gallery in the NSW Central West. Cost: Free. Details: (02) 6355 2117 or hartley@environment.nsw.gov.au.

Stretch your legs on a bushwalk

Stretch your legs on a bushwalk

With more than 400 bushwalking tracks throughout the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, there’s a walk for everyone in the family – even some accessible by wheelchair, and be sure to check out the breathtaking views from some of the many lookouts such as Wentworth Falls Lookout and Govetts Leap at Blackheath in the Blue Mountains and Hassans Walls and Pearsons Lookout in Lithgow.

 

 

Those looking for a more urbane pastime can trawl the eclectic shopping strips for unique bargains and indulge in leisurely dining at one of the numerous cafes and restaurants.

Fill up on nourishing comfort food at Vesta Blackheath

Fill up on nourishing comfort food at Vesta Blackheath

 

Check out the painted panorama at Aitken’s Panorama in the Round at Glenbrook; grab a sweet snack at Rust & Timber Chocolate Bar at Lawson; share dishes of regional bounty or tuck into pizza at Leura Garage; graze on fine fare at Bon Ton Restaurant at Leura; dine with the locals at Victory Café at Blackheath (enjoy breakfast at any time of day); or try a takeaway food box filled with wholesome rustic mountain food from Vesta Blackheath.

 

Then, head to one of the many family-friendly accommodation options throughout the region such as Allview Escape at Blackheath or Lithgow Workies Club Motel in Lithgow.

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    Rest up at the new Lithgow Workies Club Motel

    Rest up at the new Lithgow Workies Club Motel


Blue Mountains: Met Orchestra returns romance to Hydro Majestic

Cocktails and Serenades 15

By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group              Photos: David Hill

The first in a series of classical music concerts at the Hydro Majestic Hotel last Saturday re-established Mark Foy’s “Palace in the wilderness’’ as the definitive destination for romance and elegance.

Chief conductor Sarah-Grace Williams

Chief conductor Sarah-Grace Williams

The Metropolitan Orchestra played to critical acclaim in the world-famous hotel’s Majestic Ballroom after guests supped on specially created cocktails and canapes followed by dinner and wines showcasing local and regional produce.

Editor of prestigious classical music publication Limelight Magazine, Clive Paget, who attended the concert, wrote a glowing review of the occasion.

“The sumptuously appointed Majestic Ballroom with its bowed ceiling turned out to boast a rather good acoustic for what proved to be a very classy concert.

“Eschewing the tendency for throwaway `pops’ on such occasions, the Hydro and the Met opted to properly engage its audience with two meaty masterworks for string orchestra by late romantics, Dvorak and Tchaikovsky.’’

Cocktails and Serenades 07As well as the two string serenades, Paget praised the orchestra’s rendition of Rojas’ Little Serenade for Strings and encore piece Piazzolla’s Libertango, along with the fascinating’’ vintage fashion show by The Darnell Collection of International Vintage Courture andtoe tapping sets from smoky-voice’’ jazz singer Evelyn Duprai in the nearby Majestic Marquee space.

The entire event was a captivating, invigorating experience that I expect would have delighted the Hydro’s original, eccentric host’’.Thoroughly recommended.’’

The Metropolitan Orchestra will perform again at the Hydro Majestic when the original party palace hosts the masquerade Winter Ball to officially launch the Yulefest season in the Blue Mountains on Saturday, June 18.

Cocktails and Serenades 36Under the baton of artistic director and chief conductor Sarah-Grace Williams, more than 50 musicians will perform O’Boyle’s Rhapsody on a theme of Mendelssohn, Horn Concerto no 1 by Strauss, Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture and Symphony no 4 Italian by Mendelssohn.

Escarpment Group general manager Ralf Bruegger said the concert series harked back to the Mark Foy days when events were not merely concerts but opulent occasions.

“The feedback from this first concert has been very positive. The combination of exquisite music by some of the most talented classical musicians in Australia, fine regional food designed and prepared by award-winning chefs, this beautiful hotel and the magnificent surrounds of the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area re-establishes the Hydro Majestic as the venue for romance and elegance in the region.’’

The final concert will be Symphony Under the Stars on November 19 featuring Mendelsson’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Overture, Kats-Chernin’s Ornamental Air (for basset clarinet and orchestra) and Symphony no 7 by Beethoven. Guests will also indulge in a sultry evening of canapes and cocktails followed by a two-course dinner.

Cocktails and Serenades 34

 

 

 

The Metropolitan Orchestra comprises Sydney’s most dynamic musicians and is recognised as one of the country’s most versatile orchestras delivering accessible, first-class and vibrant concert experiences.

 

 

 

 

Jazz singer Evelyn Duprai

Jazz singer Evelyn Duprai

The orchestra’s seven-year history features a star-studded array of highlight concert and/or album performances along with several world premieres and special events such as BBC’s Blue Planet and Planet Earth in Concert, Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular, Opera in the Vineyards, the National Rugby League grand final; and sailing the high seas as resident orchestra aboard the Bravo! Cruise of the Performing Arts.

 

 

Go to www.hydromajestic.com.au to book Majestic Concert Series tickets, dinner and accommodation.

  • Escarpment Group is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media Cocktails and Serenades 50

Biggest Blue Mountains classical muso gathering comes to Hydro Majestic Hotel

TMO in the famous Cat's Alley of the Hydro Majestic Hotel

TMO in the famous Cat’s Alley of the Hydro Majestic Hotel

By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group          Photos: The Metropolitan Orchestra

The largest gathering of professional classical musicians ever in the Blue Mountains will add an extra layer of sumptuousness to a world-famous icon when The Metropolitan Orchestra performs at the Hydro Majestic Hotel this year.

TMO artistic director & chief conductor Sarah-Grace Williams

TMO artistic director & chief conductor Sarah-Grace Williams

Guests can immerse themselves in the delicate strains of the 32-piece string ensemble playing Little Serenade for Strings by Rojas, String Serenade by Dvorak and Tchaikovsky’s String Serenade conducted by Sarah-Grace Williams at Cocktails & Serenades during the first of three concerts on Saturday, March 12.

The sumptuous pairing of the Dvorak and Tchaikovsky string masterpieces filled with purity, beauty and passion will lift the spirit.

Composed just five years apart and written at positive times in each of the composers’ lives, these joyful and evocative serenades will be complemented by Rojas’ fresh and vivacious work, rounding out a sublime musical evening.

The exquisite concert program will be accompanied by a lavish cocktail and dining package.

Escarpment Group general manager Ralf Bruegger said: “The Hydro Majestic is the perfect backdrop to the Majestic Concert Series, with its elegant historic venues, sweeping landscape and delicious food.

Hydro Majestic 01

The iconic Casino Dome of the Hydro Majestic Hotel. Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

“As well as harking back to the Mark Foy days when everything was luxury on the largest scale, these concerts featuring musicians of the highest calibre at such a fantastic venue is reminiscent of the grand concert halls of Europe.

“We’re not just putting on a concert. We are creating an occasion.’’

The second concert, featuring more than 50 musicians like the third, will be performed at the Majestic Winter Ball, which will officially launch the Yulefest season for the Hydro Majestic Hotel on June 18.

The event will include a three-course dinner package and the music program will feature O’Boyle’s Rhapsody on a theme of Mendelssohn, Horn Concerto no 1 by Strauss, Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture and Symphony no 4 Italian by Mendelssohn.

The final concert will be Symphony Under the Stars on November 19 featuring Mendelsson’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Overture, Kats-Chernin’s Ornamental Air (for basset clarinet and orchestra) and Symphony no 7 by Beethoven. Guests will also indulge in a sultry evening of canapes and cocktails followed by a two-course dinner.

TMO in the Wintergarden Restaurant at the Hydro Majestic Hotel

TMO in the Wintergarden Restaurant at the Hydro Majestic Hotel

Under the baton of founding artistic director and chief conductor Sarah-Grace Williams, The Metropolitan Orchestra comprises Sydney’s most dynamic musicians and is recognised as one of the country’s most versatile orchestras delivering accessible, first-class and vibrant concert experiences.

The orchestra’s seven-year history features a star-studded array of highlight concert and/or album performances with the likes of Sumi Jo, David Helfgott, Marina Pior, Anthony Warlow, Elaine Paige, John Farnham with Olivia Newton-John, James Morrison, Kate Ceberano, Vocal Ensembles Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, Sydney Chamber Choir, Figaro and members of Opera Australia and Children’s Entertainers Lah-Lah and Buzz.

The orchestra has been involved in special events such as BBC’s Blue Planet and Planet Earth in Concert, Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular, Opera in the Vineyards, the National Rugby League grand final; and sailing the high seas as resident orchestra aboard the Bravo! Cruise of the Performing Arts.

The Metropolitan Orchestra has commissioned, presented and recorded world premieres by several Australian composers and has workshopped new works by Paul Stanhope, Stuart Greenbaum, Matthew Hindson and James Humberstone.

Cocktails & Serenades will be held at the Hydro Majestic Hotel, Great Western Hwy, Medlow Bath, at 7pm on March 12. Cost: $145pp includes 4-hour cocktails and canapes package, $55pp show only. Bookings and details: hydromajestic.com.au for more dining, event and accommodation details and bookings.

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    The Metropolitan Orchestra in the famous Cat's Alley at the Hydro Majestic Hotel

    The Metropolitan Orchestra in the famous Cat’s Alley at the Hydro Majestic Hotel