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Posts tagged “Hawkesbury

Western Sydney aged/disability care jobs blitz

Dozens of aged and disability care jobs are available in Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains with leading care support organisation Wendy’s Home Care – close to home, with flexible hours and opportunities to link into training to help build a career.

The company’s annual recruitment blitz emphasises life experience, character and attitude, not just qualifications, and targets those seeking meaningful work that helps their community yet also gives them an ideal work/home balance.

The organisation, which offers in-home aged and disability care, needs more than 20 new casual staff to meet increasing demand in The Hills, Penrith, Blacktown, Blue Mountains and Parramatta regions.

Information sessions will be held at:

  • Castle Grand, Wexford Room, Castle Hill Cultural Centre, Pennant St, Castle Hill, from 10.30am to 12.30pm Wednesday, August 21.
  • Vikings Club, 35 Quarry Rd, Dundas Valley, from 10.30am to 12.30pm Friday, August 30
  • Penrith Library Theatrette, High St, Penrith, from 10.30am to 12.30pm Wednesday, August 28

Operating between Parramatta and Lithgow, Wendy’s Home Care is an approved service provider for many non-government agencies, government services including the National Disability Insurance Scheme, and Veterans’ Home Care and is an aged care provider approved by the Federal Government.

It also services private clients and now offers government subsidised home care packages through MyAgedCare.

Wendy’s Home Care general manager Alannah Norman said the casual positions are ideal for people wanting a career or lifestyle change which offers a more flexible work/home balance but involves learning new skills in a rewarding community role.

“Our staff are the best in the business, which is why we have such demand for our services. We just need more of them.

“People new to the industry often underestimate themselves – life skills and experience are extremely important and we can then provide training to build your knowledge and competencies. One of our team was a swimming coach for fifty-five years before joining us, John was in retail, Sandra was a hairdresser.

“And don’t use age as an excuse – most of our staff are aged over thirty-five, one is seventy-one and many came to us in middle age from other industries without previous aged and disability experience.

“What’s more important to us are practical people with a great attitude and life skills, who love people and want to help them.’’

Staff are matched to clients to suit their needs, which may vary from domestic assistance (housework, shopping and meal preparation), personal care, respite, emergency or short-term care, monitoring and supervision, social support and transport.

“Care support work is an opportunity to make connections, especially in areas where there are lots of new people looking to forge relationships and find their place in the community,’’ Ms Norman said.

Community care roles would especially suit people who had worked in a high intensity facility such as a nursing home, who would like to work more flexible hours close to home and give one-on-one support to clients.

However, people new to the industry were also encouraged to apply, as were those from varied cultural backgrounds, especially people with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds.

Care workers must have a reliable vehicle, a mobile phone, a current driver’s licence and a first aid certificate with additional opportunities available to those who have Certificate III in individual Support, Aged, Home Care or Disability Care and/or other industry qualifications.

Register your interest in the information sessions with Wendy’s Home Care on (02) 4587 5999 or at hradmin@wendyshome.com.au.


New Hillbilly Cider Shed just apples

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

By Ellen Hill for Hillbilly Cider       Photos: David Hill

Hillbillies at heart can escape the big smoke and experience nature for real at the newly opened Hillbilly Cider Shed in the heart of Bilpin apple country.

Wend your way up the famed Bells Line of Rd and follow the comforting aroma of fermented apples into the Hillbilly Cider Shed to discover a hidden refuge of Prohibition-era speakeasy ambience overlooking a working apple orchard.

There, you can escape the foot-stomping winter chill outside and imbibe in a belly-warming mulled cider and munch on fresh salted popcorn while learning about the cidermaking process and the Hillbilly philosophy from Hillbilly Shane or Hillbetty Tessa McLaughlin themselves.

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

In 2007, the couple shifted to a bohemian existence on 35-acres at Bilpin, where fourth generation farmer and Canonbah Bridge winemaker Shane (“Dodge’’ to his mates) set about making a cider in a cellar he dug by hand under the house.

The result? Just apples. With altitude. And a squeeze of good old Hillbilly magic.

We don’t add sugar, we don’t pasteurise and we don’t add artificial flavours,’’ the Cider Australia treasurer says.We’re all about keeping it real and honest – 100 per cent crushed fruit fermented with minimal intervention for an easy bohemian bubble.’’

Dedicated Hillbillies can seek out the uninhibited honest earthiness, mountain air, memories of good times with friends and fermented fruit of Hillbilly Cider straight out of the barrels at the new cider shed.

Tasting cider straight from the barrel is but one experience available exclusively at the inner Hillbilly sanctum.

In season, pick the very apples that go into the cider.

Stock up on the new Scrumpy and Sweet Julie ciders – the ones you don’t see around too much outside the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury, and grab new ciders the moment Hillbilly Shane releases them.

In fact, the Sweet Julie is the only cider in the world made from the Julie apple, discovered and grown at the orchard onsite and the newest apple discovered in the area since the Granny Smith 100 years ago.

Hillbillification begins at the Hillbilly Cider Shed at Bilpin

Environmentally conscious cider lovers can reduce packaging purchase to zero by investing in their own 1.854lt Hillbilly Cider growler, only at the Hillbilly Cider Shed.

It’s also the only place in the country to buy a cider canimal. Filled with nearly a litre of Hillbilly liquid goodness, canimals “are mini kegs so they’ll keep you going for a while – you won’t lose your place around the bonfire’’, Shane says.

Have your canimal filled on the spot with your choice of cider straight off the barrel and pressure sealed by the first and only canimal machine used for cider in Australia.

Hillbillies can picnic under the trees with the company of cider shed dog Star or sit on the deck and soak up the vibes of raw Hillbilly music, meaningful conversation and the nostalgic scent of crushed cider on the breeze.

After tasting the award-winning alcoholic and non-alcoholic apple and pear ciders, cleansing the palette with salted popcorn, stocking up on your chosen flavour of bottled bohemian lifestyle, be sure to proclaim your Hillbillification with pride on clothing and other items available at the cider shed.

Hillbilly Cider is also available throughout the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury and beyond via independent bottle shops, funky bars and restaurants, or catch the Hillbillies at farmers markets and music festivals.

The Hillbilly Cider Shed, Shields Orchard, 2270 Bells Line of Rd, Bilpin, is open from 12pm to 5pm Friday and 11am to 5pm Saturday and Sunday (check website for extra open days during school holidays). Go to hillbilly.com.au for more information.

  • Hillbilly Cider is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media

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


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

Blues and roots at the Sebel Hawkesbury

The Sebel Hawkesbury will host two free music gigs during the Sydney Blues & Roots Festival in October

The Sebel Hawkesbury will host two free music gigs during the Sydney Blues & Roots Festival in October

 

By Ellen Hill for The Sebel Hawkesbury Resort & Spa

Get into the blues and roots groove in stylish luxury when the only 4.5 star resort in the Hawkesbury-Nepean region hosts two free Sydney Blues and Roots Festival gigs during the weekend of October 23 to 25.

James Bennett will perform at the Sebel Hawkesbury

James Bennett will perform at the Sebel Hawkesbury

The tone will be set with fireworks by the lake at the front of The Sebel Hawkesbury Resort & Spa at 8.30pm on the Friday, before Dr Don’s Double Dose takes over the Barracks Bar from 8.45pm to 10.30pm.

There will be more lakeside musical action with James Bennett at 2pm, Liza Ohlback at 3pm and Glenn Cardier and The Sideshow from 4.30pm to 6pm on Sunday, October 25.

The popular music festival will be held across nine venues throughout Windsor in the Hawkesbury region at the foothills of the world-famous Blue Mountains.

Now in its seventh year, the Hawkesbury Council-sponsored festival will again feature the best established and emerging local, national and international blues and roots acts, and transcends age, gender and culture barriers with gigs in intimate performance spaces, market stalls, buskers, jam sessions, workshops and youth events.

Liza Ohlback will also play the resort during the popular music festival

Liza Ohlback will also play the resort during the popular music festival

The Sebel Hawkesbury Resort & Spa general manager David Ross said: “The Sydney Blues and Roots Festival has become a major experience on our community’s social calendar so we are delighted to offer these two music events free to Hawkesbury locals and visitors.’’

He also encouraged festival goers to fully immerse themselves in the event by staying at least one night and exploring activities and locations around the Hawkesbury area.

Just an easy 45 minutes’ drive from Sydney CBD and 60 minutes from Sydney airport, the Sebel Hawkesbury Resort & Spa is luxury travelling at its best.

As well as 8ha of manicured grounds through which to wander, an 18-hole champion golfing range next door and a 9-hole one on-site, several dining options, a full gym and balloon rides, the Sebel Hawkesbury is home to the largest day spa in Western Sydney.

The Sebel Hawkesbury Resort & Spa is on Hawkesbury Valley Way (Richmond Rd), Windsor. Bookings and details: (02) 4577 4222, email H8799@accor.com  or go to sebelhawkesbury.com.au.

Go to sydneybluesfestival.com.au for a full program of Sydney Blues and Roots Festival events.

The Sebel Hawkesbury Resort & Spa is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media and Headline Publicity

The Sebel Hawkesbury Resort & Spa is the only 4.5-star resort in the Hawkesbury-Nepean region

The Sebel Hawkesbury Resort & Spa is the only 4.5-star resort in the Hawkesbury-Nepean region

 


Stylish Sebel Hawkesbury Resort & Spa

The Sebel Hawkesbury Resort & Spa is the only 4.5-star hotel in the Hawkesbury-Nepean region

The Sebel Hawkesbury Resort & Spa is the only 4.5-star hotel in the Hawkesbury-Nepean region

 

By Ellen Hill for The Sebel Hawkesbury Resort & Spa             Photos: David Hill

It could be the tinkling water features dotted around the property. Maybe it’s the sweeping lawns of the golf course or the subtle fragrance from the day spa floating on the breeze.

Location is part of the appeal

Location is part of the appeal

It’s probably all that combined and then some which makes The Sebel Hawkesbury Resort & Spa a perfect getaway venue.

The location is an instant winner: on the edge of the historic town of Windsor at the foothills of the world-famous Blue Mountains.

Just an easy 45 minutes’ drive from Sydney CBD and 60 minutes from Sydney airport, its close enough for a spontaneous romantic rendezvous, girls getaway, corporate retreat or wedding party. Book a mid-week stay for total tranquillity.

Enter the driveway of the only 4.5-star hotel in the Hawkesbury and Nepean region and nestle into the embrace of luxury.

With white leather lounges, the pristine lobby sets the tone: light, bright and airy with an ever-present sense of quiet and serenity.

Clean white spaces and archways everywhere

Clean white spaces and archways everywhere

Actually, there’s white everywhere. Goodness knows how they manage it but everything is spotless, from the crisp bed linen in the 105 rooms and suites to the highest corners of the numerous arched corridors indoors and out, which is just as well given the number of bridal gowns which sweep through them.

Set within 8ha of manicured, landscaped gardens, The Sebel Hawkesbury Resort & Spa has been built around the historic barracks and is now a series of buildings connected by indoor and outdoor covered corridors.

The Sebel offers several dining options

The Sebel offers several dining options

It has eight formal and five informal meeting spaces, a kiddies playground, an indoor heated pool and several dining options including the light-filled Gazebo Restaurant with huge breakfast buffet, the formal Harvest Restaurant and Barracks Bar for casual drinks, light lunch or snack and a game of snooker.

For those seeking to stay on top of their physical game, there is a gym with spa/sauna and aerobic and weights exercise equipment; two floodlit tennis courts; an on-site 9-hole golf course and 18-hole championship course next door.

Wander the rose-lined paths and come across the quaint 100-seat chapel, a perfect place for heavenly nuptials.

The Villa Thalgo day spa is a tranquil oasis

The Villa Thalgo day spa is a tranquil oasis

The ultimate bliss is a visit to the Villa Thalgo Day Spa. With 16 treatment rooms, an indoor heated pool, six-lap hydrotherapy exercise station, steam room, two hydrotherapy spa rooms, a couples room, blitz shower, a Vichy shower room, indoor and outdoor relaxation area and a host of half-day, full-day and even multi-day programs using the famous French Thalgo marine product line, it is a holiday destination in itself.

The only Village Thalgo Day Spa in Australia, it is the largest day spa in Western Sydney yet feels comfortingly intimate.

A visit to The Sebel Hawkesbury Resort & Spa is luxury travelling at its best – without the hassle of a long-haul flight.

The Sebel Hawkesbury Resort & Spa is on Hawkesbury Valley Way (Richmond Rd), Windsor. Bookings and details: (02) 4577 4222, email H8799@accor.com  or go to sebelhawkesbury.com.au.

The on-site chapel seats

The on-site chapel seats 100 people

 


Back to Hartley offers fresh look at Australian history

(l-r) Lithgow Living History members Robyn Burton, Vicki Hartley, Ian Rufus and Alexa Burton bring Hartley Historic Site to life.

(l-r) Lithgow Living History members Robyn Burton, Vicki Hartley, Ian Rufus and Alexa Burton bring Hartley Historic Site to life.

By Ellen Hill for Hartley Historic Site                                                  Photos: David Hill

Explore one of the best examples of colonial history afresh when Hartley Historic Site holds its annual Back to Hartley family fair on Sunday, October 25.

Be entertained with live music by Lithgow Folk Club; take a trike or pony ride; have a close encounter with a furry friend at the petting zoo; make a fire poker with metal artist Ron Fitzpatrick at Talisman Gallery; and hit a bullseye at the archery.

Lithgow Living History member Ian Rufus in front of the old Hartley Courthouse.

Lithgow Living History member Ian Rufus in front of the old Hartley Courthouse.

There will be the Galloping Gumnut travelling playgroup for pre-schoolers, face painting, sheep shearing, a reptile show, locally-made handmade arts and crafts stalls, vintage cars and dancing demonstrations. New this year will be a rock climbing wall.

This year’s Back to Hartley will also commemorate the first 100 mile motorcycle race in the Hartley Valley and motorcyclists are invited to submit their bikes for judging by Lithgow Motorcycle Club with a range of prizes and categories up for grabs.

The Hartley Vale Circuit was originally marked out on public roads in 1915 just south of Lithgow. The circuit was first used by the Sydney-based Canberra Motorcycle Club to hold its first annual 100 mile race. The circuit was 6km long and a gravel surface. Racing was conducted in a clockwise direction and later controlled by Western Suburbs Motorcycle Club. It closed in 1936.

Hartley Historic Site manager Steve Ring said funds raised from the day would go towards Paxton – MPS Journey to help pay for treatment for Lithgow one-year-old Paxton who was diagnosed with the rare and incurable MPS II disease also known as Hunters Syndrome when he was nine months old.

“Back to Hartley is a good chance for NPWS to work with the community to raise funds for a local charity or causes we both feel are important. This year we are pleased to be helping young Paxton.’’

Hartley Historic Site is managed by National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) and buildings tell the story of the village from the 1837 Greek Revival courthouse to Corneys Garage built in 1945 of timber and iron.

Set among pastures, orchards, native plants and 19th and 20th century cottage gardens, the village’s sandstone buildings preserve an important piece of history – the settlement of inland Australia.

(l-r) Lithgow Living History members Vicki Hartley and Robyn Burton bring Hartley Historic Site to life.

(l-r) Lithgow Living History members Vicki Hartley and Robyn Burton bring Hartley Historic Site to life.

The settlement began when a need for a police centre in the Hartley Valley led to the construction of Hartley Court House in 1837.

During the next 50 years a bustling village grew around the courthouse, the judicial and administrative centre surrounded by churches and accommodation, a post office and staging facilities.

The village served travellers and settlers west of the Blue Mountains until it was surpassed by the Great Western Railway in 1887 and became stagnant and fell into decline.

In 1972 the village was declared an historic site under the management of NPWS.

Today, it includes 17 buildings of historical significance, two privately owned, including Old Trahlee (1840), Post Office (1846), St Bernard’s Presbytery and St Bernard’s Church (1842) still operating as a Catholic church, Shamrock Inn Cottage (1841) and the Court House (1837).

“We have recently completed many improvements and added new attractions to the site including an Aboriginal art gallery, café, the Kew-Y-Ahn walk and modern toilet facilities, new gardens and fences,’’ Mr Ring said.

He 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 the day with us at Back to Hartley, 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.’’

Visitors can choose from a range of accommodation and dining options in the Lithgow area.

Go to lithgowtourism.com for more information.

Back to Hartley will be held at Hartley Historic Site, Old Bathurst Rd (just off Great Western Hwy), Hartley, from 9am to 4pm Sunday, October 25. Cost: $5 per vehicle. Details: (02) 6355 2117 or hartley@environment.nsw.gov.au.

Alexa Burton from Lithgow Living History steps back in time at Hartley Historic Site.

Alexa Burton from Lithgow Living History steps back in time at Hartley Historic Site.

 


Hawkesbury, NSW: Delishus a tasty Spanish experience in Richmond

Delishus ... a taste of Spain in the Hawkesbury.

Delishus … a taste of Spain in the Hawkesbury.

 

By Ellen Hill for Delishus Tapas Bar & Restaurant                            Photos: David Hill

Naming your restaurant Delishus sets high expectation but it is one which Richmond restauranteurs Jose and Sally Fernandez consistently exceed.

Since opening Delishus Tapas Bar & Restaurant in the Hawkesbury in October 2009 with no restaurant experience, the couple has won the Foxtel I Love Food Award for Best Spanish Restaurant in NSW 2014 and the Dimmi Awards for Best Rated Spanish Restaurant in Australia and Best for Parties & Groups twice in 2013.

Maitre'd Jose Fernandez explains each dish

Maitre’d Jose Fernandez explains each dish

With the flavours of Madrid emanating from the kitchen, the fire of matadors in the red and yellow décor and the suave maître’d Jose greeting every diner at the door, it’s hardly surprising.

We try to give people the full Spanish experience,’’ Jose said.After visiting us, people who have never been to Spain want to go. For Spanish people, it reminds them of home. Many customers bring us things back from Spain for the restaurant.’’

Dining at Delishus is to visit a destination. To partake of Delishus tapas is to sample Spain.

People can eat at home but they come here for the experience,’’ Jose says.People have become friends after meeting here.

“Spain is a melting pot for many of the old world empires. Beginning with the Phoenicians who came to Spain about 400BC, then the Romans and then the Moors, who all brought foods and spices from their respective empires. Finally, all the new produce brought by the Spanish Conquistadores from the Americas has been blended together over the centuries to produce what is now a distinctive and wonderful Spanish cuisine with many of the Spanish colours featured in the foods such as the yellow of saffron and the red of peppers.

“We are passionate in Spain about food – we don’t eat because we have to eat, we eat because we want to eat. We even celebrate our food with festivals for different food dishes and produce.’’

Head chef Sally Fernandez overseas every dish

Head chef Sally Fernandez overseas every dish

Food from the Delishus kitchen is as fresh as possible, with as many ingredients sourced from local and regional suppliers as possible.

But the Delishus experience is also infused with the spice of life – Jose and Sally’s life.

Born in Madrid, Jose never knew his father, was tormented at school and raised by his beloved grandmother Pila, only for her to die when he was 11, leaving him virtually alone to fend for himself.

Amazingly, “I have had a wonderful life really – I wouldn’t change it for the world,’’ Jose, who enjoyed a successful business career before opening Delishus, says.

Former health industry professional Sally began cooking in earnest at the age of 10, a skill learned from her mother Neta who was raised on a farm near Orange and cooked meals for up to 40 farm workers from the age of 15.

Delishus offers a a friendly atmosphere

Delishus offers a a friendly atmosphere

In many ways, the couple’s restaurant is an extension of their own kitchen and dining room – Spanish-style, she says. “This is like the ultimate dinner party.’’

Everywhere at Delishus is grandmother Pila’s influence, beginning with the Croquetas de Jamon made by Sally to a secret family recipe only she knows.

This is food I was raised with,’’ Jose says.In some ways I am chasing my own heritage by doing this, and then sharing it with others.’’

Delishus delivers true tapas food and dining. Although customers do sit at tables rather than stand around the bar or high tables in the traditional way, they are encouraged to move around and mingle.

It’s not just about eating – you can eat at home,’’ Jose says.Tapas is about being looked after and having a bit of fun.

“The idea of tapas is to taste a lot of things but not fill up on any one thing. Food is about taking your time and enjoying it. It’s not about quantity but quality. I would like people to take their time, come here at seven o’clock and leave at ten. After you’ve had tapas you’re not bloated but the senses are going `Wow’.

Apart from the exceptional food quality, diners at Delishus will notice outstanding customer service beginning with Jose’s personal welcome at the door following by the serving of a drink and nuts and olives within five minutes of being seated.

Food is inspired by Jose's Spanish heritage

Food is inspired by Jose’s Spanish heritage

The wait staff (often Jose himself) will then describe dishes on the menu: “I say things in Spanish and then I paint a word picture of the dish so that by the time I have finished they want it – it’s about creating desire.’’

Diners should allow between 90 minutes and two hours to fully savour a famous Delishus 10-course degustation with matching wines.

For an average $40 a head for lunch and $60 for dinner (most diners order two entrée-sized tapas each and share), customers can be assured of quality. Produce is bought fresh and as needed, hardly anything on the extensive menu is pre-prepared. All desserts are made fresh daily.

Delishus Tapas Bar & Restaurant, 122 Windsor St, Richmond, is open from 12pm to 2.30pm and 6pm to late Wednesday to Friday, 12pm to late Saturday and 12pm to 4pm Sunday. Bookings: (02) 4578 6999 or www.delishus.com.au.

* Delishus Tapas Bar & Restaurant is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media and Headline Publicity

Delishus is a popular establishment in the Hawkesbury

Delishus is a popular establishment in the Hawkesbury


“All about the yum’’ for NSW Chef of the Year Lee Kwiez

Darleys Restaurant executive chef Lee Kwiez

Darleys Restaurant executive chef Lee Kwiez. Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group

He was acknowledged by industry for his fine dining creations but for NSW Chef of the Year, Darleys Restaurant executive chef Lee Kwiez, “it’s all about the yum’’.

His top chef gong was one of five major awards received by Escarpment Group in the Blue Mountains at the Tourism Accommodation Association (NSW) Awards of Excellence in July.

Darleys Restaurant at the Lilianfels Resort & Spa property at Katoomba also took home Regional Restaurant of the Year.

Darleys Restaurant won the Regional Restaurant of the Year Award

Darleys Restaurant won the Regional Restaurant of the Year Award

Other Escarpment Group awards included Regional Superior Hotel of the Year for Echoes Boutique Hotel & Restaurant, Regional Deluxe Hotel of the Year for Lilianfels Resort & Spa and Front of House Employee of the Year for Lilianfels duty manager Meagan Iervasi. The world-famous Hydro Majestic Hotel Blue Mountains at Medlow Bath also received a highly commended for Redeveloped Hotel of the Year.

Escarpment Group general manager Ralf Bruegger, himself a career executive chef, said: “We are very proud to have the top chef in NSW leading our restaurant team. The innovation from his kitchen is exceptional and I am particularly impressed with how he is embracing local and regional food in the menu.

“However, the award for Darleys Restaurant shows that the outstanding dining experience our guests have come to expect is the result of an excellent team of chefs and wait staff at the restaurant.

“Darleys is a beautiful restaurant – the refurbished décor and gorgeous view, the customer service and the fantastic food is world-class.’’

A Colo High School alumni who grew up on a large rural property at Freemans Reach in the Hawkesbury, Kwiez’ culinary career inspiration was cooked up at home.

Mum was cooking shepherd’s pie when I was 14/15 and I thought `I want to be a chef’, then I did work experience at Maxwell’s Table at Kurmond and stayed on to Year 12,’’ he said.I finished school on the Thursday and started work full-time at Maxwell’s Table on the Monday.’’

During his career, Kwiez has travelled the world working in kitchens in Switzerland, Hayman Island and Canada before returning to Sydney where he worked at several restaurants including Milson’s Restaurant.

Darleys Restaurant executive chef Lee Kwiez has won many awards

Darleys Restaurant executive chef Lee Kwiez has won many awards

He was responsible for raising the Woolwich Pier Hotel from number 13 out of 20 to 18/20 in the Good Pub Guide, ranking it one of the top seven pubs in NSW.

“Flavour. Simple. That’s why I love being a chef,’’ Kwiez said.

“Food has got to look good obviously but if it looks pretty and you can’t eat it, I’m not interested. It’s all about the taste – it’s got to have the yum factor.’’

Kwiez has embraced the national focus on local and regional produce, choosing for his menus from produce grown in the 6000sqm kitchen garden at the Escarpment Group-owned Parklands Country Gardens & Lodges property at Blackheath wherever possible.

“Freshness, seasonality and locally grown: that’s my aim in the Darleys kitchen wherever possible,’’ he said.

What can’t be sourced from the Parklands garden is bought from local and regional suppliers from a 100 mile radius of Darleys Restaurant.

The range of produce is enormous, from Dutch carrots, nasturtium flowers and tomatoes to quince, pears, apples, plums, kale, broccoli and more, even the occasional catch of yabbies.

You think `Great, we can make a soup, we can make a salad’,’’ Kwiez said.You go online, you look at cookbooks, you look at what other chefs are doing, you look at three Hatted restaurants. Then you make a little salad or something and tell the customers it’s from the dam up the road – Parklands Pond Yabbies, there you go.’’

Darleys Restaurant executive chef Lee Kwiez focuses on local and regional produce

Darleys Restaurant executive chef Lee Kwiez focuses on local and regional produce

Kwiez counts former colleague Saffire Freycinet head chef Hugh Whitehouse (they were apprentices together at Maxwell’s Table and Kwiez took over Darleys from Whitehouse) as a mentor who inspires his own culinary creativity.

While Kwiez is the recognised talent of the Darleys kitchen, he also credited his team for the exceptional standard of food and service at the multi award-winning restaurant: “I’ve got a great team – it’s not just about me. Without them I couldn’t do this.’’

Away from the restaurant kitchen, the father-of-three loves simple flavoursome food: “ A nice steak or sausages as long as you’ve got a big salad to go with it. Or roast chicken with roast potatoes in rosemary and garlic and a big side of greens, that’s my favourite thing with maybe a nice sauce from the roasting juices of the chicken. You can’t beat a good roast chicken.’’

Darley’s Restaurant, Lilianfels Resort & Spa, Lilianfels Ave, Katoomba, is open from 6pm to 10.30pm Tuesday to Saturday. Reservations: (02) 4780 1200 or reservations@lilianfels.com.au.

 

Awards – Lee Kwiez

  • Woolwich Pier Hotel: Sydney Morning Herald Good Pub Guide 2012-Three schooners award (18/20)
  • Milsons Restaurant: Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide – One Hat Award
    2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000
  • Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide – One wine glass award 2009, 2008, 2007
  • Gourmet Traveler wine awards – -Two glasses 2004
  • Gourmet Traveler food awards – -two stars 2006, one star 2005
  • Jaspers Restaurant: Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide – One Hat Award 2001, 2000

Awards – Darleys Restaurant

  • Regional Restaurant of the Year 2013 – Tourism Accommodation Awards for Excellence 2013
  • Fine Dining Restaurant Award – 2010 Savour Australia Restaurant & Catering Awards for Excellence – NSW Regional
  • Australian Hotels Association (NSW)Hall of Fame. 2010
  • Best Regional Restaurant – SMH Good Food Guide Awards – 2010
  • Two Chefs Hats – SMH Good Food Guide Awards – 2010
  • Regional Restaurant of the Year – AHA (NSW) Awards for Excellence – 2009
  • Two Chef’s Hats – SMH Good Food Guide Awards – 2009
  • Hotel Restaurant of the Year – Hotel Management National Awards – 2007

Escarpment Group is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media

Local and regional produce is a key feature of Darleys Restaurant

Local and regional produce is a key feature of Darleys Restaurant. Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

 


Escarpment Group, Blue Mountains: indulgent dining on the edge

Local and regional produce is served throughout Escarpment Group properties

Local and regional produce is served throughout Escarpment Group properties

 

 

By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group                                        Photos: David Hill

Discerning foodies seeking to savour the flavour of crisp Blue Mountains air and earthy tones of the Central West will find it in every bite served at Escarpment Group properties.

With few exceptions, food and wine served at the Hydro Majestic Hotel, Lilianfels Resort & Spa, Echoes Boutique Hotel & Restaurant and Parklands Country Lodges & Gardens is sourced from within a 100 mile (160km) radius of the kitchen and served to a delectable standard.

Executive Chef of Darley's Restaurant Lee Kwiez.

Executive Chef of Darley’s Restaurant Lee Kwiez.

A growing proportion of ingredients are even sourced from the 1000sqm edible garden at the Parklands property at Blackheath. Menus across Escarpment Group now carry a specially-designed logo printed next to items which include at least 80 per cent local and regional ingredients.

Escarpment Group general manager Ralf Bruegger, himself a career chef, compared the Blue Mountains food scene to that of northern Italy: “The food I have tasted up here is absolutely sensational.

“Our eventual aim is total fruit, vegetable and herb sustainability for all kitchens at all four Escarpment Group properties.

“It makes sense economically, it fits in with our business ethos and our guests expect it.’’

Hydro Majestic Hotel head chef Mate Herceg

Hydro Majestic Hotel head chef Mate Herceg

 

Hydro Majestic head chef Mate Herceg, whose team served 21,000 guests during May alone, said: “Things I can buy locally I will buy locally for my kitchen.

“We roughly know what type of produce is around at what time of year and we talk to suppliers about what’s coming up. We always know that artichokes are good in autumn but don’t use asparagus because it’s not in season here and comes from Peru or Mexico.’’

All items sold at the Hydro Majestic Pavilion are locally sourced from areas such as Lithgow, Orange, Bathurst, Mudgee, the Blue Mountains and Western Sydney.

Escarpment Group restaurants routinely use local and regional produce such as apples, chocolate, berries, herbs, bread, eggs, carrots, nuts, nasturtium flowers, tomatoes, quince, pears, plums, kale, broccoli, carbonero, trout and yabbies. Regional meat is served wherever possible.

Escarpment Group is committed to further developing the Parklands Kitchen garden and has also installed a state-of-the-art composting system which already takes all kitchen waste from Parklands and the Hydro Majestic.

Darley's Restaurant executive chef Lee Kwiez

Darley’s Restaurant executive chef Lee Kwiez

Multi award-winning Darleys Restaurant executive chef Lee Kwiez said: “I grew up on a thirty acre farm at East Kurrajong in the Hawkesbury so I really appreciate quality fresh food.

“It’s easy for us to serve our guests food fresh from the garden. We just send through a list of ingredients we would like to use in our menus and it is grown for us. The gardener also sends us lists of what is in the garden, as do our other local and regional suppliers and we incorporate those ingredients in our menus.’’

While he creates unique fine dining dishes for five-star guests at the hatted restaurant, the underlying influence on Kwiez’s cooking is his childhood.

“Mum was cooking shepherd’s pie when I was 14 or 15 and I thought `I want to be a chef’. For me, it’s all about the flavour – it’s all about the yum. Simple.

“Freshness, seasonality and locally grown: there’s not much of a carbon footprint because you’re not hauling vegetables from here to Sydney and then back again. We’re also looking after other local businesses.’’

(l-r) Darley's Restaurant executive chef Lee Kwiez and Hydro Majestic Hotel head chef Mate Herceg at the Parklands kitchen garden

(l-r) Darley’s Restaurant executive chef Lee Kwiez and Hydro Majestic Hotel head chef Mate Herceg at the Parklands kitchen garden

Mr Bruegger said Escarpment Group was committed to regional produce in its delivery of high-end tourism and hospitality on a scale rarely seen in regional NSW.

“The Blue Mountains has been renowned for its innovative cuisine and fine wines for a long time and we are proud to be a part of that reputation through our established Darley’s and Echoes restaurants at our five-star properties and now the various dining venues at the Hydro Majestic.’’

The full suite of Escarpment Group dining experiences is:

Wintergarden, Hydro Majestic: The light-filled restaurant with spectacular views over the Megalong Valley offers a premium afternoon high tea and a gourmet dinner menu in refined surrounds.

Eastern High Tea in Salon du The at the Hydro Majestic Hotel

Eastern High Tea in Salon du The at the Hydro Majestic Hotel

Salon du The, Hydro Majestic: The Flying Fox and Cat’s Alley have united to form the Salon du The, offering a refined Asian-inspired menu and a range of cocktails and wines with magnificent views of the Megalong Valley.

The Boiler House, Hydro Majestic: Casual all-day dining featuring traditional pizza, pasta and Australian cuisine overlooking the Megalong Valley.

Echoes Restaurant & Bar: The award-winning restaurant offers modern Australian cuisine with Asian influenced menus with specially selected local and important wines. Open daily seven days a week.

Darley’s Restaurant & Bar, Lilianfels: The multi-award winning hatted venue offers modern Australian cuisine served as a la carte or degustation menus with specially selected local and imported wines.

Go to www.escarpmentgroup.com.au for more information about individual properties, events and special offers.

The historic Darley's Restaurant

The historic Darley’s Restaurant

 


Ebb and flow of the mighty Hawkesbury River

Autumn leaf floating on the surface of the Hawkesbury River at Hanna Park, North Richmond.

Autumn leaf floating on the surface of the Hawkesbury River at Hanna Park, North Richmond.

 

By Ellen Hill                     Photos: David Hill

(Continuing the story of the Hawkesbury River, we re-publish here an article that featured in the April-May 2009 edition of Blue Mountains Life magazine.)

 

THE last tendrils of fog swirl up to meet the golden rays of a weak winter sun, mirrored on the still surface of the water.

The occasional jumping fish makes a quiet “blip’’ noise. Birds twitter in the trees and skate across the gentle ripples before settling on the surface to float aimlessly with the tide.

The Hawkesbury River has always been part of Ted Books life.

The Hawkesbury River has always been part of Ted Books life.

This is Ted Books’ favourite time of day to cruise the Windsor section of the Hawkesbury River in his boat, the Montrose. He’s alone.

By mid-morning, the water twinkles in the glaring sun, the river a silver thread pulsing through colonial Governor Lachlan Macquarie’s kingdom with the monotony of routine.

Given the majestic Hawkesbury River has supported his family for five generations, you understand Books’ attachment to it.

As the boat gently bobs along the water, Books’ shares his memories and tells the history of the stretch he knows best _ the strip of water his famous colonial ancestors eventually learned they could not tame.

Ted Books is known for expressing a strong opinion and enjoying a chat. But he’s not known for being an emotional man. A former wrestler and retired excavator, he tends to say his bit in his no-nonsense way and leave it at that.

River stones in the Hawkesbury River at Yarramundi near Navua Reserve.

River stones in the Hawkesbury River at Yarramundi near Navua Reserve.

But aboard the Montrose, I not only see a different side to Books, but the river I have known most of my life.

“Sydney’s salad bowl’’, “Sydney’s playground’’, the Hawkesbury River has supported Australia’s largest city since European settlement.

For the handful of free settlers desperately trying to survive with virtually nothing in a foreign environment, the river was their transport, it watered them, their crops and animals.

In colonial times while chain gangs of convicts were still cutting roads by hand, the Hawkesbury River was the natural highway to Sydney Cove.

In fact, ships including the 101 ton Governor Bligh were actually built on the river. Two of Books’ ancestors _ Captain John Grono and Alexander Books _ had a shipyard at Pitt Town on Canning Reach, the remains of which can still be seen at low tide.

Among the 200 cargo vessel movements on the river each year were tall ships which took three inward tides (about 20 hours) to travel from Brooklyn at the mouth of the river to Windsor.

The 100 ton SS Erringhi was the last of the big ships to trade on the Hawkebsury River between the 1920s and 1937.

“I used to dive off the Windsor bridge and there used to be 30ft of water there,’’ Books says. “We used to dive off the bridge and go with the tide to Pitt Town, about 4 miles by water.’’

Deerubbin Park at Windsor.

Deerubbin Park at Windsor.

The Hawkesbury Nepean River is part of the vast 22,000 sq km Hawkesbury Nepean Catchment, stretching from Goulburn to Lithgow, Moonee Moonee, Pittwater and Singleton.

Its tributaries and creeks begin in the higher land of the Great Dividing Range, others in the highlands to the west of Wollongong and south of Sydney.

The Nepean begins in the Camden Valley near Moss Vale and becomes the Hawkesbury at Yarramundi after being joined by the Wollondilly River, on which Warragamba Dam, Sydney’s main drinking glass, was built in the 1950s.

From the 1870s, a series of dams was built on the Upper Nepean, south east of Camden and its tributaries the Cataract, Cordeaux and Avon Rivers.

The mighty Hawkesbury Nepean River ends at Juno Point at Broken Bay.

“Sydney would never survive without this river,’’ Books says. “This river is the playground for the city.’’

The Hawkesbury River has been Sydney's playground for generations.

The Hawkesbury River has been Sydney’s playground for generations.

Every now and again Books stops the boat, points out a landmark, pulls out yet another packet of black and white photographs and tells the story of the place.

“See that place up there? That’s where Thomas Arndell (the first surgeon to the colony, he came out with the First Fleet) settled when he came to the Hawkesbury. His homestead’s still there.

“They built next to the river because it was clean water and there was fish.’’

The oldest church building in Australia is at Ebenezer, built from stone in 1803 by a small band of free settlers. The church used to run a punt across the river to transport people to church.

The water is deepest _ about 90ft _ nearby, opposite Tizzana Winery at Sackville Reach Wharf.

Glancing at the river banks from the boat, it seems not much has changed apart from technology. Irrigation pumps spew water across enormous paddocks of turf, veggies and flowers. The staccato bark of a dog sends drifting ducks into a flurry. The sun’s rays highlight the fur on a lowing cow staring with lazy interest at the boat. The ghostly figures of farm workers can be seen inside a row of greenhouses.

Remains of an old punt at Sackville.

Remains of an old punt at Sackville.

But then Books’ tale of how his dad and his mates used to catch more fish than they could eat up this stretch of the river is broken by the roar of a power boat towing a skier.

Books pauses and waits for silence to return before pointing out another historic property on the hill.

He revs up the engine and the Montrose slips on.

The river remains a great source of seafood: flathead, bream, mullet, hairtail, mullaway, whiting, flounder, tailor, snapper, trevally, blackfish, leatherjackets, kingfish, John Dory, shellfish and prawns.

It is also home to much bird life: shags, cormorants, kingfishers, ducks, sea eagles, pelicans and terns.

And down in the salt water near the river mouth at Brooklyn there are sharks, sea snakes, jellyfish, stingrays and fortescues.

The Hawkesbury River has ebbed and flowed for millenia.

The Hawkesbury River has ebbed and flowed for millenia.

Today, the Hawkebsury, Penrith and Baulkham Hills region along the river generates a whopping $1.86 billion worth of produce (not including the equine industry). Sydney chows through 90 per cent of it.

The vast quantities of fruit, vegetables and turf grown in the Hawkesbury have fed the entire Sydney population and beyond for generations.

The river is also a major tourist attraction used extensively for recreation (the annual Bridge to Bridge boat race attracts thousands). Tourism and recreation reap $2 billion a year, thanks to the river.

Private moorings along the Hawkesbury.

Private moorings along the Hawkesbury.

Three car ferries and several bridges provide crossings over the waterway.

Crowds of day trippers are drawn to popular swimming, fishing, water skiing and boating spots each weekend.

A startling white glare suddenly burns the retinas of our eyes. Deck chairs blindingly white in the sun, emerald green manicured lawns and landscaped yards, expensive boat sheds. The property listings at the local real estate agents would reveal that river frontages are also becoming private paradises for the wealthy.

But later, in the golden after glow of sunset, the birds and fish replay their evening ritual as the mist settles like a gossamer blanket over the water surface, melding with the gloom of dusk. The river continues to beat its slow rhythm of life just as it always has.

Ducks in flight on the Hawkesbury River.

Ducks in flight on the Hawkesbury River.

 

 


Hawkesbury River, NSW: The Settler’s River


The Smith Park picnic area becomes part of Pugh's Lagoon on the Hawkesbury River floodplain during flood.

The Smith Park picnic area becomes part of Pugh’s Lagoon on the Hawkesbury River floodplain during flood.

By Ellen Hill                               Photos: David Hill

(As NSW experiences the worst floods in decades, it is worth remembering that flood waters have been a regular feature of the Hawkesbury River for centuries. This feature article by the Deep Hill Media team appeared in the October/November 2010 edition of Blue Mountains Life magazine. It is republished here with fresh images showing the current flood.)

 

IN 1978, my family moved to Richmond. It was the hottest summer and coldest winter for decades. But it was the rain that sent doubts lapping around my parents’ minds about the wisdom of shifting their young children to what was considered a distant outpost.

That March, the Hawkesbury River rose to 14.31m above Windsor Bridge. Richmond became an island. Our world ended at Chapel St, Agnes Banks and the RAAF base. Cows and farm equipment were brought up to the high paddocks on the fringes of town.

Governor Lachlan Macquarie. Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

Bust of Governor Lachlan Macquarie.

We didn’t know it then, but we and countless others previously and since had one man to thank for our safety – Governor Lachlan Macquarie.

Local Councillor and Hawkesbury Flood Risk Management Committee Chairman Kevin Conolly believes the flame-haired leader would be happy with modern efforts to protect residents against flood – Macquarie’s colonial edicts concerning the floodplain continue to influence town planning in the Hawkesbury today.

But with many newcomers never having experienced a flood, modern authorities face similar challenges to their colonial peers.

Hawkesbury residents have been warned of flood dangers since Captain Arthur Philip saw weeds high in the trees at Agnes Banks. Governor King tried to convince settlers into regions other than the fertile but flood-prone Hawkesbury region.

But on his arrival in the fledgling colony in 1810, it was Governor Macquarie who took firm action and ordered the abandonment of floodplain dwellings.

A March, 30, 1806, report in the Sydney Gazette gives a descriptive account of what Macquarie did not want to see again – “…many individuals lost every thing they possessed, and that several have perished in the deluge, which was never before known to arrive to so great a height by from eight to ten feet. What rendered its progress still more destructive was the false notion of security which many had imbibed, from the supposed confidence that there never would be another heavy flood in the main river…”

Hundreds of terrified souls were plucked from rooftops and rafts of straw but five people died and much of the colony’s food supply was lost.

On December 6, 1810, Macquarie gave his famous after-dinner speech proclaiming the five towns of on high ground above the flood plain – Richmond, Windsor, Pitt Town, Castlereagh and Wilberforce.

Each settler was allotted a plot in the new towns large enough for a house, offices, garden, corn yard and stockyard relative to the size of their flood prone farm.

The swollen Hawkesbury River laps at the deck of Yarramundi Bridge as more heavy rain clouds gather.

The swollen Hawkesbury River laps at the deck of Yarramundi Bridge as more heavy rain clouds gather.

But settlers largely ignored him at/to their peril. In 1816 the river rose again to 13.88m at Windsor Bridge, then to 14.03m in February 1817.

Frustration is apparent in Macquarie’s March 5 1817 proclamation when he again ordered settlers to higher ground – “…many of the deplorable Losses which have been sustained within the last few Years, might have been in great Measure averted, had the Settlers paid due Consideration to their own Interests, and to the frequent Admonitions they had received by removing their Residences from within the Flood Marks to the TOWNSHIPS assigned for them on the HIGHLANDS, it must be confessed that the Compassion excited by their Misfortunes is mingled with Sentiments of Astonishment and Surprise that any People could be found so totally insensitive to their true interests, as the Settlers have in this Instance proved themselves.”

A new benchmark was set for town planners in June 1867 when the Hawkesbury River spilled 19.26m above Windsor Bridge.

Fifteen members of the Eather family were swept into the swirling torrent at Cornwallis on the night of June 21. Twelve drowned, including Catharine (just 36), Emma (38), and five children apiece. Ironically, Catharine is buried opposite the start of the new flood evacuation bypass in Windsor.

Modern scientific evidence suggests an even greater inundation is possible, one where all that can be done is evacuate as many people as early as possible. Referred to as the probable maximum flood (PMF), experts predict it could reach 26.4m above Windsor Bridge.

Hawkesbury Council has successfully lobbied governments for flood evacuation routes – Richmond and Londonderry roads have been raised, and a new bypass built between Windsor and McGraths Hill. A higher Windsor Bridge will be built soon, and council continues work with the State Emergency Service (SES) to fine tune evacuation plans and procedures.

Lobbyists like Clr Conolly and former farmer John Miller continue to demand that more be done, including raising the Warragamba Dam wall by 4m, which would lower floodwaters by the equivalent of two house storeys, they say.

The swollen Hawkesbury River at Yarramundi.

The swollen Hawkesbury River at Yarramundi.

John Miller, 81, knows firsthand about floods in the Hawkesbury. Heady with romantic ideals of farm life, he brought his pregnant wife and toddler to his new farm at Sackville in 1955. In 1956, seven floods wiped out every fruit and vegetable crop he planted.

“I knew nothing about the 1867 flood or any other flood. I’d never a seen a flood before … I got to the bottom of the farm and there’s water up to my packing sheds, and I was carrying bags of fertiliser on my back because it had been raining for weeks, and I kept sinking down in the mud. I didn’t know until I bought the place it was called Mud Island.”

After asking neighbours about his property, John relates “he said ‘Well, in 1867 there was a two storey house there and it was washed away, and a bloke found it at the bottom of the Ebenezer gorge’.

“I couldn’t make a go of it so I moved out of the area and grew mushrooms.”

The zone around John Miller’s former farm is where floodwaters are deepest and most furious. When the Hawkesbury Nepean River floods the water doesn’t just gradually rise – Mother Nature throws a tantrum.

It only takes a few days of very heavy constant rain to cause severe flooding in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley because water surges into the valley at a much higher rate than it can flow out. When the water hits the narrow sandstone cliffs at Ebenezer/Sackville, a bottleneck causes the water to back up into the Richmond/Windsor floodplain before heading back down for another go at squeezing through the cliffs.

Meanwhile, anything in its path is ripped away and catapulted downstream at great speed. “You’ve got tree trunks” John Miller says. “You’d see them go under the bridge and then spear out of the water as they came out the other side. It was horrifying.

“Some people say to me ‘We’ll never get another flood again’ and I say ‘No, and we’ll never get another bushfire in the Blue Mountains either, will we?’ Some people have said I’m a scaremonger, but I’d hate to have to say: `I told you so’.”

Clr Conolly agrees – “The risk is certainly very real. There will be another flood, but there are a lot of people who are not familiar with the fact that it does flood, and the magnitude of floods in the Hawkesbury.

“Macquarie took a very sensible approach and saved many people’s lives. We’re trying to do the same.”

Living high and dry above the floodplain these days, I can only hope others will heed the warnings too. *

Waters of the Hawkesbury River cover some of the car park at Yarramundi Bridge.

Waters of the Hawkesbury River cover some of the car park at Yarramundi Bridge.

FLOOD FACTS
• Captain Arthur Philip sees weeds in the trees when he camped on Richmond Hill at Agnes Banks while touring the Hawkesbury Nepean River in 1789
• Governor Philip Gidley King tries to persuade settlers to “set a greater value on the forrest lands’’ of Toongabbie, Parramatta, Prospect Hill, Castle Hill, Seven Hills and Port Jackson after the devastating October 1806 flood when the river rose 14.64m above Windsor Bridge
• May and August 1809: floodwaters rise 14.64m and 14.49m above the bridge respectively, devastating the colony’s food supply
• December 6, 1810: Governor Lachlan Macquarie names his five towns and orders settlers to abandon their riverbank homes
• March 1817: Macquarie strengthens his order to abandon the floodplain
• June 1867: 12 members of the Eather family drown when floodwaters rise 19.26m
• 1960 Warragamba Dam completed
• November 1961: the river rises 15.1m
• March and June 1978: floodwaters rise 14.31m and 9.55m respectively
• February 1992: the last Hawkesbury River flood when water rises 11m above the bridge
• June 2002: $150 million Warragamba Dam auxiliary spillway completed

The swollen Hawkesbury River at Yarramundi.

The swollen Hawkesbury River at Yarramundi.

FLOOD STORIES
• On the right hand side of Cornwallis Rd about 1km from the Greenway Cres and Moses St, Cornwallis, intersection is a simple sign commemorating the tragic demise of 12 members of the Eather family swept into the torrent on the night of June 21.
• One of the 12, Catharine, is buried in Windsor Catholic Cemetery, Hawkesbury Valley Way and George St, ironically opposite the start of the new flood evacuation bypass in Windsor.
• The height of the 1867 flood is marked on the side wall of the Macquarie Arms Hotel at Thompson’s Square, Windsor
• Away from Windsor, markers can be seen throughout the Hawkesbury to commemorate floodwater height and the location of significant sites including behind St James’ Anglican Church, Pitt Town; and the location of the original church at Sackville Reach near the cemetery on Tizzana Rd.

The swollen Pugh's Lagoon on the Hawkesbury River floodplain at Richmond.

The swollen Pugh’s Lagoon on the Hawkesbury River floodplain at Richmond.