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:
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.
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.
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.
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
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
By Ellen Hill for Christian Fellowship Tours
Towering waterfalls, rugged Outback landscapes, ancient Aboriginal art and abundant wildlife. Discover the remarkable Kimberley Coast on the Christian Fellowship Tours (CFT) cruise of the West Australia area in August.
Tour passengers will see the most recognisable natural and manmade attractions of the Kimberley Coast during 10 escorted, unforgettable days cruising between Darwin and Broome.
In the north, discover the majestic King George River with its towering 80m twin falls and the mysterious Bradshaw paintings of Bigge Island.
Explore the Mitchell plateau and cruise the Kimberley’s “big’’ rivers before experiencing beautiful King Cascades, remarkable Montgomery Reef and the amazing natural phenomenon of the Horizontal Falls in the south.
With two landings most days by the unique “Explore’’ excursion vessel or inflatable zodiacs, passengers will have more opportunities to fully immerse in the spectacular setting.
Each evening, passengers will retire to comfortable accommodation with private facilities after dining together.
The tour will include a Christian tour leader throughout the entire trip, daily devotions and Sunday worship, a 10-day cruise, accommodation, most meals, airfare and transfers.
CFT managing director Jason Cronshaw, who will lead the tour, said: “Exploring the remarkable Kimberley Coast by small ship helps you grasp the majesty of the landscape and the awesomeness of our Creator’s handiwork by being amongst it.
“It’s such a privilege to be walk across the salt flats to view the wreckage of a US Air Force DC3 which crash landed on the beach during World War II and visit secluded spots not many other people get to see.’’
More than a leisure cruise, the Kimberley Coastal Cruise will be an opportunity to learn about the history, culture and landscapes of each location visited through on-board commentary, presentations and briefings.
Past travellers have come from varied backgrounds and churches, yet enjoyed the shared experience of travelling with likeminded people.
One said they appreciated the care and support they received on tour, while another enjoyed the bond they formed with fellow travellers.
“The drivers and tour leaders are always helpful especially for those who have physical or other issues or who travel alone.’’
Others also commented that travelling with CFT was an excellent way for single people, especially women, to explore the world in a safe group where they could make new friends.
Travellers on the Kimberley Coastal Cruise tour will have the opportunity to worship together on board the ship on Sunday and take part in the daily devotions for which CFT has become renowned.
The Kimberley Coastal Cruise tour departs from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane on August 1 and returns August 14.
Bookings and information: www.christianfellowshiptours.com or 1300 635 358.
- Christian Fellowship Tours is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media
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.
“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.
- Fantastic Aussie Tours is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media