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Blue Mountains, NSW: KCC redevelopment to solve parking, noise

An artist’s impression of the proposed redevelopment of the KCC auditorium and bookshop space

By Ellen Hill for Katoomba Christian Convention

A multi-million dollar upgrade of the Katoomba Christian Convention (KCC) site would solve parking and noise problems and provide a state-of-the-art venue for large conferences and sporting events for Christian and secular groups alike.

A development application before Blue Mountains Council outlines the plan to revamp outdated facilities at the bushland property next to Scenic World in Cliff Drive and Violet St.

Costing an estimated $25 million, phase one of the redevelopment would replace the existing 2100-seat auditorium with a 3500-seat structure, re-orientated to funnel noise away from neighbours.

There would be a new bookshop and modern toilet facilities and seven breakout spaces/meeting rooms.

Future plans include a new reception, administration and laundry building; replacing the 200-seat volunteer-built dining hall and kitchen with a 500-seat one; and a new café fronting Violet St.

Existing accommodation buildings would be replaced and include six eco lodges each with 56 beds and three 18-bed eco chalets, boosting accommodation capacity by 170 beds to a total of 390 beds.

There would also be new internal access roads and 75 car spaces, landscaping and revegetation.

The development application before the council only seeks approval for works at the Cliff Drive section of the site.

The KCC property also includes Clairvaux Oval in Cedar St, which is used for car parking and has three dormitory-style accommodation buildings, a playground and basketball court.

(l-r) KCC executive director Jonathan Dykes and operations manager (functions) Shelley Taylor in front of the existing bookshop. Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

KCC executive director Jonathan Dykes said the upgrade was needed to bring the “tired’’ facilities up to standard and visitor expectation.

“Things have been adapted and updated as finances and resources have allowed, but we can only stretch that so far for so long.’’

Works conducted over the years to ensure standards compliance (including asbestos removal) had reduced the capacity of the site yet still did not deliver accessible accommodation for people with a disability, he said.

The redevelopment would actually lessen the site’s impact on surrounding residents – aside from its long-time alcohol ban which ensured more moderate patrons, Mr Dykes said.

A larger auditorium with breakout spaces and seminar rooms would contain such events to the property and lessen the number of traffic movements coming and going from the site.

The new facilities had been designed to be respectful of the location and its significant environmental values and the upgrade would be a more environmentally sensitive facility.

“We are pleased that a staff report to the council recommends approval of the DA subject to conditions,’’ he said.

As well as being the largest conference venue in the Blue Mountains, the property was a valuable resource for the region, used as a staging base for emergency services and community information meetings during the 2013 bushfires.

The proposed upgrades would expand the site’s potential as a venue for secular not-for-profit organisations like schools and events such as the annual Ultra Trail Australia running event and corporate groups seeking low-cost accommodation, although its main purpose would remain as a place of worship for Christian groups.

KCC also held seven worship events a year, the largest being its Easter Convention (3100 people attended last year) and the KYCK youth events.

A not-for-profit interdenominational Bible-preaching convention ministry that relies on volunteers, donations and financial support of visiting delegates, KCC was founded in 1903 in the tradition of the Keswick Convention in England.

​Growing from a small gathering of Christians in a children’s playroom in Katoomba, the first convention was held at Khandala, a house at the end of Katoomba St.

By the 1930s, 800 people attended the annual gatherings each Christmas.

In the 1940s KCC operated from a site in Forester Rd near Echo Point and in the 1950s the current site was acquired and several developments have taken place.

The site was zoned Special Uses 5ACU (Church) in 1985 and includes a baptismal pool carved out of rock.

* Katoomba Christian Convention is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media

 


Blue Mountains bush Christmas with altitude

By Ellen Hill            Photos: David Hill, Deep Hill Media

The chirp of cicadas competing with Christmas carols, an awe-inspiring backdrop of towering golden escarpments and dramatic valleys and a cooling breeze carrying the subtle scent of eucalyptus. Welcome to an Aussie bush Christmas and summer holiday season in the Blue Mountains.

PRE-CHRISTMAS:

Begin the Christmas countdown early with lantern-making workshops for kids aged four to 12 at Leura Garage funky eatery off the top of Leura Mall from 3pm to 5pm on November 28 and December 4 and 13 in the lead-up to Leura Village Association’s December 15 Christmas festival. Cool prizes from upmarket local shops. Cost: $10 per child (must be accompanied by an adult) includes lantern kit and drinks and nibbles. Bookings: (02) 4784 3391, info@leuragarage.com.au or leuragarage.com.au/lantern.

GIFT IDEAS:

 

Give your adult loved ones some grown-up time with a Faeriestorm Nanny Service voucher. Available in hourly blocks (minimum two hours *conditions apply), the fully qualified nannies will care for their kids while the adults enjoy some down time. Purchases: Brenda Edwards 0417 448 318 or nanny@bluemountainsnanny.com.au.

A night away with a day spa pamper package at a blissful retreat such as Parklands Country Gardens & Lodges or dinner at a swanky restaurant such as the Wintergarden Restaurant at the Hydro Majestic Hotel are always popular.

 

 

A truly unique way of sightseeing in style is with Blue Mountains Vintage Cadillacs from within a vintage Cadillac car. Dressed in formal attire, your local driver will collect you from and return you to any location in the Blue Mountains. Bookings: info@bluemountainslimo.com.au or Donald on 0455 352 976.

CHRISTMAS DAY:

Tuck into a sumptuous feast with all the trimmings, decorations, bon bons, beverage package and even a visit from Santa for the children at the 5-star Lilianfels Resort & Spa near Echo Point or a seven-course degustation at the multi award-winning hatted Darley’s Restaurant. Bookings: escarpmentgroup.com.au or (02) 4780 1200.

NEW YEAR’S EVE:

For an unforgettable Auld Lang Syne moment, feast in the New Year at the chic Echoes Restaurant at Katoomba or the world-famous Cat’s Alley at the Hydro Majestic Hotel after watching a sublime sunset over a blue haze-shrouded valley while sipping a cocktail and resolving to take more time out in 2018. Bookings: escarpmentgroup.com.au or (02) 4780 1200.

SCHOOL HOLIDAY ACTIVITIES:

Talisman Gallery, Hartley historic village, Great Western Hwy (400m before turn off to Jenolan Caves heading west): Try your hand at the time honoured art of blacksmithing and make your very own fire poker on the forge and anvil on January 26 and 27. Cost: $25 includes materials and tuition. Decent footwear required. Bookings essential: Ron 0407 723 722 or info@talismangallery.com.au.

 

Everglades Historic House & Gardens, 37 Everglades Ave, Leura: Kids aged three to six can learn about heritage conservation and the natural environment in one of the most enchanting historic properties in the Blue Mountains through the My Adventure at Everglades activity book ($10 and $5 per subsequent book). Entry: $13 adults, $8 concessions, $4 children, National Trust members free. Details: (02) 4784 1938 or email evergladesgarden@nationaltrust.com.au.

* All businesses mentioned are commercial clients of 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


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.

  • Escarpment Group is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media

    (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: Masquerade ball a majestic overture to winter season

Majestic Winter Ball 01

By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group          Photos: David Hill

Herald the season the Blue Mountains is most famous for, winter, with an evening of fine dining, exquisite art and music opulence at a sumptuous masquerade ball at the Hydro Majestic Hotel on June 18.

Dressed in their most elegant masquerade ball attire, guests will nibble on canapes, sip cocktails and browse exquisite artworks by Warwick Fuller as he talks about his time as official tour artist to the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall during their visit to Australia in November.

Landscape artist Warwick Fuller examines his work done on location from Admiralty House in Sydney during his recent tour with Prince Charles.

The works by Fuller, who paints landscapes from life, will be part of a special exhibition on display at the Boilerhouse Cafe curated by Lost Bear Gallery in Katoomba.

All displayed artworks will be for sale and one lucky guest will take home a painting as a gift.

After a two-course dinner created by award-winning chefs and featuring regional produce, the largest gathering of professional classical musicians ever in the Blue Mountains will deliver the second ever performance of Australian composer Sean O’Boyle’s new rhapsody on a theme of Mendelssohn which will premiere just the week before.

The audience will also hear one of the most demanding solo works written for the French horn, Strauss’ Horn Concerto no 1 with TMO’s own Michael Wray as soloist.

Cocktails and Serenades 01Under the baton of TMO artistic director and chief conductor Sarah-Grace Williams, more than 50 musicians will perform Beethoven’s arousing Coriolan Overture and Mendelssohn’s Symphony no 4 to nurture the cosy Italian atmosphere of the evening devoted to the colours of Europe.

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

Escarpment Group general manager Ralf Bruegger said: “The first Majestic Concert received fantastic feedback from guests and professional reviewers who were impressed with the diverse experience and the excellent food as well as the quality performance of course.

“We know the food, the dramatic venue and the entertainment rivals the grand concert halls of Europe so we want people to really dress up in their most elegant best for the Winter Ball to ensure this concert becomes an occasion on a majestic scale.’’

Cocktails and Serenades 08The 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 concerts and album performances; special events; world premieres by several Australian composers; and new works workshops.

The final concert in the Majestic Concert Series 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.

The Majestic Winter Ball will be held at the Hydro Majestic Hotel, Great Western Hwy, Medlow Bath, beginning with cocktails and canapes at 5.30pm on Saturday, June 18. Cost: $145pp includes 4-hour cocktails and canapes package. Bookings and details: hydromajestic.com.au for more dining, event and accommodation details and bookings.

  • Escarpment Group is a commercial client of Deep Hill MediaCocktails and Serenades 15

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.

  • Businesses mentioned above are commercial clients of Deep Hill Media and Headline Publicity

    Rest up at the new Lithgow Workies Club Motel

    Rest up at the new Lithgow Workies Club Motel


Blue Mountains artist Warwick Fuller: In search of light

Warwick4

By Ellen Hill for Lost Bear Gallery                   Photos: David Hill

A summer breeze softly brushes against Warwick Fuller’s neck and pulls at straggly bits of hair sticking out from beneath his trademark hat.

The incessant buzz of countless cicadas pulses the air.

Warwick8His faithful red kelpie, Digger, gives him a lovesick sideward glance, whining in contentment, too lethargic to bark at the maggies squabbling in the trees.

Fuller shifts his position and the sticks crunch softly under his boots. He absent-mindedly wipes his paint-spattered fingers on his trousers, leaving multi-coloured smudges on the fabric.

His paintbrush moves frenetically across the canvass, desperately punching and prodding, sweeping and sliding the colour into shapes.

Digger sniffs the breeze and catches a waft of eucalyptus oil released into the atmosphere by the scorching sun. He heaves himself to his feet with a sigh, his snout high and picking up a hint of wattle, kangaroo dung and a neighbour’s barbecue.

What is it, Digs?’’ Fuller coos quietly.It’s just a rabbit. You’ll be right.’’

The old dog grunts suspiciously and flops back down to the ground, his weary head resting on his paws.

Fuller takes a step back.

Warwick6He absorbs the scene with all senses awake: the great boulders plonked 50 feet from his back door, the course Aussie scrub, the rickety wooden gate he knocked up years ago, the rugged crags in the distance and the clouds skating across the sky.

Encompassing it all is the light.

Fuller glances at the canvass, satisfied. He has frozen this moment in perfect detail.

When I paint I like to have all my senses activated,’’ he said.I interpret the landscape differently if there’s birds singing or aeroplanes soaring overhead. If I smell the summer grass it just puts me in a different mental state and that’s going to affect the way I paint. I stay in total concentration so I can absorb all those things while I’m painting.

Warwick5“If I can quote myself: `How can I paint a frost if I don’t have cold feet?’ ‘’

One of Australia’s most respected plein air painters and a Fellow of the Royal Arts Society, Warwick Fuller has painted the Australian landscape for more than 35 years, during which time he has built a solid reputation through more than 60 solo exhibitions and numerous awards and accolades.

After living at Emu Plains for 30 years (he remains patron of Nepean Art Society), Fuller and his late wife Wendy moved to the Kanimbla Valley near Lithgow 18 years ago, just a short distance from where his ancestors Edward and Harriet Fuller settled in 1839.

“This country has a rugged beauty and the weather is fairly volatile here, which makes for interesting landscape, being on the edge of the Dividing Range.’’

Fuller travels around the country often on painting trips and when at home is inspired by the jaw-dropping landscape. He has an easel permanently set up on the back verandah. Pick up any catalogue of any Warwick Fuller exhibition in the past 18 years and there will be that scene.

But it’s not a changing landscape he’s after.

Warwick 1“The real essence of what I’m trying to create in my paintings is trying to interpret what I see and paint my emotional responses to that. It’s more than just getting the right colours and tone. It’s the light that inspires me.’’

Used to working at a furious speed to capture a scene, Fuller was not fazed by the unrelenting pace of the Australian tour of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall in November.

Fuller was the official tour artist for the Royal couple, as he was during their 2012 tour.

A dozen works he painted during the tour will be exhibited at Lost Bear Gallery from February 1 to 15. The non-commercial exhibition will be an opportunity for art lovers to view Fuller’s paintings before they leave Australia.

Warwick11The works depict scenes captured by Fuller when the Royal couple visited Tanunda near Adelaide, the national War Memorial in Canberra for the Remembrance Day ceremony and Sydney, where Fuller painted the world-famous Sydney Harbour featuring the Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House as seen from Admiralty House.

An accomplished watercolourist himself, The Prince often chooses an artist to join him on tours as a way of supporting the arts and in appreciation of the unique perspective that an artist can provide.

Fuller said he was free to paint the subjects and in the style he wanted.

“There was no expectation. His Royal Highness asked me to go on tour with him because he liked my work and knew what I painted, and that’s the last thing he asked.’’

Warwick9While he only had two opportunities to talk with the Prince, the second occasion at Admiralty House in Sydney was a lengthy 15 minutes, during which Prince Charles talked about artist Edward Seago, who he met as a child and who toured with his father the Duke of Edinburgh to Antarctica on the Britannia.

The pair were then joined by the Duchess and chatted for a further 10 minutes about Fuller’s artworks he had produced during the tour.

While the Prince will formally exercise his right to first option to the paintings, the Royal couple has already expressed interest in several.

“He was very enthusiastic about the work,’’ Fuller said.

Lost Bear Gallery director Geoff White adjusts the light on a Warwick Fuller work

Lost Bear Gallery director Geoff White adjusts the light on a Warwick Fuller work

Paintings acquired by the Prince will become part of the Royal Collection when he ascends the throne. Fuller will also gift Prince Charles a work.

Artworks produced during the Royal tour will form the special exhibition at Lost Bear Gallery, along with several larger works developed from smaller studies painted on tour.

Warwick Fuller’s Royal tour collection will be displayed at Lost Bear Gallery, 98 Lurline St, Katoomba, from 10am to 5pm daily from February 1 to 15. Details: (02) 4782 1220 or lostbeargallery.com.au.

  • Warwick Fuller and Lost Bear Gallery are commercial clients of Deep Hill Media and Headline PublicityWarwick11

Lithgow: Artist shines light on Royal tour

 

 

Warwick10

Lost Bear Gallery director Geoff White adjusts the lighting on a Warwick Fuller artwork

By Ellen Hill for Lost Bear Gallery               Photos: David Hill

Experience the recent Australian tour of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall through the eyes of official tour artist Warwick Fuller in Katoomba next month.

Warwick3

Plein air artist Warwick Fuller at work

A dozen works painted by the Blue Mountains artist during the November tour will be exhibited at Lost Bear Gallery from February 1 to 15. The non-commercial exhibition will be an opportunity for art lovers to view Fuller’s paintings before they leave Australia.

The works depict scenes captured by the respected plein air painter when the Royal couple visited Tanunda near Adelaide, the national War Memorial in Canberra for the Remembrance Day ceremony and Sydney, where Fuller painted the world-famous Sydney Harbour featuring the Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House as seen from Admiralty House.

An accomplished watercolourist himself, The Prince often chooses an artist to join him on tours as a way of supporting the arts and in appreciation of the unique perspective that an artist can provide.

The Prince’s 15th trip to Australia was Fuller’s second as the official tour artist for the Royal couple. His first invitation was in November 2012.

Warwick2Fuller was not fazed by the unrelenting pace of the tour and, true to his usual practice, worked at a furious pace to complete each piece onsite.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re painting a cloud, a wave or the wind in the trees, there’s always something happening fast,’’ he said.But what pushes me to paint quickly is the changing light. More importantly, I’m trying to paint while I’m still in the zone of the initial inspiration.’’

However, Fuller was free to paint the subjects and in the style he wanted.

“That’s the beautiful part about it, there was no expectation. His Royal Highness asked me to go on tour with him because he liked my work and knew what I painted, and that’s the last thing he asked.’’

Warwick 1

Respected Australian landscape painter Warwick Fuller

While he only had two opportunities to talk with the Prince, the second occasion at Admiralty House in Sydney was a lengthy 15 minutes, during which Prince Charles talked about artist Edward Seago, who he met as a child and who toured with his father the Duke of Edinburgh to Antarctica on the Britannia.

The pair were then joined by the Duchess and chatted for a further 10 minutes about Fuller’s artworks he had produced during the tour.

While the Prince will formally exercise his right to first option to the paintings, the Royal couple has already expressed interest in several.

“He was very enthusiastic about the work,’’ Fuller said.

Paintings acquired by the Prince will become part of the Royal Collection when he ascends the throne. Fuller will also gift Prince Charles a work.

Warwick7

Warwick Fuller and his dog Digger

Artworks produced during the Royal tour will form a special exhibition at Lost Bear Gallery, along with several larger works developed from smaller studies painted on tour.

A Fellow of the Royal Arts Society, Warwick Fuller has painted the majestic Australian landscape for more than 35 years, during which time he has built a solid reputation through more than 60 solo exhibitions and numerous awards and accolades.

His techniques are unmistakable in portraying the vibrancy and energy of nature, of tapping into his own subconsciousness and releasing his life experience onto canvass with the confidence of a mature artist who has earned his success.

Warwick Fuller’s Royal tour collection will be displayed at Lost Bear Gallery, 98 Lurline St, Katoomba, from 10am to 5pm daily from February 1 to 15. Fuller will talk about his tour experiences at 3pm on Saturday, February 6. Details: (02) 4782 1220 or lostbeargallery.com.au.

Lost Bear Gallery and Warwick Fuller are commercial clients of Deep Hill Media and Headline Publicity

Warwick11

One of the artworks painted during the Royal tour


Blue Mountains: Escarpment Group driving cutting edge technology

Recharge your own batteries inside an Escarpment Group luxury hotel at the same time

Recharge your own batteries inside an Escarpment Group luxury hotel at the same time

By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group

Continuing its tradition of being an industry and regional leader, the Escarpment Group collection of luxury hotels in the Blue Mountains is home to Sydney’s first Audi e-tron charger.

The initiative means that the most famous hotel in Australia, the Hydro Majestic at Medlow Bath, and the only 5-star hotel in the region, Lilianfels Resort & Spa, are now clean mobility providers, offering the revolutionary plug-in to the new battery-run Audi A3 Sportback prototype.

In fact, the e-tron charger is just the latest in a string of firsts for the historic Hydro Majestic since it was built in 1904 by cutting edge retail doyenne Mark Foy.

A huge car enthusiast, Foy owned several of the first cars brought into Australia and inspired the first car rally from Melbourne to Sydney and subsequently, Sydney to the Blue Mountains.

Totally enamoured with the motor car, Foy then began Australia’s first motoring touring business, travelling from Blackheath to Jenolan Caves. With the exception of a line of steam omnibuses in Western Australia, it was the first public service motoring venture in Australia.

At the time, the hotel included a steam-driven generator imported from Germany, which produced electricity for the resort and the neighbouring township of Medlow Bath in the upper Blue Mountains.

The Audi A3 Sportback

The Audi A3 Sportback

The Hydro Majestic had working electricity four days before Sydney. It also had its own water supply, steam laundry, freezing works, sewage treatment works and was one of the first in the Blue Mountains to have a telephone system connected to the Sydney exchange.

Escarpment Group general manager Ralf Bruegger said: “Mark Foy is well known for his legendary outrageous parties, but he was actually responsible for much progress in the Blue Mountains, in the tourism industry and for the nation,’’ Mr Bruegger said.

“Foy was a leader because he had the money to do it of course but also because he had the gumption and the foresight to take risks and make change. He refused to be bound by the conservative traditions of the day, nor would he accept hardship as a reason for not doing something.

“You could say that attitude is the unofficial philosophy of Escarpment Group – we don’t follow the pack, we lead it.’’

The e-tron plug-in is one of several green initiatives implemented by Escarpment Group across its four Blue Mountains properties which also includes Echoes Boutique Hotel and Parklands Country Gardens & Lodges to ensure the properties comply with 21st century environmental standards.

All seven dining venues at the hotels have a focus on local and regional produce to reduce food mileage, a composting plant will soon be installed at Parklands and there is an energy efficient plant room at Lilianfels which helps cut greenhouse gasses and energy by regulating heating and cooling of air and pool temperatures throughout the year.

One e-tron charger is available at the Hydro Majestic Hotel, while there are two others at Lilianfels.

“Simply plug in your car and recharge your own batteries inside the hotel,’’ Mr Bruegger said.

“Guests at Lilianfels will be pampered whatever they choose to do, while visitors to the Hydro can take a tour, a casual meal in the Boiler House Café or the Wintergarden Restaurant or light refreshments at the Hydro Majestic Pavilion or in the famous Salon du The and Cat’s Alley venue.’’

Go to escarpmentgroup.com.au for more information about accommodation and dining options.

* Escarpment Group is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media

The Hydro Majestic Hotel and Lilianfels Resort & Spa have the first Audi e-tron chargers in Sydney

The Hydro Majestic Hotel and Lilianfels Resort & Spa have the first Audi e-tron chargers in Sydney


Blue Mountains Mystery Tours puts dark tourism in the spotlight

Paranormal Pete (aka Pete Clifford) shines the spotlight on dark tourism

Paranormal Pete (aka Pete Clifford) shines the spotlight on dark tourism

 

By Ellen Hill                                                            Photos: David Hill

This article was written for and published in the Blue Mountains Gazette monthly Review magazine on September 16, 2015

“Is there anybody here tonight?”

With the agony of long-gone tortured souls reaching out from the sandstone walls at your back and the sticky black of darkness all around, you nervously prepare to meet ghostly company in the dead of night.

Ghost tours take in many sites around the Blue Mountains and Lithgow areas

Ghost tours take in many sites around the Blue Mountains and Lithgow areas

Paranormal Pete’s spooky ghost hunting tools flicker into life as they sense a phantom presence.

The name of someone’s dearly departed mother is distinguishable from the Ovilus or ghost box machine that converts environmental readings into real words.

Someone stifles a shriek as they experience a cold shiver. The wooden benches creak in discomfort as the rest of us shift uneasily in our seats.

The old courthouse at Hartley Historic Site slowly awakens from its supernatural slumber.

Blue Mountains Mystery Tours dark tourism guide Paranormal Pete is comfortable in this “other world” and guides locals and visitors on spine-tingling ghost tours to discover the rich and sometimes bloody history behind the rugged Greater Blue Mountains landscape.

Ghost hunters shiver in ghoulish delight at deliciously dark tales of murder, mishap, convicts, hangings and more as they explore haunted buildings, abandoned cemeteries and other bereft locations.

“With adventures like the first European crossing of the Blue Mountains, pioneering the first inland settlements and establishing the nation’s industrial heart at Lithgow come many stories and, 200 years later, reports of paranormal activity,” Pete (aka Pete Clifford from Springwood) says.

Hartley Historic Site is a favourite haunt for Paranormal Pete

Hartley Historic Site is a favourite haunt for Paranormal Pete

The “energy worker who specialises in dark tourism” has always been interested in the paranormal. His mother and siblings talked about ghost stories and local legends and, as a child, lived in a house that was haunted by what was believed to be his protector.

Pete says his scariest experience happened after one ghost tour at a council reserve.

“I walked up the road and saw a light coming towards me. I continued to walk. By this time the light was on top of me and it’s gone through me and on to the other side. I heard a voice say: ‘Get out of here now.’

“I was the only one that experienced it. I had to sit on a log for 10 minutes to get my composure and energy back. I didn’t go back there for about six months.

“I think I might have actually been walking over the poor fella’s grave.”

However, “the spirit world is very positive — they’re there to help us and guide us and protect us”.

The Greater Blue Mountains is a hotbed of spooky activity

The Greater Blue Mountains is a hotbed of spooky activity

“I’m always into communicating with the spirit world first and if we come across a ghost we’ll do our best to help them cross over if that’s their will. If not, it will go when it’s ready.”

People on Pete’s tours may hear the names of loved ones or other words.

“We’ve had the smell of a loved one’s perfume or their aftershave or they’re rubbed somebody on the face, tickled their ear or something else special they used to do that they would remember them by.

“Our tours are fully interactive. We like people to use their senses of intuition, smell, sight, hearing, touch and then we back that up with our gear to enhance your senses on the night.”

Ghost hunting equipment such as EMF metres, an Ovilus 111, full spectrum video, night vision video and Patrick Boo Buddy Bear help discern between the quick and dead.

Tours take in sites inaccessible to the general public, such as this abandoned cemetery

Tours take in sites inaccessible to the general public, such as this abandoned cemetery

Participants travel on Buster the Ghost Bus with the only ghost tour in the Blue Mountains and take morbid glee in hair-raising access to unique, forgotten and secret locations that are off limits to the general public.

They visit historic wells, convict graves, an abandoned cemetery, a convict stockade and colonial buildings oozing tales of shadowy figures from the past. They may even meet the ghost of Victoria Pass (“the lady in black”).

The faint-hearted can lean about phantom figures of the night during the light of day on a scenic tour where they can gaze at the world-famous sites and the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area with its jaw-droppingly beautiful scenery, exhilarating attractions and elusive wildlife.

Sightseeing tours take in Scenic World, Govetts Leap at Blackheath, Coachwood Glen through ancient rainforest to the Megalong Valley for wildlife spotting, as well as historic locations around Lithgow and Hartley Historic Site.

The dark tourism business holds a limited Nature Based Recreation License and National Parks and Wildlife Service Eco Pass, giving them access to secret locations known only to select local residents and off limits to the general public.

Tours leave from the Blue Mountains City Council carpark in Katoomba or participants are collected from accommodation or other pre-arranged locations in the Blue Mountains.

Bookings and details: phone 0418 416 403 or 4751 2622, email mysterytours@bigpond.com, website bluemountainsmysterytours.com.au or facebook.com/bmmysterytours.

Ghost and mystery tours make for unique gifts

Ghost and mystery tours make for unique gifts

  • Gift a loved one a goose bump-filled experience with Blue Mountains Mystery Tours. Gift vouchers are available for all tours. Simply decide on a tour, contact 0418 416 403 or 4751 2622 or at mysterytours@bigpond.com to arrange payment and a voucher will be posted or emailed to you. Gift vouchers are valid for 12 months after purchase.

Click HERE to watch a video of Blue Mountains Mystery Tours, produced by Airpixel Multimedia Production – www.AirPixel.com.au.

Blue Mountains Mystery Tours is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media and Headline Publicity

Paranormal Pete uses an array of tools to support tour participant feelings

Paranormal Pete uses an array of tools to support tour participant feelings

 


Escarpment Group, Blue Mountains: leading edge on industry awards

Escarpment Group properties have been listed as finalists in 12 categories

Escarpment Group properties have been listed as finalists in 12 categories

 

By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group

The Escarpment Group collection of hotels has further cemented itself as the premier luxury accommodation provider in the Blue Mountains with all four of its properties named finalist in a prestigious industry awards.

The group was named finalist in 12 categories in the Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA) NSW 2015 Awards for Excellence.

Lilianfels Resort & Spa, Katoomba

Lilianfels Resort & Spa, Katoomba

Escarpment Group general manager Ralf Bruegger said: “This is a fantastic result – all four properties making the finalist list, especially for the Hydro Majestic which has only been open since October 2014 and Parklands which opened in September.

“I am very proud to represent such a great team of hard working tourism and hospitality professionals whose commitment to providing the highest benchmarks in the area shines through in everything they do every day.

The Hydro Majestic Hotel, Medlow Bath

The Hydro Majestic Hotel, Medlow Bath

 

“In fact it’s great to see the Blue Mountains tourism and hospitality industry well represented at the awards with our colleagues at Fairmont Resort and The Carrington Hotel also finalists.

“This is an indication of the standard of visitor experience throughout the Blue Mountains, where visitors can be assured of world-class accommodation, customer service and dining.’’

Echoes Boutique Hotel & Restaurant is a finalist in Regional Superior Hotel of the Year and Regional Restaurant of the Year categories.

Lilianfels Resort & Spa Blue Mountains is a finalist in Chef of the Year, Front of House Employee of the Year, Regional Deluxe Hotel of the Year and Regional Restaurant of the Year.

Parklands Country Gardens & Lodges is a finalist in Health Club & Spa Facilities of the Year and Regional Superior Hotel of the Year.

Echoes Boutique Hotel & Restaurant

Echoes Boutique Hotel & Restaurant

The Hydro Majestic Hotel is a finalist in Chef of the Year, Function Venue of the Year, Redeveloped Hotel of the Year and Regional Restaurant of the Year.

The TAA awards this year received its largest number of submissions ever, 281 from 67 top accommodation venues in NSW across more than 30 categories ranging from outstanding community service, best environmental practice and redeveloped hotel of the year through to the superior and deluxe hotels of the year categories and a range of individual staff awards.

TAA NSW chairman Nigel Greenaway said: “These venues really do showcase the best the NSW hotel industry has to offer – they quite simply are second to none and that is shown in the high quality of all the finalists.

Category winners will be announced at a gala awards night at The Westin Sydney on July 29. TV personality Catriona Rowntree will be emcee, with an after party at the Zeta Bar, Hilton Sydney.

Parklands Country Gardens & Lodges, Blackheath

Parklands Country Gardens & Lodges, Blackheath