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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


Spirit of King of Pop to thrill Lithgow Halloween ‘16

 

Join Jason Jackson at the Thriller dance-off at Lithgow Halloween `16. Photo: David Hill, Headline Publicity

Join Jason Jackson at the Thriller dance-off at Lithgow Halloween `16. Photo: David Hill

 

By Ellen Hill for Lithgow Tourism        Photos: Ben Pearse and David Hill

The spirit of the late King of Pop will inject a thrilling spark into Lithgow Halloween `16 when hundreds of Michael Jackson fans take part in a dance-off in Main St on Saturday, October 29.

Jason Jackson performing at Lithgow Halloween `15. Photo: Ben Pearse

Jason Jackson performing at Lithgow Halloween `15. Photo: Ben Pearse

The national record bid for the greatest number of costumed people to dance to the song Thriller will be a highlight of the annual community festival.

Organised and hosted by Lithgow City Council, with support from local sponsors including Lithgow McDonald’s, Centennial Coal and Energy Australia, the event will again feature spectacular Vivid-style lighting displays and spooky decorations, the main shopping strip will be transformed into a fun-filled pedestrian zone with themed precincts, non-stop entertainment and a community Trick or Treat activity for children.

Lithgow City Council Tourism Manager Kellie Barrow said: “We do like to party here in Lithgow, especially when it involves themes and dressing up.

“But our parties are not exclusive: everyone is invited, everyone is welcome and everyone is catered for.’’

Lithgow Halloween is a family-friendly community event. Photo: Ben Pearse

Lithgow Halloween is a family-friendly community event. Photo: Ben Pearse

As in previous years, the family-friendly Lithgow Halloween `16 will include something for everyone, with a range of free community events in public spaces through to ticketed events at private venues.

“We’re proud of our history and what the council, local businesses and residents have achieved together in beautifying Lithgow in recent years and we want to share our town with visitors.’’

Ms Barrow encouraged locals and visitors to fully immerse themselves in the festival spirit and dress up for the occasion as a ghoulish zombie, monster, freaky vampire, fantasy character or loveable fairytale personality, goblin or fairy.

Lithgow Halloween is a family-friendly event. Photo: David Hill

Lithgow Halloween is a family-friendly event. Photo: David Hill

She also urged everyone to take part in the Australian record attempt for the largest number of costumed people to dance to the Michael Jackson song Thriller.

“The record currently stands at about 500 people. Let’s beat it!’’

She recommended visitors stay overnight in the area to fully explore the surprisingly diverse range of scenery, dining options and activities available in Lithgow and surrounds including the Back to Hartley event at Hartley Historic Site on the way to Sydney on Sunday, October 30.

  • Lithgow Tourism is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media and Headline Publicity

    Jason Jackson will lead the Thriller dance-off at Lithgow Halloween `16. Photo: David Hill

    Jason Jackson will lead the Thriller dance-off at Lithgow Halloween `16. Photo: David Hill


Blue Mountains, Australia: Magical heritage adventure for kids at Everglades

Henry Laurie studies his Everglades activity book while Georgia Anicic and Nina Howarth with 5 yr old Jessica Nutt play at Everglades Historic House & Gardens.

Henry studies his Everglades activity book while Georgia and Nina with Jessica play at Everglades Historic House & Gardens.

By Ellen Hill for Everglades Historic House & Gardens                                Photos: David Hill

Children can learn about heritage conservation and the natural environment in one of the most enchanting historic properties in the Blue Mountains these school holidays – and they won’t even know it’s educational.

My Adventure at Everglades children’s program will begin at Everglades Historic House & Gardens at Leura during the long December/January summer holidays.

Funded with a $25,000 grant from the Ian Potter Foundation through the Alec Prentice Sewell Gift, the program aims to encourage children to care for their natural and historic heritage.

Nina Howarth explores the veggie patch

Nina explores the veggie patch

Everglades manager Scott Pollock said the My Adventure at Everglades program would introduce a new generation of history and nature lovers to the Everglades property and others like it.

“We know that about two thousand of the thirty thousand visitors who come through the Everglades gate every year are children. That is two thousand potential future guardians of our nation’s heritage, culture and natural environment.

“For the first time, we have a dedicated program for children at Everglades, one which will spark their curiosity and urge to investigate and explore and help create a magical memory for the rest of their lives of an afternoon spent with Mum and Dad or Gran and Pop at this fairytale property in the Blue Mountains.’’

Jessica Nutt is mesmerised by the sunlight dancing on the water

Jessica is mesmerised by the sunlight dancing on the water

Surrounded by the spectacular landscape of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, Everglades features many outdoor “rooms’’ where small people can explore grassy slopes, tall trees, tiny flowers, colourful shrubs, outdoor theatre and mystic sculptures, tucked away among the Banksia men with their wicked tales.

The Everglades property at Leura includes 12.5 acres of Paul Sorensen-designed European-style gardens and native Australian bush with breathtaking views over the Jamison Valley, as well as the art deco house created by Henri Van de Velde in the 1930s.

Designed in consultation with expert educators for three to six-year-olds, the My Everglades Adventure program provides learning tools such as the Garden Detective Program, Sculpture Trail, activity book and an array of things to see and do.

 

Georgia Anicic immersed in exploring

Georgia immersed in exploring

 

Children will set off on their adventure with a pack of tools including a work book, magnifying glasses, garden trail, Play with Parents Guide and instructions for physical activities throughout the property.

Half the activities are for children to do themselves while others are conducted with parents.

A great resource to help children become ready for school, activities will give the opportunity for matching, drawing, colouring, identifying component parts, labelling and drawing from their surrounds along with counting, exploring and contemplating.

 

Henry Laurie, Georgia Anicic and Jessica Nutt enjoy doing some colouring in

Henry, Georgia and Jessica enjoy doing some colouring in

 

The My Everglades Adventure program will start during the 2015 summer school holidays. Everglades Historic House & Gardens, 37 Everglades Ave, Leura, is open from 10am to 5pm daily during daylight savings and from 10am to 4pm during autumn and winter. Entry: $13 adults, $8 concessions, $4 children, National Trust members free.

The children’s activity books cost $10 and $5 per subsequent book. Bookings and information: (02) 4784 1938 or email evergladesgarden@bigpond.com.

Nina discovers a hidden picture

Nina discovers a hidden picture

 


Easter holidays eggcitement in the Greater Blue Mountains

The home of the Magic Pudding is the perfect place for kids holiday workshops. Photo: Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

By Ellen Hill, Blue Mountains Attractions Group

From a chocolate egg hunt, art workshops and baby animals to religious services and natural wonders, the premier attractions of the Greater Blue Mountains will keep the whole family occupied during the upcoming Easter and school holiday period.

Blue Mountains Attractions Group president Dave Robertson said: “Easter is one of the rare times during the year that the whole family can take a break together, so make the most of it and do something meaningful as a family. Then of course school aged children continue their holiday until Monday, April 20.’’

Choose from the following special Easter and school holiday activities:

Children will love the egg hunt at Everglades.Everglades Historic House & Gardens, Leura

With numerous niches and hidey holes, the magic of Easter will become real for children at the Everglades Gardens gigantic egg hunt from 10am to 3pm on Sunday, April 5. The lower garden will come alive with colour, delicious food, entertainment and oodles of games for the kids. Cost: National Trust members free, $10 children, $5 adults, $25 families (2 adults, 2 children – $5 extra child). Details: Scott Pollock (02) 47841938 or email everglades@nationaltrust.com.au. Go to www.everglades.org.au for a program.

Blue Mountains Botanic Garden, Mount Tomah

Kid’s Story Time (Waratah Education Centre, 10am-11.30am or 1pm-2.30pm, April 10). A delightful live reading of popular children’s books for kids. Featuring live action, audience participation and sound effects, this is an excellent holiday entertainment fun for all the family presented by Entertainment Blue Mountains Cost:$25. Bookings essential: (02) 9231 8182. Each session includes a 30-40 minute interactive story performance followed by the self-guided garden adventure quest. Bring a picnic and make a day of it.

Jenolan Caves

At 9am sharp on Easter Sunday, worshippers can experience a free non-denominational church service deep underground in the Cathedral Chamber of the Lucas Cave. After climbing 252 steep steps to the Cathedral Chamber, relax while listening to the Easter message, sing songs of praise and worship. While there, see the huge limestone formations named by cave explorers after familiar stories from the Bible and church features: the “baptismal font’’, “pulpit’’, “organ’’, “belfry’’, “organ pipes’’ and “cathedral windows’’. Bookings essential: (1300 76 33 11).

Help save the bilby at Featherdale Wildlife Park.Featherdale Wildlife Park, Doonside

Two Greater bilbies will be the star attraction at Featherdale Wildlife Park this Easter School Holidays. Visitors will be encouraged to help save the wild cousins of these nocturnal long-eared creatures by buying a Save the Bilby pin for $2. The non-aggressive, shy Greater Bilby, which once roamed 70 per cent of the Australian continent, is now an endangered species.

Featherdale general manager Tim Sinclair-Smith said: “So many visitors to the display are unaware of the existence of bilbies. They think they’re a mythical creature and are amazed to meet one up close.’’

Visitors can also attend animal feeding presentations throughout the day including a giant 4.5m saltwater crocodile named Ngukurr. Go to www.featherdale.com.au for details about other school holiday activities and the Wild family fun offer.

Nana’s Teddies & Toys, Blaxland

Meet the star of the recent Paddington Bear movie at Australia’s largest and most awarded specialty bear store. Visit and see how Paddington has changed during the years. Although still recognisable as the cherished Paddington from our childhood, he has had a dashing modern makeover.

Norman Lindsay Gallery & Museum, Faulconbridge

The home of the Magic Pudding will be an ideal setting to nurture creativity at art workshops for children aged 6-12 years. Bookings: (02) 4751 1067 or info@normanlindsay.com.au.

Raining Cats and Dogs, 10am to 12.30pm, April 16 ($20): Make a metropolis of cat and dog characters come alive inspired by Norman Lindsay drawings. Learn how to use scratch foam and chine colle with specialised printing inks to create a series of artworks.

Dynamic Colour, 1pm to 3.30pm, April 16 ($20): Learn how to create a dynamic painting with colour and texture inspired by Norman Lindsay and the garden grounds of the gallery.

Scenic World, Katoomba

Baby bunnies, fresh hot cross buns and those world-famous rides: Scenic World Blue Mountains will be choc full of awesome holiday entertainment this Easter. The Scenic World forecourt will be transformed into a festive farmyard where children can feed and pat piglets, chicks, calves, baby goats and bunny rabbits during the long weekend. Adults can relax with a spiced hot chocolate and fresh hot cross bun from the pop-up café while the Hot Potato Band entertains with its popular New Orleans-inspired tunes. The thrilling Scenic railway, cablecar, skyway and walkway will also run throughout the holidays. All Easter weekend events are free with the purchase of a Scenic World pass including unlimited rides: $35 adult; $18 per child (4-13yrs), $88 family (2 adults, 5 children), $32 concession.

Mr Robertson encouraged visitors to “stay a night or three’’ to fully experience the thrills and wonders of the Greater Blue Mountains region.

Remember too that we reward loyal local tourism ambassadors through our Residents Rewards program simply for showing family and friends around the region and visiting our attractions businesses,’’ he said.

Go to bluemountainsattractions.com.au for more information about what to see and do in the Greater Blue Mountains region, special offers and news and the Residents Rewards program.

A pop-up cafe, roving musicians, farmyard animals and those famous rides at Scenic World this Easter.