Bon bons and plum pud among myriad teapots, belly laughs at classic humour, river cruising, and luxury digs and dining accessed by vintage motorcar and modern glitzy wheels. There’s even a chance of snow flurries around one of the most famous landmarks on the planet.
Visitors to the Blue Mountains are in for a cool Yule this July.
A regional tradition since 1980, mid-winter Yulefest is the season for which Australia’s first tourist destination is most famous.
After the exhilarating zing of a chilly day spent exploring the lookouts and bushwalking tracks of the magnificent Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, shopping at charming villages and visiting attractions, sojourners are warmly invited indoors for steaming drinks, fireside dining and rousing entertainment.
Numerous hotels, guesthouses, B&Bs, cafes and restaurants celebrate the winter festival, enlivened by warming entertainment.
Guest services manager of Escarpment Group collection of luxury hotels, Meagan Iervasi, encouraged visitors to immerse themselves in the festive atmosphere by staying at least one night: “Yulefest in the Blue Mountains offers the European-style atmosphere people associate with Christmas – a chilly landscape outside and cosiness inside with roaring fires, hot food and drinks, traditional decorations and festive music, but without the stress and frosty relatives. Sometimes there’s even snow.’’
Book your Yulefest bed, table and experience early so you’re not left out in the cold:
Blue Mountains Limousine & Vintage Cadillacs
Vintage vroom or modern glitz: you choose how you make a grand entrance this Yulefest.
Guests (minimum two passengers per trip) will be collected from and returned to any location between Hazelbrook and Mt Victoria in the Blue Mountains (hotels, guesthouses, railway stations or private homes) in a stretch limo ($59pp) or LaSalle model Cadillac ($69pp), driven by a local driver dressed in formal attire, between 4pm and midnight any Friday and Saturday during July.
Arrive the long way round after exploring the breathtaking scenery of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area or cruising upmarket Leura Mall for head-turning effect.
“Whichever car you choose will make for an unforgettable, head-turning experience,’’ co-owner Robert Spitz said.
Bygone Beautys Treasured Teapot Museum & Tearooms, Grose & Megalong streets, Leura
Yulefest luncheon is served at 1.15pm every day among one of the world’s largest private collections of teawares, including more than 5500 teapots from all over the world and spanning five centuries, most of which were collected within Australia.
Guests can tuck into a traditional Northern Hemisphere Christmas-style feast with all the trimmings (bon bons, serviettes and table decorations), beginning with a canape platter and soup, followed by a traditional roast with seasonal vegetables and plum pudding or pavlova dessert, tea/coffee and homemade shortbread.
Minimum of four people per booking. Cost: $79.50pp, $69.95pp groups of 10-19 people or $66pp groups of 20 or more and complimentary teapot talk, $29.95 children under-12.
Bookings essential: (02) 4784 3117 or email@example.com. Details: bygonebeautys.com.au.
Mountain Whispers, Leura and Katoomba
French champagne on ice, handmade chocolates, scattered fresh rose petals, a private chef to cook a three-course festive dinner and a personal waiter to serve it, followed by an in-house massage and/or facial in opulent surrounds. Yulefest equals romance, an escape with the girls or a group of great friends at Mountain Whispers MW Collection, where every minor detail matters.
Owner Lorraine Allanson said: “While Christmas is about family, Yulefest is a great time to take a mid-year break to focus on romance or time with your friends to indulge and escape the daily grind.’’
Each of the multi-award winning self-contained immaculately restored heritage properties – Varenna, Leura Rose and Strawberry Patch in Leura and The Gatsby and Chatelaine in Katoomba – promises a luxurious getaway in total privacy and comfort for couples and small groups.
Details: mountainwhispers.com.au or 1300 721 321.
The Goon Show LIVE! Dinner and show
The cult comedy tour de overacting incorporates loads of sound effects, silly voices and a platoon of crazy characters which promise to have audiences belly laughing all evening.
It regales the stories of Neddie Seagoon, a good-natured and hairy sort, albeit short and rotund and the victim of a terrible weakness – greed. Coupled with his innate gullibility, Neddie’s covetous nature makes him easy prey to confidence schemes courtesy of the conniving cads Grytpype-Thynne and Moriarty.
Peppered with one-liners, the high energy show will feature a plethora of characters including the world’s most famous idiot Eccles (yes, even more infamous than Neddie), the squeaky-voiced boy-scout Bluebottle (who reads his stage-directions out loud), Major Dennis Bloodnok a devout coward, and Miss Minnie Bannister the sexy senior citizen who lives in sin with crumbling, fumbling old man Henry Crun.
The dinner and show will be held in le Salon Grand at the Palais Royale, Katoomba, each Saturday night from June 29 to July 20, with a special afternoon tea on July 14. Tickets: $135 Saturdays, $80 Sunday afternoon tea, seniors and group discounts available. Bookings and details: www.goons.com.au.
Nepean Belle river luncheon cruise, Jamisontown
`Tis the season to cruise the tranquil waters of the Nepean River aboard the regional aquatic icon on your way to or from the Blue Mountains.
The heritage-style Nepean Belle paddlewheeler will be festooned with festive decorations and guests will board for luncheon to the strains of popular carols against the picturesque backdrop of the Blue Mountains escarpment.
Tuck into two-course Yulefest fare with all the trimmings, beginning with a shared platter of succulent roast turkey with fruit seasoning and tender roast pork with apple sauce and gravy garnished with honey-roasted vine tomatoes and accompanied by creamy sautéed potato; a selection of hot seasonal vegetables; steamed broccoli, carrots and peas; and a Greek salad with feta.
A dessert platter of festive favourites will follow, with White Christmas, chocolate rum balls, fruit cake, chocolate mud cake and rich butter shortbread biscuits washed down with your choice of freshly brewed tea or coffee.
Nepean Belle owner Carol Bennett said: “We love Christmas so much that we’re holding it again in July – but without the in-laws, expensive pressies and weather that matches the heat of the roast dinner.’’
Cost: Monday to Friday – $59 adults, $53 seniors, $39 teens (13-16 years), $20 children (3-12 years); Weekends – $65 adults, $58 seniors, $39 teens, $25 children. Bookings: nepeanbelle.com.au or 4733 1274.
Hydro Majestic Hotel, Medlow Bath
A Night in Vienna: In the lead-up to Yulefest, relish the romance and nostalgia of Austria’s operatic golden age led by Opera Australia, Oper Köln, Opéra Comique & Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris and English National Opera tenor Brad Cooper against the magnificent backdrop of the Megalong Valley on June 22. The Wintergarden Restaurant performance will be matched with a five-course degustation dinner. Tickets: $135pp. Bookings: (02) 4782 6885.
Diesel Live@theHydro: One of Australia’s favourite adopted sons, Mark Lizotte (aka Diesel) will entertain fans on July 20, three decades after he stepped off a bus with his band Johnny Diesel and the Injectors and set off on a chart-topping 15-album career. Cost: $150pp dinner and show, $40pp show only. Bookings: hydromajestic.com.au/events/diesel.
Traditional high tea: This elegant three-tier serving will feature nostalgic flavours such as ginger, cranberry and roast pork in the elegant Wintergarden Restaurant overlooking the Megalong Valley. Accompany your repast with a delicate blossom tea, freshly brewed coffee or a glass of sparkling wine.
Lilianfels Resort & Spa, Katoomba
Sink into the refined 5-star surrounds to nibble on delicate finger sandwiches, fluffy scones with homemade jam and fresh clotted cream, and a selection of Yulefest sweet treats beside a cosy fireplace.
Darley’s Restaurant, Katoomba
For the ultimate Yulefest decadence, the hatted restaurant in the historic home of former Chief Justice of NSW Sir Frederick Darley will serve five and seven-course degustation dinners each Friday and Saturday throughout July with special winter flavours.
By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group Photos: David Hill, Deep Hill Media
Indulge in a feast of the senses this festive season as the Konzert Kollektiv fills the grandest of the grand Blue Mountains hotels with majestic Christmas music on December 22.
Accompanied by fine food and sublime sunset views, soprano Catherine Bouchier will join tenor Brad Cooper and concert pianist Katherine Day for an unforgettable evening at the Hydro Majestic Hotel in the Blue Mountains to mark the 200th anniversary of loved Christmas carol Silent Night.
The event will include well known pieces by Adolf Schulz-Evler, Percy Grainger, Richard Strauss, Peter Alexander, Peter Cornelius, Franz Lehár, Erich Korngold, Adolphe Adam and more.
As well as favourites such as Joy to the World and The Holy City (Jerusalem), the great carol of peace will receive special attention on its 200th anniversary.
According to legend, Silent Night was sung for the first time on Christmas Eve 1818 in a little church in the Austrian village of Oberndorf outside Salzburg. The story goes that the choirmaster hurriedly penned the hymn to be played on a guitar when it was discovered mice had chewed through the bellows of the church organ.
Escarpment Group guest services manager Meagan Iervasi said: “The story of Silent Night pefectly complements the Hydro Majestic, with that just right blend of magic, mischief and majesty.’’
The program will be accompanied by a five-course “taste of Christmas’’ degustation dinner of fresh regional produce showcasing the culinary talents of an international team of chefs.
Tickets: $145pp includes welcome cocktail, dinner and concert. BOOKINGS.
The Silent Night event will open a Christmas and New Year’s season of operatic proportions at Escarpment Group collection of luxury hotels.
Inspired by the sparkle of Christmas lights and the warm glow they bring to the festive season, the Wintergarden Restaurant will host a decadent five-course degustation with all the trimmings overlooking the spectacular views of the Megalong Valley. Cost: $125 adults, $65 children (3-12 years), children aged 0-2 years complimentary. BOOKINGS.
Christmas Day – December 25
Lunch: five-course lunch infused with Asian flavours overlooking the Jamison Valley. Cost: $189 adults, $65 children (4 – 12 years).
Dinner: five-course Asian-inspired degustation with a glass of sparkling cocktail on arrival. Cost: $169 adults, $65 children (4 – 12 years).
Lunch: seven-course contemporary Australian degustation featuring the freshest seasonal local ingredients served in the historic multi award-winning building. Cost: $229 adults, $119 children (4 – 12 years).
Lunch: five-course degustation featuring hot and cold traditional Christmas fare including a three-hour beverage package (standard beer, wine, soft drinks). Cost: $199 adults, $179 teenagers (13 – 17 years), $90 children (4 – 12 years).
Lunch: sumptuous three-tier feast featuring fresh seafood, charcutier selections, carvery and traditional Christmas desserts as well as a three-hour beverage package (standard beer, wine, soft drinks) in the understated elegance of the Wintergarden Restaurant. Cost: $199 adults, $149 teenagers (13 – 17 years) and $85 children (4 – 12 years).
Dinner: lavish five-course degustation featuring an elegant array of seafood, traditional Christmas roasts and dessert, with a glass of sparkling on arrival while enjoying the sunset over the Megalong Valley. Cost: $159 adults and $85 children (4 – 12 years).
- Each venue will be decked in traditional decorations, with bon bons on the table and even a visit from Santa for the children. Children aged under 4 years complimentary.
HYDRO MAJESTIC HOTEL
High Tea: Take advantage of the holiday season and extend celebrations to a three-tiered indulgence in the Wintergarden Restaurant against the backdrop of sublime panoramic views over the Megalong Valley. Cost: $75 adults and $45 children (4-12 years old).
BOILERHOUSE CAFÉ, Hydro Majestic Hotel
Lunch: Two-course casual meal in a funky venue with a glass of sparkling on arrival and views over the Megalong Valley. Cost: $75pp.
HYDRO MAJESTIC HOTEL
Celebrate global fusion with an evening of world music, a five-course degustation meal featuring outstanding fresh seasonal produce and the culinary talents of our team of international chefs. Tickets: $135pp includes glass of sparkling on arrival, degustation dinner and performance. BOOKINGS.
HYDRO MAJESTIC HOTEL
Retro Grooves: Dust off those platform shoes and Motown moves for a night of `70s DJ dance music. Make your New Year transition unforgettable with an extravagant five-course degustation, glass of sparkling on arrival and live entertainment and panoramic views over the Megalong Valley. Smart casual dress code applies. Cost: $159 adults, $85 children aged 4-12. BOOKINGS.
Go to hydromajestic.com.au or phone (02) 4782 6885 to book events, accommodation and dining.
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 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.
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
By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group
The Blue Mountains was the destination of choice for the wife of visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Saturday [March 25] when she made a surprise trip to the region.
After an endless cavalcade of police escort, Professor Cheng Hong and her entourage of Chinese media and advisors retreated to the glamourous Hydro Majestic Hotel at Medlow Bath, where she was welcomed and presented with a hamper of local wines, gourmet jams, teas and honey.
The heritage hotel unveiled spectacular views over the Megalong Valley from the Wintergarden restaurant, matched by a palate of pasties and sweets.
With military precision yet a surprisingly relaxed pace, the delegation sampled the regional produce and sipped freshly brewed teas while taking in the views and history which has made the Hydro Majestic famous.
Taking time out from the trade-drive visit to Australia with her husband, Professor Cheng Hong then visited Echo Point Lookout overlooking the Three Sisters rock formation and lunched on grass-fed Australian Angus beef tenderloin at the nearby Echoes Boutique Hotel and Restaurant, which overlooks the lush valleys from where the meat was sourced.
Modest and reserved, preferring to keep a low profile, Professor Cheng Hong is more interested in tranquility and natural environment than politics, business or fashion.
An English professor specialising in naturalism in American literature, she has translated many books in the field including Wake-Robin, The Singing Wilderness, and The Outermost House.
In the abstract of her book Tranquility Is Beyond Price (2009), Professor Cheng Hong wrote that she developed her interest in American and British writing on nature and the environment when she was a visiting scholar at Brown University in the US.
The university website lists her as one of its “renowned scholars’’ and a member of the institute’s academic committee.
Escarpment Group director Huong Nguyen said while the visit was very tight lipped, it was not a surprise given that China and Australia were keen to extend tourism and cultural exchanges.
With more than 1 million Chinese visitors to Australia, tourism was an area of tremendous economic growth in terms of tourism and hospitality related employment, vocational training and education, she said.
“Professor Cheng Hong was mesmerised with the ever-changing views of the Blue Mountains escarpment and seemed happy to relax and enjoy a leisurely lunch featuring regional beef, wines, cheeses and chocolates.
“It was a great opportunity for the management team at the Hydro Majestic and Echoes Boutique Hotel & Restaurant to highlight cultural diversity, language capacity and vocational education and training focus in the Blue Mountains.’’
The Escarpment Group team welcomed the visiting Chinese delegation to the Blue Mountains in Mandarin and gave Professor Cheng Hong a brief history of the Hydro Majestic, reflecting on its eccentric and entrepreneurial beginnings including a glimpse of early Chinese heritage and in the Blue Mountains.
Premier Keqiang, Professor Cheng Hong and their delegation’s visit to Australia marked the 45th anniversary of Australia-China diplomatic relations.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said it was “an opportunity to reflect on how much we have achieved and take steps to ensure our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership continues to strengthen into the future’’.
* Escarpment Group is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media
By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group Photos: David Hill
Seat-swapping, hand-crossing bravura, drama, passion and cheeky fun will return to the original Blue Mountains party palace as a string of musical events rolls out during the next few months.
The music program will see the return of popular opera and classical instrumental performances, reviving the traditions established by original Hydro Majestic Hotel owner, Mark Foy, in the early 20th century.
General manager of Escarpment Group, which owns the Hydro Majestic, Ralf Bruegger said: “The Hydro Majestic and Foy himself were famous for their revelry and decadence and we’ve reignited the celebration by filling the calendar with festivals, events and performances and an endless round of public and private parties.
“Guest are welcome to swap seats, cross hands and indulge in cheeky fun but please keep the passion and drama to yourselves.’’
Choose one or more from the following performances:
Le Grand Tango, June 11: Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra principal cellist Teije Hylkema and internationally-awarded pianist Grace Kim will present a program to ignite passion and fire featuring Le Grand Tango by Astor Piazzolla.
4 hands, 2 pianists, 1 piano, August 19: One of the busiest pianists in Australia, Kristian Chong, will team up with Grace Kim to present a brilliant program of seat swapping, hand crossing bravura. You will see why four hands are better than two.
2017 Blue Mountains Opera Festival, September 30 – October 1:
- High tea, Saturday: Mozart’s magnificent masterpiece, his Clarinet Quintet, will begin the weekend on a high note featuring Sydney Symphony Orchestra clarinettist Frank Celata with the Enigma Quartet.
- Opera Gala Dinner Concert, Saturday: After a glowing inaugural success last year, Opera Australia tenor Brad Cooper, mezzo/soprano Sally Wilson and bass Damian Whiteley will take guests on an evening of drama, passion and cheeky fun.
- High tea, Sunday: The festivities crescendo when eight of the finest string players perform with the ever popular Mendelssohn Octet.
Each high tea concert package ($85pp) includes a glass of sparkling wine on arrival with a sumptuous three-tier offering including an indulgent selection of gourmet sandwiches, warm fluffy scones, delicate pastries and the finest selection of handmade desserts served with Vittoria Coffee and La Maison Du The teas. The concert will be from 12pm to 1pm.
The Gala Dinner Concert package from 5.30pm to 9.30pm on Saturday, October 1, will include drinks and canapes on arrival followed by a two-course dinner with beverages. Cost: $150pp.
Go to www.hydromajestic.com.au or phone (02) 4782 6885 to book concerts, accommodation and dining.
- Escarpment Group is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media
By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group Photos: David Hill
Roaring 20s Festival events at the original Blue Mountains party palace will be majestic opportunities to promenade art deco fashion to maximum elegant effect during the February 24-25 weekend.
Retro revivalists can dress to impress for three festival events at the Hydro Majestic Hotel:
- Majestic Journey on Friday, February 24: Couples will be collected from Penrith railway station at 10.30am in a fleet of vintage Cadillacs in the spirit of Mark Foy’s original cavalcade and proceed to the world-famous hotel, pausing en route at several historic landmarks. Once at the Hydro Majestic Hotel, guests can tour the splendiferous “Palace in the wilderness’’ before a three-course dinner overlooking the magnificent Megalong Valley. Cost: $2,000 per couple includes vintage car ride, light luncheon, entry to Norman Lindsay Gallery & Museum and Everglades Historic House & Gardens, three-course dinner, accommodation and Majestic Long Lunch. Bookings: (02) 4782 6885 or hydromajestic.com.au.
- Blue Mountains Charleston Challenge, 11am on Saturday, February 25: The annual public dance-off will attempt to reclaim the Guinness World Record for the largest number of costumed people dancing the Charleston. Registration and dance tutorial: www.charlestonchallenge.com.au.
- Majestic Long Lunch, 12.30pm-4pm on Saturday, February 25: Once the excitement of the Blue Mountains Charleston Challenge has quietened and retro revivalists promenade to glamorous effect, diners will graze on decadent regional fair and glimpse exquisite fashion from yesteryear from the Darnell Collection of International Vintage Couture. Cost: $95 per person. Bookings: (02) 4782 6885 or www.hydromajestic.com.au.
Long-time festival ambassador, fashion expert and owner of the Darnell Collection of International Vintage Couture, Charlotte Smith, said 1920s fashion was diverse, allowing people to wear outfits which suited their personal taste, social standing, financial state and moral beliefs.
The era was renowned for the emergence of the newly independent worldly-wise “flappers’’ with their flattened chests and shapeless sheath dresses.
However, Ms Smith encouraged festival-goers to look to fashion designer Coco Chanel and legendary stars of the silver screen Louise Brooks and Greta Garbo for jaw-droppingly beautiful eveningwear, the likes of TVs Miss Fisher and Agatha Christie murder mystery shows for everyday wear inspiration and the Downtown Abbey series for sophisticated upmarket attire.
Hair was worn short and slicked back or in a bobbed style. Those with long hair could create finger waves at the front and sweep the rest into a low chignon at the back to look like Mary Pickford or Fay Wray.
A modern style example would be television personality and festival patron Claudia Chan Shaw, whose personal wardrobe is heavily influenced by the `20s era.
Men liked to look dapper for every occasion and wore pure cotton or woollen clothes such as a pin-striped cricket outfit or cream linen suit accessorised with silk cravats (not matching but complementary, no ties), cotton or silk handkerchief, a walking stick or umbrella and a hat (golfing caps and fedoras were popular). Rolled up trouser cuffs showing a little bit of sock, a pair of braces and plain or tartan patterned vest completed the look which modern people might identify with The Great Gatsby or New Hamptons collegiate style.
Egyptology was all the rage, after the discovery of King Tut’s tomb by archaeologist Howard Carter in 1922. The 1920s was a time when people went adventuring to distant, exotic lands such as cruising the legendary River Nile.
Particularly relevant to the Hydro Majestic, people of the `20s (including original hotel owner Mark Foy) were fascinated with the Orient.
“Think cinnabar jewellery, turbans, zodiac starburst designs, that Greek key pattern, gold and lapis, red and chrysanthemum motifs, tiaras, vintage brooches, beaded or sequined bows, headbands with feathers or a jewel,’’ Ms Smith said.
As well as outside the world-famous hotel in front of crisp white walls and breathtaking valley views, retro buffs can show off their costumes when sipping a cocktail along the dramatically decorated Cat’s Alley, within the beautiful Majestic Marquee and against the enormous windows of the Wintergarden Restaurant during dinner.
Go to www.hydromajestic.com.au or phone (02) 4782 6885 for more Roaring 20s Festival information and to book accommodation and dining options.
* Escarpment Group is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media
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.
Surrounded 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.’’
“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.
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.
“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.
There 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.
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 Publicity
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group
Artists can take their talent right to the edge with one of Australia’s top painters at a workshop retreat at Parkland’s Country Gardens & Lodges in September.
Renowned landscape painter Warwick Fuller will lead an intimate three-day outdoor oil painting workshop for a select group of 10 energetic artists with experience in oils at the luxurious Escarpment Group property at Blackheath from September 15 to 17.
Escarpment Group general manager Ralf Bruegger said: “The Blue Mountains has been recognised as a `city of the arts’ and Escarpment Group properties have featured in artworks for decades, especially Darley’s Restaurant at our Lilianfels Resort & Spa property and the very famous Hydro Majestic Hotel.
“So we are delighted to continue that tradition and offer the Parklands property as a luxurious artists retreat.’’
Fuller, who lives at Little Hartley, has had more than 60 solo exhibitions throughout Australia and internationally, has received numerous awards and is represented in prominent galleries in Sydney, the Blue Mountains and London.
The plein air painter and Fellow of the Royal Art Society of NSW has paintings hung in private, corporate and institutional collections throughout the world.
Fuller’s style of landscape painting was emotive yet sincere, he said.
“You can read ad infinitum of the landscape painter trying to
paint his feelings’,capture the light’, `render the mood of a scene’. There is nothing particularly new or unique in this ideology, developed in part through a natural progression of a very strong landscape tradition in Australia. It is sad to see these expressions misused, abused and over used to the point of becoming almost meaningless with insincerity.
“Those statements are though, I believe, some of the more important aims and ideals at the core of the genuine landscape painter’s psyche. I, like others, do search for a means of expressing these qualities. I know for me these are genuine and worthy goals. In this, there is a dilemma I feel will test me.
“It has been a long-held opinion of mine that too often the work of the traditional landscape painter has been seen in an over-familiar sort of way. That is, known objects in the picture being seen superficially and assessed according to a preconceived understanding of those objects. How do I express my vision of the subject unambiguously? It’s not a technical thing as for example, in composition. It’s far more elusive than that.
“I am doubting more often whether the direction I am taking can adequately reveal, for example, the thrill of gazing at the last rays of sunlight in the tree tops. I can paint something of what it looks like but I am trying to paint how I feel! I want my pictures to sing the songs I sang when I painted them. My hope is that if I can paint with the joy of that moment, something of my emotional responses to the moment will shine through.’’
Mr Bruegger said: “We look forward to seeing how the magnificent Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area location inspires each artist under the tuition of one of the greatest Australian landscape painters of our time.’’
Warwick Fuller will host an artists’ workshop at Parklands Country Gardens & Lodges, 132 Govetts Leap Rd, Blackheath, from September 15 to 17.
Workshop cost: $400 for three days. Special accommodation packages available: $259 per room per night for twin share with hot breakfast for two adults; $200 per room per night single share with breakfast plus $25 for working lunch including fruit and juice.
Phone (02) 4787 7211 or go to www.parklands.com.au to book accommodation and dining options.
By Ellen Hill for Lithgow Tourism Photos: David Hill
Macabre monsters, creepy clowns and scary skeletons can venture from the shadows and into the light when the town of Lithgow celebrates Halloween with a night of ghoulish glee on October 31.
Featuring spectacular Vivid-style lighting displays and spooky decorations, the main shopping strip will be transformed into a fun-filled pedestrian zone with five themed precincts packed with market stalls selling local produce, dining options for every budget and non-stop entertainment across two main stages.
The event will be organised and hosted by Lithgow City Council, with support from local sponsors.
Lithgow Mayor Maree Statham said: “Our Halloween event is for the people of Lithgow to celebrate their community, to support our local shops and provide a safe Trick or Treat environment for our children at 4.00pm. We have had such a wonderful time in the past few years and want to share our community spirit with others and invite visitors to join us on October 31.”
Visitors and locals are encouraged to immerse themselves in the spirit of the occasion and dress up as a fun or frightening Halloween character such as a vampire, Dracula, a fantasy personality, goblin or fairy.
The top section of Main St will be dedicated a Family Friendly zone sponsored by Centennial Coal, with plenty of activities for children.
The `Flavours Long Lunch’ catered by CJ’s Good Food Restaurant will be held in the second section near the Old Exchange Hotel, which will also have a fashion parade sponsored by Treeview Estates and market stalls with local produce.
A `Dining with the Dead’ area will be set up in the Cook St Plaza, and McDonald’s Lithgow will sponsor a Funky Zone for youth between Cook St Plaza and the National Australia Bank building.
The Fangtastic outdoor dining area with a maze and presided over by a large vampire will be at the bottom of Main St.
The Energy Australia-sponsored main entertainment stage will be opposite the Grand Central Hotel between the Family Friendly and Flavours precincts, while the Funky stage will feature a fashion parade.
There will be circus acrobats, magic and the Waratah Drum Corps,’’ Mayor Statham said.There will be plenty of special effects and vampire antics, and be sure to keep an eye out for werewolf waiters and chefs on stilts lurking in the crowd.
“I am looking forward to meeting Countess Pamela Pire, esteemed Doctor of the Ology of undying at the University of Bram Stoker and champion high jumper at the 1926 Transylvanian Olympics, and learning how her history is interwoven with Lithgow.’’
Lithgow has a range of accommodation options available, as well as in neighbouring areas. Contact the Lithgow Visitor Information Centre on 6350 3230 for help with your accommodation needs.
“We have the best of everything in Lithgow: the majestic Greater Blue Mountains escarpments glowing in the afternoon sun, the rolling pasturelands of the central west, the industrial heritage of our nation and some of the best examples of colonial Australia to be seen anywhere,” Mayor Statham said.
Developing innovative promotional activities for the enjoyment of the community which encourage an increase in business activities in the town centres is part of the council’s strategy to strengthen our economy in the Community Strategic Plan 2026.
* Lithgow Tourism is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media and Headline Publicity
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.
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.’’
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.
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.
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
By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group
Revel in the season of re-awakening when the original Blue Mountains party palace, the Hydro Majestic Hotel, hosts a spring Moon Festival to celebrate traditional Asian culture, family and friends, new growth, harmony and the blessings of prosperity and abundance on September 26 and 27.
Wander the harvest-themed stalls showcasing local and regional produce at the undercover market by the cheerful glow of Chinese lanterns.
Sup on noodles, dumplings, barbecue skewers, wok-fried finger food and Asian-inspired desserts; taste traditional moon cake; see the exciting dragon dance and drum performance; and learn about the long association of Chinese culture at one of the most famous grand hotels in the world, recently refurbished back to its original glory.
Escarpment Group general manager Ralf Bruegger said it was believed to be the first time a formal celebration with dragon dance had been held in the Blue Mountains.
“The Hydro Majestic actually has a very rich Asian history.
“Around the turn of the 20th century, Chinese workers disillusioned with the lack of fortune in the Bathurst goldfields, found themselves stranded in the Blue Mountains with no money to return to Sydney.
“Mark Foy, the great Sydney retailer who built the Hydro Majestic Hotel, was fascinated with all things Asian and happily employed many Chinese workers such as Louie Goh Mong, nicknamed `Charlie’, who worked as a cook at Foy’s Sydney home and managing the mayhem at the Hydro Majestic for thirty-five years.’’
The inaugural Hydro Majestic Moon Festival and Oktoberfest the following weekend will also celebrate the genuinely iconic hotel’s return to its rightful place as an alluring playground to locals of and visitors to the Greater Blue Mountains, Mr Bruegger said.
“The Hydro was Mark Foy’s `Palace in the wilderness’. It was over the top, a bit naughty and Foy himself was outrageous at times.
“Escarpment Group injected the building with that decadence during the refurbishment. Now we are filling the social calendar with fresh festivals and events to once again fill the hotel with life and laughter.
“The Hydro Majestic is once again the place to be to have fun.’’
The Moon Festival and Oktoberfest also gave travellers another reason to visit the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area and Mr Bruegger encouraged visitors to stay at least one night to explore the region.
“We have plenty of beds, many different dining options and a kilometre-long world-famous hotel to explore,’’ he said.
“But we’re not greedy – roam the spectacular Blue Mountains Botanic Garden at Mt Tomah; wander the boutiques in the quaint mountain villages; stretch your legs on one of 400 bush tracks; ride the Scenic skyway, cablecar and train; and cuddle a koala at Featherdale Wildlife Park to or from Sydney.’’
The Hydro Majestic Moon Festival will be held at the hotel, Great Western Hwy, Medlow Bath, from 2pm to 9pm Saturday, September 26, and Sunday, September 27. The dragon dance will be staged at 4pm both days.
Go to www.escarpmentgroup.com.au to book accommodation and dining options at one of the four Escarpment Group properties in the upper Blue Mountains (the Hydro Majestic Hotel, Parklands Country Gardens & Lodges, Lilianfels Resort & Spa and Echoes Boutique Hotel & Restaurant).
By Ellen Hill for Leura Village Association
Discover nature’s bounty in the Blue Mountains at the second Leura Harvest Festival on Sunday May 3 and immerse in innovative sustainable living, browse more than 60 street stalls, and witness the reinvention of the iconic Australian lamington.
Set among the famous cherry trees of Leura Mall, the Leura Village Association event will showcase all facets of sustainable living including outstanding regional produce, handmade and recycled items, to the latest clever initiatives in the Blue Mountains and wider region.
Visitors and locals can learn about everything from food preserving to clean energy, permaculture, beekeeping and micro-farming from an impressive line-up of guest speakers. Visitors can also meet this year’s Leura Harvest Festival ambassador, Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley executive chef Jason Martin who is passionate about sourcing the very best regional, seasonal organic produce for the resort’s restaurants.
Other highlights will include regional wine and beer tastings, jam-making and knitting competitions, the traditional art of wool spinning, a chook show and dozens of stalls exhibiting sustainable, organic and locally grown food and produce, clean energy.
Leura Village Association president Barry Jarrott said: “The Leura Harvest Festival is a result of a growing demand for quality locally-grown produce from a population that is disillusioned with the multinational corporations that dictate what we eat, how it is produced and where it comes from.
“The success of last year’s festival proves that the Blue Mountains and wider community craves a stronger connection with the environment, better quality food and support of local growers and manufacturers.”
The second Leura Harvest Festival has received funding from the NSW Department of Premier and State Cabinet’s 2014 Bushfire Recovery Grant. The festival’s theme is “connecting the community’’.
The event will celebrate food from a 100 mile radius and promote recycling and re-purposing and encourage visitors to notice and immerse themselves in the magnificent Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area around them.
Go to www.leuravillage.com.au to find out more about Leura and its accommodation options. Visit http://leuravillage.com.au/fairsandfestivals/ for details about Leura Harvest Festival and event registrations. To apply for a stall, email email@example.com.