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Archive for March, 2016

Blue Mountains: Burlesque to seduce Hydro Majestic Hotel

Burlesque performer Jacqueline Furey. Photo: Joel Devereux

Burlesque performer Jacqueline Furey. Photo: Joel Devereux


 By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group

Sheer enchantment, chimera and intrigue will herald a modern era of breathtaking drama for the original Blue Mountains party palace when the Australian Burlesque Festival performs at the Hydro Majestic Hotel in May.

The Australian Burlesque Festival featuring Shake-O-Rama will offer three hours of cheeky variety entertainment with more than a dozen buxom burlesque artists.

Shake-O-Rama promises a glamorous night of classic tease and modern neo-burlesque that will dazzle, delight and stimulate the senses featuring some of the best and most entertaining international and local performers.

Dolores Daiquiri. Photo: 3 Fates Media

Dolores Daiquiri. Photo: 3 Fates Media

Escarpment Group general manager Ralf Bruegger said: “The original owner of the Hydro Majestic, Mark Foy, held legendary parties here, so this kind of saucy entertainment is not new for the hotel – all performed with the famous Hydro elegance of course.’’

The sizzling adults-only show will celebrate traditional burlesque arts, vintage-flavoured tease, sensual cabaret and variety entertainment.

Guests will be delighted, tantalised and pleasantly entertained as they experience jaw-droppingly glamourous exotic and neo-burlesque seduction and titillating strip-tease shows from leading stars of the genre.

Directed, pro­duced, owned and operated by burlesque star and producer Dolores Dai­quiri, the Australian Burlesque Festival is the largest touring burlesque festival in the world.

Established in 2009 to cel­eb­rate the bur­lesque com­munity, the avant-garde troupe of performers deb­ut­ed in 2010 to sell-out audi­ences.

The Australian Burlesque Festival will seduce at the Hydro Majestic Hotel, Great Western Hwy, Medlow Bath, from 8pm to 11pm Saturday, May 28. Tickets: $75 + booking fee show only, $160 + booking fee dinner and show. Age restriction: 18+. Bookings and details: or (02) 4782 6885.

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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

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

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

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: Met Orchestra returns romance to Hydro Majestic

Cocktails and Serenades 15

By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group              Photos: David Hill

The first in a series of classical music concerts at the Hydro Majestic Hotel last Saturday re-established Mark Foy’s “Palace in the wilderness’’ as the definitive destination for romance and elegance.

Chief conductor Sarah-Grace Williams

Chief conductor Sarah-Grace Williams

The Metropolitan Orchestra played to critical acclaim in the world-famous hotel’s Majestic Ballroom after guests supped on specially created cocktails and canapes followed by dinner and wines showcasing local and regional produce.

Editor of prestigious classical music publication Limelight Magazine, Clive Paget, who attended the concert, wrote a glowing review of the occasion.

“The sumptuously appointed Majestic Ballroom with its bowed ceiling turned out to boast a rather good acoustic for what proved to be a very classy concert.

“Eschewing the tendency for throwaway `pops’ on such occasions, the Hydro and the Met opted to properly engage its audience with two meaty masterworks for string orchestra by late romantics, Dvorak and Tchaikovsky.’’

Cocktails and Serenades 07As well as the two string serenades, Paget praised the orchestra’s rendition of Rojas’ Little Serenade for Strings and encore piece Piazzolla’s Libertango, along with the fascinating’’ vintage fashion show by The Darnell Collection of International Vintage Courture andtoe tapping sets from smoky-voice’’ jazz singer Evelyn Duprai in the nearby Majestic Marquee space.

The entire event was a captivating, invigorating experience that I expect would have delighted the Hydro’s original, eccentric host’’.Thoroughly recommended.’’

The Metropolitan Orchestra will perform again at the Hydro Majestic when the original party palace hosts the masquerade Winter Ball to officially launch the Yulefest season in the Blue Mountains on Saturday, June 18.

Cocktails and Serenades 36Under the baton of artistic director and chief conductor Sarah-Grace Williams, more than 50 musicians will perform O’Boyle’s Rhapsody on a theme of Mendelssohn, Horn Concerto no 1 by Strauss, Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture and Symphony no 4 Italian by Mendelssohn.

Escarpment Group general manager Ralf Bruegger said the concert series harked back to the Mark Foy days when events were not merely concerts but opulent occasions.

“The feedback from this first concert has been very positive. The combination of exquisite music by some of the most talented classical musicians in Australia, fine regional food designed and prepared by award-winning chefs, this beautiful hotel and the magnificent surrounds of the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area re-establishes the Hydro Majestic as the venue for romance and elegance in the region.’’

The final concert 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.

Cocktails and Serenades 34




The 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.





Jazz singer Evelyn Duprai

Jazz singer Evelyn Duprai

The orchestra’s seven-year history features a star-studded array of highlight concert and/or album performances along with several world premieres and special events such as BBC’s Blue Planet and Planet Earth in Concert, Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular, Opera in the Vineyards, the National Rugby League grand final; and sailing the high seas as resident orchestra aboard the Bravo! Cruise of the Performing Arts.



Go to to book Majestic Concert Series tickets, dinner and accommodation.

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Lithgow, NSW: Historic club sets table for changing food scene

35By Ellen Hill for Lithgow Workies Club                       Photos: David Hill

The oldest registered club in NSW is serving a modern era of upmarket dining for the home of Australia’s first industrial hub, Lithgow.

The new Esk Restaurant at Lithgow & District Workmen’s Club was part of a recent $6.5 million revamp which also included a new 36-room 4-star (self-rated) motel with two disability access rooms, a refurbished showroom, conference centre, art gallery and more.

27Established in 1887, the club (known affectionately as “the Workies’’) is located just west of the Blue Mountains at the gateway to the NSW Central West, an historic food bowl of the state and latest foodie hotspot.

Esk Restaurant was added to complement the existing successful Cino Café and club bistro, both of which will continue to serve traditional food and beverage favourites.

Armed with a diverse background ranging from mobile fast food to fine dining, club executive chef Tim Standing plans to gradually infuse the Esk Restaurant contemporary Australian cuisine menu with a growing amount of local and regional produce to tempt local tastebuds and attract visitors to the area.

Diners have already reviewed positively to the menu since Esk opened in January.

Club members and guests can expect a contemporary blend of traditional favourites with multicultural influences from Asia and Europe presented with the unique flavours of ingredients from the NSW Central West, Blue Mountains and the wider Sydney region.

“People’s expectations of club food has really risen,’’ Standing said.

26“They still expect to be able to get basic meals at a reasonable price like rissoles, sausages and mash, schnitzels, a good steak and pot pies but the quality has lifted a lot.

“Our first menu is not too intimidating but we’ll develop it into a very modern, contemporary restaurant using many local products over time.’’

Raising the culinary stakes has been the result of innovations in farming techniques and crop choices, manufacturing of boutique products and a migration of top chefs from Sydney onto the central plains.

Standing himself made the shift two and a half years ago.

“There’s loads of great chefs and restaurants out here in the west now,’’ he said.

“I want to be one of the best restaurants in town because I’d like all the restaurants in Lithgow to be good because that makes a food destination.

“If people drive up here Friday night and stay until Sunday, they’re not going to eat here every night, so we need other places in Lithgow to be good too, and they are.’’

(l-r) Head chef Aaron Engler and executive chef Tim Standing

(l-r) Head chef Aaron Engler and executive chef Tim Standing

Standing’s culinary passion began as a child. His mother was a cook and the family trawled the show circuit in fast food vans throughout Victoria.

Young Tim started his career as a hotel dish washer before an apprenticeship at the Dromana Hotel in Dromana. From there he worked at the best restaurant in the region, Moonlight Bay Resort.

When he was 24, Standing went to London and worked for agencies and hotel groups in upmarket areas as well as the large Slug and Lettuce group at the forefront of cutting edge pub food at the time.

Returning to Australia, he worked as executive chef with Captain Cook Cruises in Cairns then at the Union Hotel at North Sydney and The Watershed at Darling Harbour.

He was executive chef at the 500-seat Japanese restaurant Zenbu at Darling Harbour, Bamboo at Circular Quay, Liquidity at Rose Bay, The Zettle Room at The Exchange Hotel at Balmain and Il Baretto at Surry Hills.

25Standing opened his own pizza restaurant, Rialto Restaurant at Narrabeen, and Bar Rialto at Surry Hills before joining Lithgow Workies Club in 2013 where he is executive chef to about 35 staff at the Esk Restaurant, Cino’s Café and the club bistro.

Cooking is the one thing I was always good at,’’ he said.I cook at home. To me, going to work and cooking is not a job, its fun.’’

Most of Standing’s kitchen staff at Lithgow Workies Club are young locals. There are also four apprentice chefs and the club has two hospitality trainees.

Head chef Aaron Engler, 23, returned to his apprenticeship training ground 18 months ago after gaining experience throughout NSW and Canberra including in a 500-seat café, as a function chef, at the 5-star Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley near Lithgow and the hatted Darleys Restaurant at Katoomba.

24You go to Katoomba, Sydney and Bathurst and there’s great food everywhere,’’ he said.Esk Restaurant could be the beginning of a new contemporary Australian food scene for Lithgow.’’

Lithgow Workies Club general manager Geoff Wheeler said: “We’ve never had a dining venue at the club before where you can have table service and enjoy quality wines and food in a quality environment with lovely views and décor.’’

Esk Restaurant at Lithgow Workies Club, Tank St, Lithgow, is currently open for dinner from 6pm (last orders 8.30pm) Friday and Saturday. Bookings: or (02) 9682 3807.

Singer Lisa Hunt. Photo: supplied

Singer Lisa Hunt. Photo: supplied

The official opening of Esk Restaurant, the new club motel and associated works will be hosted by media and sporting identity Mike Whitney in the new showroom from 7.15pm on Saturday, March 19.

The evening will be rounded off with spectacular entertainment from Australia’s “Queen of Soul’’ Lisa Hunt and her band in the revamped showroom. Tickets: $20.

Go to or phone (02) 6350 7777 to book and for more details.

Lithgow, NSW: Curtain raiser for state’s oldest club

Workies Showroom 05

By Ellen Hill for Lithgow Workies Club                    Photos: David Hill

The oldest registered club in NSW will take centre stage when the curtain officially goes up on the revamped showroom at Lithgow & District Workmen’s Club on March 19.

Club audi/visual manager Allan Gregory.

Club audio visual manager Allan Gregory.

The showroom is part of a $6.5 million refurbishment of the club, known affectionately as “the Workies’’, along with a new 36-room 4-star (self-rated) motel, art gallery, restaurant, conference centre and more.

The former Irish tavern space has been transformed into a new entertainment venue featuring a new stage and audio visual technology and table seating ideal for dinner shows.

The 3.12m wide dropdown screen over the stage allows for a diverse range of activities from business conference presentations to movie screenings for children down the track.

Lithgow Workies Club general manager Geoff Wheeler said: “Our showroom is one of the largest venues of its type in the area suitable for a dinner show, and we can more than double the capacity by removing the tables.


Club audio visual manager Allan Gregory

Club audio visual manager Allan Gregory

“It also offers flexibility to conference groups looking for venues with large presentation rooms, small breakout spaces and tabled meal areas. It even has its own full bar.’’

The showroom, which has already hosted capacity crowds for Tom Jones – the Australian Experience and other gigs, will be officially opened by media and sporting personality Mike Whitney along with the motel and other works from 7.15pm on Saturday, March 19.

The evening will be rounded off with spectacular entertainment from Australia’s “Queen of Soul’’ Lisa Hunt and her band in the revamped showroom. Tickets: $20.

Hunt, whose soulful style began in an African American gospel church, has had songs on numerous compilations around the globe as singer and songwriter and has sold more than a million records.


Singer Lisa Hunt. Photo: submitted

Singer Lisa Hunt. Photo: submitted

The Can You Feel It songstress debuted with her album A Little Piece of Magic and was on the international chart topper CD Soulsation by Lovestation.

Hunt’s American soundtrack compositions include Subway Stories and Goodnight Moon with Lauryn Hill, Natalie Cole, Pattie Labelle, Billy Crystal and Susan Sarandon, while her studio credits include sessions with famed producers Jellybean Benitez (Madonna), Toni C (Whitney Houston), Frank Farion (LaBouche, Milli Vanilli) and The Berman Brothers (Amber, Ultra Nate).

Her voice can be heard on several top 10 dance tracks all over the world including as “the voice’’ of Lovestation (UK), Club X (Germany) and D1 (USA). In Italy she has been the featured vocalist on tour and recordings of Zucchero Sugar Fornaciari for many years and has worked with a range of artist from Opera tenor Pavarotti to Ray Charles and has shared the stage with musical greats such as Eric Clapton, James Brown, Dionne Warwick, Brian May, Randy Crawford, Joe Cocker, Miles Davis and Andrea Bocelli.

In Australia Hunt has toured and recorded with Jimmy Barnes, Diesel, Radio Freedom, Midnight Oil and Johnny (B Good) Johnson as well as Ronan Keating, Macy Gray, Mouse T, Delores O’Riordan of The Cranberries, Tina Arena and Cheb Mumi.

Hunt has also appeared as an actress in Off-Broadway musicals, produced and starred in her own “bluesical’’ production The Roots Of My Soul and, for the past few years, toured the rhythm and blues retrospective Forever Soul in Australia and the Middle East and released more original music including the single Music Makes Me Free.

Workies Showroom 10The entertainment continues at Lithgow Workies Club with Jalapeno Deluxe playing the showroom on March 4 and the Lady Gaga & Katy Perry show coming up on April 15.

Mr Wheeler said the showroom entertainment line-up would be varied, with comedians to appear on the program in the future.

“We want people to come out of the city and other regions and enjoy our hospitality and see that there is so much to see and do in the area.

“Members and guests can now dine at our Esk Restaurant while watching the sunset over the mountains and Tuscan garden, watch a show, have a nightcap in the bar and then retire to their motel room just one minute’s walk down the corridor.’’

Lithgow Workies Club, Tank St, Lithgow, has regular entertainment in the showroom. Go to or phone (02) 6350 7777 for details, tickets and to book into the new motel.

  • Lithgow & District Workmen’s Club is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media and Headline PublicityWorkies Showroom 02

Lithgow Workies Club & Motel ensures access for all


By Ellen Hill for Lithgow Workies Club                  Photos: David Hill

From the entry ramp into the club and lifts between floors to the ambulant bathrooms and wide doorways and throughout the property, Lithgow & District Workmen’s Club is accessible to all.

The new motel at the oldest registered club in NSW, affectionately known as “the Workies’’, sports stairless access to all areas of the club and motel for people who use a wheelchair and ambulant disabled users.

The two accessible motel rooms for people with a disability and their carers (one on the ground floor and one on the upper which is accessed by a lift near the two access parking spaces) are spacious including the bathrooms.

Visitors can access the motel via ramps throughout the property, and all doors are wide enough to cater for wheelchairs.

1Lithgow Workies Club general manager Geoff Wheeler said the design of the new 36-room 4-star motel and associated works including an art gallery, refurbished showroom, restaurant and conference centre, aimed to be accessible to people with a disability but also elderly people and parents with prams and small children.

“A lot of our members and guests may not use a wheelchair but they might have walking frames and walking sticks so they need as clear an entrance as they can get.

“There’s no steps here: you can come up the ramp at the front of the club, there’s lifts between floors and, in the main club itself we have accessible bathrooms.

“We’re providing first-class facilities for all ages. I don’t think there should be a difference between the facilities we provide for someone who is disabled and someone who is fully able bodied.’’

Providing a fully accessible motel and club for people of all ages was part of the club’s ethos of providing excellent community and customer service, Mr Wheeler said.

“It’s about looking after one another.

“People come here to enjoy themselves, and part of that is a relationship between the people that serve them and look after them. Our staff are aware that excellence of service is required at all times.

“If you don’t want to be pleasant and smile and be happy, hospitality is not the right industry for you.

8“But it’s not just about being happy. It’s about providing a safe and accessible environment for our members and guests.’’

Lithgow Workies Club had also implemented chemical-free cleaning wherever possible for the wellbeing of guests and staff.

“It makes sense: we don’t want our guests to be overwhelmed by odours, and we don’t want our staff working with chemicals on a daily basis that are going to be harmful to them.’’

Lithgow Workies Club will officially open its $6.5 million facelift on Saturday, March 19, with renowned media and sport identity Mike Whitney in the new showroom from 7.15pm.

The evening will be rounded off with spectacular entertainment from Australia’s “Queen of Soul’’ Lisa Hunt and her band in the revamped showroom. Tickets: $20.

Lithgow Workies Club Motel, Tank St, Lithgow, is now open for bookings. Go to or phone (02) 6350 7777 to book and for more details.

* Lithgow & District Workmen’s Club is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media and Headline Publicity7