Kids can experience edge-of-the-cliff thrills in the Blue Mountains from the safety of a double decker big red bus these school holidays – for free.
Travelling to the best sights and sites of Sydney’s grand backyard after months of Covid-19 hibernation, Blue Mountains Explorer Bus has expanded its route from 29 to 37 stops.
A highlight of the 45-minute trundle around Katoomba and Leura is the jaw-dropping vista of Cahill’s Lookout overlooking the Megalong Valley and Narrowneck peninsular, with plenty of room for little legs to run around.
Hop off the bus at Everglades House & Gardens, where children can work through the activity book.
Immerse yourselves in Australia’s most accessible wilderness along one of the 12 bushwalking tracks along the Explorer Bus route.
From the easy stroll from Honeymoon Lookout to Echo Point, the medium grade walk from Gordon Falls Lookout to the Pool of Siloam or the hard yakka trek from Fairmont Resort to Wentworth Falls, every fitness level (and leg length) is catered for.
When mums and dads are tired of piggybacking tiny tots, the whole family can simply reboard the big red bus at the nearest stop.
After walking up an appetite, recharge in a café or restaurant in upmarket Leura Mall or the eclectic shopping strip of Katoomba.
Operating every 45 minutes between 9.15am and 5.30pm, Blue Mountains Explorer Bus is the only hop-on/hop-off double decker bus in the world in a national park and the only one that doesn’t live in a city.
It is operated by the family-owned Fantastic Aussie Tours, which was established in 1974 and the first tour operator in Australia to be 100 per cent carbon neutral certified.
The Explorer Bus has given visitors to the Blue Mountains the chance to tour the area in their own time with no traffic and parking hassles, no rush and no rules for 30 years.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic struck it operated 365 days and carried about 65,000 passengers a year.
Managing director Jason Cronshaw said: “Like many others, our business has been hard hit by the virus restrictions, but we have used the time of hibernation to make the big red bus bigger, better and even more value for budget-conscious families.’’
Every bus is cleaned and sanitised regularly throughout each day, hand sanitiser is provided aboard, and social distance seating measures are in place.
“That means there’s plenty of room to see the fantastic view we are blessed to share with visitors, and there’s no fights over the front seats on the top deck.’’
Blue Mountains Explorer Bus will operate every day of the school holidays until July 20.
Guests of the Fairmont Resort can use the Explorer Bus shuttle service to Leura Village for just $5.
Blue Mountains businesses are adapting to the “new normal’’ by creatively embracing new business practices and digital technology.
Blue Mountains Tourism president Jason Cronshaw praised the ingenuity and flexibility of businesses, especially small enterprises.
“The response has been fast and enthusiastic,’’ he said.
“Of course there’s been tears and tantrums as people are understandably upset to see their business and livelihood evaporate literally overnight as government restrictions come in that they weren’t prepared for and can’t control.
“But we’re so blessed to have a creative community that is pragmatic and innovative and steps up to a challenge.’’
“[But] we’re so blessed to have a creative community that is pragmatic and innovative and steps up to a challenge.”Jason Cronshaw – Blue Mountains Tourism
Many Blue Mountains businesses sell online vouchers to redeem when restrictions are lifted, encourage forward bookings and direct customers to online sales platforms.
Here are just some examples of how tourism and hospitality businesses in the Blue Mountains continue to operate under the strict new opening hours and social distancing regulations:
– CafeXpresso (Katoomba) station is one of numerous examples of fast food shops, cafes and restaurants offering takeaway food only.
– Blue Mountains Cultural Centre (Katoomba) has a Virtual InSight program featuring staff insights, tours of the space, art classes with local creatives, tutorials, recipes from the cafe and more. Details: BlueMountainsCulturalCentre Facebook page (a new page will be available on the bluemountainsculturalcentre.com.au website soon).
– Mount Vic & Me (Mt Victoria) takes online orders and posts a swag of quirky Australian Made items, including the Blue Mountains Socks range, tea towels and greeting cards. Details: www.mountvicandme.com.
– Avalon Restaurant – Katoomba (www.avalonkatoomba.com.au) offers takeaway meals, along with most cafes in the Blue Mountains. Several such as the Ori Café & Bistro (www.oricafe.com.au) and Finn & Co (www.finnandco.com.au) at Springwood offer a home delivery service.
– GalleryONE88 Fine Arts – Katoomba (www.galleryonefinearts.com), Talisman Gallery – Hartley (www.talismangallery.com.au) and other galleries have uploaded many photos of artwork to their website and social media and have restricted sales to those platforms or email.
– Blue Mountains Chocolate Company (Katoomba) serves takeaway food and drinks, with a home delivery service within a 20km radius of Katoomba. Details: http://www.bluemountainschocolate.com.au/.
“New normal” for Blueys
The Blue Mountains region has prepared a jam-packed calendar of festivals and events to welcome visitors back to Australia’s first tourist destination.
Blue Mountains Tourism president Jason Cronshaw said while the region was still struggling from mass tourist cancellations during the recent bushfire situation, businesses had taken a positive approach to recovery.
“Compared to other regions where tourism attractions, hotels and infrastructure have been destroyed, we recognise how very blessed we are.
“Much of our 1 million square hectare Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area looks as fantastic as ever, including the globally-recognised Three Sisters scene.
“More bush tracks into the wilderness are opening all the time.
“All the popular tourist strips and businesses are open and welcome visitors.’’
Mr Cronshaw, who also owns the double-decker Blue Mountains Explorer Bus, encouraged people with existing bookings to still come, those who had cancelled to re-book and people considering a trip to #HolidayHereThisYear in the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area right on Sydney’s doorstep.
Several long-scheduled festivals and events will go ahead as planned, including annual Roaring 20s Festival events at the Carrington and Hydro Majestic hotels in February, Blue Mountains Music Festival in March and Winter Magic Festival in June.
“The Lady Luck and Wines of the West festivals got things rolling in January and, while crowds were down on previous years, that show of confidence has buoyed the wider business community which will eventually lead the market back to normal.’’
From live music pub gigs, community markets and open days to costumed balls and fundraising dinners, the Blue Mountains will be a hive of non-stop activity throughout 2020.
Take your pick from these upcoming Blue Mountains festivals and events:
- February 1: Great Art Deco Weekend, Carrington Hotel, Katoomba St, Katoomba
- February 7 – 9: Blue Mountains Ukulele Festival, Carrington Hotel, Katoomba
- February 8: Roaring 20s Festival, Hydro Majestic Hotel, Great Western Hwy, Medlow Bath – Charleston for Charity dance, Majestic Long Lunch, Deco Dinner & The Roslyns
- February 8-9 & 29: vintage car rides, Hydro Majestic Hotel, Medlow Bath
- February 15: Woodford Academy open day, Great Western Hwy, Woodford
- February 23: Trains Trams & Ts Roaring 20s event, Valley Heights Rail Museum, Tusculum Rd, Valley Heights
- February 29: Gatsby Casino Night for Rotary, Hydro Majestic Hotel, Medlow Bath
- March 13-15: Blue Mountains Music Festival at various venues around Katoomba
- March 21: Woodford Academy Harvest Festival, Great Western Hwy, Woodford
- April 10-14: 61st Australian National Square Dance Convention, Blue Mountains Grammar School, Wentworth Falls
- May 24: Teddy Bears’ Day Out, Valley Heights Rail Museum, Tusculum Rd, Valley Heights
- June 20: Winter Magic Festival, Katoomba St, Katoomba
The Blue Mountains has cemented its place at the leading edge of landscape design, after Now & Zen Landscapes won two gold awards at the industry’s most prestigious awards earlier this month [Nov 8].
All NSW & ACT Landscape Industry Awards were for work completed in the Blue Mountains by a completely local team.
Headed by master landscaper Shannon Decker, Now & Zen Landscapes took out best in category and gold for Residential Construction $100,000 to $150,000 for work on a property in Sublime Point Rd, Leura.
It also brought home bronze awards in the residential construction section ($100,000 to $150,000 category) for projects at Leura and Wentworth Falls and $150,000 to $300,000 for a Leslie Rd, Glenbrook property.
The highest accolades in the industry, the annual TLA Landscape Excellence Awards recognise innovation, creativity and outstanding craftsmanship in landscape construction, design and maintenance residential and commercial sectors.
Sublime Point Rd, Leura, property owners Jane and Alan Cooper, who have commissioned Now & Zen for garden design and maintenance work for more than a decade, said they were “thrilled with the final result and the attention to detail’’ and not surprised their new outdoor living area and kitchen won the top award.
“We wanted to have a beautiful and functional outdoor area that blended with the modern lines of the house design and the water feature.’’
The Now & Zen design gave the space a modern feel and made the most of the magnificent view over the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.
Committed to excellence, Mr Decker said he was proud to continue the tradition of landscaping excellence the likes of Danish-born Paul Sorensen who created renowned Blue Mountains gardens such as Everglades and Leuralla.
“It’s nice to swap our cargo pants for a bag of fruit now and then and celebrate the collective achievements of our industry.
“I was stoked to win these awards, but I was even more excited at the number of talented people in our industry, including here in the Blue Mountains, doing some truly outstanding work, which pushes us all to reach higher standards.
“It’s such an exciting time for landscaping, with new technology and products coming out all the time and property owners who embrace sustainability, water-saving designs and drought resistant gardens yet without compromise on beauty.
“I’m especially excited that regional landscaping has been recognised and the possibilities that presents to landscapers in some of the nation’s most significant rural and country areas, where the scope of design can be greatly magnified by the scale of the landscape.”
Now & Zen (derived from the common saying “now and then’’) has operated in the Blue Mountains for 20 years supporting sustainability and resourcefulness and is the yardstick for the highest end bespoke garden market in the Nepean valley, Greater Blue Mountains and Central West.
Mr Decker himself is the local industry authority, recently headhunted by one of Australia’s oldest recognised training organisations, The Management Edge (TME), to run its NSW and broad horticultural training program working with employers and was recently invited to sit with the board of directors of The landscape Association, given his cohesion with metropolitan and regional areas and passion for training.
As well as an 80-acre property at Mt Victoria where concrete and soil is recycled and green waste composted, Mr Decker has built an off-the-grid ironstone and iron bark house and he and his family recently opened The Source bulk foods store focusing on zero waste shopping with an old charm shopping experience.
Easy gift voucher shopping, all-inclusive party packages and cleanup-free feasts, memorable experiences, endless pampering and sublimely beautiful timeout zones – the Blue Mountains is a stress-free Christmas and New Year’s Eve destination beginning just 60 minutes from Sydney.
From daytrips to multi-day stays, festivities begin at the foothills where a river cruise into the far reaches of the Nepean River laps at the edges of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.
Nepean Belle Paddlewheeler owner Carol Bennett said: “Christmas should be a season of joy and fun with loved ones where you can take time out to relax after a busy year, be pampered, indulge in tasty food and create memories through exciting activities.
“But YOU shouldn’t have to put in the effort. Treat yourself to an unforgettable experience in one of the world’s most recognisable landscapes and let us do the work for you.’’
From the banks of the river, Mrs Bennett encourages visitors to spend at least one night in the region to fully explore the bushwalks and nature, attractions, dining options and activities available.
Here’s a sample of Christmas cheer and New Year’s Eve options available:
TALISMAN GALLERY, Hartley Historic Site, Great Western Hwy (400m before turn off to Jenolan Caves heading west)
Millennia in the making, shaped in fire on the forge and presented in a piece of colonial heritage, metal artist Ron Fitzpatrick’s collection includes large high-end pieces along with signature metal art mirrors, small affordable sculptures and candleholders, an extensive collection of imported jewellery and crystal pieces.
A show of Ron’s new range inspired by jewellery-inspired designs will be held in the historic Corney’s Garage below the gallery at 2pm on Saturday, November 30. Can’t choose? Gift vouchers are also available.
Unleash your inner creative fire, work off some energy and learn an ancient art under guidance. Create your own piece of art on the anvil by beating red hot steel into the shape of a fire poker, decorative wall hook or small sculpture. Cost: fire poker or decorative wall hook $45, small piece of metal art mounted on sandstone $65 (additional element costs vary). A great 30-minute family activity for anyone aged 13 years and older, the Creative Fire experience is also available as a couples’ workshop activity at the special price of $275 per couple until February 15, 2020. No experience necessary. All materials supplied.
Creative Fire sessions available December 28 & 29. Talisman Galley is open from 10am to 5pm Tuesday to Sunday.
Bookings, details and vouchers: Ron 0407 723 722 or Facebook page Talisman Gallery Hartley/events, website: www.talismangallery.com.au.
ECHOES BAR & RESTAURANT, Lilianfels Ave, Katoomba
Perched on the very edge of the Blue Mountains escarpment just 200m from the Three Sisters rock formation at Echo Point, drink in sublime uninterruped panoramas of the Jamison Valley while sipping on a Christmas cocktail. Renowned for its modern Australian cuisine using fresh, local produce with an Asian influence, the award-winning fine dining Echoes Restaurant is idea for a casual lunch or romantic dinner for two.
HYDRO MAJESTIC HOTEL, Great Western Hwy, Medlow Bath
Christmas Day (December 25)
LUNCH: Indulge in a three-tier festive lunch in the Wintergarden overlooking the magnificent Megalong Valley while you tuck into fresh seafood, charcutier and carvery selections, followed by traditional desserts. Package includes a three-hour beverage package, Christmas decorations, bon bons and even a special visit from Santa for the children. Cost: $199 adults, $125 teenagers (13 – 17 years), $85 children (4 – 12 years) and children under-4 complimentary seating only.
DINNER: Treat yourself to a decadent five-course degustation dinner featuring fresh seafood, traditional roasts and dessert with glass of sparkling on arrival in the Wintergarden Restaurant while soaking up the sunset over the Megalong Valley. Includes Christmas decorations and bon bons. Cost: $125 adults, $99 teenagers (13-17 years), $65 children (4 – 12 years) and children under-4 complimentary seating only.
Boxing Day (December 26, 10.30am to 3pm)
HIGH TEA: Take full advantage of the holiday season and nibble on high tea delicacies in the Wintergarden Restaurant while gazing over panoramic Megalong Valley views. Cost: $65pp.
LUNCH: Extend celebrations over a two-course casual lunch and a glass of sparkling arrival in the Boilerhouse Restaurant with unrivalled views over the Megalong Valley. Cost: $75 adults, $65 teenagers (13-17 years old). Bookings: email@example.com or 02 4782 6885.
New Year’s Eve
Bid adieu to 2019 and welcome 2020 with a vibrant evening of live entertainment from The Australian INXS Show, magnificent sunset views and a five-course degustation dinner with glass of midnight sparkling.
The covers band celebrates and honours the memory of rock legend Michael Hutchence and brings back to life the halcyon days of INXS from their self-titled debut to Elegantly Wasted with songs like Need You Tonight, Never Tear Us Apart, Don’t Change, Live Baby Live and New Sensation. Cost: $199 adults, $159 teenagers (13 – 17 years), $95 children (4 – 12 years) and children under-4 complimentary seating.
Bookings: firstname.lastname@example.org or 02 4782 6885.
BLUE MOUNTAINS LIMOUSINE
The team of professional chauffeurs is always alert and always sober 24/7 – so festive partygoers don’t have to be.
Two luxury sedans are at guests’ service, along with the only stretch limousine in the Blue Mountains ready to transfer passengers between functions and venues.
Guests ($59pp, 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) between 4pm and midnight any Friday and Saturday from November 15 to December 30, and until 3am on January 1.
Bookings: Rob on 0400 500 542.
BLUE MOUNTAINS VINTAGE CADILLACS
An ideal romantic gesture or retro reminisce, a sightseeing tour of Australia’s first tourist destination in a 1929 Cadillac LaSalle car is a gift as distinctive as the vehicle itself.
The vintage ride will pootle past the breathtaking scenery of one of the most recognisable landscapes on Earth – the Three Sisters rock formation at Echo Point, just as the well-heeled of the Roaring `20s era used to do. Cruise upmarket Leura Mall for head-turning effect. Take in the sights of historic Cliff Drive, pausing for reflection at jaw-droppingly gorgeous vistas along the way.
Details: email@example.com or phone Robert on 0400 500 542 or Don on 0455 352 976.
THE POLISHED OPAL, Leura
Opal polishing under the guidance of expert Sonja van As is ideal for gemstone buffs and people difficult to buy for. Each participant receives three opals to polish, as well as a small display case in which to take them home.
Experience the thrill of releasing the iridescent fire from stone and learn about Australia’s national gemstone at a hands-on workshop.
Opal polishing with Sonja van As is available at 9am and 1pm daily. Limited to four people per session, children aged under 15 must be supervised by an adult (not suitable for those under 8). Sessions last up to three hours.
No prior experience necessary. Participants should wear short sleeves and tie long hair back.
Cost: $195 per person. Bookings essential: Sonja on 0448 725 830 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
NEPEAN BELLE PADDLEWHEELER (Tench Reserve jetty, Tench Ave, Jamisontown)
Perfect for those difficult to buy for, vouchers are available to explore the deep reaches of the aquatic heart and lifeblood of the region. Experience the natural wonders of the landscape and its fauna over morning tea, lunch or dinner.
Christmas party venue:
Smooth water cruising, an ever-changing 40 million-year-old backdrop at the foothills of the Blue Mountains and old-fashioned hospitality makes for an ideal festive venue. Choose from lunch or evening, weekday or weekend packages. Passengers on each are served hearty festive fare and may book a public cruise (price from $53 per adult) or charter the vessel for a private function with onboard PA system and optional DJ (price from $84pp). Cash or tab bar only.
Bookings and vouchers: nepeanbelle.com.au, email@example.com or 02 4733 1274.
Higher flight levels, residential no-fly zones, a new enforceable Fly Neighbourly policy, “light footprint tourism’’, community charity events and a suite of green initiatives.
These are just some of the plans that new lessee FLYBLUE Management Pty Ltd has for Katoomba Airfield which are outlined in documents soon to be available on the industry.nsw.gov.au website of the Department of Industry (Crown Land and Water).
FLYBLUE voluntarily published their vision on flyblue.com.au following the department awarding the company a three-year commercial licence in February 2018.
While Katoomba Airfield had operated continuously since it opened on October 5, 1968, its runways fell into dangerous disrepair from 2016 when long-term lessee flying instructor Rod Hay died in a single engine plane crash in nearby scrub.
The level of disrepair resulted in FLYBLUE temporarily closing the airfield to fixed-wing aircraft except in emergencies, although helicopter operations including emergency services and Defence Force aircraft have continued to land and take-off there as usual.
FLYBLUE director Floyd Larsen said the recent decreased use of the airfield had led some people to believe it had closed.
“It hasn’t,’’ she said.
“In fact, its original purpose continues as it has done for the past fifty years.
“For example, Katoomba Airfield has provided an air `safety ramp’ for general aviation since it opened in 1968, and twice in the past 18 months (that we know of) aircraft have made emergency landings here.’’
A report to Blue Mountains Council on October 29, 1968, showed how the airfield was a long-time major part of the council’s tourism strategy, stating that it was established “to encourage tourists and visitors to fly to the Blue Mountains area’’.
“Joy flights are scheduled every Sunday at a cost of $3 per flight.
“This matter has been reported for information the Council’s Public Relations Department will include these features in future advertising of the area.’’
However, Mrs Larsen emphasised that Katoomba Airfield and FLYBLUE did not encourage or conduct “joy flights’’ (short low-flying swoops over populated or sensitive areas such as Echo Point, the Three Sisters, the Grose Valley or up the Grand Canyon).
Rather, they actively fostered “light footprint tourism’’ which had minimum negative impact on the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.
FLYBLUE’s plan includes a new enforceable Fly Neighbourly policy with appropriate flight paths away from residential areas, operating hours and general use of the airfield with noise abatement procedures.
“While FLYBLUE can’t influence aircraft that originate from other airfields because they fall under the control of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), our new Fly Neighbourly policy already has the support of Blue Mountains Aviators Club and pilots who do not comply with our Fly Neighbourly policy will not be permitted to use Katoomba Airfield,’’ Mrs Larsen said.
“FLYBLUE will manage all aspects of the airfield, including noise abatement procedures, curfews and flight paths within an approved lease.
“However, we can assure the community that our Fly Neighbourly policy categorically bans flights over populated areas.’’
FLYBLUE had already begun restoration work on the 36ha site, located about 4km east of Medlow Bath.
Obsolete and dilapidated structures had been removed, along with abandoned waste materials and equipment.
Two new windsocks had been installed, along with a weather station and camera for use by general aviation (katoomba.skycam.net.au) and the site made more secure to prevent illegal access.
FLYBLUE plans to restore, protect and enhance the site including sealing the main airstrip and tackle weed invasion, soil erosion and other issues.
The environmental centrepiece would be a Greenfleet carbon offset program which would see one tree planted for every flight which left the airfield.
Mrs Larsen expected the airfield upgrades to help lure more tourism and overnight stays to the Blue Mountains including private plane owners who would stay in local hotels and B&Bs at least one night, visit attractions, dine in restaurants and shop – in line with Blue Mountains Council’s original intent for the airfield.
Other future plans included the installation of new hangars (subject to approval), community charity events, public aviation viewing areas and dedicating half the airfield to non-aviation uses such as bushwalking, a radio club, star gazers and RAAF cadet and school bivouacs.
A public exhibition period with dates to be confirmed but expected to be held in June and the airfield lease proposal displayed on the Department of Industry (Crown Land and Water) industry.nsw.gov.au website for at least 42 days.
Letters of support may be submitted to the NSW Government via a link on the website.
The department will hold public drop-in information sessions at Hotel Blue, Lurline St, Katoomba, from 11am to 1pm and 5pm to 7pm on June 19 and 25.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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
A piece of Australian sporting and cultural history has been brought back to life at the grandest of the grand hotels of the Blue Mountains this Christmas.
Standing taller than 6m, Candy the Kewpie doll has taken her position under the grand chandelier in the famous Casino Lobby of the Hydro Majestic Hotel at Medlow Bath.
Along with Scarlett, who now lives at the Powerhouse Museum, and Betty who resides at the National Museum in Canberra, Candy is one of 12 giant Kewpie dolls that twirled around Stadium Australian during the unforgettable Sydney 2000 Olympic Games closing ceremony.
Candy and her Kewpie sisters were designed by Brian Thompson based on the Marcella Kewpie, a flapper-girl Japanese version of American magazine illustrator Rose O’Neill’s cowlicked, roly-poly original.
O’Neill created her first Kewpie doll in 1907 for Ladies Home Journal.
The name refers to “little Cupid, spelling it with a K because it seemed funnier’’.
The characters were an instant hit and O’Neill drew them for magazines and advertisers for more than 25 years, with the dolls spawning a range of merchandising and given as popular carnival prizes.
Characterised by big eyes in shy, sideways glancing expressions, a single topknot of blond hair, splayed “starfish’’ hands, and an exaggerated potbelly, the mischievous baby-like elves were children’s guardian angels in her stories (specifically, they protected the human girl Dottie Darling).
While Cupid “gets himself into trouble. The Kewpies get themselves out, always searching out ways to make the world better and funnier’’, O’Neill said.
Visitors to the Hydro Majestic can see Candy as they assemble for hotel history tours and enter the elegant Wintergarden Restaurant for high tea or fine dining meals until early January.
Escarpment Group Christmas theming creator Greg Tomkinson said Candy was right at home in the flamboyance of Mark Foy’s “Palace in the wilderness’’.
Candy, Betty, Scarlett and friends were the centrepieces of artistic director David Atkins’ backyard-themedparty to end all parties’’ and the Hydro Majestic is the original Blue Mountains party palace.
“The Christmas tree in the Casino Lobby must fill one of the grandest spaces in the country and competes with the famous dome in scale and design. Needless to say, it has to be fabulous.’’
Along with elaborate decorations throughout the hotel, the Hydro Majestic will celebrate the festive season with a schedule of music and dining events beginning with an opera dinner concert on December 22, Christmas lunch and dinner, a global fusion evening on December 29 and New Year’s Eve celebrations.
Go to hydromajestic.com.au or phone (02) 4782 6885 to book events, accommodation and dining.
By Ellen Hill for Katoomba Christian Convention
Katoomba Christian Convention (KCC) management is considering its options after a Sydney Western City Planning Panel refused its development application to upgrade its site.
KCC executive director Jonathan Dykes said: “We’re disappointed.
“We were willing to be flexible with various aspects of the design and had hoped to work with Council and the Rural Fire Service further for a mutually beneficial outcome, but that didn’t happen.’’
While the panel chairman, who acknowledged the excellence of the design, voted in favour of deferral to allow KCC time to work with Blue Mountains City Council and the RFS further and present amended plans, the four other panel members voted for refusal.
The development application was submitted to Council in February and outlined a $63 million staged plan over 30 years to revamp outdated facilities at the bushland property next to Scenic World in Cliff Drive and Violet St.
The proposal for an environmentally-considerate overhaul of a portion of the property included a 3500-seat auditorium, new bookshop, toilets, meeting rooms, dining hall and café, revegetation and landscaping and replacing existing accommodation buildings with eco lodges.
The improvements would have benefited both Christian and secular groups who use the site, the largest conference facility in the Blue Mountains.
“We would simply like to improve our existing old assets by upgrading buildings,’’ Mr Dykes said.
“Our use of the property and number of people we have there would not increase.
“In fact, the upgrade would reduce the current noise impact on neighbours and the fire safety of the buildings would be improved.’’
An improved KCC facility would also create more jobs and ensure visitors kept coming and spent money locally while they took part in events at the site, Mr Dykes said.
“This will allow KCC to support sustainable tourism in the Blue Mountains, which is a primary economic driver for the area.
“KCC’s development aspirations are responsive to a significant number of local, regional and state strategies for increasing overnight visitation to the area.’’
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.
“We’ve been around for nearly 120 years and we plan to be around for the next 120 years,’’ Mr Dykes said.
While “we’ll be considering our options’’, with the usual busy-ness in the lead up to Christmas and the need for meetings among the KCC board and consultants, a pathway forward would not be decided until next year.
By Ellen Hill for Grace Kim Photos: David Hill, Deep Hill Media
How does a child with Asperger’s syndrome experience everyday life? How does it feel to be child who is different?
New children’s book Noah’s Story answers those questions and more, and gives children with the condition a tool with which to explain their condition, their symptoms and how they feel.
Bullaburra resident Grace Kim wrote the book to help her son Noah Hylkema, his friends and teachers understand his Asperger’s diagnosis in 2016 after a long period of challenging experiences at school.
Noah illustrated the book.
Written in Noah’s “voice’’, it uses examples of behaviours a person whose brain works differently and offers practical suggestions for how others can respond.
Ms Kim wrote the book after Noah’s diagnosis after she and husband Teije Hylkema had read numerous books and attended workshops and seminars about autism to understand the condition and find a way to disclose the information to Noah and his classmates.
“After reading a mountain of books, I still couldn’t find a book that resonated with us personally,’’ she said.
“So one desperate night, I decided to write a story from Noah’s perspective to help him, his friends and teachers understand him and his diagnosis.
“I showed it to Noah to check with him if I represented his feelings correctly (thankfully, yes!) and asked if he would like to do some drawings for it to take it to school the next day.
“This ended up being a wonderful way to introduce the subject and for him to be fully involved and in control of his `coming out’.’’
Hazelbrook Public School student Noah, 9, who has written stories and illustrated since he was four years old, said the book was a way to explain Asperger’s to his classmates in a format they would understand and relate to – “my class likes stories’’.
He summed up Asperger’s in one sentence: “I have a brain that’s a bit different to yours – I find some things easy that other people find hard (like computer coding and haiku poems) and some things hard that other people find easy (like handwriting).’’
Endorsing the book, Friends and Ben Bumblefoot author Teena Raffa-Mulligan said Noah’s Story “presents the message `Sometimes I will make mistakes but I am learning just like you’ with beautiful simplicity’’.
A concert pianist, artistic director and Churchill Fellow, Ms Kim said she never intended to write a book for public publication but hoped Noah’s Story would encourage others to share their own stories.
The book complemented the Sensory Concerts she instigated last year to provide access to quality live music to people with sensory issues that prevent them from attending public events such as concerts.
Run by the Your Music Inc registered charity and always featuring Ms Kim and often cellist Mr Hylkema, the concerts have been designed for people of all ages, especially families with sensory or special needs such as autism spectrum disorder, physical or intellectual disabilities who experience feelings of being overwhelmed by crowd, noise, light, smell and touch.
Performed to small groups in a relaxed atmosphere, they have a range of seating options and a retreat space where audience members can self-regulate or seek support from the onsite occupational therapist and psychologist.
Your Music Inc also holds tailored concerts in aged care facilities, hospitals, schools and private homes.
The free Noah’s Story book launch will be held at Bullaburra Village Green (wet weather option Bullaburra Progress Hall), Noble St, from 10.30am to 12.30pm Sunday, December 16. Signed copies of the book will be available for purchase, and there will be live music, reading and a playground for children. RSVP.
By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group
The Greater Blue Mountains region will be showcased to billions of potential tourism visitors when SBS airs the next Luke Nguyen cultural foodie series early next year.
The celebrity chef spent a whirlwind two days in the area recently filming interviews with food producers in the Jamison and Megalong valleys, visits to cultural identities such as the Escarpment Group-owned Hydro Majestic Hotel at Medlow Bath, fusion cooking at Echoes Restaurant and inspiration gathering sessions with Darley’s Restaurant Hatted executive chef Lee Kwiez.
The SBS Food Diaries series, which will be shown in 160 countries, will trace Nguyen’s journey from his childhood roots and connections in Vietnam to his first restaurant in Surry Hills and his current international success.
Escarpment Group director Huong Nguyen has known Luke (no relation) since he was a child growing up in his family’s restaurant at Cabramatta: “Our fathers were both in the military before the war ended in 1975 and his family came to Australia shortly after mine.’’
Both Nguyen families were among two million Vietnamese to flee the Communist regime after it came to power in 1975. “Despite his humble background, Luke and siblings Pauline and Lewis were all resilient, creative and academically gifted and have all achieved outstanding success.’’
Nguyen is best known as the host of television series Luke Nguyen’s Vietnam and Luke Nguyen’s Street Food Asia. He is also a judge on MasterChef Vietnam and has appeared several times on MasterChef Australia as guest chef.
He also owns a cooking school and restaurants in Hong Kong and Vietnam, the Red Lantern in Surry Hills, Fat Noodle in The Star Sydney and the Treasury Hotel & Casino in Brisbane, and has penned several cookbooks.
“Now Luke is bringing Australia to the world. Yes, Luke’s latest series is definitely a fantastic showcase of our Blue Mountains properties, but it’s also great exposure for the region and will introduce millions, if not billions, of viewers throughout the world to the abundance of fresh regional produce available to them when they visit any restaurant, café, B&B or hotel that offers local flavours on their menus here,’’ Ms Nguyen said.
- 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
The Poms have snatched the Ashes (well, the Ashes of the retro dance world) and every pair of left feet will help give the Blue Mountains a sporting chance at reclaiming it on Saturday, February 25.
The annual Blue Mountains Charleston Challenge Guinness World Record attempt for the largest number of costumed people to dance the Charleston will be held at the world-famous Hydro Majestic Hotel at 11am sharp, with training sessions and registration from 10am.
The Blue Mountains Charleston Challenge first claimed the title in 2012. The local event broke its own record in 2013 with 276 dancers and again in 2014. It reached 360 dancers in 2015.
Then in 2015, the town of Bexhill in England snatched the title with 503 dancers, followed by a raid by Swing Patrol dance troupe in London with 975 dancers later that year.
Blue Mountains Charleston Challenge captain/artistic advisor, Angela Corkeron said: “We admit, we dropped the ball and were slammed when the Poms came out of left field. We just haven’t been able to get back to form since.
“But we’re Aussies and competitive recreation is our game. We’ve called time out and our match plan is to high kick that record right back at `em with full velocity.
“We need 1000 dancers on the team. We need sports people with that competitive spirit to help us smash the record for a six and bring that title home triumphant.
’’Participants don’t need to be professional dancers, just dressed in 1920s costume (a flapper dress and feather boa for girls and a suit and Fedora hat for blokes will do), registered for the event and able to attempt the Charleston dance for five minutes.
The Hydro Majestic Hotel is opposite Medlow Bath station on the Blue Mountains railway line, so parking is not an issue.
The Blue Mountains Charleston Challenge is a free event, although gold coin donations raise funds for Blue Mountains Rural Fire Service, whose volunteers tirelessly protect the community during bushfires.
Stay on after dancing your way into history for the Majestic Long Lunch and indulge in delicious regional food and wine. Cost: $95pp.
A highlight of the annual Roaring 20s Festival in the area, the Blue Mountains Charleston Challenge will be held in front of the pavilion at the Hydro Majestic Hotel, Great Western Hwy, Medlow Bath, at 11am sharp on Saturday, February 25. Prizes for best performance and costumes will be given.
Go to www.charlestonchallenge.com.au to see a Charleston dance tutorial and www.hydromajestic.com.au to register for the Majestic Charleston Challenge and book other Roaring 20s Festival events at the Hydro Majestic, dining options and accommodation.
- Escarpment Group is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media
By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group Photos: David Hill
Retro revivalists can relive the past by travelling in vintage car convoy from Penrith to the original Blue Mountains party palace as part of the annual Roaring 20s Festival on Friday, February 24.
The bevvy of costumed festivalgoers will be transported in exquisite antique convoy by Blue Mountains Vintage Cadillacs in the opulent style and spirit of Mark Foy’s legendary first motorcade to the Hydro Majestic Hotel, pausing along the route at heritage landmarks for refreshments and to promenade to maximum 1920s effect.
The magnificent fleet of cars will include LaSalle model Cadillacs, Ava (as in legendary silver screen star Ava Gardner), a dark blue 1928 five-passenger Coupe; Ella (Fitzgerald), a 1929 convertible Landau Cabriolet; and Flora, a cherry red coloured 1929 four-passenger Phaeton was named after a different kind of leading lady – owner Donald Millar’s mother.
The Blue Mountains Vintage Cadillacs collection was begun by Mr Millar’s father, also Donald, who bought the car now named Flora in 1954.
There’s a timelessness to the shape of Cadillac LaSalles, and that’s part of that art deco era,’’ Mr Millar said.Old cars can have a beauty because they’re old, but these cars have a beauty inherent in themselves. They have a distinct beauty, class and rarity.’’
Romantic couples and small friend groups will arrive at Foy’s splendiferous “palace in the wilderness’’ and learn the oft outrageous history of the grandest of the grand Blue Mountains hotels.
They will then nibble on canapes while watching a sublime sunset from exotic venues like Salon du The and Cat’s Alley before dining on theatrical regional fare created by award-winning chefs in the elegant Wintergarden Restaurant.
Guests will retire to luxury overnight accommodation and breakfast at leisure before joining the throng of retro revivalists for the Blue Mountains Charleston Challenge world record takeback for the largest number of people to dance the Charleston.
After dancing up an appetite, indulge in a sumptuous repast showcasing the finest regional food and wine available throughout the Greater Blue Mountains and NSW Central West at the Majestic Long Lunch.
The Majestic Journeys package includes vintage car ride from Penrith to Medlow Bath (one-way), three-course dinner, two-night’s accommodation, the Blue Mountains Charleston Challenge and Majestic Long Lunch. Cost: $2,000 per couple.
The Majestic Long Lunch may also be booked as an individual event. Cost: $95 per person.
Go to www.hydromajestic.com.au or phone (02) 4782 6885 for more information and bookings.
* Escarpment Group is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media
By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group
The grand traditions of Dame Nellie Melba and Dame Joan Sutherland will be revived when some of the brightest stars of the opera stage perform at the Hydro Majestic Hotel in the Blue Mountains during the October long weekend.
For the first time in decades, internationally acclaimed opera singers and musicians will gather at the original Blue Mountains party palace to present a weekend of operatic drama and passion.
Among them will be lead soprano in the recent Sydney Opera House production of Turandot, Eva Kong.
The first concert at the Hydro Majestic on Saturday, October 1, will be Cello Extravaganza featuring the Sydney Cello Collective (SCC).
Consisting of four cellists from the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra, the SCC specialises in all things cello, performing music written and arranged for that combination with a repertoire ranging from Baroque to contemporary music.
Teije Hylkema, Andrew Hines, Elizabeth Neville and Minah Choe will premiere an especially arranged rendition of Nadir’s Aria from Bizet’s famous opera Pearlfishers in the elegant Wintergardent Restaurant while guests indulge in a high tea extravaganza overlooking the magnificent Megalong Valley.
Later that day, Opera Australia soprano Eva Kong (currently playing Liu in Opera Australia’s Turandot), tenor Brad Cooper and bass Damian Whiteley will embark on a journey of humour, love, jealousy and tragedy when they perform The Love Triangle, inspired by highlights of the greatest operas and directed by pianist Grace Kim with Caro String Quartet.
On Sunday, October 2, Molto Cantabile will wrap up the festival when one of the UK’s most sought after violinists and Sydney Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Andrew Haveron performs with Grace Kim (piano) in a delightful program highlighting the beautiful operatic sound of his precious 1757 Guadagnini violin while guests nibble on decadent high tea delicacies.
General manager of Escarpment Group, which owns the Hydro Majestic, Ralf Bruegger said: “Passion and drama over scones and sparkling wine served with sexiness and humour – how operatic, how Hydro!
“With the majestic view overlooking the Megalong Valley, the dramatic history of the hotel (there’s been more than a few love triangles here, let me tell you) and the artistry of fine food prepared by our award-winning chefs, what better way to spend the weekend.
“Come for one concert or make a weekend of it.’’
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. Guests may choose an 11.30am or 12.15pm booking, with the concert from 12.30pm to 1.30pm.
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 Springwood Art Show
Painters, sculptors, photographers, woodworkers and craftspeople have been invited to showcase their work at the first and longest running art show in the Blue Mountains from August 28 to 30.
Springwood Art Show will once again showcase the best established and emerging talent in the area.
Held at Springwood High School and co-ordinated by the Parents & Citizens Association (P&C), the event directly supports students of the school with 25 per cent of all sales including admission, café, raffle and artworks used to buy educational resources.
P&C president Rod Murray said: “The Blue Mountains has long been recognised as a melting pot for artists and Springwood Art Show helped the region become a recognised `city of the arts’.
“The show is a staple on the arts calendar, known as an event where artists can expect to be noticed by some serious collectors.
“I encourage all local artists wanting to come to the attention of the arts world to join our feature artist landscape painter Guenter Barth and submit a work.’’
Principal Dr Mark Howie said: “There has traditionally been a fantastic selection of artworks from students at the art show, which showcases the rich talent at the school and boosts the confidence of emerging young artists who are thrilled to have their work hung alongside established artists.
“I look forward to seeing what creativity has been evident in our classrooms this year.’’
Artists may also enter an impressive array of art prizes including the $1000 Rose Lindsay Art Prize, $500 highly commended prize and landscape, photography, portrait and viewers’ choice awards.
There is also the Youth Art Encouragement Award and Springwood High School student recognition prizes, while the Environmental and Ecology Award will encourage reuse in art.
Springwood Art Show will be held at Springwood High School, Grose Rd, Faulconbridge, from August 28 to 30, with an official opening program on the Friday evening and activities throughout the weekend.
Phone Rod Murray on (02) 4751 8245 or go to www.springwoodartshow.org.au for more information and to download a contribution form.
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.
Words by Ellen Hill for Scenic World
Perch on a clifftop at Scenic World overlooking the world-famous Blue Mountains escarpment and feel small again – in the heart of the city. Capture the moment in a photo and share it with the world next Friday (March 20) and Saturday (March 21) – all from Circular Quay.
Urban residents can experience a small slice of Australia’s most visited privately-owned tourist attraction and the nation’s most accessible wilderness when multi award-winning 3D chalk artist Anton Pulvirenti transforms Customs House forecourt into a World Heritage-listed landscape.
The 10m x 15m canvass 3D drawing will offer a glimpse of the Scenic Skyway as it glides 270m above ancient rainforest between clifftops, against the backdrop of the iconic Three Sisters and spectacular Katoomba Falls.
Scenic World brother and sister Joint Managing Directors Anthea and David Hammon said: “We have grown up with the Three Sisters as our view, breathed the fresh Blue Mountains air and enjoyed the rides at Scenic World as our playground our whole lives yet we never take the size of this vast one million square hectare landscape for granted.’’
Anton Pulvirenti will create the 3D chalk drawing using forced perspective to create an illusion of scale, meaning the scene will be so realistic that passers-by could be forgiven for believing they have truly been transported to the Blue Mountains.
So “stand’’ on the Scenic World clifftop and ask a friend to take a photo and share it with the world on Instagram with #feelsmallagain and receive an instant keepsake photo from the Scenic World team.
The top 10 most creative photos will receive a family pass to Scenic World so they can experience the thrilling attraction for themselves – for real.
The Scenic World Feel Small Again 3D chalk art will be staged in front of Customs House, Alfred St, Circular Quay, from 8am to 6pm Friday (March 20) and 10am to 5pm Saturday (March 21).
The family-owned Scenic World overlooking the world-famous Three Sisters landmark at Katoomba is home to the world’s steepest passenger train, the highest and largest cablecars in Australia and the longest boardwalk in Australia.