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Greater Blue Mountains: Summer school holiday fun

Greater Blue Mountains – one ginormous holiday playground

By Ellen Hill for Blue Mountains Attractions Group

From furry critters and underground caves to enchanted gardens, bushwalks for small people, cool art and Aboriginal culture, the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area is one big playground.

Have a close encounter with a furry friend at Featherdale Wildlife Park

Blue Mountains Attractions Group president Louise Clifton said: “Australia’s first tourist destination has had a long time to perfect the visitor experience and the premier attractions of the Greater Blue Mountains cater for the whole family – not just adults and not just children.

“Everyone loves the adorable animals at Featherdale Wildlife Park, the exciting rides at Scenic World and the fascinating indigenous cultural experience at Waradah Aboriginal Centre is tailored to appeal to all ages, while other attractions are multi-tiered.’’

One of the world’s most spectacular cave systems, Jenolan Caves offers a range of guided tours from easy strolls through the Grand Arch to strenuous explorations of the underworld.

Meet classic storybook characters at Norman Lindsay Gallery & Museum

Children will be captivated by meeting their favourite Magic Pudding characters and exploring their gardens at Norman Lindsay Gallery & Museum while grown-ups sneak into the art gallery to view the famous paintings.

Everglades Historic House & Gardens and Blue Mountains Botanic Garden at Mt Tomah have open areas for children to let off some steam and run while adults wander the exquisite avenues. Both properties also have activity books for kids.

Like all the premier attractions in Leura and Katoomba, Blue Mountains Cultural Centre can be accessed easily via a vintage-style hop-on/hop-off Trolley Tours bus. Grown-ups will be wowed by the world-class artworks on display in Blue Mountains City Art Gallery while kids will be amazed at the interactive World Heritage Exhibition.

Stroll in the shade along the Scenic World boardwalk

No trip to the Blue Mountains is complete without a visit to Scenic World where the young and the young at heart can experience the thrill of the world’s steepest passenger railway, walk on air on the skyway and take the cable car to the valley floor to stroll through ancient rainforest.

Stay overnight at Hartley Historic Site to fully immerse yourselves in colonial Australia (the Old Trahlee property sleeps six and has a cot for babies). Tour the courthouse, admire the artwork along the sculpture walk and the Kew-Y-Ahn Art Gallery. Visit metal artist Ron Fitzpatrick at Talisman Gallery where adults can browse the art and jewellery while the kids make their very own fire poker.

Casual lunch at the Hydro Majestic Hotel’s Boiler House Cafe

Families can refuel on any budget when visiting the Greater Blue Mountains. Myriad cafes, kiosks and restaurants including those at Everglades, Hartley Historic Site, Jenolan Caves, the Boiler House Café at the Hydro Majestic Hotel and Blue Mountains Cultural Centre serve the full gamut of treats.

Alternatively, numerous picnic spots in picturesque locations such as Euroka Clearing in Blue Mountains National Park Glenbrook entrance, Jenolan Caves, Wentworth Falls Lake, Hartley Historic Site and Everglades are ideal for home-brought fare.

Explore the underground at Jenolan Caves

The Greater Blue Mountains also has a range of other accommodation options suitable for families from caravan parks and self-contained cottages to upmarket hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs including St Raphael (The Convent) at Leura, The Mountain Lodge at Jenolan Caves and The Jungle Lodge at Blue Mountains Botanic Garden at Mt Tomah.

Go to bluemountainsattractions.com.au for information about where to stay and what to do in the Greater Blue Mountains region or visit the Blue Mountains Attractions Group Facebook page.

  • Blue Mountains Attractions Group is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media

    Fun and learning for all ages at Blue Mountains Botanic Garden, Mt Tomah


Ultimate Blue Mountains Australia holiday experience on us

Echo Point 03By Ellen Hill for Blue Mountains Attractions Group           Photos: David Hill

Answer two easy questions and follow a simple directive and you could treat your family to the ultimate Blue Mountains holiday experience as guests of the premier attractions of the world-famous tourist destination.

An initiative of Blue Mountains Attractions Group (BMAG), prospective holidaymakers can enter the competition worth more than $4,400 through the online Blue Mountains Australia portal bluemts.com.au.

BMAG president Louise Clifton said: “We invite families to come and play in our grand backyard. The Greater Blue Mountains has so much to see and do and it’s all right on Sydney’s doorstep.

“Our natural adventure playground has jaw-droppingly awesome views over prehistoric landscapes stretching beyond the horizon, exhilarating activities, inspiring art and culture, unique specialty shopping, mouth-watering food and so much more.’’

The seven-day odyssey will be a whirlwind all-expenses-paid* immersion in the best attractions on offer in Australia’s first tourist destination.

The winning family of up to two adults and two children will begin their Blue Mountains adventure with close encounters with native Aussie wildlife on a private tour of Featherdale Wildlife Park on July 1.

Nana's Teddies & Toys

Nana’s Teddies & Toys

Embark on a shopping spree at Australia’s largest teddy bear specialty store, Nana’s Teddies & Toys at Blaxland, visit the home of the Magic Pudding (Norman Lindsay Gallery at Faulconbridge) and experience firsthand the dancing, song, didgeridoo, Dreamtime story and art of the oldest continuous human culture at Waradah Aboriginal Centre, Katoomba.

Discover the sites and sights of Katoomba and Leura on a Trolley Bus without the hassle of parking. Hop on and hop off at any (or all) of the 29 stops along the route including Everglades Historic House & Gardens at Leura featuring Paul Sorensen-designed gardens and an authentic art deco house, and where youngsters can learn about heritage and nature without realising through activities in the My Adventure at Everglades booklet.

Blue Mountains Botanic Garden

Blue Mountains Botanic Garden

Experience another aspect of the Blue Mountains when rambling the exquisite Blue Mountains Botanic Garden, Mount Tomah, 1000m above sea level and home to a world-class collection of cold climate plants, dramatic blooms, the Botanists Way Discovery Centre and pristine rainforest.

Wander the boutique shops of the famed Leura Mall and head to Bygone Beautys Treasured Teapot Museum & Tearooms to view one of the world’s largest private collection of teawares including more than 5500 teapots and over 100 varieties of tea and infusions.

Blue Mountains Cultural Centre

Blue Mountains Cultural Centre

Step back in time surrounded by the pastures, orchards, cottage gardens and picturesque sandstone buildings of Hartley Historic Site, browse the Kew-Y-Ahn Aboriginal Art Gallery and even make your very own firepoker with metal artist Ron Fitzpatrick at Talisman Gallery before stocking up on fabulous metal art, sculpture or silver jewellery.

Descend into the underworld to explore the most spectacular cave system in Australia and the oldest in the world at Jenolan Caves. Subtle technology and imagination make guided tours awe-inspiring before tucking into a special Yulefest dinner. Kids will meet Santa and there might even be snow.

The Ultimate Blue Mountains Family Holiday Experience winning family will receive complementary annual family InSign membership during their visit to Blue Mountains Cultural Centre, giving free entry to the Blue Mountains City Art Gallery and World Heritage Exhibition, discounts on events and public programs and the Gallery Café and Shop and invitations to members-only events.

Old Trahlee at Hartley Historic Site

Old Trahlee at Hartley Historic Site

No trip to the Blue Mountains would be complete without experiencing the thrill of riding the world’s steepest passenger railway at Scenic World, walking on air on the skyway or taking the cable car to the valley floor to stroll through ancient rainforest.

From a la carte dining at The Rooster Restaurant and morning reposes at the most famous hotel in Australia – the sumptuously refurbished Hydro Majestic Hotel, to lunches at charming venues such as the Post Office Café at Hartley Historic Site and breakfast at private retreats, the winning family is in for a delicious week-long treat.

Accommodation will be provided at the upmarket Bygone Beautys-owned St Raphael (The Convent) at Leura, Escarpment Group-owned Parklands Country Gardens & Lodges at Blackheath, The Mountain Lodge at historic Jenolan Caves, The Jungle Lodge at Blue Mountains Botanic Garden at Mt Tomah and Old Trahlee at Hartley Historic Site.

Everglades Historic House & Gardens

Everglades Historic House & Gardens

For your chance to win this incredible family experience, simply go to the Blue Mountains Australia website at bluemts.com.au between April 16 and 5pm on May 1, hit the “Enter Now’’ link at the top of the page and tell us: a) How many attractions are listed on the bluemountainsattractions.com.au website?

b) What is the famous landmark featured in the Blue Mountains Attractions Group Facebook profile picture at facebook.com/bluemountainsattractions (Like the page while you’re researching your answer)?

c) Tell us in 30 words or less why you would love to win a week away in the Blue Mountains.

Be sure to include your name and contact details. The winner will be drawn in Katoomba on May 4.

Judges’ decision will be final and no correspondence will be entered into with entrants. Employees of any Blue Mountains Attractions Group members associated with the promotion, and their immediate families, are ineligible to enter the competition. By claiming a prize, the winner accepts that the Blue Mountains Attractions Group may use the winner’s name and likeness for promotional and publicity purposes. Maximum size of family is two adults and two children up to the age of 16. Minimum size is two adults over the age of 18. The winner must be able to redeem their prize and make use of it from June 27 to July 3, 2016, inclusive with no alteration available. The cost of transport to and from the Blue Mountains, some meals and discretionary spending is at the expense of the winner.

  • Blue Mountains Attractions Group is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media and Headline Publicity

    Waradah Aboriginal Centre

    Waradah Aboriginal Centre


Blue Mountains: Original pit stop rallies for majestic celebration

It is believed that Mark Foy imported the first motor car into NSW

It is believed that Mark Foy imported the first motor car into NSW

By Ellen Hill for Escarpment Group

The original Blue Mountains party palace of the first car owner of NSW will host a majestic gathering of the most elegant veteran vehicles and meanest modern wheels on the November 28 & 29 weekend.

The Hydro Majestic Super Car Rally at Medlow Bath will showcase sophisticated motoring history with a range of pre-World War I veteran cars on display on the Saturday.

Many will offer joyrides to raise money for the NSW Rural Fire Service Blue Mountains district. NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons AFSM will be special guest.

RFS Blue Mountains district Superintendent David Jones said the volunteer organisation was proud is to be involved in the official opening of the event on the Saturday.

“During the event we will have members on hand to provide the public with practical advice on how to prepare for bushfire. There will also be a number of RFS vehicles for the public to inspect.’’

The original Blue Mountains party palace will rev up for the Hydro Majestic Super Car Rally

The original Blue Mountains party palace will rev up for the Hydro Majestic Super Car Rally

The Hydro Majestic will continue the hotel’s journey as a sumptuously racy pit stop between Eastern Creek and Bathurst race tracks on the Sunday when approximately 20 modern supercars including Lamborghini, Ferrari, Maserati, a NSW Police Porsche, Audi badges and more rev the occasion up to top torque.

The super car rally will herald a return to the glorious heyday of Australia’s most famous hotel, which was originally owned by retailing doyenne Mark Foy and relaunched last October by Escarpment Group collection of luxury hotels after an extensive refurbishment.

Escarpment Group general manager Ralf Bruegger said: “I’m sure Foy would have loved this event – the colour, the noise, the smell and flamboyance of motor cars.

“He was a colourful and adventurous (some would even say outrageous) personality who was competitive and progressive and loved the thrill of speed. He wanted to be in the thick of excitement and wasn’t afraid to take risks and try new things.’’

According to information gleaned from Foy’s niece Mary Shaw by motoring historian Bill Boldiston, at the turn of the 19th century Mark Foy tasked his friend Bill Elliott, who lived in France, to purchase a motor car for him.

Elliott dutifully did so, buying an 1899 3hp De Dion Voiturette Vis a Vis motor car in London for 175 pounds and 10 shillings and a further 9.13.10 worth of accessories on January 26, 1900. It arrived in Sydney on April 27 and cleared Sydney customs on May 15 that year.

The vehicle seems to have been the first motor car imported into NSW.

After opening his “Palace in the wilderness’’ in 1904, Foy and another nearby hotel owner and keen motorist, Tom Rodriquez, began a daily service to Jenolan Caves featuring Foy’s latest import, a 10hp Panhard et Levassor.

Foy then imported two Milnes-Daimlers in chassis form, which became Charabancs, and offered hotel guests motor tours.

He later bought three Bedelia French cyclecars, which he kept at his Megalong Valley property, Valley Farm. The vehicles were made available to guests who wished to indulge in motor racing on the nearby Medlow Showground circuit.

Foy’s next purchase, a 1910 Fiat Tipo Zero, so impressed him that he became an agent for the brand.

Mark Foy, pictured here with his family, was a keen motor car enthusiast

Mark Foy, pictured here with his family, was a keen motor car enthusiast

He posed for two publicity images with the car under the Grand Arch at Jenolan Caves and in the middle of Victoria Pass at Mt Victoria in 1913 with Bill Elliott and his new Medlow friend Jack Rice to show that the car could easily do a hill start on the steepest public road in NSW.

Foy added a sporty Le Zebre French car to his collection and later a German Stoewer. His last choice was the radical Franklin from America with its air cooled engine.

When Foy died he had three Franklins, which he instructed in his will to be restored and presented to three of his friends. Their fate remains a mystery.

Apart from being the new toy of the rich and powerful, Foy was attracted to the motor car for its speed and was an enthusiastic competitor in the Dunlop Rubber Company-sponsored Sydney to Melbourne car race in February 1905 to show how dependable cars had become.

His was one of 37 self-propelled vehicles to set off from Sydney on the adventure of their lives along rough roads without repair facilities along the route.

There were multiple “winners’’ so the trial was extended to Ballarat and the eventual winner was Harley Tarrant, who went on to design and manufacture his own successful locally made motor cars.

However, with 15 of the competitors including Mark Foy hailing from Sydney, another Dunlop Reliability Trial was organised that November to bring them home.

When the Melbourne to Sydney trial also ended in confusion, Foy suggested that an extension to the Hydro Majestic might produce an outright winner. It didn’t.

The Hydro Majestic Super Car Rally will be held at the Hydro Majestic Hotel, Great Western Hwy, Medlow Bath, from 11am to 3.30pm on November 28 and November 29.

Visitors can lunch on a gourmet sausage and locally-crafted beers and wines or buy a gourmet picnic hamper from the Hydro Majestic Pavilion for an extra classic experience and tuck into regional produce with the magnificent Megalong Valley as a backdrop.

Car enthusiasts are encouraged to fully immerse themselves in the motoring experience and stay at least one night at an Escarpment Group property, each with private parking.

Go to hydromajestic.com.au for information about the car rally and escarpmentgroup.com.au to book accommodation and dining.

* Escarpment Group and the Hydro Majestic Hotel is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media

Mark Foy established tours between Medlow Bath and Jenolan Caves

Mark Foy established tours between Medlow Bath and Jenolan Caves

Mark Foy established tours between Medlow Bath and Jenolan Caves


Easter holidays eggcitement in the Greater Blue Mountains

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

By Ellen Hill, Blue Mountains Attractions Group

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

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

Choose from the following special Easter and school holiday activities:

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

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

Blue Mountains Botanic Garden, Mount Tomah

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

Jenolan Caves

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

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

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

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

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

Nana’s Teddies & Toys, Blaxland

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

Norman Lindsay Gallery & Museum, Faulconbridge

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

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

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

Scenic World, Katoomba

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

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

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

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

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