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.
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.
Cool sun-splashed days, crisp evenings, leisurely sightseeing tours, charming accommodation and a blooming abundance of cool climate flowers – it’s time to shed those winter woolies and rejuvenate in Australia’s original romance destination this spring.
The National Trust’s manager of the famous Everglades House & Gardens, Guy McIlrath, said the Blue Mountains in spring was breathtaking.
“After the long winter months of short, cold days, bare tree branches and even snow, it’s wonderful to see nature burst forth with the vibrant colour of azaleas, daffodils, rhododendrons, tulips and, of course, the many native wildflowers in the bush.’’
Mr McIlrath encouraged visitors to spend at least one night in the region which had lured lovers for more than a century to fully explore any number of bushwalks, activities, dining options and gardens within the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.
Book your romantic spring getaway early for maximum brownie points with your love:
Springtime Deal: Shelton-Lea B&B, 159 Lurline St, Katoomba
Relax and rejuvenate in the romantic surrounds of a delightfully restored 1920s Californian-style bungalow a short stroll from the eclectic Katoomba café/restaurant and retail strip, interesting art galleries and the world-famous Three Sisters landmark.
Enter your classic Blue Mountains accommodation via your own private entrance and soak up the ambience with open gas fires, spa baths and period decor.
Book a romantic minimum two-night getaway any day of the week between September 1 and November 30, 2019, to receive a 10 per cent discount, complimentary bottle of local wine and chocolates.
Use the promotion code “Spring Deal 2019’’. Bookings open August 1, 2019. Promotion only available at www.sheltonlea.com.
Western Wine Tours
Indulge in the distinctive flavours of wines from the Central West and freshly crushed apple ciders from the upper Blue Mountains straight from the cellar door.
Guests can choose from a range of half and full-day tours which take in vineyards and cider sheds between Bilpin, the Megalong Valley and the Mudgee wine district. Each includes luxury chauffeured transport, wildlife sightings, food refreshments and spectacular views.
Guests of Shelton-Lea B&B receive a 10 per cent discount on all Western Wine Tours.
Bookings: www.westernwinetours.com.au or 0437 746 833.
Board the brand new Blue Mountains Shuttle to access seasonal fruit picking, cellar doors, eclectic shopping, exquisite gardens, dining and spectacular views along the Bells Line of Road between Katoomba and Richmond for the first time by public transport.
The twice-daily 57-seat air-conditioned coach service will stop at the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah and Bilpin along the way.
Featured pick-up and drop-off locations will include the world-famous Echo Point Lookout, seasonal orchards, Blue Mountains Botanic Garden at Mt Tomah and a cider shed.
Along the route, passengers can learn about the region from the on-board video, surf the net using free wifi or watch the untamed landscape while charging technology in provided USB ports.
The bus service will run from Katoomba at 9.30am and 1.50pm and Richmond at 11.35am and 4.10pm Thursday to Monday.
Details: www.botanicatouring.com or 0423 361 616.
Blue Mountains Limousine & Vintage Cadillacs
Be transported back this Spring to the most romantic of retro eras when Australia’s first tourist destination was at its ultimate flamboyant luxe.
Explore the breathtaking scenery of one of the most recognisable landscapes on Earth, the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, just like the well-heeled of the Roaring `20s era. Cruise upmarket Leura Mall for head-turning effect. Take in the sights of historic Cliff Drive, pausing at Echo Point overlooking the Three Sisters rock formation along the way.
Arrive for refreshments at a grand hotel, restaurant or cafe in the upper Blue Mountains in the glamorous style of old Hollywood in the magnificent Ava (Gardner) 1928 five-passenger Coupe LaSalle model Cadillac, Ella (Fitzgerald) the 1929 convertible Landau Cabriolet or Flora the cherry red coloured 1929 four-passenger Phaeton named after the owner Donald Millar’s mother.
There’s a timelessness to the shape of Cadillac LaSalles, and that’s part of that art deco era,’’ he 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.’’
Everglades House & Gardens, Everglades Ave, Leura
Amid a spectacular kaleidoscope of floral colour, from flowering cherry trees, carpets of daffodils and early bluebells to tulips, azaleas and rhododendrons, the historic art deco property will host a vibrant round of events and activities against an awe-inspiring bush backdrop throughout spring.
Events will include art exhibitions showcasing the talents of youngsters in a Schools Reconciliation Challenge (August 2 – September 29) and established artists Owen Thompson (September 7 – 29) and The Wild and the Cultivated of Gardens and Beyond collective (October 5 – 27), a Japanese tea ceremony event (August 31), The Fabulous Fifties luncheon fashion event (September 14) and the famous Leura Gardens Festival (October 5 – 7 & 11 – 13).
Nepean Gorge Discovery Tour (September 28): Nepean Belle Paddlewheeler, Jamisontown
Explore the deep reaches of the historic heart and lifeblood of the Nepean and Blue Mountains region aboard the iconic paddlewheeler.
Cruise as far as possible along the tranquil waters of the Nepean River into the Nepean Gorge and Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, pausing along the way at spots with historic significance to learn interesting facts and anecdotes.
Experience the natural wonders of the landscape and its inhabitants, including eagles, cormorants, azure kingfishers, bellbirds and more. There have been reports of a dingo and those with binoculars may even spot an echidna hidden among the scrub.
Tickets: $125 adults, $110 seniors, $65 children 3 – 16 years (0 – 2 years free) includes 5.5-hour cruise (9.30am to 3pm), Devonshire tea, two-course lunch and light afternoon tea. Bookings: www.nepeanbelle.com.au or 4733 1274.
Mountain Whispers The MW Collection
From beautifully manicured Edwardian and sprawling English cottage gardens, magnificent vistas across the Jamison Valley to being conveniently located to the Three Sisters landmark, each Mountain Whispers property offers guests the perfect setting to take in as much – or as little, as they please.
French champagne on ice, in-house massage and/or facial in opulent surrounds, private picnics and sunset watching. At Mountain Whispers, your every detail matters.
Owner Lorraine Allanson said: “With the smell of spring lingering in the air already and a healthy anticipation for the newness and warmer weather, the gardens at Mountain Whispers promise a show-stopping natural display for our guests.’’
Spring is the perfect time to come out of hibernation and be one with nature. Shed the winter blues and escape to the Blue Mountains for the perfect mind, body and soul rejuvenation.
Mountain Whispers offers five luxuriously appointed self-contained escapes. Each of the multi-award-winning properties – Varenna, Leura Rose and Strawberry Patch in Leura and The Gatsby and Chatelaine in Katoomba – promise a bespoke getaway in total privacy and comfort for couples and small groups.
Details: www.mountainwhispers.com.au or 1300 721 321.
Experience the thrill of releasing the fire from stone and learn about Australia’s national gemstone at hands-on workshops at The Polished Opal.
Each visitor receives three opals to polish under the guidance of opal polishing expert Sonja van As, as well as a small display case in which to take them home.
Opals are the Leura artist’s latest obsession.
More specifically, the roulette game of polishing them to discover hidden treasure and release the iridescent fire – and value, within a gem of rare bank balance-boosting proportions.
I think I've found my nirvana – this is all my loves in one,’’ she says.It’s the damn colour. I just need to capture iridescence, that three dimensional depth. I don’t know why – I’m in love with rainbows maybe.’’
Opal polishing is like
chasing the rainbow’’:It’s like gambling, very exciting.’’
Van As’ artistic journey began “the day I was born’’ in Rotterdam, Holland, in 1962.
“I think every Dutch person has a famous artist in them somewhere in the past,’’ she says.
Her grandparents were artists, her brother, father and grandfather were photo lithographers.
“I just always loved to draw and create. Everybody else would be outside playing and I’d be drawing my hands or feet in every possible way.’’
After earlier dropping out of art class when her children were babies, van As achieved a TAFE fine arts diploma in the 1990s and was introduced to the whole gamut of mediums.
In 1999, she was one of 15 sculptors involved in the Blue Mountains Council Wentworth Falls Sculpture Project using local sandstone to create seed pods of local native plants.
She has been involved in many exhibitions and community events, and in 2013 won the Artifact, Art Based on Waste competition locally, going on to claim the NSW title in the Dubbo Art To Waste competition in the “open functional’’ category with a necklace made with resistors with resined butterfly wings as pendants.
During the years, she has dabbled in pen and ink works, focused on resin layering and polymer clay, felting and stained glass, and mastered printmaking.
Silver jewellery is a latest fad – along with metal stamping, soldering, 3D resin painting and stone polishing.
However, her art is always inspired by beauty and nature, like her bark pieces, silver jewellery and the butterfly wings she sets in resin.
“I think nature is amazing and I want to set it off as well as I can because nature is better than anything we can make. I try to capture the beauty of nature but I also try to imitate it.’’
Opal polishing with Sonja van As is available at her Leura studio 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: $190 per person. Bookings essential: phone Sonja van As on 0448 725 830 or email email@example.com.
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.
Free rides, discounts, two-for-one deals, birthday bubbly – just some of the perks handed out to residents by some of the region’s most popular tourist businesses just for being a Greater Blue Mountains local.
Bilpin Cider Co, Leura Garage, Miss Lilian’s Teahouse and Blue Mountains Explorer Bus reward locals for living in a tourist zone that attracts an estimated four million visitors from around the world every year.
Here are some special offers you are entitled to simply for choosing to live here:
Blue Mountains Explorer Bus. Operates 9.15am – 5.30pm every day. Details: explorerbus.com.au.
The fleet of red double-decker sightseeing buses operates 15 times a day between 29 stops around Leura and Katoomba. Passengers can stay on the bus for the entire one-hour circuit or hop on and hop off anywhere along the route, which takes in retail strips, tourist attractions, lookouts and bushwalking tracks leading to secret waterholes and hidden picnic spots.
Managing director Jason Cronshaw said: “We know that lots of residents have visitors from outside the area, and we want to reward locals for the fantastic job they do promoting this region to their visiting friends and family.’’
Locals deal: Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon residents ride free when accompanying a paying passenger.
The converted mechanics workshop, now award-winning funky eco café/restaurant, serves a menu of seasonal, regionally-sourced produce accompanied by regional wines and craft beers.
Owner James Howarth said: “Most locals want to avoid the weekend tourist crowds and we rely on our resident community during the week, so everyone wins with our locals deals.’’
Locals deal: 10 per cent discount off the final bill Monday to Thursday or two pizzas for the price of one; a free meal for the birthday person and free glass of bubbles on arrival for the table group when the party table is booked BYO (birthday cake allowed); free bottle of wine per couple with every main meal or large share meal (unconsumed open bottles may be taken away); or a free chef’s choice dessert per person with every main meal or large share meal. Conditions apply.
Miss Lilian’s Teahouse, Echo Point Rd and Panorama Drive, Echo Point. Open 11am – 7pm Sunday to Thursday, 11am – 8.30pm Friday and Saturday. Bookings: misslilian.com.au or 4780 1200.
Decorated with bamboo screens, colourful teapots, antique urns and myriad bird cages, the newest dining venue in the area offers an immersive culinary journey to the Orient blending the freshest local produce with generations-old recipes in a dine-in and takeaway. Guests can savour Asia’s favourite comfort foods infused with cinnamon, star anise, cloves, chives, chillies and lemongrass and elegantly served in a refined setting within the grounds of the magnificent Lilianfels Estate.
Escarpment Group guest services manager Meagan Iervasi said: “You can be an international tourist right here in your own backyard. And your culinary journey will be so much tastier when we roll out our new locals loyalty program soon.’’
Locals deal: a 10 per cent locals discount after the venue opening in August/September will be followed by a new loyalty program soon.
Bilpin Cider Co, 2369 Bells Line of Rd, Bilpin. Open 10am – 4pm Monday to Sunday. Details: 4567 0704 or bilpincider.com.
Nestled in the “land of the mountain apple’’, the Bilpin Cider cellar door is a great rural activity for the whole family. With alpacas and lambs, outdoor games and picnic spots, the property is ideal for leisurely moments. Grab a gourmet picnic hamper and a drink and pause from everyday life to take in the view of rolling hills and orchards before stocking up on the range of seasonal local fruit, vegetables and honey, and fresh ciders crushed and bottled on site.
Owner Sean Prendergast said: “There’s nothing better than a relaxed natter over a drink with family and friends. We want to make that pastime as affordable as possible for the locals who are so loyal to us.’’
Locals deal: 10 per cent discount on any items sold at the cellar door.
- All businesses mentioned are commercial clients of Deep Hill Media
By Ellen Hill for Blue Mountains Explorer Bus Photos: David Hill, Deep Hill Media
What’s big, red, the only one of its kind in the world in a national park and the only one that doesn’t live in a city? The hop-on/hop-off Blue Mountains Explorer Bus.
And Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon locals can use it to explore their own backyard for free for one weekend only – September 22 to 23.
The Locals Ride Free weekend will be a chance to check out secret swimming holes, waterfalls and lush rainforest as well as cafes and restaurants offering special locals-only deals along the route of 29 stops around Katoomba and Leura.
Owned by the Katoomba-based Fantastic Aussie Tours (FAT), the buses run 15 times a day between 9.15am and 5.30pm, 365 days of the year.
FAT managing director Jason Cronshaw, whose father John started the Explorer Bus in 1986, said the free weekend would also help locals connect with community and familiarise them with facilities and attractions available to them and their visitors within their neighbourhood.
“The Blue Mountains has seen a mass migration of new residents, mainly from Sydney, and this is an opportunity for us to extend a hand of welcome and show our new neighbours around,’’ he said.
“It’s also a chance to experience what the four million tourists from around the world do each year and appreciate the fantastic blessing of living within the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area
“I recommend bagging a seat on the top deck for a truly inspiring perspective, and make sure you jump off at Echo Point to see the Three Sisters rock formation to remind yourself of the extraordinary patch of earth we all call home.’’
Environmentally conscious locals can trundle the highway and byways with a clear conscience after Blue Mountains Explorer Bus became the first tourism operator in Australia to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to a big fat zero last year.
It was the first tourism operator in the country to be certified under the Australian Government’s Carbon Neutral Program as 100 per cent carbon neutral. The company also signed the pledge to join the Climate Neutral Now initiative run by the United Nations.
Locals Ride Free will be held during the September 22 – 23 weekend. Simply show proof of residency (eg: driver’s licence, rates notice) when boarding. Register your interest on the Locals Ride Free event on the @bmexplorerbus Facebook page.
- Blue Mountains Explorer Bus is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media
By Ellen Hill for Everglades Historic House & Gardens
Photos: David Hill, Deep Hill Media
Possums, bats, birds and other native critters can make a tree change with million dollar views, thanks to new nesting boxes carved into a dead tree at Everglades Historic House & Gardens.
Financed by a grant from Greater Sydney Local Land Services through NSW Government funding, the habitat tree is located in The Glades at the edge of the Leura property, famous for its magnificent 1930s art deco house and set amid spectacular gardens and formal terraces overlooking sweeping views of the Jamison Valley.
Arborists using a chainsaw fast-tracked the natural process in the bush when tree hollows are formed by limbs dropping from trees, creating a hole in the tree trunk or limb.
Over time (sometimes more than 100 years), these holes become larger and eventually form tree hollows.
Land clearing and urbanisation has led to a shortage of hollows across the Greater Sydney area, meaning there are fewer havens for small animals to shelter, hide from predators, breed and raise their young.
Of the 174 native animal species in NSW which rely on tree hollows, 40 are listed as threatened.
Everglades manager Guy McIlrath said: “Because tree hollows are becoming increasingly rare and their formation slow, it is very important to retain habitat trees, so when this big gum tree died it was an opportunity to provide a safe haven for some of the small animals who live at Everglades.’’
The Blue Mountains ash (Eucalyptus oreades) was pruned so it was safe for the many visitors to wander the tiered gardens and picnic under the tree canopy in the cool glade.
Experts from Sydney Arbour Trees, who have carved similar habitat hollows in dead trees across the Cumberland Plain area of Western Sydney, then created three artificial nest hollows for birds in the upper limbs and trunk and two openings for bats in the lower portion.
The arborists first sliced off a “faceplate’’ before using new chainsaw techniques to carve habitat chambers into the tree branches and trunk and reattaching the faceplate to protect the resident animals which enter the readymade homes through custom-designed slits and holes.
Birds can still perch on the remaining branches while hollow-dependent animals such as Crimson Rosellas, Southern Boobook owls, Owlet-nightjars, Eastern Rosellas and Chocolate Wattled bats can move in to the new hollows.
While the creatures may be too tiny, timid or nocturnal for visitors to Everglades to see, an interpretive sign at the base of the tree explains the purpose of the habitat tree.
“What we’re doing here at Everglades to help provide shelter and food sources for native animals is an example of what everyone in the Blue Mountains can easily do to help conserve wildlife,’’ Mr McIlrath said.
As well as plant a native garden, residents could retain safe dead trees with hollows, install nest boxes or become involved in Blue Mountains City Council’s (BMCC) Bushcare Program.
National Trust, which owns the Everglades property, and BMCC Bushcare volunteers have worked for years to ensure exotic plant species do not escape into bushland.
However, that is not always easy to do along cliff edges so, as part of the grant, specialist teams used rope access techniques to scale the cliffs around Everglades and remove weeds, thus preventing the spread into the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.
Everglades Historic House & Gardens, 37 Everglades Ave, Leura, is open from 10am to 5pm daily during daylight savings and from 10am to 4pm during autumn and winter. Entry: $13 adults, $8 concessions, $4 children, National Trust members free. Contact: (02) 4784 1938 or email email@example.com.
This project is supported by Greater Sydney Local Land Services through funding from the NSW Government. For further information phone 4724 2100
* Everglades Historic House & Gardens is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media
By Ellen Hill for Leura Garage Photo: David Hill, Deep Hill Media
Begin the Christmas countdown early, get ahead of community festivities and unleash your kids’ creative side with lantern-making workshops at Leura Garage.
The award-winning funky eatery off the top of Leura Mall will hold three workshops in the lead-up to Leura Village Association’s December 15 Christmas festival.
With its polished concrete floors, wide benches, light-filled windows and interesting features, the former car garage will be the ideal workspace for children aged four to 12 to create their own lanterns.
Leura Garage owner and father-of-two James Howarth said: “My wife Anika has very fond memories of lantern parades from her childhood in Germany and our kids have also had lots of fun experiencing this wonderful festive community activity while visiting family over there.
“So we’re excited to be transforming our restaurant into a lantern-making workshop space – it’s going to be great fun for everyone.’’
“The lanterns will then be on display at 8pm on December 15 when the children will showcase their creations during the lantern parade in Leura.’’
Participating children will have the chance to win prizes from Leura Toy Store, Megalong Books and Teddy Sinclair.
The workshops would be an opportunity for parents to bond with their children, get into the Christmas spirit and gear up for the festivities, Mr Howarth said.
Lantern-making workshops will be held from 3pm to 5pm on November 28 and December 4 and 13. Cost: $10 per child (must be accompanied by an adult with maximum three children per adult) includes full lantern kit and drinks and nibbles. Proceeds will be donated to Leura Village Association and will contribute to its Christmas festival at 8pm on December 15.
Leura Garage, 84 Railway Pde, Leura, is open from 12pm til late seven days. Bookings (including for Christmas parties) and details: (02) 4784 3391, firstname.lastname@example.org or leuragarage.com.au/lantern.
* Leura Garage is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media
By Ellen Hill Photos: David Hill, Deep Hill Media
The chirp of cicadas competing with Christmas carols, an awe-inspiring backdrop of towering golden escarpments and dramatic valleys and a cooling breeze carrying the subtle scent of eucalyptus. Welcome to an Aussie bush Christmas and summer holiday season in the Blue Mountains.
Begin the Christmas countdown early with lantern-making workshops for kids aged four to 12 at Leura Garage funky eatery off the top of Leura Mall from 3pm to 5pm on November 28 and December 4 and 13 in the lead-up to Leura Village Association’s December 15 Christmas festival. Cool prizes from upmarket local shops. Cost: $10 per child (must be accompanied by an adult) includes lantern kit and drinks and nibbles. Bookings: (02) 4784 3391, email@example.com or leuragarage.com.au/lantern.
Give your adult loved ones some grown-up time with a Faeriestorm Nanny Service voucher. Available in hourly blocks (minimum two hours *conditions apply), the fully qualified nannies will care for their kids while the adults enjoy some down time. Purchases: Brenda Edwards 0417 448 318 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A night away with a day spa pamper package at a blissful retreat such as Parklands Country Gardens & Lodges or dinner at a swanky restaurant such as the Wintergarden Restaurant at the Hydro Majestic Hotel are always popular.
A truly unique way of sightseeing in style is with Blue Mountains Vintage Cadillacs from within a vintage Cadillac car. Dressed in formal attire, your local driver will collect you from and return you to any location in the Blue Mountains. Bookings: email@example.com or Donald on 0455 352 976.
Tuck into a sumptuous feast with all the trimmings, decorations, bon bons, beverage package and even a visit from Santa for the children at the 5-star Lilianfels Resort & Spa near Echo Point or a seven-course degustation at the multi award-winning hatted Darley’s Restaurant. Bookings: escarpmentgroup.com.au or (02) 4780 1200.
NEW YEAR’S EVE:
For an unforgettable Auld Lang Syne moment, feast in the New Year at the chic Echoes Restaurant at Katoomba or the world-famous Cat’s Alley at the Hydro Majestic Hotel after watching a sublime sunset over a blue haze-shrouded valley while sipping a cocktail and resolving to take more time out in 2018. Bookings: escarpmentgroup.com.au or (02) 4780 1200.
SCHOOL HOLIDAY ACTIVITIES:
Talisman Gallery, Hartley historic village, Great Western Hwy (400m before turn off to Jenolan Caves heading west): Try your hand at the time honoured art of blacksmithing and make your very own fire poker on the forge and anvil on January 26 and 27. Cost: $25 includes materials and tuition. Decent footwear required. Bookings essential: Ron 0407 723 722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Everglades Historic House & Gardens, 37 Everglades Ave, Leura: Kids aged three to six can learn about heritage conservation and the natural environment in one of the most enchanting historic properties in the Blue Mountains through the My Adventure at Everglades activity book ($10 and $5 per subsequent book). Entry: $13 adults, $8 concessions, $4 children, National Trust members free. Details: (02) 4784 1938 or email email@example.com.
* All businesses mentioned are commercial clients of Deep Hill Media
By Ellen Hill for Everglades Historic House & Gardens Photos: David Hill, Deep Hill Media
Celebrate the simplicity, subtlety and emptiness of “white’’ when the richly designed and furnished Everglades Historic House & Gardens, Leura, holds a luminous twilight soiree to launch the White Exhibition on November 11.
Featuring three Blue Mountains artists (James Gordon, Julie Martin and Helen Sturgess), exhibition curator and art consultant Louise Abbott of iArt has based the exhibition around the White book by Japanese designer and curator Kenya Hara, the art director of Muji since 2001 who designed the opening and closing ceremony programs of the Nagano Winter Olympic Games 1998.
In his book Designing Design, Hara elaborates on the importance of “emptiness’’ in the visual and philosophical traditions of Japan and its application to design.
“In summary, `white’ symbolises simplicity and subtlety,’’ Abbott said.
“Hara attempts to explore the essence of `white’, which he sees as being closely related to the origin of Japanese aesthetics. The central concepts discussed by Hara are emptiness and the absolute void. He also sees his work as a designer as a form of communication. Good communication has the distinction of being able to listen to each other, rather than to press one’s opinion onto the opponent.’’
Hara compares that form of communication with an empty container.
“In visual communication there are equally signals whose signification is limited as well as signals or symbols such as the cross or the red circle on the Japanese flag which, like an empty container, permit every signification and do not limit imagination,’’ Abbott said.
“The Japanese character for white also forms a radical of the character for emptiness. Therefore, we can closely associate the colour white with emptiness.’’
Launched with a White soiree, the exhibition will be held in the magnificent 1930s art deco Everglades House set amid spectacular gardens, formal terraces and overlooking sweeping views of the Jamison Valley.
Dressed in white, guests will be served a selection of canapes and locally-produced drinks sponsored by Dryridge Estate, while floral arrangements will be provided by Floral Ink and musical duo Rachel Hannan and John Stuart will set the tone with smooth grooves.
All the artworks will be white-themed.
Everglades manager Guy McIlrath said: “With its progressive ideas and stark philosophies, the White exhibition is as avant garde as the property itself.
“The soiree event will be a reminder of Everglades in its heyday when you can imagine beautiful people floating around the gardens in beautiful clothes on summer evenings.
“In November the evenings are balmy, cool breezes and summer scents float through the trees and the formal ponds help cool the air, so it will be a very dreamy atmosphere.’’
The White exhibition official opening soiree event will be held at Everglades Historic House & Gardens, 37 Everglades Ave, Leura, from 5pm to 8pm on Saturday, November 11. Tickets: $55pp, $50pp National Trust members. Bookings essential: 0467 332 591 or 0410 312 827 or email firstname.lastname@example.org (please dress in white).
The exhibition will be displayed in the main house for a month thereafter. Everglades is open from 10am to 5pm daily during daylight savings and from 10am to 4pm during autumn and winter. Entry: $13 adults, $8 concessions, $4 children, National Trust members free.
Contact: (02) 4784 1938 or email email@example.com.
*Everglades Historic House & Gardens is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media
By Ellen Hill for Everglades Historic House & Gardens
Everglades Historic House & Gardens will provoke and challenge environmental change by opening its closet to a secret stash of exotic animals in June.
The Wunderkammer exhibition of ethically-sourced taxidermied animals by artist Rod McRae will be displayed at the Leura landmark from June 10 to August 27 (11am to 3pm), with one of the exhibits to be displayed at the Hydro Majestic Hotel at Medlow Bath.
Wunderkammer, which means “closet of secrets’’, has been on the regional art gallery circuit since 2013 and consists of 15 portals into what was, what is and what could be.
Each work explores an animal “issue’’ using real preserved animal bodies (taxidermy) to tell their stories including trophy hunting, displacement, poisoning.
A polar bear teeters on a refrigerator, a zebra is in a shipping crate on which is written a “shopping list’’ of animals available for hunt, there are penguin skeletons alongside shards of plastic and a list of harmful chemicals, a faceless baboon holding a mirror towards its head and the king of the jungle playing on a bed – with a chain around its neck.
However, no animal was harmed to make the artwork. The skins were the result of death by natural causes, medical euthanasia, hunting, culling and food production and had been traded on, sometimes multiple times before they became part of Wunderkammer. The skin of the baboon is a by-product of trophy taking.
McRae aimed to provoke thought, discussion and, ultimately, change through the sometimes hideous displays.
“I would like to believe that art can make a difference,’’ he said.
“Using the real thing creates art that is both authentic and empathetic. I argue that sculptures of animals rendered in resin, plastic, stone, wood or metal cannot speak as directly to us as the real animal.
“Each work touches on a different aspect of the human-animal relationship including biodiversity, pollution, climate change, conservation and stewardship. Each work asks us to examine our responsibilities as fellow travellers on this planet.’’
A floor talk will be given at the official opening on June 10 by a curator from the Western Plains Cultural Centre. Then, on June 24, Everglades will be hosting a faux fur luncheon with Rod McRae giving another floor talk.
Everglades manager Scott Pollock said: “This exhibition is an opportunity to meet these exotic creatures up close in ways we could never do while they are alive.
“While this exhibition is provocative and even confronting, our environment surrounding us here in the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area with its vast wilderness of rare, unknown and thought-to-be-extinct plant and animal species demands that we give it consideration.’’
The art deco-style of the 1930s property and squash court building which is now used as the gallery is an apt venue to showcase the unusual.
“Visitors already expect the unexpected at Everglades. We have a manmade waterfall and bathing pond, exotic landscaped gardens amongst the native bushland, unusual columns, niches and drystone walls and live Shakespeare productions, so coming across a zebra in the a squash court or Polar bear wrapped around a refrigerator won’t be too extraordinary.”
“The exhibition is very Blue Mountains of the 1930s and the local community is very comfortable with the concepts of it today actually.’’
Everglades Historic House & Gardens, 37 Everglades Ave, Leura, is open from 10am to 5pm daily during daylight savings and from 10am to 4pm during autumn and winter. Entry: $13 adults, $8 concessions, $4 children, National Trust members free.
Contact: : (02) 4784 1938 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The works included in Wunderkammer are managed by the Western Plains Cultural Centre, a facility of Dubbo Regional Council.
Rod McRae began his visual journey as a children’s book author illustrator in the 1980s producing more than 50 books.
In the `90s he experimented with photography and was twice a finalist in the Blake Prize for Religious Art.
Since 2008, McRae has explored sculpture and installation art concentrating on conservation and human-animal themes and has been a finalist in several art prizes including the Wynne Prize for Australian landscape/figurative sculpture, Fishers Ghost Art Prize and Sculpture by the Sea.
Wunderkammer is McRae’s first travelling show. It has been on the regional art gallery circuit since 2013.
* Everglades Historic House & Gardens is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 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 email@example.com.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.
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.
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.
- Businesses mentioned above are commercial clients of Deep Hill Media and Headline Publicity
By Ellen Hill for Everglades Historic House & Gardens Photos: David Hill
Children can learn about heritage conservation and the natural environment in one of the most enchanting historic properties in the Blue Mountains these school holidays – and they won’t even know it’s educational.
My Adventure at Everglades children’s program will begin at Everglades Historic House & Gardens at Leura during the long December/January summer holidays.
Funded with a $25,000 grant from the Ian Potter Foundation through the Alec Prentice Sewell Gift, the program aims to encourage children to care for their natural and historic heritage.
Everglades manager Scott Pollock said the My Adventure at Everglades program would introduce a new generation of history and nature lovers to the Everglades property and others like it.
“We know that about two thousand of the thirty thousand visitors who come through the Everglades gate every year are children. That is two thousand potential future guardians of our nation’s heritage, culture and natural environment.
“For the first time, we have a dedicated program for children at Everglades, one which will spark their curiosity and urge to investigate and explore and help create a magical memory for the rest of their lives of an afternoon spent with Mum and Dad or Gran and Pop at this fairytale property in the Blue Mountains.’’
Surrounded by the spectacular landscape of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, Everglades features many outdoor “rooms’’ where small people can explore grassy slopes, tall trees, tiny flowers, colourful shrubs, outdoor theatre and mystic sculptures, tucked away among the Banksia men with their wicked tales.
The Everglades property at Leura includes 12.5 acres of Paul Sorensen-designed European-style gardens and native Australian bush with breathtaking views over the Jamison Valley, as well as the art deco house created by Henri Van de Velde in the 1930s.
Designed in consultation with expert educators for three to six-year-olds, the My Everglades Adventure program provides learning tools such as the Garden Detective Program, Sculpture Trail, activity book and an array of things to see and do.
Children will set off on their adventure with a pack of tools including a work book, magnifying glasses, garden trail, Play with Parents Guide and instructions for physical activities throughout the property.
Half the activities are for children to do themselves while others are conducted with parents.
A great resource to help children become ready for school, activities will give the opportunity for matching, drawing, colouring, identifying component parts, labelling and drawing from their surrounds along with counting, exploring and contemplating.
The My Everglades Adventure program will start during the 2015 summer school holidays. Everglades Historic House & Gardens, 37 Everglades Ave, Leura, is open from 10am to 5pm daily during daylight savings and from 10am to 4pm during autumn and winter. Entry: $13 adults, $8 concessions, $4 children, National Trust members free.
The children’s activity books cost $10 and $5 per subsequent book. Bookings and information: (02) 4784 1938 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Ellen Hill for Leura Garage Photo: David Hill
Mudgee winemaker James Manners will complete the dining circuit begun by his father in the 1980s when he visits popular pit stop Leura Garage Café-Restaurant as part of Vinovember on November 18.
Diners can learn about the family’s long association with the Blue Mountains food scene (Michael was one of the first in the 1980s to establish a fine dining environment in the area) and the story of how Manners Wine began over a long lunch in the south of France during the Meet the Winemaker dinner.
Leura Garage owner James Howarth said: “James being a prominent winemaker in the Central West and Michael’s restaurant history in the Blue Mountains represent what Vinovember is about – a celebration of great Blue Mountains food marrying wines from the Central West.’’
While international vino will also be feted, wine producers within 100 miles of Leura Garage such as Orange and Mudgee will be featured foremost and 2015 NSW Wine Awards winners announced on October 30 given victory laps.
“The Blue Mountains is the gateway to the Central West wine regions of Orange and Mudgee and we are fortunate to have prominent winemakers stop by on their regular travels from east to west,’’ Mr Howarth said.
As well as James Manners on November 18, diners can meet David Lowe of Lowe Wines in Mudgee on November 11 and Jason O’Dea from Windowrie Wines at Cowra on November 25.
There will be free wine tastings from 5pm to 7pm Tuesdays to compare local drops against their European counterparts, and customers will receive a complimentary glass of bubbles on Melbourne Cup Day, November 3.
Also, pay just $2 for each glass of wine poured from the bottle on each table on Mondays and kids will eat free with the purchase of any bottle of wine every Thursday.
“The food hasn’t taken a back seat because that’s what we do best. We are just shining the headlights onto the wines which enhance our food,’’ Mr Howarth said.
Now open seven days, Leura Garage diners can pre-book a table online.
* Leura Garage is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media and Headline Publicity
By Ellen Hill for Bygone Beautys Photos: David Hill
Whether you like English or Irish breakfast, Oolong or Russian Caravan; white, green, orange or red; weak, strong or smoky, the long-awaited Bygone Beautys Treasured Teapot Museum & Tearooms revamp has been steeped to perfection and is ready to savour.
The major extensions and renovations of the popular Leura tourist attraction were officially opened by former NSW Governor Professor the Honourable Dame Marie Bashir AD CVO last Tuesday at a glittering soiree attended by a veritable who’s who of the local tourism industry and Macquarie Federal MP Louise Markus.
Local Aboriginal man Chris Tobin gave a Darug Welcome to Country. Dennis Barber, who gave an Acknowledgement to Country on behalf of the Gundungurra people, said tea drinking was a great equaliser of class and status and that many problems had been solved over a cuppa.
That theme was expanded on by Professor Dame Marie, who said Bygone Beautys was filling an important role in preserving the history and culture of tea, a significant part of Australian ethos and heritage.
She told the gathering about visiting the Blue Mountains, “one of the most beautiful places on the planet’’, as a child.
Professor Dame Marie also unveiled a commemorative plaque and spectacular custom-made Mad Hatter’s-inspired teapot sculpture by metal artists Ron Fitzpatrick and Steve Cunningham of Talisman Gallery at Hartley. The creation was made from a salvaged chimney stack from a steam engine, complete with a candy-like decorative steel handle, bow-tie-wearing rabbit and spout.
The Bygone Beautys revamp was created using local suppliers and tradespeople where possible and includes a new museum space, function room, formal tearoom and retail area specialising in all things tea-related.
Resplendent in a magnificent patterned jacket and trademark bow tie, Mr Cooper led Professor Dame Marie on a tour of the premises before more than 300 guests wandered the airy new spaces and inspected thousands of teapots, some debuting publically for the first time.
Mr Cooper acknowledged the efforts of owner of the original Bygone Beautys teapot collection Ron Hooper who began the collection in 1974 and with whom Mr Cooper went into business with in 1992.
“I was thinking about what I was going to do during my retirement at age 55, Ron had a teapot collection and I was a compulsive teapot buyer,’’ Mr Cooper said.
“When we took over this premises it was zoned as a tearoom so to comply we had this tiny little tearoom and a huge display of antiques.’’
Twenty-three years later, the teapot collection has grown to more than 5500 teapots and is the largest of its kind in Australia and one of the largest in the world. It spans five centuries and includes items from all over the world. It also includes 7000 teaspoons and 3000 tea towels among other artefacts.
The tearooms are also famous for decadent Devonshire tea and traditional high tea, served with a degree of pomp and ceremony on fine bone china from a tea trolley to the strains of Land of Hope & Glory.
Mr Cooper thanked the Bygone Beautys staff for their tolerance during the renovations and partner of 48 years Mr McKenzie, “my mentor, my partner and the person I most respect in the whole world’’.
The occasion was marked with a specially-penned poem by bush poetry champion Gregory North and cake made by Betty Reynolds and guests were entertained with a dance rendition of I’m a Little Teapot by pint-sized dancers from Blackheath’s Dance For Life! school and an opera performance by Opera Bites.
Bygone Beautys is located on the corner of Grose and Megalong streets in Leura, a short stroll from Leura Mall. Open seven days a week between 10am and 5.30pm, last tearoom orders taken at 5pm. Traditional High Tea is available 10.30am – 4pm weekdays and 10.30am – 4.30pm on weekends. Bookings essential: (02) 4784 3117 or email@example.com.
* Bygone Beautys is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.