By Ellen Hill. Photography by David Hill.
Easy gift voucher shopping, all-inclusive party packages and cleanup-free feasts, memorable experiences, endless pampering and sublimely beautiful timeout zones – the Blue Mountains is a stress-free Christmas and New Year’s Eve destination.
From day trips to multi-day stays, festivities begin at the foothills where a river cruise into the far reaches of the Nepean River laps at the edges of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.
Nepean Belle Paddlewheeler owner Carol Bennett said: "Christmas should be a season of joy and fun with loved ones where you can take time out to relax after a busy year, be pampered, indulge in tasty food and create memories through exciting activities.
"But you shouldn’t have to put in the effort. Treat yourself to an unforgettable experience in one of the world’s most recognisable landscapes and let us do the work for you.”
From the banks of the river, Mrs Bennett encourages visitors to spend at least one night in the region to fully explore the bushwalks and nature, attractions, dining options and activities available.
Here’s a sample of Christmas cheer and New Year’s Eve options available:
Hartley Historic Site, Great Western Hwy (400m before turn off to Jenolan Caves heading west)
Millennia in the making, shaped in fire on the forge and presented in a piece of colonial heritage, metal artist Ron Fitzpatrick’s collection includes large high-end pieces along with signature metal art mirrors, small affordable sculptures and candleholders, an extensive collection of imported jewellery and crystal pieces.
A show of Ron’s new range inspired by jewellery-inspired designs will be held in the historic Corney’s Garage below the gallery at 2pm on Saturday, November 30. Can’t choose? Gift vouchers are also available.
Unleash your inner creative fire, work off some energy and learn an ancient art under guidance. Create your own piece of art on the anvil by beating red hot steel into the shape of a fire poker, decorative wall hook or small sculpture. Cost: fire poker or decorative wall hook $45, small piece of metal art mounted on sandstone $65 (additional element costs vary). A great 30-minute family activity for anyone aged 13 years and older, the Creative Fire experience is also available as a couples’ workshop activity at the special price of $275 per couple until February 15, 2020. No experience necessary. All materials supplied.
Creative Fire sessions available December 28 & 29. Talisman Gallery is open from 10am to 5pm Tuesday to Sunday.
ECHOES BAR & RESTAURANT
Lilianfels Ave, Katoomba
Perched on the very edge of the Blue Mountains escarpment just 200m from the Three Sisters rock formation at Echo Point, drink in sublime uninterrupted panoramas of the Jamison Valley while sipping on a Christmas cocktail. Renowned for its modern Australian cuisine using fresh, local produce with an Asian influence, the award-winning fine dining Echoes Restaurant is ideal for a casual lunch or romantic dinner for two.
More info here.
HYDRO MAJESTIC HOTEL
Great Western Hwy, Medlow Bath
Christmas Day (December 25)
LUNCH: Indulge in a three-tier festive lunch in the Wintergarden Restaurant overlooking the magnificent Megalong Valley while you tuck into fresh seafood, charcuterie and carvery selections, followed by traditional desserts. Package includes a three-hour beverage package, Christmas decorations, bonbons and even a special visit from Santa for the children. Cost: $199 adults, $125 teenagers (13 – 17 years), $85 children (4 – 12 years) and children under-4 complimentary seating only.
DINNER: Treat yourself to a decadent five-course degustation dinner featuring fresh seafood, traditional roasts and dessert with a glass of sparkling on arrival in the Wintergarden Restaurant while soaking up the sunset over the Megalong Valley. Includes Christmas decorations and bonbons. Cost: $125 adults, $99 teenagers (13-17 years), $65 children (4 – 12 years) and children under-4 complimentary seating only.
Boxing Day (December 26, 10.30am to 3pm)
HIGH TEA: Take full advantage of the holiday season and nibble on high tea delicacies in the Wintergarden Restaurant while gazing over panoramic Megalong Valley views. Cost: $65pp.
LUNCH: Extend celebrations over a two-course casual lunch and a glass of sparkling arrival in the Boilerhouse Restaurant with unrivalled views over the Megalong Valley. Cost: $75 adults, $65 teenagers (13-17 years old). Bookings: firstname.lastname@example.org or 02 4782 6885.
New Year’s Eve
Bid adieu to 2019 and welcome 2020 with a vibrant evening of live entertainment from The Australian INXS Show, magnificent sunset views and a five-course degustation dinner with glass of midnight sparkling.
The covers band celebrates and honours the memory of rock legend Michael Hutchence and brings back to life the halcyon days of INXS from their self-titled debut to Elegantly Wasted with songs like Need You Tonight, Never Tear Us Apart, Don’t Change, Live Baby Live and New Sensation. Cost: $199 adults, $159 teenagers (13 – 17 years), $95 children (4 – 12 years) and children under-4 complimentary seating.
Bookings: email@example.com or 02 4782 6885.More accommodation information here.
BLUE MOUNTAINS VINTAGE CADILLACS
An ideal romantic gesture or retro reminisce, a sightseeing tour of Australia’s first tourist destination in a 1929 Cadillac LaSalle car is a gift as distinctive as the vehicle itself.
The vintage ride will pass the breathtaking scenery of one of the most recognisable landscapes on Earth – the Three Sisters rock formation at Echo Point, just as the well-heeled of the Roaring `20s era used to do. Cruise upmarket Leura Mall for a head-turning effect. Take in the sights of historic Cliff Drive, pausing for reflection at jaw-droppingly gorgeous vistas along the way.
Details: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone Robert on 0400 500 542 or Don on 0455 352 976.
THE POLISHED OPAL
Leura, Blue Mountains.
Opal polishing under the guidance of expert Sonja van As is ideal for gemstone buffs and people difficult to buy for. Each participant receives three opals to polish, as well as a small display case in which to take them home.
Experience the thrill of releasing the iridescent fire from stone and learn about Australia’s national gemstone at a hands-on workshop.
Opal polishing with Sonja van As is available at 9am and 1pm daily. Limited to four people per session, children aged under 15 must be supervised by an adult (not suitable for those under 8). Sessions last up to three hours.
No prior experience necessary. Participants should wear short sleeves and tie long hair back.
Cost: $195 per person. Bookings essential: Sonja on 0448 725 830 or email@example.com.
BLUE MOUNTAINS LIMOUSINE
The team of professional chauffeurs is always alert and always sober 24/7 – so festive partygoers don’t have to be.
Two luxury sedans are at guests’ service, along with the only stretch limousine in the Blue Mountains ready to transfer passengers between functions and venues.
Guests ($59pp, minimum of two passengers per trip) will be collected from and returned to any location between Hazelbrook and Mt Victoria in the Blue Mountains (hotels, guesthouses, railway stations or private homes) between 4pm and midnight any Friday and Saturday from November 15 to December 30, and until 3am on January 1.
Bookings: Rob on 0400 500 542.
NEPEAN BELLE PADDLEWHEELER
Perfect for those difficult to buy for, vouchers are available to explore the deep reaches of the aquatic heart and lifeblood of the region. Experience the natural wonders of the landscape and its fauna over morning tea, lunch or dinner.
Christmas party venue:
Smooth water cruising, an ever-changing 40 million-year-old backdrop at the foothills of the Blue Mountains and old-fashioned hospitality makes for an ideal festive venue. Choose from lunch or evening, weekday or weekend packages. Passengers on each are served hearty festive fare and may book a public cruise (price from $53 per adult) or charter the vessel for a private function with onboard PA system and optional DJ (price from $84pp). Cash or tab bar only.
Bookings and vouchers: nepeanbelle.com.au, firstname.lastname@example.org or 02 4733 1274.