Celebrate the opulent era when Australia’s first tourist destination kicked up its heels for a decade-long party. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

Celebrate the opulent era when Australia’s first tourist destination kicked up its heels for a decade-long party. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

By Ellen Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

It’s almost time to clad your chassis (female body) in your glad rags (“going out on the town’’ clothes) for a copacetic (wonderful) time to celebrate the opulent era when Australia’s first tourist destination kicked up its heels for a decade-long party.

The Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism Roaring 20s Festival and all that Jazz will be held throughout the Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon region from February 7 to 22, and is for any egg (person who lives the big life) who loves a shindig (party).

Dance your way into history at the Blue Mountains Charleston Challenge. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

Dance your way into history at the Blue Mountains Charleston Challenge. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

The festival will again kick off with the Blue Mountains Charleston Challenge at the newly re-opened Hydro Majestic Hotel, conveniently opposite Medlow Bath railway station, on Saturday, February 7.

The challenge aims to break its own Guinness World Record for the greatest number of costumed people to dance the Charleston. It set the record with 276 in 2013, 319 in 2014 – let’s make it 350 in 2015. Registrations are now open via the festival website.

The celebration of decadence, architecture and jazz music will continue with a dizzying round of costumed balls and high teas, historical walks, fashion parades, outrageous dancing and jazz music.

There will be the exquisite Long Lunch with gourmet food and wine event at an exciting new venue, 1920s-themed transport rallies and film nights, garden tours, murder mysteries, radio plays, vintage sports and more.

Popular TV personality Claudia Chan Shaw will again be festival patron. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

Popular TV personality Claudia Chan Shaw will again be festival patron. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

Popular TV personality Claudia Chan Shaw will again be festival patron and Charlotte Smith, curator of The Darnell Collection of International Vintage Couture, will be its ambassador.

Festival director Angela Corkeron said it was a great opportunity for locals and visitors to dress up and relive the era of true extravagance.

“The 1920s was a time to celebrate – the drudgery of World War I was gone, people were happy and kicked up their heels to show it.

“Everything was almost a dare: the fashion, the makeup, ladies’ traditionally long hair was cut short, skirt lengths rose so that one caught a glimpse of elegant ankles and the dancing was matched by the fabulous rise of jazz and ragtime music.’’

Definitely not for a flat tyre (dull-witted, insipid, disappointing date) or Mrs Grundy (priggish, tight-laced person), the festival is the calendar highlight for flappers (stylish, brash, hedonistic young woman with short skirts and hair), fly boys (glamorous term for aviator), owls (person who’s out late) and any Sheba (woman with sex appeal) or sheik (man with sex appeal) out to whoopee (have a good time).

The festival celebrates the elegance and style of the 1920s era. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

The festival celebrates the elegance and style of the 1920s era. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism chairman Daniel Myles said: “The Roaring 20s Festival has brought the chutzpah back to the original hedonistic holiday destination and given people yet another reason to visit.

“The grand hotels of the era – the Carrington, Mountain Heritage and now the Hydro Majestic – have, one by one, been restored back to their glorious heyday and are now overflowing with the wonderful characters they were made for.

“Then there’s the Glamour & Gowns Ball at Lithgow’s Civic Ballroom, which was spectacularly decked out last year, and everyone can experience the age of steam and industry at the Highlands Steam & Vintage Fair at Oberon.’’

Events will be held throughout the Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon region. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

Events will be held throughout the Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon region. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

So get a wiggle on, don a swanky outfit and shake your gams (a woman’s legs) for a hotsy totsy (pleasing), nifty (great) time of sumptuous architecture, costume balls and high teas, saucy clothing, outrageous (for the time) dancing and jazz music.

Stay a night or three and fully immerse yourself in the era.

Go to roaring20s.com.au for more information about the Roaring 20s Festival and all that Jazz.

Go to visitbluemountains.com.au for accommodation, dining and activity options.

The Blue Mountains Charleston Challenge is a great activity for the whole family. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

The Blue Mountains Charleston Challenge is a great activity for the whole family. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

The most anticipated tourism event of the year: the re-opening of the Hydro Majestic Hotel at Medlow Bath in the Blue Mountains. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

The most anticipated tourism event of the year: the re-opening of the Hydro Majestic Hotel at Medlow Bath in the Blue Mountains. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

By Escarpment Group and Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

After almost six years of detailed planning and review, one of the most famous tourism landmarks in the Blue Mountains, the Hydro Majestic Hotel, will open its doors once more tomorrow, Friday, October 31.

Cats Alley. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

Cats Alley. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

The public opening follows an exclusive media preview in the new-look Wintergarden today attended by NSW Premier Mike Baird and more than 150 VIP travel and tourism guests.

The Hydro Majestic venues will open to the public tomorrow with a series of five exclusive high tea events in The Casino Lobby and The Wintergarden.

Beneath the famous dome. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

Beneath the famous dome. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

 

 

Venues such as The Boiler House will also open progressively from Friday, October 31, and other venues such as The Salon Du The in the coming weeks, bringing the Hydro back to the people of Australia, celebrating its wonderful history and providing a broad palette of dining, event and public facilities.

The challenge of adding the next layer of history to these remarkable buildings has not been taken lightly. Rather, the Hydro Majestic’s social history and heritage and its much loved place in the memories of so many people has been examined and respected.

Department store retailer Mark Foy’s journey from when he purchased the property in 1902 was as a visionary, an ambitious and remarkable one.

The Wintergarden. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

The Wintergarden. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

He created a “Palace in the Wilderness’’ on a mountain top overlooking the Megalong Valley against all odds. Guests from around the globe flocked to it: the fortunate, the famous, the fabulous and even the infamous.

It is with this same belief and confidence in the Blue Mountains region that the Escarpment Group re-opens the Hydro Majestic, re-creating the glamour and style the world remembers, while adding new and vibrant additions that talk to the past and celebrate the future.

Architect Ashkan Mostaghim of Mostaghim & Assoc has created the revised formula for the site including the new Hydro Majestic Pavilion and interpretation of the old Boiler House to create a provocative and exciting café environment with a vista over the Majestic Point Lookout.

Spectacular outlook across the Megalong Valley. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

Spectacular outlook across the Megalong Valley. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

The interior of the hotel has been brought back to life in the spirit and style with which it opened.

Interior designer Peter Reeve and the team at CRD have produced luxurious new and historically inspired interiors which reference the past and fold into the present with absolute luxe.

They have embraced the tradition of bespoke design to interpret the many periods of the hotel’s history, creating a unique range of carpets, paints, wallpapers and furnishings with Australian designers and suppliers based on period influences referencing the austere beauty of the Edwardian, the generosity of the Art Nouveau of the Belle Époque and moments of Art Deco.

Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism chairman Daniel Myles said: “The Hydro Majestic genuinely fits into the `icon’ category.

“From the charismatic character of Mark Foy who transformed the property into the splendid venue we all know to Peter Reeve’s exquisite restoration of today, the Hydro is a unique fixture in the history of Australia’s first tourist destination.

Exquisite refurbishment. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

Exquisite refurbishment. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

“Everyone has a story to tell about the hotel and I’m sure the tales of romance, life chapter markers and even those yarns that are a little bit mischievous will continue to unfold for a whole new generation of visitors and locals.

“I congratulate the Escarpment Group for restoring one of our original tourist gems to its full glorious state. It was a mammoth task but the result is a spectacular venue the whole region can be proud of.

Grand ballroom. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

Grand ballroom. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

 

“The Hydro Majestic gives visitors a most stupendous reason to visit the Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon region besides the magnificent Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area itself.’’

The newly renovated Hydro Majestic Hotel will also boost tourism and employment in the region and help cement the Blue Mountains’ reputation as a glamorous national and international tourist destination.

Bookings and details: (02) 4780 1305, reservations@hydromajestic.com.au or www.hydromajestic.com.au.

 

The Hydro Majestic was relaunched under Escarpment Group’s boutique label in the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area which also incorporating Lilianfels Resort and Spa, Echoes Boutique Hotel & Restaurant and Parklands Country Gardens & Lodge.

The refurbished Hydro Majestic Hotel retains many historic elements. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

The refurbished Hydro Majestic Hotel retains many historic elements. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

 

Spring blooms abound in and around Oberon this weekend.

Spring blooms abound in and around Oberon this weekend.

By Oberon Plateau Tourism Association

Soak up the warm weather, leave the rat race behind and amble among the open gardens of Oberon this weekend.

Take your pick from:

Gairloch Garden at Oberon.

Gairloch Garden at Oberon.

Gairloch Garden

Take a stroll among a beautiful alpine flower garden and delightful cool climate trees such as Japanese maples and conifers. Water is featured in many parts of the garden.

Tucked away in the back of the garden are a variety of bird aviaries and Meg’s prize winning Chinese Silkies and gold and silver Seabrights

Each year return visitors will find something new to surprise and delight them.

Gairloch Garden, 27 Blenheim Ave Oberon, is the home of Meg and Peter Low. Entry: $5 donated to charity. Details: (02) 6336 0291.

 

Amble among the flowers.

Amble among the flowers.

The Oberon and District Garden Club

The club has selected six beautiful local gardens for you to enjoy between 10am and 4pm this spring.

They vary from two small neighbouring village gardens to larger rural spreads including newly-established gardens and well-established mature gardens.

Whatever the age or size, each garden will delight in the variety of cold climate plantings. Two gardens are situated in Oberon township while the other four are conveniently in the Chatham-Valley-Ginkin area, making access easy.

Entry:  $12 for all gardens. Tickets available from Oberon Visitors Information Centre, Ross St, or from individual gardens.  Details: Oberon Visitors Information Centre (02) 6329 8310.

 

The Water Garden at Mayfield Garden.

The Water Garden at Mayfield Garden.

Mayfield Garden

Inspired by the grandeur of English country gardens, Mayfield Garden is one of the largest privately owned cool climate gardens in the world.

The private garden is open each day until Sunday, November 2, although the Water Garden is now open throughout the year.

Mid week visitors can see the garden team at work, have lunch or morning tea at the newly opened café and weekend visitors can experience live entertainment, delicious catering options and a shuttle bus service between the Water Garden and the Chapel.

Mayfield Garden is at 530 Mayfield Rd, Oberon. Cost: adults $25, family $65, child $10 (6 years and under free). Details: (02) 6336 3131.

The Water Garden is open year round.

The Water Garden is open year round.

Back to Hartley promises to be a fun family affair. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

Back to Hartley promises to be a fun family affair. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

By National Parks & Wildlife Service

The popular Back to Hartley Day, which attracted a huge crowd to the historic village near Lithgow two years ago will be held for the third time on Sunday, October 26, and feature a jam packed day of events, exhibitions and local tastings.

NPWS Hartley Historic Site manager Steve Ring said the day would offer something for everyone.

Visit Talisman Gallery during Back to Hartley. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

Visit Talisman Gallery during Back to Hartley. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

“Visitors can take a wander through the wonderful Talisman Gallery or view the work of local Aboriginal artists in the Kew-Y-Ahn Gallery, enjoy a coffee at the Old Post Office Cafe or take in the panorama of the village from its best vantage point at the Granite Tors.

“There will also be a large number of cultural and community groups exhibiting and explaining their programs to encourage greater community participation.’’

Back to Hartley will showcase a variety of arts, crafts and local produce as well as entertainment, vintage cars and a selection of fine foods and refreshments plus activities for the kids and entertainment from the Lithgow Folk Club, sheep shearing and an opportunity to try your hand at archery.

Explore a slice of colonial Australia at Back to Hartley. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

Explore a slice of colonial Australia at Back to Hartley. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

This year there will also be the Cox family reunion and the unveiling of two new interpretive panels to commemorate the Great Western Road surveyed by George Evans and constructed by William Cox.

Set among pastures, orchards and 19th and 20th century cottage gardens, the Hartley Historic Site village’s lovely sandstone building preserve an important piece of history, the settlement of inland Australia.

The Back to Hartley event will be held by NPWS in partnership with Hartley Advisory Committee to raise awareness of the site’s significance and heritage as well as raise funds for local charities and not-for-profit organisations.

Back to Hartley will be held at Hartley Historic Site, Old Bathurst Rd, 13km south of Lithgow, from 9am to 4pm on Sunday, October 26. Details: (02) 6355 2117.

Refreshments and an array of activities will be part of the event. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

Refreshments and an array of activities will be part of the event. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

 

The unblemished view from Echo Point Lookout at Katoomba. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

The unblemished view from Echo Point Lookout at Katoomba. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

By Ellen Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

One year after the devastating October 2013 bushfires, it is business as usual for one of the most recognisable places on earth – the Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon region.

Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism (BMLOT) chairman Daniel Myles said: “The October 2013 bushfires were a terrible part of our community’s history and we very much feel for those who lost their homes. After all, they are our family, friends, neighbours and colleagues.

Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism chairman Daniel Myles. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism chairman Daniel Myles. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

“The tourism and hospitality industry is one of the major economic drivers of this region so its success is crucial to countless families, whether someone in the household has a couple of casual shifts at a cafe, a full-time job as a housekeeper at a hotel, is an outdoor guide or owns their own grand hotel.’’

The Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area attracts 4 million visitors and $550 million a year, generates more than 5100 equivalent full-time jobs and is recognised globally as a hub for outdoor recreation and magnificent vistas. Add to that a growing regional food and wine focus, an endless round of festivals and events and its place as the first tourist destination in Australia.

“None of that changed with the October 2013 bushfires –the main tourist experience remained intact,’’ Mr Myles said. “In fact, there is no risk to visitors to the region most of the time, especially at popular sites and attractions.’’

Nevertheless, the tourism and hospitality industry had identified several areas in which it could improve its protection of and communication to visitors to the region.

“The Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area is a place of great beauty. However, it is an untamed wilderness (notice the word `wild’) of many moods which demands respect and awe.’’

In the past 12 months, BMLOT had spent much time and effort learning how other tourism organisations and destinations had responded to similar incidents.

The official regional tourism organisation had explored ways in which it could build on the existing policies, protocols and strategies successfully implemented during the October 2013 bushfires.

BMLOT had begun to introduce bushfire and general bush safety messaging into its everyday communications.

“Last year, our identified emergency evacuation point for tourists who needed a safe place to go was the Waldorf Leura Gardens B&B Resort, an excellent option given its size, facilities, proximity to a residential area and distance from bushland,’’ Mr Myles said. “Emergency evacuation points which do not burden facilities intended for residents will be identified during each such bushfire incident from now on.’’

BMLOT will work with tourism and hospitality business owners on evacuation plans and other internal industry safety measures.

The organisation had also built on its already solid working relationships with emergency services, National Parks & Wildlife Service, Blue Mountains City Council, Sydney Trains and others.

Mr Myles encouraged people to see for themselves the unblemished tourist experience in Australia’s most accessible wilderness.

“If people want to help the region on its road to recovery, they can treat themselves to a short break in the Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon region, knowing that spending money on a hotel room, buying a meal and going on an experience helps support the thousands in this community who work in the tourism industry – and have an amazing experience at the same time.’’

Go to visitbluemountains.com.au for dining, accommodation and activity options.

The Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon region including Blue Mountains Botanic Garden at Mt Tomah is open for business as usual. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

The Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon region including Blue Mountains Botanic Garden at Mt Tomah is open for business as usual. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

(l-r) Wendy Whiteley and Blue Mountains Cultural Centre director Paul Brinkman. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

(l-r) Wendy Whiteley and Blue Mountains Cultural Centre director Paul Brinkman. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

By Ellen Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

Blue Mountains Cultural Centre at Katoomba has finally opened the doors to the long-awaited Brett Whiteley: West of the Divide exhibition.

Curated by his former wife and “goddess muse’’ Wendy Whiteley and the Art Gallery of NSW, the exhibition focuses on the enduring connection that Whiteley had with the region west of the Great Dividing Range and features 38 works including painting, sculpture and drawings that span three decades of the artist’s career.

Speaking at the cultural centre on the day of the exhibition opening, Wendy Whitely said Brett’s connection with the Blue Mountains and Central West encompassing Oberon, Bathurst, Orange, Lucknow, Milthorpe, Carcoar, Sofala, Hill End and Marulan stretched back to his days at boarding school in Bathurst “which he hated – he felt abandoned and punished’’.

“But they did provide him and [fellow artist] Vernon Treweeke with an art teacher – they were the only two kids in the entire school who were in the least bit interested in the arts.’’

Marulan Bird With Rocks (c 1980). Brett Whiteley

Marulan Bird With Rocks (c 1980). Brett Whiteley

After leaving school, Whiteley got a job at Lintas advertising agency in Sydney. He and colleagues Michael Johnson and Max Cullen went on regular weekends away to the Central West including Oberon.

“They’d take off on Friday… and they’d always come in this direction,’’ Wendy said. “They’d come up to the mountains and then go over to Hill End and Sofala, drink a lot of beer, fall out of trees, do some drawing, paint and have a rollicking good boys weekend, you know. I never came on those weekends – girls weren’t allowed (all for the best, I’m sure – it would have driven me mad).’’

The couple left Australia and lived in Europe for 10 years, then New York and Fiji, finally returning to Australia.

The Whiteleys, who then had their daughter Arkie, lived in Carcoar in an converted schoolhouse owned by John Laws, and Oberon for several years.

“I love the Oberon area,’’ Wendy said. “We had fires every night. One time we went to the house and in the kitchen there was a big snake on the inside of the screen door. One of the dogs got down a rabbit hole and we had to dig it out. It was a lovely life. We had friends come up and stay with us.

The Day Asia Got Born (1970). Brett Whiteley

The Day Asia Got Born (1970). Brett Whiteley

“Brett worked a lot there. He loved it. He’d go into the landscape in the day with the dogs. He never really worked out in the field but he’d go out for inspiration and do some sketches and then come back into the studio and work, wherever that was at the time.

“In Australia, his major landscape paintings come from this area, west of the Divide.’’

Whiteley fell in love with the “spectacularly beautiful’’ landscape around Oberon, his favourite features of which can be seen in his work: “those craggy rocks’’, the Fish River, the willows which grew along the riverbanks at the time.

“He loved that kind of sculptural thing with the rocks coming out of the ground. It’s a staggering landscape. It’s very different to the kind of landscape with the rolling, buxom hills that are manicured and very gentle around Bathurst. And he shows that difference between the areas in his work.’’

His penchant for sticking mementos such as sticks and stones to his artwork began during the Carcoar/Oberon time, Wendy said.

West of the Divide exhibition works have been selected from Whiteley’s studio and the Art Gallery of NSW.

Wendy Whiteley was impressed with the new Blue Mountains Cultural Centre space. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

Wendy Whiteley was impressed with the new Blue Mountains Cultural Centre space. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

“There’s some very important works here,’’ Wendy said. “It’s taken a while to organise this show but now it’s up I’m so happy with it, I think it just looks stunning.’’

She was also impressed with the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre gallery: “Love it. I just love the elegance of it in this space – it’s beautiful.

“I’ve never been here before so I was a little bit nervous – I always am when I’m doing a show but it’s been beautifully selected and curated.’’

Blue Mountains Cultural Centre director Paul Brinkman said: “This exhibition acknowledges the important role the Central West and greater Blue Mountains region played in the artistic development of one of Australia’s most recognised and celebrated artists and in doing so further interprets the rich artistic narrative of the region.’’

Brett Whiteley: West of the Divide will be exhibited at Blue Mountains Cultural Centre, 30 Parke St, Katoomba, until Sunday, November 30. Cost: $5 adults, $3 concession, free cultural centre members and under-16. There will also be a range of public programs throughout the exhibition. Bookings and details: info@bluemountainsculturalcentre.com, or (02) 4780 5410 or www.bluemountainsculturalcentre.com.au.

Sofala (1958). Brett Whiteley

Sofala (1958). Brett Whiteley

Follow your feet. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

Follow your feet. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

By Ellen Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

Saunter around spring gardens, tramp along a track, climb down a canyon and stroll along the street. Whatever walk you choose this Festival of Walking, let your feet guide your way.

The “no brainer’’ festival which showcases the magnificent Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area and the walking activities within it continues through the school holidays and until October 19.

BMLOT chairman Daniel Myles. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

BMLOT chairman Daniel Myles. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

BMLOT chairman Daniel Myles said: “The Festival of Walking is a fantastic opportunity to experience the whole gamut of walking activities we have in this world-famous region, from easy street strolls, garden ambles and brisk walks through to hardcore treks into remote areas.

“Activities are held throughout the week, so why not beat the crowds, take a gulp of our fresh air and book a bed for a short break mid-week.’’

The Festival of Walking continues throughout the school holidays and until October 19. Visitors and locals can choose from an extensive list at festivalofwalking.com.au including:

Valley of the Waters Walk and Grand Canyon walks with Tread Lightly Eco Tours (September 26, 27 and 28): Experience spectacular waterfalls, lush rainforests, remote wilderness, eucalyptus forest, deep gorges and canyons, towering sandstone escarpments 300m high and valleys 800m deep. Cost: from $135 with a picnic lunch. Exclusive and tailors tours available. Bookings: 0414 976 752 or ecotours@treadlightly.com.au.

National Parks Discover Wild Waratahs Walks with Mount Tomah Foundation Friends, September 27: Search for the NSW floral emblem in the wild along Pierce’s Pass with a Discovery Ranger, learn about the national park and see how waratahs are responding after the 2013 fires. Cost: $15 adults, $7.50 children (6-16 years). Bookings: (02) 9231 8182 or Blue Mountains Botanic Garden.

Wild Waratahs Walk. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

Wild Waratahs Walk. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

The Fairmont Walk with Life’s An Adventure in association with Fairmont Resort Blue Mountains, Saturdays until October 19: Discover cool fern-filled gullies, pockets of rainforests and a series of lookouts with uninterrupted views of the Jamison Valley on this family adventure. Uncover habitats and the secrets of plants and animals. Stay overnight at the Fairmont Resort Blue Mountains (bookings: (02) 4785 0000). Cost: $50 adults, $30 children (8-16 years) walk only includes morning tea, guide and transfers to and from Fairmont Resort. Bookings:  Bookings (02) 9975 4553 or Life’s An Adventure.

A Hike in History with Blue Mountains Guides, every Friday until October 17: Descend through a steep gorge of temperate rainforest, traverse along Lindemans Pass, see beautiful views of Mt Solitary and the Jamison (Kedumba) Valley and climb close enough to waterfalls to freshen your face. Cost: $180. Bookings: Blue Mountains Guides.

The Dunphy Kowmung Walk will be a highlight of the Festival of Walking. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

The Dunphy Kowmung Walk will be a highlight of the Festival of Walking. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

Dunphy’s Kowmung Adventure Walk with the Colong Foundation for Wilderness. Features a range of short walks, overnight camps, campfires, celebrations and wilderness adventures. Take part as a walker or camp and celebrate around a campfire. Details: Colong Foundation.

Ruined Castle – A Fairy Tale or Basalt Castle? with Life’s An Adventure, September 28, October 1 and 9: Ride the Scenic Railway, hike to Ruined Castle, traverse the Jamison Valley and climb Ruined Castle to take in 360 degree views. Cost:  $225 adults, $165 children includes lunch ($249 adults, $165 children outside festival days). Bookings: (02) 9975 4553 or Life’s An Adventure.

Tomah Spur Wilderness Walk with Blue Mountains Botanic Garden, October 8: Learn about Blue Mountains plants and wildlife and the different environments on the conservation land. Travel through a carpet of ferns, moss-laden rocks and lush green rainforest with towering trees before emerging onto a rock outcrop with spectacular views of the Blue Mountains. Includes a talk on the Wollemi pine to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its discovery. Cost:  $95. Bookings: (02) 4567 3019 or email kristen.winder@rbgsyd.nsw.au.

Glow Worm Tunnel with Wilderness Adventures, October 2: See the famous glow worms which light the disused railway tunnel then follow the old railway and explore the history of the area. Marvel at pagoda rock formations and magnificent views into the Wolgan Valley. Cost: $250 (normally $350) includes meals and snacks. Bookings: (02) 4787 1119 or 0403 860 820 or email info@wildernessadventures.net.au.

Cox’s River Overnight Fishing & Bushwalking, Wilderness Adventures, October 4-6: Visit the lower reaches of the Cox’s River and help threatened native species by fishing for introduced carp. Cost:  $200 per person includes all meals and snacks (gear available). Bookings: (02) 4787 1119 or 0403 860 820 or email info@wildernessadventures.net.au.

Tigersnake Canyon, High n Wild, October 4 and 11: Walk through the Wollemi National Park to arrive at the beginning of the canyon, a slot in the ground barely 1m wide, through which you will abseil into the canyon. Practice your abseiling skills further before abseiling next to a spectacular waterfall. Marvel as the canyon opens into a rainforest gully before dropping into a dark chasm, sliding down between two canyon walls. Cost:  $199 includes lunch. Bookings:  (02) 4782 6224 or info@highandwild.com.au.

The Glow Worm Tunnel walk is a family activity. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

The Glow Worm Tunnel walk is a family activity. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

The Cox’s Road walks, the Hartley Valley community, various dates: Walk with informed local guides country traversed by explorers Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth in 1813, surveyor Evans in 1813-1814, road builder Cox in 1814-1815 and Governor Lachlan Macquarie in 1815. Cost:  $65 (must be over 12 years of age) includes lunch and admission into A Moment in Time exhibition. Bookings:  0414 506 643 or hartleyprogress@gmail.com.

Deep Pass & River Caves Adventure, High n Wild, October 5 and 12: Explore two slot canyons in the Wollemi Wilderness. Begin with a bushwalk to the start of Deep Pass Canyon. Unusually, the trip travels upstream, climbing waterfalls and scrambling around deep pools before descending into the deep, dark, mysterious River Caves. Keep your eye out for rare blue yabbies. Cost:  $180 includes lunch. Bookings:  (02) 4782 6224 or info@highandwild.com.au.

Other upcoming walks include Katoomba Hidden & Forgotten Places, Lockley’s Pylon, Extreme Beer Walk, Woodford Academy Guided Walk to Mable Falls, Varuna Writer’s Ramble, Central West Wine with Nibbles, Leura Gardens Festival (October 5-12), Mayfield Garden walks (now open full-time, Oberon Historic Township and Kanangra Boyd Waterfall Walk.

Of course visitors and locals can go on self-guided walks at any time. The Greater Blue Mountains National Park contains more than 400 walking tracks (go to Blue Mountains National Park walks) and sites such as Hartley Historic Village are accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Go to www.festivalofwalking.com.au for more information.

  • Wherever you walk, practice safe walking habits: plan ahead, wear appropriate clothing and footwear, carry plenty of water and food, register your walk at Springwood or Katoomba police station or the NPWS visitor centre at Blackheath where you can borrow for free a personal locator beacon and stay on the track.

    A range of guided walks such as this one with an NPWS Discovery Ranger are available. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

    A range of guided walks such as this one with an NPWS Discovery Ranger are available. Photo: David Hill, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism