By Ellen Hill – Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism
The Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon region’s long-held position as a top tourist destination was given a Royal nod of approval by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge recently.
The Royal couple took in the fresh air and magnificent outlook at Echo Point overlooking the Three Sisters and Jamison Valley on April 17.
Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism (BMLOT) chairman Daniel Myles said: “BMLOT was delighted to have been instrumental in the Royal couple’s visit to the upper Blue Mountains.
“The Duke and Duchess were absolutely and genuinely wowed by our grand backyard. Their visit has been a priceless opportunity for us to showcase our natural treasure to the entire world through the world’s media during Their Royal Highness’ visit.’’
Tourism Australia managing director John O’Sullivan said images of the Royal couple at locations such as the Three Sisters were “tourism gold’’ which led to incalculable international exposure and inspired holidaymakers from around the world to book a trip there.
However, the presence of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at a globally recognised Blue Mountains tourist attraction gave the regional tourism industry a much needed boost after challenging times, Mr Myles said.
“The Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon region is most definitely back on track and open for business – the Duke and Duchess posing for photos in front of a large tract of our unscathed, glorious, sweeping World Heritage Area provided the world with all the proof it needed,’’ Mr Myles said.
With its majestic vistas, sheer canyons, vast wilderness and temperate climate, the region has become a haven for nature-based recreational pursuits such as bushwalking, abseiling and canyoning, Segways, fishing and garden tours at cool climate properties such as Blue Mountains Botanic Garden, Mount Tomah, and Mayfield Garden at Oberon.
“The calibre of nature-based expert guides is world-class here with the best outdoor adventure business in Australia, Life’s An Adventure which took out the gold award in that category at the 2013 Australian Tourism Awards, and the high profile Blue Mountains Adventure Company, Tread Lightly Eco Tours and High n Wild,’’ Mr Myles said.
The region boasts a host of accommodation options to suit every budget from grand hotels like the Carrington Hotel and Mountain Heritage Hotel at Katoomba and regal luxury such as Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa near Lithgow, Lilianfels Blue Mountains Resort & Spa at Echo Point and the Fairmont Resort MGallery at Leura to myriad B&Bs and guesthouses and affordable motels and caravan parks.
The Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon food and wine focus has switched to more regional produce which compliment sustainable principals led by the Greater Blue Mountains Food and Wine Development Advisory Group and SlowFood Blue Mountains movement.
The result is food fit for a king sourced from local and regional suppliers, prepared by a growing stable of renowned chefs such as Lee Kwiez from Darley’s, Lilianfels Resorts’ hatted restaurant, Oliver Roberts (Vesta Restaurant, Blackheath), Damian Brabender (Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa) and Michael Bell (Fairmont Resort).
The region, which already attracts up to 4 million visitors a year according to National Parks & Wildlife Service figures and is home to the most visited natural attraction in regional Australia (Echo Point Lookout) and the steepest passenger train in the world at Scenic World, is also experiencing a multi-million dollar revival through an array of public and private tourism-related projects.
New products and tourism experiences include the highly anticipated revamp of the Hydro Majestic Hotel at Medlow Bath by The Escarpment Group which also owns Lilianfels Blue Mountains and Echoes Boutique Hotel at Katoomba. The Escarpment Group will also soon open the 4.5 star Parklands Country Gardens & Lodges at a 28 acre property at Blackheath.
The Fairmont Resort MGallery continues to build on its $10 million refurbishment with a new spa with 10 treatment rooms, relaxation rooms, individual room terraces with views over the golfing fairways, resort gym, foot spa and manicure area all inspired by the seasons and surrounding environment.
The Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon region is also known for its year-round calendar of festivals and events which attract people to the destination who otherwise would not have come.
The BMLOT-supported region-wide Roaring 20s Festival and all that Jazz in February and the Festival of Walking in October have begun to gain traction among travellers who now anticipate and plan for them.
The inaugural Autumn Sustainable Food Festival featuring TomahROMA at Blue Mountains Botanic Garden, Mount Tomah, and Leura Village Association’s Leura Harvest Festival earlier this month completed the seasonal festival calendar while Yulefest in winter is the region’s most established and famous festival within hotels, guesthouses, B&Bs, restaurants and cafes.
Ironfest at Lithgow in April this year attracted 15,000 people, the Winter Magic Festival at Katoomba on June 21 traditionally lures more than 40,000 people celebrating the winter solstice, Carols in the Caves at Jenolan Caves in December is a traditional Christmas success and Sculpture at Scenic World (continues until May 18) is fast gaining notice in the art world.
Go to http://www.visitbluemountains.com.au for more information about activities, festivals and events, accommodation and dining options in the Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon region.