From memorable couples and family activities, storybook dining and retro rides to all-inclusive hampers stuffed with local goodies, party packages with a difference, decadent treats and cleanup-free feasts overlooking world-famous views – the Blue Mountains is a stress-free Christmas and New Year’s Eve destination just 60 minutes from Sydney.
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Blue Mountains Explorer Bus, Fantastic Aussie Tours and Clipper Class owner Jason Cronshaw said: ``A visit to our World Heritage-listed backyard is just the balm you need to recharge after a shocker of a year and to prepare for a fantastic 2021.
``With most international destinations still out of bounds, now’s the ideal time to see for yourself what all the overseas visitors have made a fuss about right on Sydney’s doorstep.
``So #HolidayHereThisYear. We’ll show you around. All you have to do is make memories and enjoy.’’
From daytrips 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.
From there, Mr Cronshaw 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 in the Blue Mountains:
HOTEL MOUNTAIN HERITAGE, Apex St, Katoomba
Family friendly – Christmas Day – accommodation deal – dining option
P: 02 4782 2155.
Just a few minutes' stroll from Katoomba town centre, you'll be close to everything yet feel a world away in a secluded paradise at Hotel Mountain Heritage.
Known for its unique character, friendly staff and incredible panoramic views over World Heritage wilderness and rugged sandstone escarpments, the hotel offers plenty of terrace space to enjoy a cool drink and a swimming pool to escape the summer heat.
Relax knowing the property has your safety as a top priority with plenty of room for social distancing and strict cleaning routines.
Upgrade your room from Heritage Standard to a Mountain View or Heritage Spa & Fireplace room for free when you book direct with the hotel and quote the code* SUMMERWELCOME2021.
* Terms and conditions apply. Offer valid through from 3 January 2021 - 31 January 2021 and is subject to room availability at the time of booking. Not available on public holidays. Guests must call the hotel directly and quote the code provided. Minimum 2-night stay.
Christmas Day dinner
Indulge in a four-course menu featuring butternut pumpkin soup with parmesan twist, a medley of roast meats, vegetables and buttered broccolini, and traditional plum pudding, brandy anglaise, fine vanilla ice cream and choc curl, washed down with freshly brewed tea or coffee.
Cost: adults $119pp, children $59pp (3-12 years)
Add a fresh seafood tasting plate for lunch. Cost: adults $149pp, children $75pp (3-12 years)
New Year’s Eve dinner
Herald in 2021 with a two ($75pp) or three-course ($89pp) feast of veal, mushroom and saffron ravioli with pesto cream, shredded pecorino and tomato fondue; JVR salad or pan seared scallops with cauliflower florets, avocado and melon salsa with balsamic glaze; a main of caramelised slow roasted pork forequarter with Dijon, maple, honey glazed baked vegetables parmentier and sauté apple and spinach, crispy skin Tasmanian salmon fillet with Pepperonata and char grilled zucchini, hand-cut potato and citrus and dill Beurre Blanc or pan roasted beef eye fillet with forest mushroom, Cognac marinated fig sauce and Tasmanian potato and broccolini.
Dessert will be pavlova with mixed berry compote, passionfruit pulp and fresh cream; flourless chocolate and hazelnut torte with chocolate ganache and chocolate curl; or sticky date pudding with toffee sauce, vanilla ice cream and brandy snap.
Kids can choose from chicken nuggets, battered fish or cheeseburger with chips and salad or pasta bolognaise vanilla ice cream and chocolate ganache for dessert.
BLUE MOUNTAINS CHOCOLATE COMPANY, 176 Lurline St, Katoomba
Family friendly – dining option – gift idea – romantic couples
Hours: 10am – 6pm seven days
P: 02 4782 7071
Gift idea: Elegantly presented handmade goodies crafted from the finest Belgian couverture make ideal festive gifts. There’s more than 20 flavours of chocolate bars and a chilled cabinet stocked with individual chocolate treats such as hand-dipped organic dried figs, Turkish delight, novelties and truffles.
Personalise your gift further with customized ribbons, colours, messages and decorations.
Dining option: Complement your choccy stash with other decadent summer favs (thickshakes, iced chocolate and tea, spiders, ice cream and gelato, iced coffee and fresh cakes) in the cool of a shaded verandah.
Located in the scrumptious centre of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area just 200m from the world-famous Three Sisters, the venue has a large children’s playground and ample off-street parking.
BLUE MOUNTAINS EXPLORER BUS – kids ride free
Memorable activity – family friendly – transport option
P: 02 4782 1866
Kids experience edge-of-the-cliff thrills in the Blue Mountains for free from the safety of the big red bus every day.
The 45-minute trundle around 37 popular Leura and Katoomba sites includes the jaw-dropping vista of Cahill’s Lookout overlooking the Megalong Valley and Narrowneck peninsular, 12 bushwalking tracks, upmarket Leura Mall and the eclectic shopping strip of Katoomba.
Operating every 45 minutes between 9.15am and 5.30pm, it 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.
The bus is cleaned and sanitised throughout the day, hand sanitiser is provided aboard and social distance seating measures are in place.
Blue Mountains Explorer Bus will operate every day of the school holidays between December 19 and January 17 (except Christmas Day, Boxing day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day).
- Adult guests of the Fairmont Resort can use the Explorer Bus shuttle service to Leura Village for just $5.
- Double-decker buses available for private group hire any time, any day.
THE GINGERBREAD HOUSE, 56 Waratah St, Katoomba
Date sensitive – family-friendly – dining option – memorable activity – Christmas
Gingerbread house decorating workshop
10am - 12pm
Tuesday, December 22, & Wednesday, December 23
Cost: $65 (house) or $50 (tree) includes gingerbread house or tree, icing bag and decoration lollies plus beautifully gift wrapped on completion
Click HERE to book
P: 02 4782 4239
Christmas tree, lights and fairytale themed menu every day – the magic of Christmas is spread throughout the year at The Gingerbread House.
Located in a restored century-old church, the venue is ideal for families, with large communal tables and landscaped outdoor play area, gingerbread cubby house and slippery dip, off-street parking and toilets with baby change facilities.
There’s Charlotte's Web bacon and egg sandwich with house barbecue sauce and caramelised onion jam; Clack, Clack, Moo Burger (housemade brisket burger with grilled cheese and boom boom sauce); lunch platters; jaffles; and plenty of vegetarian and gluten-free options.
But let's be honest, the Gingerbread House is all about the sweets.
So tuck into housemade gourmet cakes, fancy schmancy Hansel and Gretel-inspired drinks, traditional creaming soda spiders, decadent hot chocolates and, of course, housebaked gingerbread.
The store is also stocked with sweets and ginger-based goodies, as well as teacups, mugs, teapots and other locally made products.
TALISMAN GALLERY, Hartley Historic Site, 53 Old Great Western Hwy (400m before turn off to Jenolan Caves heading west)
Memorable activity – gift idea – romantic couples
Opening hours: 10am – 5pm Tuesday to Sunday
P: 0407 723 722
Facebook: @Talisman Gallery - Hartley
Millennia in the making, shaped in fire on the forge and presented in a piece of colonial heritage, metal artist Ron Fitzpatrick’s latest designs are guaranteed to delight.
The limited edition Sacred Feminine range of silver and gemstone jewellery features amethyst, moonstone, tiger’s eye, labradorite, peridot and opal pendants, earrings and rings.
Their shapes reveal the feminine balance of fine jewellery design with the masculine of metal and scale – ``the balance we're all looking at in ourselves ‘’.
Also available are Ron’s signature metal art mirrors, small affordable sculptures, candleholders and large high-end items.
Unleash your inner creative fire, work off some energy and learn an ancient art under guidance.
Create a joint sculptural artwork or beat red hot steel into individual fire pokers or wall hooks on the anvil.
A great family activity available to anyone 13 years and older.
Cost: $330 for 2 & $50 per person after that up to 4 people.
Click HERE to book.
Memorable activity – outdoor adventure – food and wine – gift idea – Christmas party venue
Holiday at home this year in style, comfort and ease with two new shuttle services.
Megalong Valley winery shuttle
Have your cake – and wine – and consume them too when you’re transported from Katoomba into the verdant Megalong Valley and the picturesque vineyards and cellar doors of Dryridge Estate and Megalong Creek Estate.
Alight at one and walk to the other, indulging in a leisurely cheese platter and wine tasting before boarding the FAT bus back to Katoomba.
One of Australia’s best kept secrets, the Megalong Valley features tranquil rural landscapes and native forests ringed by towering sandstone escarpments.
Coaches leave Katoomba at 11am and 1.30pm and returns from the Megalong Valley at 12pm, 2.30pm and 5pm each Saturday and Sunday.
Book the shuttle and receive complimentary pick-up and drop-off to any hotel in Katoomba or Leura on the famous red double-decker Blue Mountains Explorer Bus circuit.
Tickets: adults $49, children $39, groups 10-15 $39pp and 16-24 $29pp (bus fare only) return shuttle.
Click HERE to book.
Six Foot Track shuttle
Put in one-way hard yakka trekking along one of the greatest bushwalks in Australia and hitch an easy ride back.
The Six Foot Track Shuttle operates between Katoomba and Jenolan Caves on Saturdays and Sundays, providing a return transport service for people walking the Six Foot Track in either direction or those staying overnight at Jenolan Caves House.
The Shuttle departs Katoomba at 8.45am Saturdays and 2.15pm Sundays, and from Jenolan Caves at 10.15am Saturdays and 3.45pm Sundays.
Tickets: adults $69, children $59.
The challenging 46km Six Foot Track passing through Blue Mountains National Park and state forests can be trekked in its entirety with overnight camping.
It can also be tackled in shorter day walk portions with the option for overnight camping, using the Megalong Valley Shuttle which links to the Six Foot Track in the Megalong Valley also on Saturdays and Sundays.
The Megalong Valley Shuttle departs Katoomba at 11am and 1.30pm and 4pm, dropping passengers at the Six Foot Track crossing at Megalong Cemetery. It picks up from Megalong Cemetery at 12.05pm, 2.35pm and 5.05pm for Katoomba on Saturdays and Sunday.
Click HERE to book.
Clipper Class tours
A transport legend which once roamed the highways and byways of this great southern land has returned to criss-cross the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area and beyond.
Yooralla the original sky blue and silver Pioneer Scenic Clipper bus imported into Australia in 1947 by Pioneer Tours (part of the R.M. Ansett group) is joined by her magenta and gold pearl sister Scarlett Rose.
Christmas party venue:
Scarlett Rose seats 18 passengers with booth seating for 12 around three removable tables.
She sports a mini bar fridge and sink with hot/cold running water, restroom with toilet and wash basin, air conditioning, 240V power inlet/outlet for stationary use and Bluetooth sound system.
A genuine piece of Australian history, Yooralla seats 29 and features original fittings throughout and coach-style reclining seating, perfect for sightseeing tours.
Yooralla and Scarlett Rose are available for day and overnight tours. Choose from ready-made trips or design your own itinerary.
Click HERE for bookings and details.
THE POLISHED OPAL, Leura
Christmas gifts – memorable activity – family friendly – luxury
Cost: $190 per person
Premium luxury experience: $350pp includes 1 rare black opal
Click HERE to book
P: 0448 725 830
An opal polishing experience 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.
Workshops are 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.
NEPEAN BELLE PADDLEWHEELER (Tench Reserve jetty, Tench Ave, Jamisontown)
Memorable experience – vouchers – family friendly – Christmas venue
Cost: Weekday – $63 adults, $53 seniors, $49 children aged 13-16, $20 children aged 3-12 (infants free); Weekend - $69 adults, $63 seniors, $54 children aged 13-16, $25 children aged 3-12 (infants free) Click HERE to book
P: 02 4733 1274
Perfect for those difficult to buy for, vouchers are available to explore the deep reaches of the aquatic heart and lifeblood of the Nepean region. Experience the natural wonders of the landscape and its fauna over morning tea, lunch or dinner.
Christmas party venue:
Scenic Adventure Cruise (November & December): 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 with a special delicious Christmas menu. Choose from lunch or evening, weekday or weekend packages. Passengers on each are served hearty festive fare and may book a public cruise or charter the vessel for a private function with onboard PA system and optional DJ (price from $84pp). Fully licensed bar onboard.
NOW & ZEN LANDSCAPES (351 Great Western Hwy, Bullaburra)
Gift ideas – house & garden
Owned by master landscaper and educator Shannon Decker, longtime Blue Mountains company Now & Zen Landscapes recently opened a showroom, stocked with regionally-made quality house and garden accessories, perfect for Christmas presents.
The bespoke range includes weeping standards, topiary, hanging plants and bonsais, timber and resin charcuterie boards, pots, indoor plants, succulent arrangements, polished stump stools and outdoor artwork and sculptures all sourced from Blue Mountains creatives, along with literature, wicking beds, steel tree rings, bespoke timber kitchen compost bins and natural stone tiles and cladding.
Gift ideas – memorable activity
P: 0400 500 542
A locally-sourced hamper crammed with a dozen goodies delivered to your loved one’s door by a chauffeur-driven Santa on Christmas Eve or Day – the ultimate festive treat for those unable to travel to the Blue Mountains to see loved ones.
Each package showcases the rich food scene sprouting in the Blue Mountains and is reflective of the region’s creative traditions.
The bounty includes a Christmas clothed pudding, snow and rocky road, cookies, organic-infused oils gift pack, honey, jam, soap, chocolate, nuts and beverages.
All packaging is fully biodegradable and compostable and the tags recycled artisan.
Each hamper and your personal message will be delivered by Santa, escorted by a formally dressed chauffeur in a magnificent cherry coloured 1929 Cadillac LaSalle vintage car (or stretch limousine in inclement weather) to any address in the Blue Mountains.
Cost: $230 per hamper.
Exclusive corporate gifts
P: 0413 237 297
An exclusive hamper stuffed with luxury goodies that reflect the Blue Mountains culture, World Heritage-listed wilderness, creativity and flavours is the ideal way to support regional small business for all your tourist client experiences and those in business you want to thank.
The signature range offers solid wooden boxes handmade in the Blue Mountains and crammed with a bounty for all tastes including gourmet and handmade sweet and savoury decadence plus locally harvested and brewed beverages. They of course have vegan and other special dietary options too.
Choose from the signature hamper range or custom one to your business using the thoroughly researched product list.
Finished in 100% eco (biodegradable and compostable crystal clear packing) and beautiful natives, each hamper is a true winner, aesthetically remarkable and filled with delectable tastes and Blue Mountains organic aromas.