The Annual Blackheath Rhododendron Festival is fast approaching……

The annual Blackheath Rhododendron Festival (the “Rhodo” festival to the locals J) is held on the first weekend in November and is the longest running festival in the Southern hemisphere. The whole town of Blackheath is awash with the glory of crimson, pink and red rhododendrons but nowhere are they more beautiful than in the spectacular Campbell gardens at the Northern end of Wentworth St.

The festival commences with the Grand Opening and Crowning of the Princess on Friday 23 October at the New Ivanhoe Hotel and builds to a crescendo on Saturday 7 November with the Grand Parade through the town where decorated horses will lead a string of bands and locals all dressed up.


We see our fair share of wildlife at Elsewhere Retreat in the Megalong Valley.  Like a lot of the valley, Elsewhere is a combination of native bush and rolling farmland and the wildlife doesn’t recognize the boundaries (or the fences J) and travels between the Blue Mountains national park and private properties. We almost always see kangaroos, soaring wedge tail eagles and a wide variety of Australian native birds. Wombats (we have around 10 wombat burrows at Elsewhere), echidnas and wild pigs are seen less often.


One of our favourites is the echidna (we call them all Eric after the 2000 Sydney Olympics mascot). Just this weekend we saw “Eric” the echidna wondering around the paddocks poking his snout where there were likely to be bug and ants. The echidnas have a charming “gait” as they shuffle along stopping suddenly to check something interesting that catches their attention. Up close and personal their spikes are very impressive and strong looking. The average diameter of a spike is around 3mm – with a very sharp tip!



Megalong Valley

The Megalong Valley is a stunning area nestled below the towering sandstone cliffs and escarpments of the Blue Mountains. The valley is nestled between the Narrow Neck plateau and the Shipley plateau. Both afford majestic views over the stunning valley with its contrasting combination of native bush and rolling farmland.Elsewhere Retreat in the Megalong Valley


The name of the valley is understood to have come from the Gundungurra people and believed to translate to “Valley under the Rock”, nothwithstanding that, it is a particularly long valley and you could easily mistake the name to relate to its size.


The first European settlement was in 1838 with farmers grazing cattle and growing cops. Shale mines were also started as they were in many other parts of the Blue Mountains. At one stage, the Megalong Valley township had 200 people living in it. The township was located along the path of the Six Foot Track previously a bridal track from 1848 between Katoomba and the Jenolan Caves, now a popular walking and riding track with tourists today. Signs of the old township can still be seen today along the track including the old Megalong Valley cemetery.


While we see a lot of wildlife in the Megalong Valley and in the Blue Mountains in general, there was one particular kangaroo that caught our attention and our imagination not so long ago.

He was a big old red male kangaroo (boomer as they are often called) and he turned up at Elsewhere Retreat towards the end of his life. He was battle scarred, old and blind. It was kind of fitting that he managed to find a nice quiet sunny spot to see out his days. Large, male red kangaroos can weigh up to 90 kilograms and live up to 6 years in the wild. Interesting the lifespan increases to 20 years in captivity. While they are not particularly territorial, they will fight over females when they are younger.

While he was still a big and majestic figure, it was a little bit sad to see him without a sense of direction and hopping around in circles. While he could still smell and find food and water, the process of getting there was taking a bit longer for him than it previously would have done.


If one of the things you love about the Blue Mountains is old fashioned arts and crafts synonymous with the bygone era, then you must stop in at The Blackheath Arts & Crafts market this weekend.

Open on Sunday 23 August 2015 from 10.00am until 2.00pm you will find all sorts of quality hand-made gifts There are hand-painted ceramics, covered coat hangers, wood turning and so much more.  Stock up on Christmas presents now before the rush and buy a truly unique Blue Mountains gift.

You will find the market in the RSL on the Great Western Highway at Blackheath.

Once you have shopped yourself out, cross the railway line and wind down through the magnificent rainforest-cloaked Centennial Glen to the beautiful Megalong Valley. As the valley reveals itself look up to your left to the russet red of the escarpment and the newly refurbished Hydro Majestic Hotel glistening like a wedding cake on the edge of the cliffs.


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