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Blue Mountains Tourist : Autumn 2010
www.bluemountainstouristnewspaper.com.au autumn 2010 12 Yulefest turns 30 It all began in the winter of 1980 with a group of Irish people sitting around a roaring log fire at The Mountain Heritage hotel in Katoomba. As the wind blew snowflakes against the frosty windows, their thoughts turned to Winter in Ireland and, naturally enough, to Christmas. "Celebrating Christmas in Australia in Summer doesn't feel quite the same," one of them explained to Garry Crockett, their host and owner of the hotel. As he listened to his guests, Garry recalled stories that his own Irish father, Bill, used to tell about a white Christmas. He thought about traditional Christmas cards with their images of sleigh rides, snowmen, frosted windows; of carollers joining together to sing about the joys of the festive season. He thought about traditional feasts of turkey, ham, mince pies and steaming plum pudding -- all eaten by Australians celebrating Christmas despite the sweltering heat of December. And then Garry had an idea: he would re-create a northern hemisphere Christmas in July for his Irish guests. Preparations for the great feast got into full swing, with the hanging of decorations throughout the hotel. A Christmas tree was found and trimmed. Over the weeks of planning and decorating many curious guests asked what it was all about. Some thought it was some kind of Irish joke -- after all, you couldn't celebrate Christmas in the middle of the year! Garry explained that a traditional Christmas feast with all the trimmings was going to be put on for a group of homesick Irish people. Word began to spread and soon there were enquiries from others who wanted to join in. And so 'Christmas in July' was born at The Mountain Heritage. Today, the tradition has become known as 'Yulefest' and lives on throughout the Blue Mountains during the Winter months of June, July and August. The idea has been copied since in other Australian regions -- but nowhere has it succeeded like it has in the Blue Mountains. The Mountain Heritage -- Tel: (02) 4782 2155. www.mountainheritage.com.au
Summer 2009 - 10