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Monday, 30 March 2009

Blue Mountains Private Safaris Launches Heli-Swagging in Style

Move over 'glamping': Blue Mountains Private Safaris has launched its new Heli-Swagging private safaris, bringing 'Wild Bush Luxury' to the wilderness on Sydney's doorstep – and taking sleeping under the stars to an entirely new level.
 
Wild Bush Luxury – with sister properties, Bamurru Plains in the Northern Territory and Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia – has partnered with local Blue Mountains guide, Mark Tickner, to deliver an innovative blend of private guiding and a new take on the uniquely Australian tradition of swag camping.
 
From a private campsite on the southern edge of the Blue Mountains National Park, Mark Tickner leads guests on private 4WD trips, bushwalks and kayaking excursions on the Wollondilly River, introducing the native flora and fauna. Guests have the chance to see grey kangaroos, euros, wombats, goannas and even platypus, amid beautiful bush scenery.
 
Come evening, Tickner prepares a wholesome meal that might include a traditional camp-oven roast or a BBQ seafood banquet, enjoyed on the banks of the river. And then it's time for 'bed'.
 
It's a far cry from the jolly swagman's basic canvas bed-roll in Waltzing Matilda. Tickner has constructed timber decks with inlaid cushions on which the canvas swags are rolled out. Guests slide between 500 thread count cotton sheets beneath soft duvets and fall asleep under a canopy of stars. The camp's isolation in wilderness bush means there is no light pollution to obscure the stars: it's hard to believe how many there are.
 
There is an open-air ensuite bathroom, including a hot water bucket shower.
 
Getting to camp is very much part of the experience. Guests are collected from Sydney by helicopter and flown for 45 minutes over the escarpments and valleys of the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, over miles of spectacular wilderness to the remote private property on the southern edge of the National Park, well away from the tourist areas.
 
"The Blue Mountains camp exemplifies our Wild Bush Luxury concept, which delivers spectacular, authentic wilderness experiences underpinned by some key creature comforts," explained Charles Carlow, CEO of Wild Bush Luxury and partner in Blue Mountains Private Safaris. "The focus is on the wildlife and on immersing guests in the wilderness through the best interpretive guiding. But we also want to ensure our guests eat well, drink well and sleep well!"
 
"The guest experience in camp – in a secret, remote location away from any other people – encompasses magical wildlife encounters and immersion in a beautiful wilderness setting, coupled with the intimacy of dinner around the camp fire and sleeping under the stars, lulled by the sounds of the bush. It's hard to put a price on that."
 
Head guide and partner in the venture, Mark Tickner trained as an environmental scientist and has an intimate knowledge of the tracks and trails of the southern part of the Blue Mountains.  He is also an experienced fly fishing guide. In keeping with Wild Bush Luxury's 'tread lightly' approach at its other properties, the camp meets the highest standards for minimising its environmental impact.
 
Activities from camp include bush walks; 4WD excursions to scenic lookouts for views over the vast Blue Mountains National Park; fly fishing; donutting (floating in car-tyre inner tubes) on the river; bird watching; wildlife viewing and kayaking. Tickner also takes guests on extended safaris into the southern part of the National Park, including the old mining town and open-air museum of Yerranderie.
 
An exclusive overnight trip for two people with Blue Mountains Private Safaris costs from $1,550 and includes luxury swag accommodation, meals and many excursions from camp. The camp is configured for a maximum of six guests, each in privacy. Larger groups can also be catered for. Helicopter transfers from Sydney cost $1778 per person. It's also possible to self-drive to the camp, with a guide meeting guests part-way; or road transfers from Sydney are available for $250 one way.
 
For information or bookings, call 1300 790 561 or visit www.bluemountainsprivatesafaris.com or www.wildbushluxury.com
 

 
EDITOR'S NOTES
 
'Wild Bush Luxury' is a term we coined to encapsulate a uniquely Australian style of bush experience. The focus of a trip is in the environment and the wildlife and birdlife for whom it is home. Our own private camps and safaris are designed to expose guests to the sights and sounds of the surrounding bush, whether it is the dawn chorus from the kookaburras, or a kangaroo that has come down to the river bank to drink in the evening.
 
Our concept is simple – with none of the appliances we take for granted in modern life, we have focussed on a few key creature comforts. We aim to ensure that guests eat well, drink well and sleep well!
 
In the Blue Mountains, a couple of hours west of Sydney, guests' beds are a 'swag' - the snug, waterproof bedding of choice for generations of pioneers in the Australian bush. Traditionally, the swag consisted of a canvas 'envelope' into which was inserted a thin mattress and a blanket. Our swag is the deluxe version - a thick mattress, 100% cotton linen (500 thread count), a cosy duvet for the cooler bush evenings and a choice of pillows – despite the secluded bush location, we intend for guests to have a great night's sleep.
 
The swag is laid out on a raised platform, an inlaid cushion provides another layer of comfort underneath the mattress, while above, the southern skies and a canopy of stars stretch from one ridgeline to another. There is the privacy of ensuite bathroom facilities, a bucket camp shower (with hot water!) and camp toilet.
 
Meals are wholesome, often cooked on the campfire.  As guests enjoy a sundowner drink and nibbles, our guide will busy himself preparing a traditional camp-oven roast or perhaps a seafood BBQ, followed by a sweet treat. Meals are enjoyed under a simple canvas and timber structure on the banks of the river. A drop of premium Australian wine and the soft crackle of the fire ensures complete surrender to the wilderness surrounds.
 
The three swag platforms allow for double and twin sleeping configurations and provide accommodation for a group of six people to be looked after in comfort. Larger groups are possible: additional swags can be rolled out on nature's own platform!
 
For more remote safaris into the Blue Mountains, our guide will take a trailer and mobile camp that allows access to some fabulous wilderness sites that few locals have ever seen or even know about.

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