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Children and Golf – Why it’s a good idea to get them started young

Tom Daniels is a school teacher in the Blue Mountains who truly believes that golf can have a positive impact on children from a young age. Tom has two children and is an avid supporter of the Junior Clinic at the Wentworth Falls Country Club (WFCC) on Sundays. Whenever he has a chance he will also take his kids out on the course for hit.

 

According to Sports Medicine Australia, Junior Clinics, where kids as young as 5 years of age can get accustomed to the world of golf, are beneficial from both a mental and physical perspective. However, its not only a question of improving hand eye coordination and getting kids to do some exercise, there is also a social element that includes etiquette, respect and sportsmanship that is regarded as being integral with the game of golf. Furthermore, these various positive elements can be instrumental in the development and growth of young children.

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Lang Doolan, Club Pro at WFCC, has been holding Junior Clinics for quite some time and truly enjoys sharing his passion for golf with the young ones.

Although children are ever more drawn to the digital world and love interacting with a touch screen rather than spending time outside, junior clinics are a growing trend. Because of its health benefits, golf is a game that many parents introduce to their children at a young age. Playing golf opens up a world of activity for young ones that aids in their advancement through life.

 

Benefits – Physical / Health

 

Neil Plimmer is a PGA professional in the UK that has dedicated his life to teaching young children how to play golf. In terms of physical benefits there are three areas that golf helps improve and these are stability skills, manipulative and object control skills, and awareness.

 

Stability skills refer to agility, balance, coordination and speed. These are key skills in the game of golf as it is all about hand eye coordination and excellent balance. Manipulative and object control skills are being able to strike, catch or throw an object and in the case of golf, the dexterity golfers have with clubs comes in very handy. Lastly, awareness is of paramount importance in golf. Spatial awareness and kinesthetic awareness are sensory skills that your body uses to know where it is in space.
Many structures in your body have nerve receptors that send specific information to the brain. Structures such as your inner ear tell the brain information about the head’s orientation to gravity, accelerations, decelerations, and direction of movement. You’re eyes provide depth perception, and a visual surveillance of objects around you. Your muscles have a variety of receptors that tell the brain information like; how much tension is in the muscle, how long or stretched the muscle is, how fast the muscle is moving, and most importantly what position its associated joint is in. Coupling this with other factors such as golf rules, these skills are decisive in determining whether the ball is going to end up 3 meters from the pin or in the water hazard.

 

It is also important to remember that these skills can be applied to any sport not just golf. Whether it is rugby, football, cricket or netball, all these skills are incredibly useful throughout all the various phases of these sports.

Moreover, the physical benefit of just being outside, surrounded by the gorgeous green environment is priceless. This also aids in allowing young children to breathe in good air (depending on where you live) and enjoy the outdoors.

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Benefits – Mental

 

Bobby Jones once said, “golf is a game that is played on a five inch course – the distance between your ears.”

 

Golf is very much a mental game. It is a game where you have to stop and think, strategise and assess situations that are within the framework of very complex rules. This requires the development of mental skills such as problem solving, risk assessment and determination.

 

Problem solving comes in very handy when you are faced with bunkers, water hazards, wind, and other obstacles and you have to reach the green. Golfers are required to think strategically to find the most efficient way of reaching the pin with the fewest strokes within the limitations at hand. Risk assessment as well is useful as it allows golfers to evaluate the cost/benefit of one type of approach as opposed to another. Should a golfer try and hit the ball over the lake and straight onto the green or allow another stroke to go around the lake? It depends on a series of factors including wind direction and speed, and a conviction in one’s own skills and abilities. Lastly, determination might seem fairly obvious in golf but it is absolutely fundamental. Being a sport where golfers solely depend on themselves, they have to be determined that they will achieve their objectives.

With determination also comes perseverance and conviction. Golfers practice, practice and practice again with a clear goal in mind.

 

All three of these skills are great to develop at a young age as they contribute to improving one’s life at every stage of its evolution.

 

Benefits – Social

 

But golf isn’t only about excellent motor skills and great mental abilities. Golf is also about rules, etiquette, respect and integrity.

The game of golf teaches children the principles of honesty and integrity. These are lessons that will help them deal with situations both at school and at home and interact with people in the real world. Golf is one of the few sports where one has to self impose rules and penalties. The rules and regulations of the game are varied, complex and at times dependent upon specific contexts. For a golfer to learn the rules and apply them to their game with the aim of improving and competing fairly is a true representation of honesty and integrity.

Respect is also taught through learning the game of golf. Respect for others through sportsmanship but also for the environment that surrounds us. Repairing divots and raking bunkers are a way to allow for other golfer to enjoy the course as previous golfers did. Not only, but being on time and waiting for the group in front of you to progress through the course is common etiquette. This is a sign of respect and civility. In life, you treat others the same way you want to be treated in order to live in a respectful and civil society. In the same way, young children are taught not to litter on golf courses as a great deal of effort goes into the maintenance and cleaning of them.

First Tee, an educational company in the US, has as their main mission to impact the lives of young people by providing educational programs that build character, instill life-enhancing values and promote healthy choices through the game of golf. They have been incredibly successful in rolling this program out across the country and have received excellent feedback from both the children who have participated and their parents.

 

It goes without saying that these key traits of respect, honesty, integrity and working both alone and in a team are fully transferrable to the real world for both children and parents.

 

father and son wfcc 

Every Sunday, Lang Doolan, WFCC Club Pro, holds a Junior Clinic for over 20 children at the Wentworth Falls Country Club. Lang is an experienced golfing instructor and truly enjoys spending time with kids to instill in them the same passion he has for the game. Typically groups reach around 20 children from as young as 4 years of age and parents are encouraged to engage in the activities with them. Tom Daniels is one of the parents of two children that attend Lang’s clinic. Tom is a firm believer in sports as a way of educating the young ones for the present and the future.

 

The clinics are well structured and offer children the opportunity to both learn the principles of golf but also to spend quality time with their parents. Tom mentions how involved parents are and how they truly adore spending one on one time with their kids.

 

Both Lang and Tom believe that golf can help young ones in their development and wish to spread the concept to encourage other kids and parents to participate in the Sunday sessions.

 

Conclusion

 

Golf is a game that is generally associated with a more senior demographic, usually ranging from the mid 40s onward. It has, however, been proven that the game can be beneficial to a younger crowd from various perspectives. These benefits are most certainly decisive in the development of children and young adults.

 

The Wentworth Falls Country Club is an establishment that is focused on engaging the local community in order to improve their experience of living in the Blue Mountains. Matt Lark, Secretary Manager of the WFCC, has worked hard to uphold this core belief and encourages all young ones to participate in the Sunday Junior Clinics.

 

Should you wish to learn more about the Clinics please contact the Club on 02 47571202 and ask to speak with Lang in the Pro Shop. Furthermore, we would love to hear your point of view and if you have any comments please leave them below, comment on Facebook or email us on wentworthfallscc@gmail.com.

 

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WFCC Club Patron – Winston Pickering

WFCC Club Patron – Winston Pickering

 

The Club Patron at golf Clubs has, in the history of Australian Golf Clubs, evolved quite significantly over the years. Across the country there are numerous Club Patrons of remarkable caliber such as Peter Thomson at the Nomads Golf Club in Perth who was one of the most astounding golfers of all times. However, the role of the Patron is not only that of representing the Club from a golfing perspective. There are many other roles and functions that the Patron carries out throughout their tenure. This year, at the Wentworth Falls Country Club Annual General Meeting, Winston Pickering was elected as Club Patron. Winston has been a member for many years and has always been both an avid golfer and a strong supporter of the Club.

Winston Pickering and Jok Galt

As homage to his involvement with the Wentworth Falls Country Club over the years, we will explore the significance of the Club Patron and review Winston’s milestones and contributions.

 

What is a Club Patron?

 

Nowadays the role and function of a Club Patron is merely representative. They are called upon to support the Club with their presence and to diligently promote the Club through their contacts and word of mouth. Furthermore, Patrons are well known figures in the community and their values and traits often coincide with the values and principles of the Club itself.

This role has changed quite considerably over time.

 

Historically, Club Patrons had a more prominent position within the management of the Club as they were called upon to support the Club financially in the event of poor performance. It would be challenging to find Club Patrons nowadays, had that still been the case, as many golf Clubs are in financial hardship and require conspicuous amounts of investment to return to a profitable position.

 

Club Patrons were typically reasonably wealthy and well connected in the community. Furthermore, they were expected to have a substantial amount of influential contacts to aid the Club in achieving their financial, golf related and community-focused objectives.

 

Who is Winston Pickering?

 

Winston Pickering has always truly enjoyed the Blue Mountains and used to often visit Wentworth Falls prior to the 1970s. He would regularly stay at a private boarding house called the Lilacs that was off the 3rd hole of the WFCC golf course. Soon after marrying his beloved wife Jeannette, he moved up to Leura in the late 1970s after a fascinating career in the real estate business.

 

Winston was principal and co-owner of Top Ryde Real estate which operated in metropolitan Sydney. Winston also operated in real estate in many suburbs as far afield as Ashfield, Maroubra, Double Bay and Ryde. He was also very active in the real estate community as Chairman of the Property Management Division of the Real Estate Institute for many years and a member of the Fair Rents Advocate.

 

Interestingly, he was also active from an academic perspective, lecturing at Sydney University and the Real Estate Institute on property management.

His accolades are numerous and his success was recognised in both the professional and academic worlds.

 

He joined the Wentworth Falls Country Club in 1961 having fallen in love with the Blue Mountains and wanting to spend more time on the golf course.

 

In 1968 he joined the Committee and was appointed Club Captain. He maintained this position for 15 years. Subsequently he was elected President of the Club in 1983 and held this position for 15 years until 1998. He was reelected President in 2004 until 2005 for a grand total of 53 years as member, 15 as Captain and 17 as President. In addition, Winston has been the Blue Mountains District Golf Association Captain for 10 years and President for 17 years. What an absolutely impressive career he has had!

 

From a golfing perspective Winston has been an avid golfer since day 1. He has always been active on the course at least 3 times a week and has achieved some remarkable results throughout his golfing career. He has been a successful A Grade Pennant Captain 3 times and a successful Senior masters Captain as well. Worthy of mention is also his astounding record of 11 hole in ones during his golfing career.

 

All in all Winston Pickering has excelled in various areas from a personal, professional and golfing point of view.

 

Why was Winston chosen?

 

Matt Lark, Secretary Manager at the Wentworth Falls Country Club was asked to pinpoint three traits that make Winston an excellent Patron for the Club. Having known him for over 10 years, Matt confidently answered by stating that he is first off a very dedicated individual. It is uncommon to find people who serve on Committees for over 3 decades, especially people who serve over 15 years as President and then get reelected for a second term.

 

Secondly Matt mentioned how passionate Winston is about golf. Winston has been frequenting the Clubhouse and the golf course for 53 years, making him one of the most senior members at the Club. Only a handful of people throughout the history of WFCC have received life membership and Winston is most definitely a worthy member. In relation to golf, Winston has been on the course at least 3 times a week and to this day, even though he is over the age of 80 he still golfs. As a golfer he has achieved great recognition and noteworthy positions within the local community as detailed above.

 

Matt also mentioned that Winston has many positive traits and acts as a pillar of golfing tradition in the Upper Blue Mountains. Although he lives in Leura, Winston has always supported the Wentworth Falls Country Club and has been present for almost every social event. Being such a tight nit community, Winston has undoubtedly had a pivot role at spreading the word about the Club and involving family and friends in the promotion of its facilities and events. Matt is very grateful to Winston for all his efforts throughout the years and the continued support both on and off the golf course.

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WFCC and the importance of the Community

The WFCC is committed to providing the Community with a friendly and professional environment for members to engage in social and sporting activities.

 

The Wentworth Falls Country Club is delighted to have nominated Winston Pickering as the Club Patron and believes Winston will proudly represent the values of the Club in the Community.

 

Should you wish to offer your support and commend Winston for his nomination please comment below. We would also be delighted to hear if you have any great stories of classic golfing and WFCC Clubhouse moments featuring Winston Pickering.


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Easter Culinary Traditions

Easter is an annual festivity that calls for family gatherings and the consumption of great amounts of delicious food. It wouldn’t be Easter without chocolate eggs, hot cross buns, fish on Good Friday and a Sunday roast lamb. But where do these traditions come from and how have they changed over time? Within our Wentworth Falls Country Club blog this month we will have a look at the history and symbolism of some of our most common Easter dishes and also describe a simple yet delicious recipe for hot cross buns!

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Easter food symbolism
Much has been written about the symbolism and traditions of Easter foods. It is interesting to note that the historical interpretations of Easter fall under three categories. These are the religious symbolism, the pagan rites and the modern interpretation and evolutions. The modern take with egg hunts for the children (and adults!), delicious seafood dinners on Friday and an abundance of hot cross buns is by far our favourite.

According to the Oxford Companion to food, Easter foods are primarily those of Easter Sunday, the day on which Jesus rose from the dead, a day of special rejoicing for Christians, who rejoice too at reaching the end of the long Lenten fast. The concept of renewal and rebirth is responsible for the important role played by the egg in Easter celebrations, a role which no doubt antedates Christianity. There are also special foods associated with the other days in the Easter calendar. In Europe, there is a general tradition, not confined to Christians, that Easter is the time to start eating the season’s new lamb, which is just coming onto the market then. Easter breads, cakes, and biscuits are a major category of Easter foods, perhaps especially noticeable in the predominantly Roman Catholic countries of south and central Europe. Traditional breads are laden with symbolism in their shapes, which may make reference to Christian faith.In England breads or cakes flavoured with bitter tansy juice used to be popular Easter foods. The most popular English Easter bread and now also Australian is the hot cross bun.

Easter Eggs
Eggs are traditionally connected with rebirth, rejuvenation and immortality. This is why they are often associated with Easter. Eggs were colored, blessed, exchanged and eaten as part of the rites of spring long before Christian times. Even the earliest civilizations held springtime festivals to welcome the sun’s rising from its long winter sleep. They thought of the sun’s return from darkness as an annual miracle and regarded the egg as a natural wonder and a proof of the renewal of life. As Christianity spread, the egg was adopted as a symbol of Christ’s Resurrection from the tomb. For centuries, eggs were among the foods forbidden by the church during Lent, so it was a special treat to have them again at Easter. In Slavic countries, baskets of food including eggs are traditionally taken to church to be blessed on Holy Saturday or before the Easter midnight Mass, then taken home for a part of Easter breakfast. People in central European countries have a long tradition of elaborately decorated Easter eggs. Polish, Slavic and Ukrainian people create amazingly intricate designs on the eggs. They draw lines with a wax pencil or stylus, dip the egg in color and repeat the process many times to make true works of art. Every dot and line in the pattern has a meaning. Yugoslavian Easter eggs bear the initials “XV” for “Christ is Risen,” a traditional Easter greeting. The Russians, during the reign of the tsars, celebrated Easter much more elaborately than Christmas, with Easter breads and other special foods and quantities of decorated eggs given as gifts. The Russian royal family carried the custom to great lengths, giving exquisitely detailed jeweled eggs made by goldsmith Carl Faberge from the 1880’s until 1917.

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This custom is found not only in the Latin but also in the Oriental Churches. The symbolic meaning of a new creation of mankind by Jesus risen from the dead was probably an invention of later times. The custom may have its origin in paganism, for a great many pagan customs, celebrating the return of spring, gravitated to Easter. The egg is the emblem of the germinating life of early spring. Easter eggs, the children are told, come from Rome with the bells which on Thursday go to Rome and return Saturday morning.

Fish on Good Friday

Good Friday commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ following his time in the desert and his triumphal re-entrance into Jerusalem. This is a very important event in many Christian churches and is seen by some as the foundation of the Religion. Many churches hold special services on Good Friday to remind their congregations about Christ’s suffering.  Good Friday falls on the Friday before the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox.

It can seem strange that a day of death and suffering is known as ‘Good’ Friday. There are a number of theories as to why the day marking the crucifixion of Jesus is known in this way.  The word ‘Good’ may be a different spelling or rendering of ‘God’ or it may have another, now lost, meaning of ‘holy’. Another theory is that the tragedy of the crucifixion of Jesus brought great ‘good’ to his followers.

Sunday Lamb

The roast lamb dinner that many eat on Easter Sunday goes back earlier than Easter to the first Passover of the Jewish people. The sacrificial lamb was roasted and eaten, together with unleavened bread and bitter herbs in hopes that the angel of God would pass over their homes and bring no harm. As Hebrews converted to Christianity, they naturally brought along their traditions with them. The Christians often refer to Jesus as The Lamb of God. Thus, the traditions merged.

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Hot cross buns

Hot cross buns are an Easter favorite in many areas. The tradition allegedly is derived from ancient Anglo-Saxons who baked small wheat cakes in honor of the springtime goddess, Eostre. After converting to Christianity, the church substituted the cakes with sweetbreads blessed by the church.

According to Holiday Symbols and Customs the pagans worshipped the goddess Eostre (after whom Easter was named) by serving tiny cakes, often decorated with a cross, at their annual spring festival. When archaeolgists excavated the ancient city of Herculaneum in southwestern Italy, which had been buried under volcanic ask and lava since 79 B.C., they found two small loaves, each with a cross on it, among the ruins. The English word “bun” probably came from the Greek boun, which referred to a ceremonial cake of circular or crescent shape, made of flour and honey and offered to the gods. Superstitions regarding bread that was baked on Good Friday date back to a very early period. In England particulary, people believed that bread baked on this day could be hardened in the oven and kept all year to protect the house from fire. Sailors took leaves of it on their voyages to prevent shipwreck, and a Good Friday loaf was often buried in a heap of corn to protect it from rats, mice, and weevils. Finely grated and mixes with water, it was sometimes used as a medicine. In England nowadays, hot cross buns are served at breakfast on Good Friday morning. They are small, usually spiced buns whose sugary surface is marked with a cross.

In the English Bread and Yeast Cookery book, hot cross buns first became popular in Tudor days, at the same period as the larger spice loaves or cakes, and were no doubt usually made form the same batch of spiced and butter-enriched fruit dough. For a long time bakers were permitted to offer these breads and buns for sale only on special occasions, as is shown by the 1592 decree, under Elizabeth I, whereby ‘no bakers at any time or times hereafter make, utter, or sell by retail, within or without their houses, unto any of the Queen’s subject any spice cakes, buns, biscuits, or other spice bread (being bread out of size and not by law allowed) except it be at burials, or on Friday before Easter, or at Christmas, upon pain or forfeiture of all such spiced bread to the poor’. If anybody wanted spice bread and buns for a private celebration, then, these delicacies had to be made at home. In the time of James I, further attempts to prevent bakers from making spice breads and buns proved impossible to enforce, and in this matter the bakers were allowed their way. Although for difference reasons, the situation now is much as it was in the late seventeenth century, spice buns appearing only at Easter.

Here is the original hot cross buns recipe from 1875. Cassell’s Dictionary of Cookery with Numerous Illustrations –

Hot Cross Buns
Mix two pounds of flour with a small tea-spoonful of powdered spice and half a tea-spoonful of salt. Rub in half a pound of good butter. Make a hollow in the flour, and pour in a wine-glassful of yeast and half a pint of warmed milk slightly coloured with saffron. Mix the surrounding flour with the milk and yeast to a thin batter; throw a little dry flour over, and set the pan before the fire with the milk and yeast to a thin batter; throw a little dry flour over, and set the pan before the fire to rise. When risen, work in a little sugar, one egg, half a pound of currants, and milk to make a soft dough. Cover over as before, and let it stand half an hour. Then make the dough into buns, and mark them with the back of a knife. Time, fifteen to twenty-minutes to bake. Sufficient for twenty-four buns.

 

We would love to hear from you as to what your culinary traditions over the Easter holidays are. Please comment below on the Wentworth Falls Country Club blog. We hope you have a wonderful Easter holiday season.


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The Society of Mountain Artists

How do you find that moment of inner peace to stop, reflect and be inspired to express yourself from a creative point of view? The overall health benefits of artistic expression have been reiterated multiple times on all the most respectable publications. In the past few years many people have turned to ‘The Artist Way’ by Julia Cameron to improve their wellbeing. The book focuses on helping people with what is called artistic creative recovery by teaching them techniques and exercises to harness their creative talents and skills.

The Society of Mountain Artists has facilitated the sharing of artistic passions for people with similar interests for almost 30 years and has been holding regular committee meetings at the Wentworth Falls Country Club.

Society of Mountain Artists

Maunie Kwok, a Wentworth Falls resident, finds her inspiration through painting. At times, in the early mornings she walks down to the Wentworth Falls lake and sits down to enjoy the beautiful morning mist gently moving in. This moment of reflection and introspection allows her to find that inspiration for the next topic to be expressed on canvas. Maunie is a Committee member of the Society of Mountain Artists and really enjoys the interaction with other artists and all the activities that are ultimately conducive to her general wellbeing.

Society of Mountain Artists mission and history

The Society of Mountain Artists is a organisation of over 100 members who have been meeting since 1986 with the intent of promoting the enjoyment of art, increasing community awareness and providing opportunities to expand knowledge in artistic skills.

Started by two artist friends, Sheila Todd and Kath Kelly, the idea was to form a group made up of artists of varying skill levels, like-minded friends and partners who enjoy sharing their skills, ideas, encouragement and inspiration in a friendly atmosphere.

They met initially in private homes and various locations in Wentworth Falls and Leura and in 2003 the Society of Mountains Artists (SMA) became Incorporated. Nowadays, the Society regularly meets at the Wentworth Falls Country Club for monthly Committee meetings and various events. As a testament to their great community efforts the SMA members have grown from Sheila and Kath to over 100 participants.

The SMA is part of a vibrant Blue Mountains arts community. Besides having an online Gallery, the Society provides a number of activities that promote the enjoyment of art, as well as providing opportunities to enhance traditional or contemporary artistic skills.

Some of the events include a demonstration by a visiting artist at monthly general meetings, a critique of members’ work, en plein air painting days, an annual holiday, annual exhibitions plus other activities.

For more information on how to become a member please visit www.mountainartists.org.

SMA Artists

Some artists have found their inspiration by painting the dramatic views offered throughout the Blue Mountains, others have interpreted the flowing views of the golf course in Wentworth Falls.  One of the most prolific artists of the SMA is Dennis West. Maunie and Dennis met in 2002 during a beginners painting class. Maunie describes the work Dennis was doing as being absolutely exceptional and looking quite professional. At which point Maunie asked Dennis ‘ Why would you come to a beginners painting class if you are already so advanced with your painting skills?’. Dennis had just moved to the Blue Mountains and wanted to get in touch with the local Community in an environment he enjoyed. That year both Maunie and Dennis joined the Society of Mountain Artists.

Dennis states: I enjoy painting in a wide variety of styles, using various mediums excluding oils. Architecture, townscapes and various forms of transport are a particular interest of mine. I can interpret them as detailed drawings or produce paintings that reflect the atmosphere created by the subject. I manage to find challenges in most subjects. Belonging to the Society has stimulated my interest in plein air painting and I enjoy the immediate results and demands engendered by a change of focus. My particular interest is in historical aviation, the Guild of Aviation Artists in London where venues where I regularly displayed my work. I have studied with Barry Watkin in pastels and with both Joseph, Zbukvic and Alvaro Castagnet in watercolour’.

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For more of Dennis West’s work please view http://bit.ly/1jHvOp9.

Another inspirational artists is Anna Marshall.

Anna was born in Singapore but grew up in England, northwest of London. From an early age she taught herself calligraphy and illuminated lettering which won her a number of art awards at local art shows.

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In the early 1960s Anna emigrated to Tasmania with her young family. Her passion for art was put on hold for almost 20 years while taking care of a demanding family. In 1984 Anna Marshall decided it was time to return to express herself from an artistic perspective by producing a number of award winning pieces.

She has since been very active as she states. ‘I have attended courses at Roseville Art Centre, the summer and winter schools in Toowoomba and Bathurst, and was a member of the Hornsby Art Society. I have won various art awards over the years, and have won awards for embroidery and toy and doll making at the Royal Easter and Castle Hill Shows.

After retirement and moving to Leura, I joined the Society of Mountain Artists and the Blackheath Art Society, both of which are a source of new friends, new ideas, and incentives to explore all areas of painting.’

For more of Anna Marshall’s work please visit http://bit.ly/M305jk.

Wentworth Falls setting

 

The Blue Mountains’ area, including Wentworth Falls, is home to numerous exceptional artists who escape the hustle and bustle of busy cities to stop, reflect and pursue their inner passions. The gorgeous views, natural environments and slower pace of life create the perfect ambiance for this.  Some are experienced professionals with many masterpieces under their belt while others are beginners who are exploring new realms.

 

The Community

The Wentworth Falls Country Club and the Society of Mountain Artists share a common goal when discussing the topic of the local Community. Matt Lark, Secretary Manager at WFCC, has worked hard to uphold one of the founding principles of the Club that is to support the local community in a healthy and constructive manner. Maunie Kwok, on behalf of the Society of Mountain Artists, is grateful to Matt and the Club for all their efforts and assistance in allowing the Society to meet in such a magnificent setting.

100 years of celebrations

How do you satisfy your creative needs? How do you find time in your busy life to dedicate to your creative outlet? Please comment below on the Wentworth Falls Country Club blog.

Also, if you are interested in learning more about the  Society of Mountain’s Artists please feel free to contact them on info@mountainartists.org. Alternatively, a small group of SMA artists meet at the Wentworth Falls Club on the third Tuesday of each month to paint from 10am to approximately 1pm.


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Choosing the perfect place to tie the knot? Look no further.

Wedding at WFCC

When Emma Halpin had to choose the venue for the most important day of her life, she was faced with a daunting decision to be made. Where would be the most suitable place for her wedding ceremony and reception? Having grown up in the upper Blue Mountains she was set on finding the ideal venue in and around the Wentworth Falls, Leura, Katoomba area. But how exactly did she make that decision? Brides-to-be put a great deal of effort and time into selecting wedding venues and making sure that their day is memorable to say the least. More often than not they will choose venues that are geographically located in the city or town where they were born or grew up. But still, the choice is abundant. Also, its not only about the place, its also about other aspects such as cost, facilities and professionalism.

The planning of a wedding is admittedly an incredibly stressful task and can put a significant strain on the relationship between the bride and groom to be. Every bride dreams of a smooth ceremony and reception in a sensational setting with glorious food while surrounded by their loving family and friends. But how does this all come together seamlessly? And how do you reduce the chances of things going wrong?

According to a number of wedding publications including the Wedding Notebook and the Knot, there are three types of criteria that are essential to choosing your perfect wedding venue.

Budget

Topping almost all of the resources’ lists is working within an acceptable budget and sticking to it. Staying within your budget and not breaking the bank is critical. Emma researched a great deal of venues in the upper Blue Mountains and was astounded by the astronomical costs of hosting a wedding ceremony and reception. When calculating what needs to be included and what could be done without, costs can escalate very quickly. So how do you obtain that peace of mind knowing that you have set aside a budget for that special day and do not wish to spend more? Emma Halpin got married in December of 2011 at the Wentworth Falls Country Club and truly had a memorable experience. One of her main concerns was that of not exceeding a set budget. This issue was one of the first ones addressed by Matt Lark at the Club. Emma and Matt agreed on what needed to be delivered and how much it would cost, without any surprises.  Most resources suggest to read the contract and its fine print and make sure you agree on a final figure that includes any extras or additional costs.

Professionalism

The second most important element when selecting a venue is making sure that the staff that will be running the show are competent and professional. The last thing the bride wants to do is stress about how her guests are being dealt with. Professional staff will be informing both the bride and groom and the guests as to the sequence of service and what will happen next. But what if something goes wrong? What if the band couldn’t make it because their car broke down or the lights go out or it suddenly starts to pour down with rain? Having professional staff will allow the bride to assume a certain degree of ‘tranquillity’ knowing that her special day and her guests are being handled with the upmost professionalism. With staff at a venue you can immediately gauge how switched on and organized they are as they have checklists, run sheets, info packs, ‘oops gifts’ and all the other necessary tools to run an event as the bride wants it to be run. Emma Halpin was overwhelmed by the way the Wentworth Falls Country Club staff dealt with her needs and requests. Matt Lark was pivotal in making sure that all bases were covered and the event would unfold as planned. During the ceremony on the 4th tee of the golf course, a loud power tool was switched on a property nearby. The staff members were on to it in a heat-beat and managed to restore the peaceful setting that typifies the Wentworth Falls area.

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Flexibility

The third element that really has an impact on whether the wedding reception is going to be a success or a flop is how accommodating and flexible the venue staff are. Brides will have many parts of the event that they will want to tailor to their needs including seating arrangement, access to facilities and use of equipment. Emma was blessed to have her mother Sue Barry to help her with most of the organisation of the event. Sue has a great deal of experience in the hospitality industry and was able to collaborate with WFCC staff on various fronts. Both Sue and Emma acknowledged how accommodating the WFCC staff were to their many requests.  Also, with any sort of event, anything could go wrong. It is up to the staff to be able to communicate efficiently and swiftly with the decision makers in order to find solutions. Many other splendid couples who tied the knot at the WFCC expressed the same sort of appreciation towards the staff at the Club. Being such an important day, brides want to be sure that they are in good hands and that they can rely on the staff knowing how to deal with situations in the best way possible.

wedding golf

These have been identified as some of them most important elements to take into consideration. There is also one other aspect that should be mentioned at this stage and that is the full integration between suppliers and venue staff. The bride and groom want to be sure that there is full cooperation between suppliers such as florists, bands and the venue staff so as to provide that unique and memorable experience without any hiccups. Raegan Carroll recently tied the knot at the Wentworth Falls Country Club and her thoughts were similar to Emma’s. She was overwhelmed by the organisation and professionalism of the staff that gave her peace of mind and the ability to fully enjoy her special day.

The fact that a turnkey solution could be offered was greatly appreciated. Guests are taken care of from start to finish including accommodation, transport, special needs (juniors, seniors, etc.) and all the details that could rapidly put anyone off even attempting to organise a wedding.

What has your experience been with you wedding ceremony and reception? Did you find that the above points were the most important ones or did you find other key aspects? We would love to hear from you so please comment below.

The Wentworth Falls Country Club specialises in functions and events, weddings, wakes, anniversaries, birthdays, product launches, corporate days and is capable of accommodated your needs to meet and exceed your expectations. For further information please contact us on (02) 47571202 and ask to speak with our functions coordinator – Jackie Colquhoun.


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Local Heroes: Laurie McCracken

z_p09-Australia

The bushfire period has just commenced and the residents of the Blue Mountains are reminded to stay alert and be prepared to act should fires be directed their way. Bush fires have accounted for over 800 deaths in Australia since 1851 and the total accumulated cost in damages is estimated at $2.5 billion according to the Bureau of Transport and Economics report. Just recently in Springwood 193 houses were burnt down, 109 damaged and over 3623 hectares went up in flames. Hundreds of firemen were engaged in battling the flames and some of them were injured in the process.

Laurie McCracken, Captain of the NSW Fire and Rescue team in Wentworth Falls and member of the Wentworth Falls Country Club, has been involved in fighting fires and protecting homes for over 25 years. His involvement in the community is admirable and noteworthy. Constantly on call and managing a team of over a dozen firefighters, Laurie takes us through his vocation, his achievements and a few tips on how to be prepared for the bushfire season.

Laurie McCracken is a Blue Mountains native, born in Katoomba and having lived in Wentworth Falls since 1974. He explains how, at a very young age, he watched firefighters in 1957 from a window at St Canice’s Primary School in Katoomba while they attempted to contain the mighty force of the bush fires that claimed over 600 homes in the Blue Mountains. These bush fires were arguably the most devastating this area has ever witnessed and most certainly not the only incident that has happened over the years.

As a young boy Laurie remembers watching the firefighters in awe and remembering the heroic actions that allowed many lives to be saved during that tragic series of episodes. In his early manhood he was introduced to the world of firefighters by his uncle who was a well-respected fireman in the local community. From that day he found his vocation to help the community.

Laurie joined the  NSW Fire and Rescue in Wentworth Falls as a volunteer in 1986 and progressed through the ranks from engine keeper to Deputy Captain in 1998 and all the way to Captain in 2011 after 25 years of service.

His achievements

Laurie McCracken was awarded a commendation for his efforts leading a team in Task Force Valentine for 5 days during the Victorian bush fires in 2009.

Many Australians will remember these fires as The Black Saturday bush fires where a series of fires ignited and were burning across the Australian state of Victoria on and around Saturday, 7 February 2009. The fires occurred during extreme bushfire-weather conditions and resulted in Australia’s highest ever loss of life from a bushfire; 173 people died and 414 were injured as a result of the fires.

As many as 400 individual fires were recorded on 7 February. Following the events of 7 February 2009 and its aftermath, that day has become widely referred to as Black Saturday.

It was estimated that the amount of energy released during the firestorm in the Kinglake-Marysville area was equivalent to the amount of energy that would be released by 1,500 Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs according to Gary Hughes from The Australian. However direct comparisons between explosives and fires in units of energy released is meaningless, as explosives release their energy almost instantly in a fast pulse, in contrast to a fire, which releases its energy far more slowly – over minutes, hours and days.

Beyond the casualty list detailed above, physical damage caused by the bush fires included: 450,000 ha (1,100,000 acres) burnt, 7,562 people displaced and over 3,500 structures destroyed.

Laurie has received many other commendations for his involvement in fighting fires in and around New South Wales including Lithgow and Woodford.

Laurie McCracken

What are the main factors effecting bushfires

A bushfire is a fire that burns in grass, bush or woodland and can threaten life, property and the environment. Where the suburbs or urban development meet the rural lands is of particular concern to fire services as it places a great number off our community at high risk from bushfire each year.

Fuel – Anything that burns is fuel for a fire, in particular leaf litter (which is the accumulation of leaves, twigs, bark and rubbish on the ground), undergrowth (shrubs, grass, seedlings), trees and other vegetation. Other structures (such as houses, stables, sheds etc.) are also considered fuel and any other object that will burn when exposed to flames; such as gas bottles, piles of firewood, tyres, etc.

When we talk about fuels we often refer to their height. This is because fuels are found on the ground all the way up to the top of the trees, and where there are fuels fire can burn so fires can be quite small but can also reach up to 30 metres. An important term to understand is ladder fuels, which is any vegetation that grows between the ground fuel up to about 2 metres. This vegetation provides a path, or ladder, for a fire to travel up, taking the flames from the ground right up into the tree tops, essentially growing the fire from 1-2 metre flames right up to 30 metre flames.

Weather – Weather plays a major role in the severity of bush fires. The hotter and dryer the weather is, the more likely it is for a bush fire to start and spread quickly. Most bush fires start in the afternoon, when it is driest and hottest.

Wind speed and humidity – Wind speed can influence a bush fire by pushing the fire forward, the stronger the wind the faster the bush fire can spread. Wind can also dry out the air by reducing the moisture, this is called “low humidity”. When there is low humidity the danger of dry lightning (lightning from a storm that brings little or no rain) starting a bushfire is very high.

Topography / slope – Topography is the slope of the land and it plays a major factor in bushfire behaviour. Very simply, a bushfire will move up much faster up a slope and slow down as it goes down a slope. With all factors being equal, a bushfire will actually double the rate at which it spreads for each 10 degrees that a slope increases.

Laurie’s tips

If bushfire threatens your home here are some precautionary steps as recommended by the Fire and Rescue Service and Laurie.

1. Preparing your home

– Regularly clean leaves from gutters and fit quality metal leaf guards. Screen vents on roof voids with fine metal wire mesh.

– Keep woodpiles and other flammable materials well away from the house and covered.

– Keep your lawn short and the backyard tidy, free from any build up of flammable material.

– Consider purchasing a portable pump to use from your swimming pool or water tank.

2. In case of evacuation

– Turn off gas and power.

– Close all doors and windows and block gaps with wet towels or blankets.

– Move flammable curtains and furniture away from windows.

– Notify a neighbour, friend or the local authorities of your new address.

3. Survival kit: should include the following items:

– A portable battery radio, torch and spare batteries; water containers, dried or canned food and a can opener;

– Matches, fuel lamp, portable stove, cooking gear, eating utensils; and

– A first aid kit and manual, masking tape for windows and waterproof bags.

4. During the fire

– Wear protective clothing such as enclosed shoes, wool or cotton full-length clothing for protection, a hat and gloves. Close all windows and doors.

– Have eye and breathing protection.

– Ensure all family members and pets consume enough water to prevent dehydration.

– Ensure that someone has notified the fire brigade by ringing 000.

– Do not under any circumstances leave the house while the flame front moves through.

5. After the fire

– You can go outside and extinguish any spot fires in gutters etc.

– Beware of any electric power lines that may have dropped on the ground.

– If you cannot extinguish the fire move all family members to a burnt out area.

– If you have to leave your home because the fire has left it unsafe, protect the fire site from any further damage by weather, theft or vandalism. Do not leave the site unsecured.

call 000

Its thanks to the hard work, vigilance and dedication of people like Laurie McCracken that lives and homes are saved in our communities during bushfire periods, year after year. The forecast for this year is fairly bleak as this past week has registered some of the worst fires in the past decade.  If you have a comment or a story to share please comment below and the Wentworth Falls Country Club will be sure to pass it on to our local hero: Laurie McCracken.

Be vigilant, be prepared and be safe.


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How do you get back into shape and stay fit?

People on treadmill

The thought of getting back on a treadmill after years of inactivity seems daunting to some and unimaginable to many. We go to work, come home, take care of the endless chores, occasionally go out with friends and struggle to find time to rest.

Many of us go through stages in life where fitness and health fall off the priority list and we use excuses such as ‘I don’t have time’ or ‘I’ll look into it next week’ to brush off any chance of even contemplating exercising.  But have we ever stopped to think what the benefits are and what it would take to lead a healthy life style? The truth is it’s not that hard to get back on the fitness bandwagon so long as you are motivated.

Why get back into shape?

Patricia Cree (Pat) and Fiona Morrison (Fi), freshly appointed personal trainers at the Wentworth Falls Country Club gym, strongly believe that by incorporating an element of exercise in your lifestyle you may feel better mentally and physically thus improving your business and personal life and living longer. One key aspect of exercising is that it releases endorphins, the hormones that make you feel good, so not only are you losing weight or getting into shape but you are more upbeat too!

According to WJ Kraemer, ‘proper exercise prescription may result in improved body composition, physical performance, heart condition and health outcomes’.

Furthermore a gradual progression into fitness strengthens and stretches your muscles and reduces your body fat thus in turn reducing your aches and pains.  Many people have lower back pains from sitting down at a desk all day or from bad posture, getting back into shape will help take care of this as well.

Another element of fitness that is often discounted is that you get to meet people. Whether you sign up to the gym or to a zumba class you will inevitably socialize with others and hopefully feel motivated by likeminded people.

So what is the first step?

If you’re thinking you have to lose 20 pounds for a wedding or to fit back into your swimsuit – think again. Getting back into shape is not about the quick fix solution that will leave you dissatisfied, hungry and worse off than when you started. It is about finding a long-term motivation like feeling better, performing better at work or enjoying your personal life more. A motivation backed by a number of goals is essential as it allows you to monitor your progress and see whether your efforts match your expectations. So the first step is to determine your goals and be convinced that you will keep at it (as Tim Frazer would say) in the long run.

A simple way to start off is by making fitness part of your everyday life. Do you drive to work every day? Why don’t you walk for ten minutes and hop on a bus instead. That way you will have included 20 minutes of exercise in your day, 5 days a week. Do you live close enough to walk to the shops rather than drive? That adds another 15 minutes each way plus the exercise involved in carrying the bags back home. Making exercise an integral part of your daily routines becomes essential in achieving your fitness goals and sticking with them.

You’re sold on fitness and walk to work. What’s next? 

The next step would be to assess your level of fitness. It is always advisable to have a chat with a personal trainer when assessing one’s fitness level as we might be slightly biased. We might think we are reasonably fit given the fact that we used to be footie champions back in school but this might actually be misleading. This is more so the case for people who have not been active for quite a while.

assessment-fitness-training

A personal trainer will be able to identify your level of training and inform you as to what the best exercises are to achieve your goal. Furthermore they may also put together a training program especially tailored to your needs. The training program is fundamental as it allows you to follow a routine from warming up to cooling down and to vary exercises daily in order to include all muscle groups.

Putting together a training program doesn’t take long and saves you a lot of time researching exercises and sticking to them.

Maintaining constant levels of motivation can be tough, especially at the beginning, which is when most people give up. How many of us have started a sport convinced it would be for the long term and have thrown in the towel soon after? Again, motivation is key and a way to keep it alive is with a personal trainer.

Personal trainers are fitness professionals involved in exercise prescription and instruction. Their main role is that of motivating clients by helping achieve goals and providing feedback and accountability to clients. They can also measure their client’s strengths and weaknesses with fitness assessments. A personal trainer can also ensure you learn safe and effective exercise techniques. Personal trainers inspire you to exercise harder and better thus getting back into shape in a shorter period of time.

It’s not just fitness though – you need a cohesive approach

Some of us might think that’s great, I’ll exercise every day for an hour and I’ll be fit in no time! Getting back into shape is about analyzing and modifying all the aspects that may have an effect on your health and fitness.

What you eat and drink is one of the primary ones. Following a balanced diet, minimizing ‘empty’ calories such as soft drinks and eating less but more often is a good start. Fi and Pat are very knowledgeable in this as well and may assist you in putting together a healthy and exciting diet for you and possibly your family.

Sleep is also very important. You may think you are doing everything right from a fitness and food perspective, but if you are not resting adequately your body has not time to reenergize and regroup. Short periods and poor quality of sleep can lead to the release of hormones that regulate your feeling of hunger, namely leptin and ghrelin according to Dr. Rapaport from the University School of Medicine of New York. One of the studies showed that ‘when sleep was restricted, leptin levels went down and ghrelin levels went up. Not surprisingly, the men’s appetite also increased proportionally. Their desire for high carbohydrate, calorie-dense foods increased by a whopping 45%’.

Fiona and Patricia have recently joined the Wentworth Falls Country Club gym as Personal Trainers and are looking forward to meeting members and visitors alike.  We would love to hear your stories related to getting back into shape so please feel free to leave a comment below or come into the WFCC gym and have a chat with Pat and Fi.

Pat and Fi

Best of luck with your endeavours and don’t forget to keep at it!

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