AMBA NSW, The Carrington Hotel Katoomba, + Plans Going Awry

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Well, the PLAN had been to write a good, long post about that grande old dame, the Carrington Hotel in Katoomba.

I stayed there last Friday night, as a guest of the NSW Branch of the Australian Multiple Birth Club, whose seminar was on the Saturday.  I gave a talk on ‘Autism Spectrum Disorder and Multiples’ because, yes, having twins, triplets etc is one of the risk factors for ASD.

Anyway, the PLAN was to drive up to Katoomba on Friday morning, finish the slides for the talk at leisure, swan around a few bookshops, have tea and scones and take heaps of photos of the hotel and learn all about it.

But like all good plans, this one had a fatal flaw.

It didn’t work


Thursday night saw me inspecting a painful lump on Teen16’s coccyx. Friday was spend at the GPs, and then we went straight to see a surgeon. An operation is booked for tomorrow.

Poor Teen16 has a pilonidal sinus, what I’d always called an ingrowing hair, but now know is not that at all.

The poor lad was in agony, and was started on antibiotics and painkillers straight away.


By the time we got home it was after 4pm and we all needed to take a deep breath. Thanks goodness for Bethany au pair. Thank goodness for painkillers that work.

Thank goodness for a strong cup of tea and a secreted 100g bar of dark chocolate. Comfort eating has its place!

Anyway, I made sure Teen16 was OK, kissed them all goodbye and drove up to Katoomba in the dark, getting there in time to grab something to eat in the Grand Dining Room then spent the rest of the night furiously finishing the Powerpoint slides.Carrington-3

I did try to take photos next day using my DSLR. Popped off quite a few... then realised there was no memory stick... it was still stuck into the photo printer in Sydney.

But I hope these few photos taken on the iPhone can give you an idea about this remarkable old style hotel. The ceilings are amazingly high. The rooms are straight out of the 1800’s (except with reverse cycle aircon!) The electric blankets work a treat.

I just loved the old-fashioned (because it is genuinely old) ensuite bathroom. Look at that sink!

And I am in love with all the plumbing on the shower – love it. The shower was hugely powerful too, I nearly got washed down the plug hole. Fantastic!


Early on Saturday I had breakfast (continental is included in room rate and was plentiful, cooked breakfast costs extra) and then found the function room.

It’s at this stage that my tummy started turning somersaults.


So I walked around as the PA system was being set up, repeating my anti-nerves mantra.

‘You’ve done this before, you’ve got things to say, you can do this.’

‘I’ve done this before, I’ve got things to say, I can do this.’


Checking out all the raffle prizes was a great distraction, as was buying loads of tickets!Carrington-10

The NSW AMBA Seminar in full swing; great bunch of people doing great work for multiple families, all volunteers too.

I talked for AN HOUR about what autism spectrum disorder is, and what it isn’t, about our family journey and about what is known about autism in multiples.  Twin studies are really important for unravelling the gene/environment interplay and great strides ahead are being made.

Being a bit worried about GiantTeen16, I did get all emotional at certain points. Didn’t burst into tears as such, but felt quite weepy. Appropriate, I think.

And there’s no more loving or kind or accepting a bunch of parents than the mums and dads of twins, triplets and more. It was a privilege to meet them and to be involved.

Here’s the one slide that says it all for me.



We parents of children with any sort of additional need just want our kids to be taken as they are and treated as individuals.

We love that, we need it and so do the children.

So there you go, an overnight stay that turned out to be a big emotional trip.

I whipped home after lunch and got stuck straight back into the chaos of family life. As we all do.

PS I do love the Carrington, check out prices and availability if you fancy a stay right here.

How’s your week looking so far?

Any plans going awry yet?

Do any plans ever go according to plan when we have children?

Take it easy,




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Posted on: May 28, 2013


  • Reply May 28, 2013


    Sending heaps of positive energy your way for tomorrow – I hope all goes well and will be thinking of you all !
    I love the photos you took – even if they weren’t with your DSLR !!! The stained glass windows and the chandelier are gorgeous !
    Have the best day and heaps of love, hugs and positive energy for the rest of the week !

    • Reply May 28, 2013

      Seana Smith

      It really is a most beautiful hotel and completely olde worlde, there was a humungous restoration a few years ago I think. It’s fairly pricey so I don’t think we’d stay as a family. But will get back there one day… there’s a bookshop right across the road that has my name on it.

  • Hi Seana,

    I love that one slide. I wish I’d been there to hear you talk and am not surprised you got weepy after all that. I would have wanted to lock myself in the bathroom and cry for hours. Maybe you can take time to do that when you next have a moment to yourself!

    I hope the big guy is feeling better now and you too.

    Your photos are beautiful just the way they are – just like you, your ideas and your family.

    xoxo A

    • Reply May 28, 2013

      Seana Smith

      I was just looking at those photos again and they are OK. The iPhone seems to do better inside than the DSLR sometimes, well, maybe I just need to learn how. Today haven’t been weeping but did have overwheling urge to bake, perhaps the same impulse!

  • Reply May 28, 2013

    Desire Empire

    Will I ever learn to edit. Here’s what I really wanted to say:

    Well I guess a lump could have been a much worse outcome so here’s to ingrown hairs…..The pain near the spine must have been unbearable for the poor lad.

    The Carrington looks nice. It was probably great for you to have a break away from all the drama and come back somewhat refreshed. Whatever are you going to do without the brilliant Bethany? She will be difficult to replace.

    • Reply May 28, 2013

      Seana Smith

      You’re right and I don’t really know what to do after B goes home. Hubby will be here until the school hols and then away again. It’s always tricky as you never know who you’ll find… and what they’ll think of us. She and I are planning some final fun for the weekend.

  • Reply May 28, 2013


    Oh no, poor Mr16!! I hope the surgery goes well?? Yikes! As for the hotel, it looks so charming and old-worldish! It is beautiful! I am sorry you didn’t get to get up there earlier and take a better look around in the daylight! And i’ve done the memory stick thing before, too. It is so frustrating! My plan for today was to go for a drive scouting photography locations for a shoot I have in a few weeks and the weather is crap. So I ended up spending $100 at Big W instead – definitely NOT on the plans! But did get some kids birthday presents sorted. So that’s a win! Have a great week Seana! x Aroha (#teamIBOT)

    • Reply May 28, 2013

      Seana Smith

      Ah well, at least you got something done. Hope the weather is much better when you do the photoshoot itself. I used to love scouting locations when I worked in TV, all the beauty and none of the pressure. That was the best bit of the job!

  • Reply May 28, 2013

    Mrs BC

    Well done on continuing on to success, after a rocky start. Talking for an hour is quite an achievement! The hotel looks amazing, thanks for sharing some pictures. My best friend growing up had pilonidal sinus, I used to visit her in hospital a lot, and sneak in the occasional big mac. Hope teen16 is OK.

    • Reply May 28, 2013

      Seana Smith

      He should be fine. The surgeon said it’s straightforward, the recovery should be pain-free and the wounds no longer get packed out for weeks. Things have moved on a lot I think sinve my sister had the same things about… err… 25 years ago. Fingers crossed anyway.

  • Reply May 28, 2013


    It’s going awry as I type. Picked the Big Sister up from kindy and within minutes of getting in the car she was crying in agony over her ear. Home for a piece of restorative chocolate cake (for her, not me), then heading out to the Doctor. I’m glad Teen16 is on the improve – I would have needed more than 100g of chocolate to deal with that one – 100ml of gin would be more my style! 🙂

    • Reply May 28, 2013

      Seana Smith

      Haha, I’ve gone completely off the sauce so chocolate is my calming drug of choice. Made another chocolate cake this afternoon, always soothing to bake. This was a new recipe and, dare I say, it’s actually not a great cake. But shhhh… don’t tell the bairns, they’ll never know.

  • Reply May 28, 2013

    JodiGibson (

    Ouch! Poor Mr 16. So glad it’s nothing too serious and is getting sorted. As for the Carrington, it looks like a lovely old place. I love admiring the old world.
    And congrats on your talk, I love that slide – what a perfect point. x

    • Reply May 28, 2013

      Seana Smith

      Yes, I do think that slide sums it up. Perhaps all neurological conditions are the same too, each person’s presentation is different. My boy will be OK overnight in hospital by himself, I think, but he will still need me around a lot of the time he’s awake. Just in case he needs a translator or gets confused.

  • Reply May 28, 2013


    Oh, Seana! How stressful for you! Sending positive vibes for Teen16’s operation.
    I would’ve loved to have heard you speak. I’m sure the audience were captivated by what you had to say x

    • Reply May 28, 2013

      Seana Smith

      Well, no-one left the room, so that’s always a bonus! I’d never talked for an hour alone before, so I had about a zillion slides, which I didn’t need all of in the end. Always good to mingle the personal and the scientific/factual, and I must put some of the twins and ASD info on the blog. We’ve been fortunate with our twins Grace. XX

  • Reply May 28, 2013


    My family actually stayed in The Carrington in, gosh, must have been late ’60s. The piano was played during dinner from one of the little upstairs alcoves, and my sister ordered vegemite on toast. Hope Master 16 is coping – one of the wee twins had a cupcake from me on Sunday, and Dex Box and Angus had a blast.xxxx

    • Reply May 29, 2013

      Seana Smith

      Thanks missus, and guess what, there was a piano player in the dining room on Saturday night. Those high ceilings are amazing. Bet it still looks very similar to when you went there those – ahem – few years ago.

  • Reply May 28, 2013

    Mairi Stones

    Wow Seana, heroic or what!
    Good to chat earlier and YES plans often go awry. Whatever plan I start out with each week I can definitely “plan” on it being altered at some point by the demands of now teenage twins; a the joys of multiples, just wait. X

  • Reply May 30, 2013

    Jackie Smith

    Love this post: you made lemonade out of lemons. So glad to hear the lump is nothing more serious.

  • Reply May 31, 2013

    budget jan

    What a roller coaster. It seems totally unfair of you to produce such wonderful photos on your phone. Looking through the stained glass windows makes me want to pull up a chair, grab a cup of tea/wine and enjoy the view.

  • Reply June 1, 2013

    Hotly Spiced

    Unbelievable. It just seems to be that way with motherhood – you make your plans but you just have to expect they may not come off. I think you did really well to get through that one hour talk – that’s a long time to be speaking and I would have been a wreck of nerves. I love the Carrington and I love how old and grande it is and how it hasn’t been destroyed by modernism. I just think they could rethink that horrible plastic bin in the ensuite xx

  • Oh wow, that message on your slide about “you’ve met ONE CHILD with autism” really hit me. It’s a great reminder. Malaysia seems to, in general, pretend that children with special needs are invisible. Anyways… looks like a fab hotel. I hope that your teen is on the mend.

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