The stunning Southern Highlands – just ninety minutes’ drive from Sydney – is the perfect spot for a family short break. The area, which includes Bowral, Mittagong, Moss Vale, Berrima, Bundaoon and numerous other villages, features spectacular scenery, a rich history, amazing produce and dining options and a variety of fun leisure activities for all ages. In this piece we outline some of the highlights in and around Bowral and Berrima.
The town of Bowral is well known for the Tulip Time Festival, held at Corbett Gardens each spring (this year running from 18 September to 1 October). With more than 75,000 tulip bulbs and 15,000 annuals planted, it’s a stunning floral display and one of Australia’s largest floral festivals.
Another highlight of Bowral is the interactive Bradman Museum and International Cricket Hall of Fame, commemorating legendary Australian cricketer Sir Donald Bradman who lived locally, as well as cricket more generally – a must for enthusiasts of the game. The museum is situated in Glebe Park, which also features the Bradman Oval and a children’s playground.
For those interested in homewares, Bowral has numerous contemporary and antique stores, often with highly desirable finds.
If you’re feeling peckish, there are some great family-friendly dining options in Bowral, such as the cosy Elephant Boy Cafe or The Press Shop, with a bespoke stationery store attached, both on Bong Bong Street. Another fabulous dining option is stylish cafe Ludo, on Station Street, serving beautifully prepared local and regional produce for breakfast and lunch as well as dinner on Friday and Saturdays.
Images © Anita Vitanova
There are several outstanding wineries in the Southern Highlands, including the award-winning Centennial Vineyards, about a ten-minute drive from Bowral’s town centre. The cellar door is open seven days with wines and local produce available to purchase. In addition to the cellar door, there is an outstanding restaurant on site with a warm, rustic style. Centennial Vineyards Restaurant serves lunch Wednesday through Monday and high tea Monday through Friday.
Image © Milk and Honey Photography
Berrima is a much-loved historic village established in the 1830s.
Image © Anita Vitanova
A popular attraction is the Berrima Courthouse Museum, at the Corner of Argyle and Wilshire streets, Berrima. The courthouse, an imposing 1838 Georgian sandstone building, saw many hundreds of cases, with escaped convicts, bushrangers, thieves and murderers brought to justice. A tour of the Berrima Courthouse Museum, open from 10 am to 4 pm 364 days each year, tells of the history of the courthouse and the village of Berrima from the 1830s to the present.
A favourite among kids, the Lolly Swagman on the Old Hume Highway, in Berrima, offers an enormous range of fudge, chocolates, lollipops and other old-fashioned sweets.
Images © Anita Vitanova
Berrima has numerous gift shops. For those who appreciate jams and other condiments, don’t miss The Little Hand Stirred Jam Shop, which is also on the Old Hume Highway. The Hand Stirred Cafe and Ice Creamery offers lunch from Wednesday to Sunday, with ice-cream, devonshire tea, cakes and coffee available daily.
Another highlight for the kids is Berrima’s Marketplace Park, also on the Old Hume Highway. The large castle-themed play structure includes climbing nets and a slide, and there’s also a flying fox and various swings. There are toilet facilities within the park.
Also in the village on the Old Hume Highway, The Surveyor General Inn, built by convicts from local sandstone, is Australia’s oldest continuously licensed pub. There is both indoor and outdoor seating and a kids’ menu.
For those with a taste for fine food and wine, elegant European restaurant Eschalot is situated on the Old Hume Highway, in the heart of Berrima. It’s open Wednesday to Sunday for lunch and Wednesday to Saturday for dinner. Acclaimed wineries Joadja Estate and Bendooley Estate, with an excellent restaurant, are also located nearby.
Built attractions aside, there are many bushwalks in the Southern Highlands. The Berrima River Walk, which commences at Oxley Street, explains the history of the riverside World War One German internment camps and takes in the beautiful Wingecarribee River. For more ambitious bushwalking, check out the breathtaking Fitzroy Falls in Morton National Park.
Image © Anita Vitanova
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