OUR ULTIMATE COVID BOOKING GUARANTEE. FIND OUT MORE
A weekend in the Southern Highlands is like visiting the ‘real’ Australia without having to drive too far from Sydney. You can even catch the train there – it’s the perfect journey to see the scenic south coast while listening to forlorn tunes on your iPod and pretending to be in a music video. From Friday night to Sunday afternoon, Bowral will provide the goods, from food and wine to art and culture – check out our list of the top things to hit on your weekend away.
The stomping ground of the late great cricketer Sir Donald Bradman (the first person ever to actually be knighted for his service to the game), Australia’s most legendary sporting icon, Bowral is host to the Bradman Museum of Cricket. The museum has Australia’s largest collection of Ashes and cricket memorabilia, so if you still haven’t wrapped your head around the concept of the game, this is a great place to start. There’s also a scenic cricket ground to test your newfound skills, a cricket-themed playground and exhibits that boast a constantly expanding collection showcasing the classic Aussie game.
If there was ever a splurge, this is it. Australia has some of the best quality produce in the world, perfect for our range of restaurants. The ones in Sydney come with a hefty price tag, but the further you travel into the country, the closer you get to the origins of the fresh produce, and the prices come down a bit. Biota pride themselves on using seasonal ingredients to create innovative menus, and their food is as fresh as it comes, from paddock to pasture. There’s no need to dress to the nines, however, because their five-course tasting menu can be shared on their sprawling lawn, in the bar or in their wine cellar.
The climate and soil in the Southern Highlands make perfect winemaking conditions, and the handful of wineries in the area are pleasantly diverse. The grand Bendooley Estate, the biodynamic Tractorless Wines, the boutique style of Mount Ashby Estate, and the classic flavours of Tertini Wines, one of the most renowned wineries in New South Wales. Each winery has its own unique style and flavours, but something they all have in common is their friendly and helpful staff to guide you through their aromatic brews. The wineries are all a stone’s throw from each other, and your first winery stop will have a map of the Southern Highland Wine Trail for you to follow.
Equipped with all your winery goodies, pack your picnic blanket and tuck a few bottles of wine under your arm and trek it up to the stunning lookout at Mount Gilbraltar. At 863 metres, it’s the highest point between Sydney and Canberra, and there are three lookouts, each giving you three unique perspectives: Bowral, Mittagong and Jellore.
What began as a small reserve on the summit of Mount Gibraltar has now grown to an area of 130 hectares. It offers an amazing panoramic view of the highlands area, with an excellent insight into the kind of terrain required to make some of the local produce and wine you’ve taken to sampling. Three lookouts provide distant views; each is worth visiting and having a look. Near the Bowral Lookout there is parking, a picnic area and toilets.
If you like your glass of wine with a fireplace and a hearty glass of red, don’t drive past Berkelouw’s Book Barn & Café. A restaurant, café and cellar door attached to a renovated barn filled with all kinds of books – new releases, first editions, second hand – they’re all there. The restaurant and café may look super-fancy and out of your price range, but it boasts a diverse menu with grazing boards, seasonal salads and delicious wood-fired pizzas along with classic rib eye and duck in plum sauce. No matter the season, you can’t go past a glass of red wine or a hot chocolate near the blazing fireplace.
Your one-stop shop for every Australia essential you can think of. If you want to blend in to the Australian scenery with an Akubra hat and a pair of Ugg Boots, make this store your pit-stop. Of course, you’ll look like you belong on a cattle ranch in rural Southern Australia but nonetheless, it’s an excellent image to take home to your love ones. If you really want to invest in an Australian souvenir, get a pair of classic Aussie R.M. Williams – the best crafted pair of boots you’ll ever wear. They come with a sizeable price tag, but they last years and are worth every penny.
While it’s a bit of a drive to get there (20km southeast of Bowral), The Burrawang Village Hotel is worth the drive. The village of Burrawang itself is so tiny, it has the pub, a post office and a general store. While the hotel’s interior looks like your everyday, run-of-the-mill country pub, you step outdoors into another world. The pub opens out into a blooming garden with panoramic views of the Southern Highlands, with lush green lawns and endless gardens perfect for games of cricket and for the kids to run around. The food is great, with classic feeds and woodfired pizzas.
If you’ve had enough of walking around and are ready to rest your weary legs, catch the latest flick at The New Empire Cinema. It first opened its doors in 1915, and since then has been the oldest continuously-running cinema in mainland Australia. The cinema shows everything from the latest blockbusters to independent indie flicks, and with four screens and the capacity to holdover 500 people, you’ll be sure to find something that suits you. It’s a lot cheaper than other cinemas in New South Wales, so revel in it!
One of the best café’s in the region, the sly layout makes it so you have to walk through their delectable health food store to get to the café itself. The whole enterprise focuses on all things locally produced, organic, wild and sustainable. Everything is delicious, from their vegetarian big breakfasts to their weekend tapas evenings. The wine and beers served are organic as well, so you can treat yourself without worrying about the morning-after headache.
Originally built in 1921 as a factory for local dairy farmers, it was renovated to become a huge exhibit space to showcase artists from all over Australia. With ceilings over seven meters high, it’s the perfect space for large, unique works of art, as well as sculptures and light installations. Solo exhibitions invite artists from all over the country to display their work, and it’s a great place for an afternoon wander to appreciate art in all its mediums.