How to Get the Most From a Trip to the Southern Highlands, New South Wales

Fitzroy Falls, in the Southern Highlands, is a spectacular sight well worth a visit
Fitzroy Falls, in the Southern Highlands, is a spectacular sight well worth a visit | © Genevieve Vallee / Alamy Stock Photo
Susanna Smith

In search of natural wonders? Then don’t miss Fitzroy Falls, with lots of hiking opportunities. Prefer history? You can delve into the past in Berrima, Australia‘s best preserved Georgian town. You’ll find these and more in the Southern Highlands, just a short hop from Sydney. Here’s our roundup.

Enjoy a gourmet break in Bowral

Bowral, the largest town in the Southern Highlands, retains much of the grandeur of its days as a summer retreat for well-to-do residents of Sydney. Known for its spectacular gardens, including Corbett Gardens, it is home to one of the region’s most beautiful parks and the sight of the annual Tulip Festival held each September. Bowral is also a gourmet getaway destination, specialising in fresh produce and cool climate wines. Visit the cellar door at Centennial Vineyards and dine at acclaimed local restaurants such as Biota, Onesta, Cucina, and Ludo. The town also has more than its fair share of galleries and antique stores that are well worth browsing. A wine tasting tour of local vineyards with Grape Escape is never a bad idea.

Pay tribute to a legend at the Bradman Museum of Cricket

Sir Donald Bradman, Australia’s famous sporting hero, grew up in Bowral and the Bradman Museum of Cricket is a collection of “Don-centric” items that explore his achievements and the history of the game. The International Cricket Hall of Fame next door has a wealth of information, memorabilia and state-of-the-art interactive displays that travel through the timeline of the sport. The museums are located in pretty Glebe Park, near Don Bradman Oval, where you can enjoy a picnic or barbecue and check out the cricket-themed playground. Bradman fans can also visit his childhood home at 52 Shepherd Street Bowral and view the fabled backyard water tank stand that he used to perfect his batting skills.

Step back in time in historic Berrima

Set in the lush green backdrop of the Southern Highlands, quaint Berrima is the best preserved Georgian village in Australia. The self-guided Berrima Heritage Walk takes you past all the historic sites. Enjoy a drink at the Surveyor General Inn, one of the country’s oldest pubs, built by convicts in 1834. Once you’ve finished the trail, take time to browse the quirky shops in town before visiting Bendooley Estate to indulge your love of food, wine and books at the well-stocked Book Barn, cellar door and restaurant. Consider a visit to the Georgian splendour of historic Harper’s Mansion and try not to lose yourself in the garden maze before enjoying a meal at Eschalot, one of the Southern Highlands’ finest restaurants for seasonal fresh produce grown onsite.

Explore nature and culture at Fitzroy Falls

Fitzroy Falls in Morton National Park is one of Australia’s most spectacular waterfalls. Start your visit at the Fitzroy Falls Visitor Centre, which has a wealth of information on local Aboriginal history, as well as wildlife that inhabit the area. There is a short, accessible boardwalk from the centre and cafe from which you can view the falls. If you have time and energy to explore the park further, the East Rim and Wildflower walking tracks are perfect for nature lovers, while the West Rim Walking track offers dramatic views of gorges and waterfalls.

Visit Bundanoon and Morton National Park

The quaint village of Bundanoon, on the edge of Morton National Park, is an ideal base from which to explore this wilderness. The magical Fairy Bower Falls can be accessed on a one-hour loop walk, or take the shorter Lovers Walking Track through open forest filled with wildflowers and birdwatching opportunities. Take the gentle Riverview Walking Track to explore the famous Bundanoon Gullies, or the Mount Carnarvon Walking track for scenic views of the area. Finish your day with an evening stroll to Glow Worm Glen, where hundreds of larvae produce an amazing natural light show.

Get the best views of the Highlands from Mount Gibraltar

Mount Gibraltar, a 150m-year-old collapsed volcanic core that has formed a mountain, in Mittagong, is the highest point between Sydney and Canberra at an 863m (2,800ft). Three viewing platforms in Mount Gibraltar Reserve – the Bowral Viewing Platform, Mittagong Town Lookout, and Mount Jellore Lookout – all offer stunning views over the Southern Highlands from different perspectives. There are seven short walking tracks in the reserve, including the 1.2km Rim Track that connects walkers to all three of the viewing platforms and offers great views along the way. There are undercover and alfresco picnic facilities in the reserve, so pick up some local produce in town and treat yourself to a gourmet picnic.

Indulge your taste buds in Robertson

If the charming town of Robertson seems familiar, it’s probably because it served as the set for the beloved 1995 hit movie, Babe. These days people flock to Robertson to taste the wares at the Robertson Pie Shop who sell a scrumptious range of savour and sweet pies widely regarded as amongst the best in Australia. The Robertson Cheese Factory is held in similarly high regard and a visit to its store and cafe are highly recommended. The easy Rainforest Walking Track in Robertson Nature Reserve is a good birdwatching site and if you’re lucky you might get to spot one of the resident wombats. If you’re into ticking Australia’s Big Things off your bucket list, Robertson is home to none other than the Big Potato.

Experience country charm in Moss Vale

Moss Vale is a charming country town surrounded by vineyards and farmlands which has gained a reputation as a gourmet food and wine destination. Charming Mount Ashley Estate’s cellar door and modern French-inspired cuisine at Cafe La Pallette are a good place to start to enjoy local produce in a farm-style setting. Explore Moss Vale township by taking the self-guided walking tour while browsing the many unique speciality and antique shops. Nature fans will enjoy the chance to indulge in some bird spotting while walking in the tranquil wetlands of Cecil Hoskins Reserve. For a true taste of country life, book a tour of The Pines Pastoral Angus Cattle Farm.

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