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A perfect weekend in the Southern Highlands

Centennial Vineyards, BowralCredit: Destination NSW

Couple enjoying a romantic getaway at Centennial Vineyards, Bowral.

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A perfect weekend in the Southern Highlands

Centennial Vineyards, Bowral Credit: Destination NSW

Couple enjoying a romantic getaway at Centennial Vineyards, Bowral.

#feelnsw #newsouthwales

Hashtags #feelnsw #newsouthwales

Less than a two-hour drive from Sydney, the Southern Highlands makes a lush escape to relax and recharge. From Mittagong to Moss Vale, Bowral to Bundanoon, treat yourself to a few days immersed in beautiful landscapes, mouth-watering flavours, captivating culture and outdoor adventures. 

Sip on local beer and wine

With fertile soils and a cool-climate altitude, the Southern Highlands is a grape-growing haven. There are more than 60 vineyards in the region and 17 cellar doors to visit – join a wine tour with local operators like The Grape Escape or Highlands Food and Wine Tours to be chauferred to the best spots, like Cherry Tree Hill, Tractorless Vineyard and Joadja Estate (the oldest winery in the region).

Bendooley Estate is a must-stop in the Georgian village of Berrima, a 10-minute drive west of Bowral. Drop by for a tasting at the cellar door, then browse the collection of thousands of new, second-hand and antique books at their Berkelouw Book Barn & Cafe for a wholesome fairytale-like afternoon.

If beer is more your beverage of choice, head to Mittagong for a private tour of Eden Brewery, finishing with a guided tasting with an expert brewer. Or, in Moss Vale, The Southern Highlands Brewing Co’s Taphouse offers a tasty seasonal menu of burgers, pasta and brasserie favourites alongside interesting craft brews such as Bong Bong Picnic Ale and the Goodfather porter. 

Book a feast to remember

An exceptional meal is never far away in the Southern Highlands. In Berrima, Eschalot has been a Highlands highlight for two decades. Choose the ‘Feed Me’ menu and chef Matty Roberts will plate up a 10-course fine-dining banquet.

Savour a barrage of unfamiliar flavours as Michelin-starred Thai chef Bongkoch Satongun and her husband Jason Bailey (a Southern Highlands local) combine Thai traditions with innovation to create incredible food at Paste Australia in Mittagong.

In Bowral, taste the chefs’ passion at family-owned fine-dining Italian restaurant Onesta Cucina — the name is Italian for honest kitchen, and the menu features classics like potato gnocchi with lamb ragu and egg tagliatelle with seafood. 

Bendooley Estate, Berrima Credit: Destination NSW

Autumn at Bendooley Estate, Berrima.

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Bendooley Estate, Berrima Credit: Destination NSW

Autumn at Bendooley Estate, Berrima.

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Eschalot, Berrima Credit: Destination NSW

Elegant dish made from the freshest and highest quality ingredients at Eschalot restaurant, Berrima.

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Eschalot, Berrima Credit: Destination NSW

Elegant dish made from the freshest and highest quality ingredients at Eschalot restaurant, Berrima.

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Brunch at the best

As well as fine diners, there’s a thriving cafe culture in the Southern Highlands for more casual dining experiences. Surround yourself with a jungle of potted plants and a massive wall of books as you graze on rustic share plates at Harry’s on Green Lane, or put a buzz in your day with the specialty coffee and a fresh, seasonal menu sourced from local small-batch producers at The Press Shop cafe on Bowral’s main street.

Make your brunch a long one at Franquette Creperie in Bowral, a licensed French cafe serving traditional and extra-special crepes (think pavlova or banoffee pie flavours) and decadent buckwheat galettes, topped with everything from smoked chicken and chorizo to duck l’orange. A highlight? The cafe is BYO with no corkage fee.

For a farm-to-table approach to lunch, head to Moonacres Kitchen, an organic farm, cafe and restaurant in the town of Robertson (the setting for the classic Australian movie Babe), that takes pride in its ethical ethos. Moonacres is also home to a school, offering a range of courses and workshops to get to know your food a little better. Join a farm tour, bread-making class, sustainable cooking course, composting workshop and more.

Feel rejuvenated in nature

From spectacular waterfalls to breathtaking lookouts and serene trails, the Southern Highlands is one of Australia’s most vibrant natural playgrounds. Plunging more than 80 metres to the valley below, the magnificent Fitzroy Falls are a breathtaking spectacle in the Morton National Park. In Budderoo National Park, Carrington Falls tumble 50m through the lush greenery into the Kangaroo River below.

For hikers, start with an easy climb to the 863m summit of Mount Gibraltar, a 150-million-year-old collapsed volcano that’s now the highest point between Sydney and Canberra. Or in Morton National Park, the Lovers Walking Track is a short trail that winds through open forest and native flowers to scenic views at Echo Point. For something different, walk from Bundanoon into Glow Worm Glen at night to see thousands of these tiny insects light up the darkness.

The Southern Highlands is also home to some of Australia’s most stunning gardens. In Bowral, the vibrant annual Tulip Time Festival celebrates the arrival of spring in the beautiful Corbett Gardens with more than 75,000 bulbs in bloom. Many of the region’s historic country manors are surrounded by immaculately landscaped grounds, inspired by traditional English gardens. Visit the superb grounds of the historic National Trust-listed Harper’s Mansion, in Berrima, with its cool-climate plants and large hedge maze.

Carrington Falls, Budderoo National Park Credit: Destination NSW

Carrington Falls, Budderoo National Park

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Carrington Falls, Budderoo National Park Credit: Destination NSW

Carrington Falls, Budderoo National Park

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Robertson, Southern Highlands Credit: Dee Kramer Photography

Scenic aerial of Robertson in the Southern Highlands.

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Robertson, Southern Highlands Credit: Dee Kramer Photography

Scenic aerial of Robertson in the Southern Highlands.

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Stylish shopping

From bespoke homewares to sophisticated fashions and one-of-a-kind antiques, the excellent shopping in the Southern Highlands lets you take a little piece of local style home. In Bowral, wander along Bong Bong Street for stylish clothing and accessories in stores like ARKKE the Shop, MicMac Boutique and Hem, each offering unique fashion finds from around the world. High Street Bowral is a small pedestrian mall that runs off Bong Bong Street and is lined with lots of interesting shops including homewares stores like Few & Far, Country Accent and local icon Barbara’s Storehouse. The Modern stocks everything from Map sofas to Marimekko tea towels, and Suzie Anderson Home is full of chic, unique pieces. For vintage finds and pre-loved furniture and homewares, visit the famous Dirty Jane’s. Next door is Green Lane, a boutique shopping precinct home to The Potting Shed, specialising in garden furniture, fire pits and perennials, and The Orangery, where you'll find orchids, indoor plants and gifts.

Stay the night in heritage halls

Sleep in style at one of the Southern Highlands’ grand manor hotels. Retreat to Milton Park Country House Hotel & Spa, a mansion on a hilltop just east of Bowral, to get your beauty sleep in a deluxe room overlooking gardens or pine forest, and linger in the pretty French bath house before a treatment in the luxe wellness spa. Or check in to another grand manor on a country estate in Bowral, Peppers Craigieburn, to soak up the serene setting before tackling the nine-hole Craigieburn Hickory Golf Course.

Book out the three-bedroom Residence at Berrima Vault House, a former inn built by convicts in 1844 now reimagined as a members’ club in Berrima. Or step back in history in the restored school master’s cottage at the Fitzroy Inn in Mittagong, built in 1836 as a traveller’s inn; the convict-made original kitchen and manicured gardens are particularly astonishing. 

Recharge in luxury

An indulgent holiday deserves a decadent place to stay the night. Near Bundanoon, Osborn House was built in 1892 and reborn as a luxurious boutique hotel in 2022. There are 15 suites in the original house and seven new freestanding cabins, two restaurants, an indoor pool and plush spa.

Soak up the views of rolling green hills while steeping in a hydrotherapy spa in your suite at Wild Ducks Burrawang in the picturesque village of Burrawang, 20 minutes south-east of Bowral.

Or if you want an intimate place to stay the night just for two, book a tiny house: Edmond overlooks an escarpment and paddock on a 40-hectare near Robertson; while Tiny Homes Joadja offers a selection of little off-grid cabins set on the banks of the Wingecarribee River.

Note: Always plans ahead and check the National Parks website to make sure certain walking tracks are open before visiting. 

Osborn House, Bundanoon Credit: Stephanie Hunter

One of the cabins at Osborn House.

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Osborn House, Bundanoon Credit: Stephanie Hunter

One of the cabins at Osborn House.

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Milton Park Country House Hotel and Spa, Bowral Credit: Destination NSW

Sun setting over Milton Park Country House Hotel and Spa, Bowral.

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Milton Park Country House Hotel and Spa, Bowral Credit: Destination NSW

Sun setting over Milton Park Country House Hotel and Spa, Bowral.

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