Perfect Weekend Escape to the Southern Highlands of NSW

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I am a little bit biased about the Southern Highlands of NSW as my family has lived here for nearly 20 years! The national parks and waterfalls are spectacular, and we have a terrific selection of restaurants and vineyards if that’s your thing. Highly recommended! ED Kevin Parker

Country charm, exceptional dining, and luxurious accommodation await just a short drive from Sydney.  The Southern Highlands offers a captivating retreat with its picturesque villages, rolling meadows, fine shopping and dining, native bushlands, and vineyards. While this region is enchanting year-round, it’s during autumn when the landscapes take on a particularly idyllic golden hue. With cottage gardens, ivy-covered manors, heritage buildings, and genuine rural charm, the Southern Highlands provides a restorative escape where you can breathe in the fresh country air and savor a gentler pace of life.

Getting There: The Southern Highlands are conveniently located just a 90-minute drive from Sydney and under two hours from Canberra, making it an ideal destination for a mini-break or a delightful side trip from the city.

Things to Do:

1. Hunt for Truffles: As winter descends upon the Southern Highlands, so does the opportunity to forage for the rare delicacy of fresh truffles. Numerous truffieres in the region offer tours for food enthusiasts eager to unearth these culinary treasures. Join a truffle hunt with Wild Food Adventures, where you can enjoy a delicious two-course lunch and a pinot noir tasting. L’Air du Wombat Truffles also offers truffle hunts every weekend during winter, allowing you to watch truffle-trained dogs in action.

2. Be Immersed in Nature: From breathtaking waterfalls to expansive national parks and picturesque vineyards, the natural beauty of the Southern Highlands is truly captivating. Experience the changing seasons with the vibrant blooms of spring, the golden leaves of autumn, and the frost-dusted paddocks of winter. Explore the region’s great bush tracks, visit Fitzroy Falls in Morton National Park for stunning views, or encounter friendly wildlife like kangaroos, wombats, and echidnas at Gibbergunyah Reserve near Bowral.

3. Shop for That Special Piece: The Southern Highlands are renowned for their antique shopping scene. Stroll through Bowral’s streets to discover charming boutiques offering pre-loved treasures. Explore Dirty Janes, an emporium housing over 60 shops with everything from elegant cane furniture to unique curiosities. Don’t miss Berrima’s Sticky Beaks Vintage Emporium and Village Antiques, or Sutton Forest’s The Everything Store, a historical shop that’s perfect for treasure hunting.

4. Flower Festival: If your visit coincides with spring, be sure to attend the annual Tulip Time Festival in Bowral. Since 1958, this festival has adorned Bowral with a kaleidoscope of 75,000 tulips, creating a picturesque setting for memorable photos and a celebration of vibrant blooms.

5. Cricket Fans: Cricket enthusiasts should not miss the Bradman Museum and International Cricket Hall of Fame in Bowral. Situated in Glebe Park, this museum offers interactive experiences and a collection of national significance, tracing the history of cricket from its origins to the modern era.

6. Go Wine Tasting: The cool climate of the Southern Highlands is perfect for crafting exquisite wines. Explore the region’s wineries to taste a variety of award-winning wines, ciders, and beers. Start your wine adventure at Joadja Estate, a family-owned vineyard and winery in the hills north of Berrima. Tractorless Vineyard and Bowral Brewing Company offer sustainable food and wine experiences guided by biodynamic principles. For exceptional pinot noir and spirits, visit Artemis Wines, run by winemaking brothers Anton and Mark Balog.

Where to Eat: Dining in the Southern Highlands is a culinary delight. Whether you’re enjoying a homecooked meal with local produce, savoring wine at a cellar door, or dining in one of the region’s fine eateries, you’ll find mouth-watering options to satisfy your appetite.

  • Eschalot: Located in a charming sandstone cottage in Berrima, Eschalot offers creative and contemporary fare with a local touch. Enjoy fine local wines in an iconic setting.
  • Paste Australia: This Mittagong diner led by Michelin-starred chefs Bee Satongun and Jason Bailey serves bold and masterful Thai cuisine, taking your taste buds on an aromatic adventure.
  • Berkelouw Book Barn at Bendooley Estate: Experience a unique blend of a winery and a bookshop at Bendooley Estate. Enjoy coffee, lunch, or a glass of wine surrounded by books and the warm glow of the fireplace. Stay in the stylish onsite Bendooley Estate Cottages if you need to rest after indulging in wine and books.
  • Robertson Public House and Kitchen: Established in 1887, this local pub has been a community favorite for over a century. Today, it offers delicious fare, event spaces, and accommodation.

Where to Stay: The Southern Highlands boasts a variety of accommodation options to suit different preferences, whether you’re visiting as a couple, family, or group.

  • Milton Park Country House: Experience country grandeur at this luxury estate, which exudes the glamour and poise of a bygone era. With a range of rooms and suites, an onsite spa, and a restaurant, it’s an ideal setting for special occasions.
  • Links House Bowral: This small and elegant boutique hotel features verdant cottage gardens and manicured lawns, making it a popular choice for romantic escapes.
  • Peppers Manor House: This Sutton Forest property resembles a refined country house estate set in spectacular gardens. Built in 1926, it retains its charm and offers a serene getaway.
  • Peppers Craigieburn: Located in Bowral, this impeccably maintained estate offers rural luxury with a casual atmosphere. A private nine-hole golf course makes it a popular choice for golf enthusiasts.

In the Southern Highlands of NSW, you’ll discover a world of natural beauty, gourmet experiences, and charming hospitality, all just a short drive away from the bustling cities of Sydney and Canberra. Whether you’re seeking relaxation, adventure, or a taste of rural life, this region has something to offer every traveler. Plan your escape to the Southern Highlands and immerse yourself in its country charm and exceptional offerings.

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