The Southern Highlands region of NSW is one of the most picturesque places you will find. There is so much to see and do in this area. You could spend days Exploring the Southern Highlands and surrounding areas and not run out of things to do.
The Southern Highlands is located around an hour and 45 minutes drive south-west of Sydney. It is made up of three main towns – Mittagong, Bowral and Moss Vale and lots of smaller, picturesque villages.
On our recent trip to the Southern Highlands we arrived just a couple of days short of the start of the annual Tulip Festival. This festival is centered around the beautiful Corbett Gardens. Located just off the main street, this mass planting of tulips is just stunning and attracts visitors from far and wide.
Make sure you drop into the CWA rooms next door to the gardens for a Devonshire Tea. After all, the CWA are famous for their scone making abilities. The Tulip Festival runs for two weeks each year in September/October. There are also a number of private gardens open for inspection at the same time.
No visit to Bowral would be complete without a visit to the International Cricket Museum located at Bradman Oval. Our very own Sir Donald Bradman spent some of his younger years playing for Bowral, and went on to become arguably Australia’s most famous cricketer.
The museum houses a large display of memorabilia, not just relating to Sir Donald, but to the game of cricket in general. Entry to the museum is $20 for adults and $11 for children but is well worth it if you are a die-hard cricket fan. Whilst you are there, make sure you take a stroll around Bradman Oval as well.
One of the best known villages in the Southern Highlands is Berrima. It is also one of the oldest established settlements in NSW. It’s Surveyor General Inn is the oldest continuously licenced pub in NSW. A popular spot on the weekends, it offers great food and atmosphere.
Other historic buildings include the Berrima Correctional Centre – recently re-commissioned as a women’s prison and the Court House, which was built in 1838. Self-guided tours of the Court House are available or you can even do a Night-time Ghost Tour
For those of us who enjoy a spot of shopping there are plenty of small shops to browse through. From gift shops to gourmet food shops, Berrima has it all. Then of course there are plenty of spots to grab a coffee and a tasty treat as well.
Now technically speaking Kangaroo Valley is not part of the Southern Highlands. But it is still the perfect destination for a day-trip from Bowral. The views driving down Barrengarry Mountains are spectacular and once you hit ‘The Valley’ you will find plenty to do.
There are a couple of lovely spots to grab a coffee, including ‘Maddison’s in the Valley’, which has tables on a sunny verandah. (It’s a great spot for bumping into old school friends too) You will also find a collection of interesting shops to browse through.
A popular spot in the Valley has always been the local pub – The Friendly Inn. It is one of the oldest pubs in the region and still retains some of that yesteryear charm. The large garden area is the perfect spot to sit and enjoy a drink or a meal.
One of the best known features of Kangaroo Valley is the Hampden Bridge. The bridge is a single span suspension bridge, with sandstone turrets on each side. It was completed in 1898 – just in time to see the old bridge washed away in a flood.
If you want to explore the area more there are a couple of places where you can hire pushbikes or kayaks. The river is beautiful and this would be a great way to see more of it.
As you head back up the mountain towards Bowral a stop at the beautiful Fitzroy Falls is a must. Fitzroy Falls is located within the Morton National Park. To reach the viewing platforms, head in through the National Parks and Wildlife office for a short walk along the formed boardwalks to the first viewing area. This is located along the West Rim walking track.
It is well worth walking along the West Rim track to the Jersey Lookout which looks back towards the falls. The colours in the rocks to the left of the falls were gorgeous. If you are feeling energetic, you can continue along the track where you will find another water fall and more spectacular views.
We walked around 2.5 kilometres all up. The track is well formed, with some stairs and uneven ground but still easily doable for most levels of fitness. There are longer walks available as well, but make sure you get an early start for those ones. As always walk safely. Remember to carry some water and wear sturdy shoes
There is so much more to see and do when Exploring the Southern Highlands. As our time there was only brief, we really just skimmed the surface of this great area. Best times to visit are definitely Spring and heading into Summer. The days are usually gloriously warm, with cooler nights.