Growing up in the Southern Highlands of NSW, I thought it was an ok place to live, but it wasn’t until I left as a young adult and travelled, that I realised I had grown up in a very special place indeed.
Each time I return to visit family I marvel at the changes even just in a few months.
Who would have thought back all those years ago that it would be one of the most popular destinations for a weekend getaway or a midweek break from Sydney, where you must book your accommodation well in advance of your travel dates?
Who would have also thought that the Southern Highlands would produce award winning cold climate wines and be known for its local produce and its vibrant restaurant scene?
I now share with you the top 5 things to do in the Southern Highlands of NSW. (Click here for more Staycation ideas in Australia.)
Bradman Oval in Bowral
If you are a cricket aficionado just the mention of the Bradman Oval in Bowral will have you reaching for your baggy green cap and cricket bat and heading outdoors for a hit or two.
Cricket was first played on the Oval in 1891 when the local team played against the local cricket team from the town of Marulan. Later that year the Bowral team lost against the UK on its first international game to be played on the Bowral Oval.
The famous cricketer Sir Donald Bradman first played for his home team Bowral in the 1920-21 season. He has been named as the greatest test cricketer of the 20th century. The Bradman Museum is dedicated to the memory of Sir Donald Bradman and his dedication to Australian and World cricket.
The Bradman Museum and International Cricket Hall of Fame is located on Bradman Oval in Bowral, and it is much more than a world cricket museum. Not only does the Museum trace the origins of cricket and equipment used, it has interactive touch screens and several large video screens that depict the importance of cricket in world affairs too!
Southern Highlands Wineries
The Southern Highlands now boast over 60 vineyards and 15 cellar doors producing Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Two of our favourites are the award-winning wineries of the Bendooley Estate and Centennial Vineyards.
Bendooley Estate located at 3020 Old Hume Highway Berrima not only has a cellar door, restaurant, a book barn but offers studio accommodation as well as 2 and 3-bedroom cottage accommodation. (Check availability and reviews here)
The venue is so popular bookings must be made well in advance of your travel dates.
Centennial Vineyards are located in Bowral at 252 Centennial Road. Wine tasting is available at their cellar door, and we would recommend booking a table for lunch at their Vineyards Restaurant.
In summer book a table on the verandah overlooking the vineyards and in winter head indoors and enjoy the warmth from their expansive fireplace.
Explore the Villages of the Southern Highlands
The best way to explore the villages of Southern Highlands is by car.
The towns and villages to explore are:
Bowral – great for shopping for antiques, homewares, clothes, excellent cafes, restaurants and pub meals. Try Dirty Jane’s for antiques and for a healthy brunch try Raw & Wild.
Mittagong – great cafes and homewares and for antiques head to the Mittagong Antiques Centre.
Berrima – the historical town of Berrima dates back to 1831 and is a great example of Georgian architecture. Today it is popular for homewares, local produce, restaurants, cafes, and art galleries. The 1834 Surveyor General Inn, the oldest continuously licensed inn, is popular for lunch and dinner and when the weather is warm enjoy a cold beer or local wine in their beer garden.
Moss Vale – home to boutiques and craft shops, the award winning Birch Restaurant, try local craft beers at the Southern Highlands Brewing Taphouse and enjoy a unique stay at the Old Nunnery Boutique Hotel, a perfect base for your visit to the Southern Highlands.
Burrawang – the historic village of Burrawang should be on your to do list. Visit the General Store that dates back to 1867 or enjoy a pub lunch in the garden of the Burrawang Village Hotel.
Robertson – Do you remember the blockbuster movie “Babe” about a pig, well that small pig put Robertson on the map. For spectacular scenery and waterfalls Robertson is the place to visit. Head to Belmore Falls and the walking track near Kangaroo Valley for scenic views, flora and fauna.
A must try is the famous Robertson Pie Shop where pie lovers come from all over to taste their sweet and savoury pies that have been baked on the premises since 1961.
Exeter – aka as Little England is the smallest of all the villages but the biggest when it comes to large English-style country estates and its historic Celtic styled St Aidan’s Church.
Enjoy a coffee or lunch at the Exeter General Store before heading across the road to shop for antiques at the Village Pump Antiques store.
Mount Gibraltar Reserve Lookouts
On Mount Gibraltar there are 4 look outs:
Mittagong Lookout – overlooks the town of Mittagong and the Old Highway to the north. On a clear day you can see for miles and miles.
Bowral Lookout – with views over the Bowral township towards Moss Vale and to the southwest of the region
Jellore Lookout – has views to the northwest from Bowral to Mittagong and the countryside beyond
Oxley View Lookout – with views to the southwest and west over Bowral
The Spring Festival of Tulip Time
Tulip Time is held every year in Bowral in Spring at Corbett Gardens in Bowral.
Visitors flock to the colourful displays of over 75,000 tulips.
Local homes open up their gardens for all to enjoy their display of tulips.
On Friday and Saturday evenings you can enjoy Tulips after Dark where you can wander Corbett Gardens and enjoy local wines and local bands.
I hope you have enjoyed the top 5 things to do in the Southern Highlands of NSW. I would recommend staying at least 3 nights to enjoy all that the region offers.
Take a little piece of the Highlands home with you whether it is one of their bottles of cold climate wines, local produce, an antique or two or just your beautiful memories of your latest NSW staycation.
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Do you have any other tips for things to do in the Southern Highlands of NSW?