Squeeze in a day trip to the Southern Highlands
The Southern Highlands are an easy day trip from either Sydney (1.5hrs) or Canberra (2hrs) and have so much to offer. Whether you’re up for some wine tasting, hiking, strolling around cute towns or just going for a drive, this area should definitely be added to your list!
If you’re coming from Sydney like us, it was an easy shot down the M5. We’d been in the area before, but stopped at the Visitor Centre in Mittagong to see what they recommended we check out. After a substantial list of wineries, we were on our way!
From Mittagong, we took the Old Hume Highway to the small town of Berrima (population 666 from the last census). This is a perfect stop for a coffee and a pastry or a pie and you have a surprising number of choices given the size of the town. Don’t miss the Little Hand Stirred Jam Shop for an amazing variety of handmade jams and honey. Plus they have a cute back garden to have your coffee or cake. Or choose the General Store; equally as cute.
By then it was an acceptable time for wine tasting (meaning the vineyard was open!) so we backtracked about ten minutes to Artemis Wines. Winemaking in the Southern Highlands is fairly new (about 25 years) but there are still a good number of cellar doors to visit. Given the altitude of the region sits between 500 and 900 metres, you get a good selection of cool-climate vineyards.
The vibe was super relaxed at Artemis. A couple came in after us that had never done wine tasting before and Katya who was at the cellar door couldn’t have been nicer to them. In addition to wine, there is also some cider and mead to taste. Wine is such a personal preference (and I am definitely no expert) but really enjoyed their Close Vine Pinot Noir. They also do local produce platters of meats and cheese for $40.
If you’ve hit up a few wineries and are ready for lunch, head in to Bowral. If not, then you can head down towards Fitzoy Falls and then hit Bowral on the way back.
Bowral is a lovely country town, perhaps most well-known for being the home of Don Bradman. If you’re a cricket aficionado, you can pop into the Bradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame. If cricket isn’t your cup of tea, then maybe take a quick drive up to the Mount Gibraltar lookout – at 863 metres above sea level, you can apparently view the Sydney skyline on a clear day. We couldn’t see Sydney, but got a good view of Bowral and the surrounding countryside.
Bowral is a great spot for lunch and The Press Shop, (unsurprisingly connected to a letterpress studio) is a good choice. If you come on the weekend, chances are it will be pretty busy. If you can’t get a table here, just a few metres away is Harry’s on Green Lane, which has a lovely garden courtyard. After lunch, you can wander through Dirty Jane’s, a vintage lover’s paradise, or check out a number of the cute boutiques dotted around the town. I was dying for an ice cream but couldn’t find an ice cream shop, so if you know of a good one in Bowral, please share with me!
From Bowral, we drove through Moss Vale and then followed the Tourist Drive 15 about 30min to the Fitzroy Falls car park. There is a $4 car park/entrance fee here (if you have a NSW parks pass you won’t need to pay). The machines are coin-only or you can pay inside the visitor’s centre with a card. We thought it was going to be a bit of a hike to Fitzroy Falls, but in fact, the lookout is only about 150metres from the visitor’s centre. In the middle of summer with little rain, of course the falls aren’t as full-flowing as I’m sure they are in winter, but the view was still stunning nonetheless. From here, you can definitely get your hike on if so inclined. There are a number of lookouts and trails you can continue on to. It was about 40˚C on the day we visited, so we went to the next lookout, which gave us a great view over the valley and then headed back.
There is so much you can do here – we’re definitely planning a trip when it’s a bit cooler to do more hiking and exploring. Be sure to check out the NSW National Parks page for more info and up-to-date info on closures due to poor weather or fire danger before you head out.
From here, we drove down to Kangaroo Valley to check out a camping spot for our next visit but by then it was about time to start heading home. You could either head back to Sydney the same way you came, or you head towards the coast via either Berry or Robertson and then up the M1.
Where do you love in the Southern Highlands? Let me know!