The Southern Highlands has found a symbiosis between bucolic ideals and fresh, creative spirit. Located just over an hour's drive from Sydney, the region provides the perfect escape from the city: follow up idyllic nature walks with a glass of wine overlooking terraced vines, dine at hatted farm-to-table restaurants, trawl through art galleries and explore the best brunch spots during your stay in the Highlands. Here's how to make the most of a weekend in Sydney's southern gem.
2pm | Mt Gibraltar Reserve
On your way down to the highlands, stop at Mt Gibraltar Reserve, located in Mittagong, for expansive views of the Southern Highlands. A heritage listed location, Mt Gibraltar is the highest point between Sydney and Canberra, standing at 863 metres above sea level. Select one of seven walking trails to see the mountain’s several lookouts and picnic spots, or opt for the Bowral lookout; a mere minute’s walk from the carpark.
4pm | Tertini Wines
Visit the family owned Tertini Wines in Mittagong for high quality, small batch wines. Enjoy an afternoon of wine tasting with a complimentary cheese platter in a welcoming, cosy atmosphere. Craig Moxey and Nicole King welcome visitors into the winery and are friendly, attentive and knowledgeable. Both are apt at recommending wines based on your preferences, making for a lovely cellar door experience. Tertini’s wine list is extensive, with something to suit every palate. While you’ll see classics, Tertini’s chief winemaker Johnathan Holgate isn’t afraid to experiment with innovative techniques and flavour palates. Give yourself at least an hour to discover your favourite pour.
7pm| Dinner at Biota Dining
Have dinner at one of Bowral’s finest restaurants; Biota Dining. The Southern Highlands’ most iconic restaurant, the two hatted eatery features produce from the region’s vegetable growers and farms. Go all out with a seven-course tasting menu showcasing culinary gems like the grilled leek and hen yolk jaffle, or dine from the à la carte menu for a lighter meal.
10am | A stroll in the garden
The Southern Highlands are home to some of the most beautifully landscaped private gardens in Australia. If you’re thinking about making the trip in spring, be sure to check out the Tulip Time festival in Bowral’s Corbett Gardens, otherwise head to the Southern Highlands’ website and visit one of the open gardens. These change regularly, so be sure to check close to your trip!.
12pm | The Press Shop
Serving up elevated takes on cafe fare in a minimalist yet luxe setting, The Press Shop blends cafe culture with couture stationary to create a unique brunch experience. Set inside artisan printing house Bespoke Letterpress, The Press Shop's local and seasonally changing menu is sure to please breakfast aficionados and the health-conscious crowd alike. Try the quinoa salad with quail egg, carrots and feta, or the eggs benedict with glazed ham and kale on sourdough. Select a vibrant turmeric, matcha or velvet latte to accompany your meal, or opt for a classic coffee made on ethically sourced Cultivar beans.
1.30pm | Shopping on Bong Bong
Bong Bong street hosts quintessential Bowral shops; think homeware, books, thrift stores and antiques. Wander the street window shopping, or treat yourself to a country chic find. Highlights include Few and Far, Three Wise Monkeys, Lancelot Antiques, The Bookshop Bowral, The Good Reader Bowral and good old Vinnies and Salvos.
3pm | Wine with a view
Wind down with a glass of wine at the Southern Highland’s oldest vineyard and winery, Joadja Estate. Set on a gorgeous scenic estate, the family owned and run boutique winery utilises a combination of modern and traditional wine making techniques to produce unique wines which reflect the flavour, freshness and balance of the vineyard’s grapes. Joadja’s vineyard and winery are open to the public, so follow the handy info cards provided and take a self-guided winery tour before embarking on a wine tasting at the cellar door, designed to please oenophiles everywhere.
6pm | Dine at Eschalot
At Eschalot, contemporary dishes are juxtaposed to their 19th century surroundings. The elegant sandstone building is home to chef Matthew Robert’s culinary creations made with local produce, featuring elevated takes on wholesome favourites like pan roasted blue eye cod with finger fennel, smoked tomato consommé and saffron, and blackberry soufflé with sour apple sorbet.
10am | Harry’s on Green Lane
Travel back in time with brunch at Harry’s on Green Lane, located in Bowral’s Acre complex. Eschewing millennial trends (read: no avocado on toast), the café serves up delicious classics like eggs benedict, granola, Scotch eggs, and naturally, great coffee. However, it’s the décor which is the real talking point; floor to ceiling bookshelves line the walls, dishes are served on marble tables, and exotic plants are scattered around the premises.
11.30am | Antiquing at Dirty Janes
After brunch, stroll on over to Dirty Janes (also located in the Acre complex) for an original shopping experience. Filled with antiques and locally made décor, Dirty Janes is the perfect place to snag the rug, platter board or vintage sewing machine of your decorating dreams. Even if you’re not an ardent shopper, Dirty Janes is full of interesting goods. Be sure to check out the vinyl records, vintage model train sets and books for a taste of yesteryear.
For those wishing to immerse themselves in country life, Farm Club Australia provides farm stay accommodation, with options to suit all types of parties; including Ashgrove house, a self-contained seven-bedroom house, to a renovated open plan barn perfect for couples.
Alternatively, opt for splendour at the Milton Park Country House and Spa; offering the five-star luxe life in a lush hilltop location. Replete with scenic gardens and fountains, there’s the option to go all out with decadent spa packages, fine dining, and suites with their own jacuzzis and fireplaces. Be warned; the stay is so luxurious you may not be able to muster the motivation to leave your accommodation and explore the region…