Escape to the Southern Highlands, NSW
Updated: Apr 23, 2020
Just over two hours south of Sydney is the southern highlands. This area is dotted with old English towns dating back to the mid 18th century, set high on the mountain range and surrounded by beautiful lush greenery.
One of the oldest and possibly smallest towns in the region is Burrawang. It is here where I found my accommodation for the weekend. Called the Historic Bake House, it was exactly that! An old 18th century brick bake house that has been restored and repurposed into a guest house cottage. I found this place on Stayz and instantly had to book it for a weekend getaway! I love finding places that are unique and fitting to the area. It still has in it the original oven and fire place but has been beautifully restored to make for a homely cottage. The host was also very lovely and helpful, the place comes with a basket of fresh fruit, your own take home local jam, fresh baked bread and a fridge full of drinks and breakfast items.
We decided to get up early to go bike riding in Morton National Park. The entrance to the park that is just near the town of Bundanoon. There is a 14km easy loop that takes you to the rim of the Canyon with some really beautiful look outs. The views reminded me a lot of the Blue Mountains. There are also endless amounts of kangaroos around the picnic area to see up close.
From Burrawang you have great access to a number of towns and natural attractions. Moss Vale is another small town that is only 15 mins away. It has some great food and shopping options. We had breakfast on Saturday after our ride at Highlands Merchant and it was a real pleasant surprise! All the food we had here was just amazing, and with decor and an atmosphere to match. Buzzing with locals it's something I highly recommend you visit.
After breakfast we made our way into Fitzroy Falls. The southern highlands are known to have some stunning waterfalls and Fitzroy is one of them. From the visitor centre you can take a short walk to the edge of the falls when you are almost hanging over the edge, it's an exciting view point of the waterfall and the valley below. From there you can continue on walking around to get a front view of the falls. There are other walks you can do from here but we unfortunately have a storm roll in and had to make a bolt back to the car!
With the rain setting in we opted to go into Bowral for some food and shopping. Bowral is the largest of the towns in the southern highlands area and is a Mecca for antique stores. This is the place to find all the unique homewares that you could ever dream of! Outside of antiques there is also some delicious food options in Bowral. One place we tried out this time was The Press Shop, it has a yummy selection of freshly baked goods, house made daily sodas and an extensive range of teas. We were there late in the afternoon so didn't see or try their cafe menu. Right behind The Press Shop is a row of antique stores followed by the well known Dirty Janes. It's a market style antique store where there are hundreds of individual sellers displaying their items all within a large warehouse. It is definitely worth a browse!
For dinner that night we opted for fine dinning since we were celebrating a birthday. Biota is a well rated restaurant in Bowral offering a 8 course tasting menu for $155. The atmosphere was really nice and most of the food was delicious. I would say though that the menu is a little over priced for what you get, there are quite a few dishes that don't have any meat / substance and some where just pallet cleansers or even bread, which in other restaurants like this it wouldn't be a menu item, but more of a complimentary additional dish. It was also evident that many of the dishes weren't substantial enough as they offered an option extra short rib dish. We got one to share and it was unfortunately tough and definitely not worth an extra $37! So while there was some nice dishes, I can't say I would be rushing back as the pricing just doesn't match up to what you get.
The next day we had planned to go to Belmore falls, it was only about 15min down the road from where we were staying. Do note that a part of the road actually crosses over the top of the falls, with the water flowing over the road it is technically a river crossing however it's not entirely off road, most cars will be fine to go across it. There is a look out at the end of the road which in itself is stunning. It has one waterfall going into a mid-height pool that then runs down for a second large waterfall. I had researched before if you can get down to the middle shelf and swim, and I found a site that detailed there is a decommissioned national park track that you can use to get down, which has now got a fence in front of it. The site had photos of where the track is, we believed we were in the right spot so we jumped the fence to make our way down. The track got pretty rough pretty quickly! Scaling down cliff edges and using ropes people had but in trees to help you down. There we points that we didn't know which way to go and thought about turning around. However we had seen from the lookout a bunch of people down there so we continued on! Once we made it down we were so glad we didn't turn back, it was just so beautiful. Such a stunning waterfall and big swimming hole. We ended up spending the better half of the day here, swimming and lying in the sun. More and more people were coming down that were not all dirty like us, some were quite old or carting lots of things. We started to question if there was an easier way down as it just wasn't possible that all these people went the way we did! So when we left we found the actual track that we were meant to follow (and as per the website, this one actually was more like a decommissioned track). It was easy, had stairs and rails! It was quiet funny that we went the wrong way that was basically directly down the cliff face instead of winding down the valley! So if you go here, which I HIGHLY recommend, the warn path that you see beyond the fence is to the left of the look out, and NOT the track you see behind the fence at the end of the look out on the right! Someone has stuck some sports tape on the fence where the correct path is.
On our way back to Sydney we stopped in another town called Robinson for some food, this town is known for it's potatoes. The soil is a real rich red making it full of nutrients and great for growing. It is also where the filmed the movie Babe!
The southern highlands has so much to offer, both in natural and historic attractions. The landscape is stunning and the towns are full of old world charm. Get your dose of nature while also finding some antique treasures to take home. Add it to your list and once you visit I am sure it won't be your last.