Hey Sydney-siders, beat the winter blues with a day trip to the Southern Highlands. I can smell the homemade soup and taste the hot chocolate already.
So fuel up the car, grab some friends and let’s hit the road.
A DAY TRIP TO THE SOUTHERN HIGHLANDS
The Southern Highlands is about 1.5 hours drive from Sydney taking the Hume Motorway through Campbelltown. Whereas if you take the Princess Highway through the Royal National Park and down the coast road, then head inland before Wollongong, it will take slightly longer, getting you to your Southern Highlands destination just on the 2 hour mark.
You want to be on the road early, so have a quick breakfast to tide you over, but don’t make the mistake of having a big breakfast as you will want to save room for a day of eating.
This insanely beautiful countryside has expanses of green paddocks, tree lined roads, dotted with quaint cottages turned into bed and breakfasts, antique shops, wineries, estates catering to couples wanting to have a country wedding and an abundance of cafes. And if you are fortunate enough to travel through the Southern Highlands in Autumn, you just might be treated to the leaves of the trees changing colours from green to reds and oranges.
To be honest, one day is not enough time to properly explore the Southern Highlands. I suggest planning a long weekend and staying at one of the many quaint bed and breakfasts in the area. The Southern Highlands is made up of Mittagong, Bowral, Berrima, Moss Vale, Sutton Forest, Exeter, Bundanoon, Fitzroy Falls and Kangaroo Valley. Download the Southern Highlands Regional Map here
EXPLORING THE SOUTHERN HIGHLANDS
Previously, I had passed through the Southern Highlands on my way to a wedding at Sylvan Glen and spotted some places I had wanted to explore, and that’s where I focused my day trip. Honestly, I hardly touched on exploring this area in just one day, but you know what that means, an excuse to go back again!
Some other places to explore around the Southern Highlands :
- Berrima Village which has the Berrima Gaol and other local historical buildings.
- The Bradman Museum in Bowral is a tribute to the famous Australian cricketer Sir Donald Bradman and a must-see for cricket fans.
- The Tulip Time festival is on in Spring from late September to early October for 2 weeks in the Corbett Gardens.
- Also from Spring to Autumn (September – May) many of the local private gardens are open to the public to wander through and explore. One of the gardens is the Red Cow Farm garden. Check the dates the gardens are open on the Southern Highlands website
- Fitzroy Falls near Kangaroo Valley with lookouts of the waterfall and panoramic views of Morton National Park.
- Wombeyan Caves
- … and many more exciting things to see and do in the Southern Highlands can be found on the Southern Highlands website
EATING AND DRINKING YOUR WAY AROUND THE SOUTHERN HIGHLANDS
I have gone and done some of the hard work for you and driven around the Southern Highlands, ate good food and drank coffee (such a hard job, not!) to bring you one hell of a fab road trip to conquer in one day.
I don’t know about you, but after living in Queensland for 11 years and not really experiencing a true winter, I was craving to put on my winter coat, a scarf and boots. I was hoping to snuggle up by a fire and drink hot chocolate but yet to find such a place. I did my road trip on the last day of Autumn, and even though in Sydney a jumper was warm enough, by the time I reached Bowral and even with the sun shining there was a chilly breeze, and had me reaching for my big warm jacket. Travel Tip: make sure you pack a warm coat!
Once you hit the outskirts of the Southern Highlands, you will start encountering countryside scenery and the perfect opportunity to take in the view. And if you are like me, you will already have made several stops to take photos. But the tummy is grumbling making it time for a cuppa and some scrumptious morning tea, maybe scones from The Shaggy Cow or zucchini & haloumi fritters from The Glass Cafe.
After some exploring and meandering along the country roads, it wasn’t pure coincidence that I ended up in Exeter. After experiencing a yummy lunch at Exeter General Store on my previous visit, I was keen to head back a second time. The Exeter General Store is a quaint corner shop with a cafe and bookstore up front and the local post office at the back in true small town style. They certainly didn’t disappoint second time around either. In fact, stuffing my growling belly with the Slow Cooked Lamb Barley Bowl with heirloom tomatoes, rocket, herbs, fetta and chimichurri dressing (and of course a coffee for this girl) was the the perfect choice on that chilly Autumn day. Trust me you too are going to love the Exeter General Store!
DOCUMENTING HISTORICAL AND ABANDONED BUILDINGS
With a full belly it was time to explore the quaint buildings I had seen on my previous visit. Because to me, if I don’t have photo evidence of something, it never happened or never existed (haha) … so I had to get photos of these buildings to add to my collection of photographic art prints. After sitting in the car for the drive down to the Southern Highlands and eating an appetising meal, it was also good to get out and stretch the legs.
This little shopfront in the quiet town of Bundanoon caught my eye. While it looks abandoned, the white printed brick front, and pink door and window frame give it character. Give yourself an hour to wander the main street of Bundanoon and pop into some of the local shops.
On a corner in a little country town dating back to 1895 is Sutton Forest. And there lies a quaint country store and antiques shop. I must admit I nearly didn’t stop to take any photos, but something inside made me turn the car around for that Fresh Eggs sign and the Sutton Forest Country Store building.
Okay okay I have a problem … I like photographing derelict, abandoned buildings! There is something charming about the look of the building and the stories of people who have lived and worked in them that intrigues my curiosity. One day knowing that they will likely either crumble to the ground or be demolished, to have these memories, might jut one day be priceless photos of our Australian history.
Probably not a piece of priceless history – just an old rusty bus stop shelter.
THE WAY TO THIS GIRLS HEART … LETTERPRESS, COFFEE & SWEET TREATS
No doubt you’ll work up an appetite with all this exploring and photo taking, earning yourself a well-deserved afternoon coffee (or tea) break.
Not that I need an excuse to stop for a coffee or browse through a beautiful stationery store, I couldn’t leave the Southern Highlands without stopping at The Press Shop in Bowral. Honestly what first caught my eye as I drove through the main street of Bowral was the The Press Shop shopfront. What I’d describe as a charming French Provincial facade, an inviting pale blue front door and a window seat calling my name.
Bespoke Letterpress also have a space located inside The Press Shop. I have followed Bespoke Letterpress on Instagram for a long time, and to get to see their beautiful letterpress stationery printed on vintage presses in the flesh was a real treat. Apart from all the lovely letterpress stationery, gift wrap, gift tags, greeting cards, notebooks, personalised hand embossers and wax seals, and ribbons. Oh yes, I did make a nice little purchase of some packaging goodies! You’re definitely going to want to hit up The Press Shop for a coffee and something from their sweet treats cabinet … fuelling up for the drive home of course!
Time flies when your having a delightful time, and sadly time has come to start making my way back to Sydney.
Until next adventure friends … enjoy!
Some things to thrown in the car for your day trip to the Southern Highland :
- Water – keep up the fluids during all that coffee drinking.
- Warm Jumper – it can get chilly.
- Umbrella or Waterproof Jacket – just in case it rains.
- Road Trip Playlist – all road trips need good tunes to get the holiday vibe happening.
- Map APP – whatever you dig for navigation ie. Google Maps, Maps, GPS or an old school paper map. Just make sure you have some form of map to save you getting lost on those country roads. But then what better place to get lost and having you shack up in a cosy BnB with a roaring fire for the night.