While international travel is restricted, many Australians find themselves longing for the day they can wander the streets of London or explore old English towns. But for now, we’re confined to the beautiful harbour city, which is not so bad now that warmer weather is upon us. However, if you’re looking for a change of scenery and a taste of England, you should head to the Southern Highlands.
Rolling hills and quaint English villages set amid green landscapes, brimming with classic Australian cafes, antique shops, and more await. Whether you seek a high lifestyle in Bowral, a country escape in Berrima or an outdoor adventure in Fitzroy Falls, the Southern Highlands has it all.
Where to stay
Setting up base in Bowral is the best way to visit all surrounding towns while experiencing the quintessential countryside life. In all honesty, most of the hotels are older and your best option is to seek out an Airbnb. The Hidden Door in Bowral offers a villa and a cottage set in the middle of Bowral, just around the corner from the town’s popular chocolate shop, Ms Peacock, and a short walk to the best cafes.
Inside the villa, you will find all the comforts you could need for a romantic country escape. The interior design is magazine ready and pays attention to an authentic Bowral home. Think country chic with comfy couches, cosy rugs and an alfresco area for wine nights. The villa has two bedrooms, but if you need more beds, you can book the cottage too, which sits in front of the villa.
The 100-year-old cottage offers two bedrooms, a large bathroom, kitchen and lounge area and the cottage’s blue facade and bright red door are hard to miss from the tree-lined street. During winter, the fireplace makes for a romantic night in, but during warmer months, you can take advantage of the alfresco areas and front porch.
Vineyards to visit
The Southern Highlands is known for its vineyards and there are three within 25 minutes of the villa alone. Book a wine tour for an all-round experience, we recommend visiting Cherry Tree Hill vineyard for a tasting, as well as Bendooley Estate in nearby Berrima. Here you will find a gorgeous country estate, cellar door, cafe and views of the mountains. Centennial Vineyards also boasts acclaimed wines and Artemis Wines features a large lawn, perfect for picnics with charcuterie boards, wine and charming views.
Where to eat
When you’re not wine tasting in the hills, there are a variety of restaurants to try and the best brunch spot in Bowral is The Press Shop. Located behind a blue curved door on the main street of Bowral, The Press Shop offers classic Australian cuisine, speciality coffee and the best part – bespoke stationery. Yes, the old letterpress building serves gorgeous handmade stationery from pens to paper and cards and you can watch them use the letterpress in the store too.
For a taste of the best bread you will ever have, head down the street to Flour Water Salt for fresh sourdough and other baked goodies, while Ms Peacock also offers great handmade chocolates for a sweet treat.
No trip to the Southern Highlands is complete without a lunch or dinner at Paste in Mittagong. The chef hails from one of Bangkok’s top restaurants and has won many awards and if Australia was giving out Michelin stars, I think Paste would get two, if not three. The dishes are refined, full of flavour and presented in imaginative ways, it’s the ultimate fine dining experience in the region.
For more details of the area, visit visitsouthernhighlands.com.au.