A Canberran's guide to The Southern Highlands | HerCanberra

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A Canberran’s guide to The Southern Highlands

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Now that Canberrans are allowed to leave the ACT to approved postcodes in New South Wales, we’re throwing back to this 2019 article about the gorgeous Southern Highlands.

Why? Because while we believe Canberran’s first port of call post-lockdown should be to support local ACT businesses, we also understand that some people may want to stretch their legs after a long nine weeks of lockdown.

Please note this editorial was written pre-lockdown and some venues may have changed their opening hours. Always check with the venue before visiting. Visiting ACT residents must abide by NSW public health guidelines.

The Southern Highlands used to provide a shaded summer retreat for Australia’s landed gentry.

But moving with the times, the townships and villages of Bowral, Mittagong, Moss Vale, Berrima and Bundanoon now provide the ultimate cosmopolitan getaway for an increasing contingent of Canberra converts.

Just two hours from the capital, the Highlands ooze charm and a quieter, more countrified pace of life. But there are plenty of beautiful cafes, hatted restaurants, and five-star accommodation to keep things interesting—the perfect summer alternative to the crowded south coast.

Bowral

Stay

Milton Park

If you feel you were born to enjoy manor living but sadly lack the means to purchase a country estate, book in for a stay at Milton Park and just pretend it’s home.

Set among extensive formal gardens and offering a Wellness Spa, guests stay in an imposing homestead which reveals European Villa influences while juxtaposing both French and Federation detailing.

The turn-of-the-last-century building is owned and run by a private consortium which has undertaken significant upgrades.

Eat in the Horderns Fine Dining Room, or the new Orangerie. Alternatively, you can relax in the Polo Bar or Conservatory.

200 Horderns Road, Bowral  | Open 7 am til late, seven days | miltonpark.com.au

Berida Hotel  

Its ivy-covered arches hint at something special inside, and the Berida Hotel comes complete with fine-dining options and an Endota Spa.

Bistro Sociale offers a seasonal à la carte menu and you may also be tempted by several interesting degustation menu experiences—depending on your appetite.

It gets rave reviews in the Sydney press and includes a sweet children’s menu, allowing for happy families to make a stay of it.

6 David Street, Bowral | beridahotel.com.au

Eat

The Press Shop 

Would you like stationery with your latte? When you see it lined up in all its handcrafted glory in The Press Shop it will make perfect sense.

The menu is a locavore’s delight—everything from the meat, mushrooms, vegetables and even spring water are sourced from the region. And if you happen to need some bespoke stationery created on a vintage letterpress, then wander into the artist’s studio…

5/391-397 Bong Bong Street, Bowral  | Open Monday to Friday 7 am to 4 pm, Saturday and Sunday 8 am to 4 pm, public holidays 8:30 am to 2.30 pm | thepressshop.com.au

Dirty Janes

Hankering for some vintage adornment for your body or home? Dirty Janes is an emporium which has it all. From furniture to jewellery, to homewares and clothing, you could get lost for hours as you peruse the shelves and not discover a single mass-produced item Made In China.

With 75-plus dealers filling out three large warehouse spaces, there’s also a tea-house for a restorative break between purchases.

The Acre, corner of Bong Bong & Banyette Streets, Bowral | Open seven days  from 10 am to 5 pm (tea salon from 10 am to 4 pm) | dirtyjanes.com

Shop

Few and Far

This place is so crammed with beautiful homewares that only the most hard-hearted shopper could walk out empty-handed.

More importantly, this is a destination point for big purchases—fancy a giant antique metal gate, almirah, sofa or 12-seater dining table? You might need a trailer for the drive home.

351 Bong Bong Street, Bowral | Open seven days from 10 am to 5 pm (4 pm on Sundays) | fewandfar.com.au 

Moss Vale

Stay

The Old Nunnery B&B

Margaret and Ian are the proud owners of The Old Nunnery—a property built in 1900 and used for part of its life as a Catholic Dominican Nunnery. Now it has been totally renovated to provide four king-sized rooms with private bathrooms.

Guests have access to almost one acre of landscaped grounds where they can meet the chickens that laid the eggs for breakfast—which is a quality continental and/or full English breakfast.

27 Arthur Street, Moss Vale | booking.com

Shop

Suzie Anderson Homewares

If you want to immerse yourself in French, Belgian, and Hamptons-style furniture, homewares, lighting, linen, clothing and art then head into Suzie’s swoon-worthy shop.

From rolled-up rattan carpets, to pieces of coral to tweak your look to coastal, framed mirrors in every shape and size and oversized sofas with choose-your-own linen upholstery, it would be easy to get lost.

409-411 Argyle Street | Open seven days 10 am to 5 pm, Sunday 10 am to 3 pm | suzieandersonhome.com

Eat

Highlands Merchant

If the Highlands Merchant doesn’t sell it, it is probably not worth buying. Stock up on handcrafted maple syrup or organic chicken bone broth and cook up a feast from the region. Or outsource the cooking and buy there, or take away.

405 Argyle Street, Moss Vale | Open seven days from 8 am | highlandsmerchant.com.au

Mittagong

Stay

The Old Bank Hotel

Local farmers Barbara and Warwick Wainberg have transformed the 1880s Commercial Banking Company building in the main street of Mittagong into a gorgeous boutique hotel. With six rooms and two cottages, the place oozes character and all the luxuries of modern convenience.

Meanwhile, indulge in their high tea, or head into the Old Vault for a fine dining experience at the hands of husband and wife team Teena and Stephen Crooks, formerly of Phatt Duck Catering fame.

83 Main Street, Mittagong | oldbankhotel.com.au

Eat

Gumnuts Patisserie 

This bustling little bakery empire is something of a Southern Highlands staple—it has shops in Bowral, Berrima and Mittagong and has won so many awards it is almost impossible to keep track.

Owners Tracy and Vicki Nickl are obsessed with all things pastry and dough and have trained a team of similarly-obsessed bakers. Each day, an industrious morning of baking sees everything from custom-cakes to savouries and sweet treats quickly depleted by queues of hungry locals.

Corner of Cavendish & Dalton Streets, Mittagong | Open Monday to Saturday 6.30 am-5 pm and 7.30 am-10 am | gumnutpatisserie.com.au

Burrawang

Eat

The Burrawang Village Hotel

A family-run business, the hotel is a meeting place, a drinking place and an eight-room guesthouse for those who want to make a night of it at this secluded village setting 20km from Bowral.

Run by couple Pete and Kate, who both hail from hospitality careers in Sydney, the hotel offers what you would rightly expect of a country pub—hearty fare with flair.

14 -16 Hoddle Street, Burrawang | burrawangvillagehotel.com.au

The General Store

This place is a Southern Highlands institution. Built in 1867, the iconic building has developed from a traditional general store to a culinary destination for locals as well as visitors from further afield.

It serves everything from crisp barramundi, coconut rice, watermelon, mint, lime, and red onion salad, to steak sandwiches with caramelised onion, horseradish, garlic cream, and sweet potato fries—be sure to book!

Accommodation is also available at the former manager’s residence, Bower Cottage, which is a sweetly-restored three-bedroom cottage that sleeps six.

11 Hoddle Street, Burrawang | Open seven days 8 am to 4 pm | bgsc.com.au

Berrima

Eat + Read

The Book Barn Cottage

The beautiful home of the Berkelouw Book Business located on Bendooley Estate, here is a spot to sit and stay awhile.

Built early last century, the Book Barn has been transformed to highlight its exposed timber beams and cathedral ceilings. Better yet, it houses tens of thousands of new, second-hand, rare and antiquarian books. If your reading sparks an appetite, head to the much-loved Bendooley estate restaurant, cafe, and winery.

Accommodation has been expanded to include five luxury cottages absolutely dripping in that Southern Highlands style.

3020 Old Hume Highway, Berrima | bendooleyestate.com.au

Stay

The Loch

The creation of Sydney chef and caterer Brigid Kennedy and her antique-purveying partner Kevin Nott, The Loch’s four cosy rooms are named after Scottish towns—and all include access to a large communal kitchen and living room with views of the bucolic bliss surrounding them.

The former stables have been made over in style and guests can indulge in The Tasting Room’s paddock-to-plate menu which shows off Brigid’s expertise. Anyone for Crispy salt & pepper spring Thirlmere chicken with pink ginger & tangelo salsa & steamed Chinese broccoli, or perhaps Baby lamb kibbeh with Middle Easten sweet & sour slow-braised lamb shoulder & spring peas?

581 Greenhills Road | theloch.net.au

Bundanoon

Stay

Springfield Farm

If you’re after something a little different, how about immersion in a farm stay? Only don’t expect to rough it at Springfield Farm.

This stylish farmhouse has five bedrooms, four bathrooms and spacious living and dining areas all appointed in peak Southern Highlands decor. French doors open to 170 acres of country estate, and as a working property, you may have the house to yourself but expect to see livestock managers going about their business.

There is plenty to do if you can wrest yourself from a shady spot observing country life from the wrap-around verandah.

350 Ferndale Road, Bundanoon | contemporaryhotels.com.au

PHOTOGRAPHY Tim Bean Photography

This article originally appeared in HerCanberra Magazine: FREE for Summer 2018/19.

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