Head south of Sydney towards the Southern Highlands and take a detour on to the Old Hume Highway, here the sounds of the Australian bush and towering eucalyptus trees give way to a small historic township. Berrima may be a quiet country town but come the weekend and it’s filled with those eager to get in touch with a simpler time.
Considered one of the most well-preserved Georgian villages on the Australian mainland, Berrima Village has charming cafés and teahouses, art galleries, speciality stores and beautiful sandstone buildings. Reminiscent of times passed, Berrima has a warmth that lingers.
For a weekend in Berrima be sure to …
Start your day with a coffee hit at Magpie Café. A cosy country-style cottage that has so much charm, it will be hard to pull yourself away, especially when the freshly baked scones make their way out.
Stock up on local produce at The Little Hand Stirred Jam Shop. Hand-made in their own kitchen or sourced from Australian suppliers, the products here – jam, chutney, honey, pickles, salad dressing, savory sauces etc – are literally oozing with the taste of country life.
Fit in a retail therapy hit at Berrima Village Pottery. They’re a two-person team crafting beautiful and bespoke pieces of pottery for the home. They also stock a selection of homewares and outdoor pieces, so don’t be surprised if you leave with more than one piece.
Soak up local history at Harper’s Mansion. Beautifully restored and maintained, this colonial Georgian home on two-acres of garden is furnished in period style. They’re only open on weekends and public holidays so be sure to time your visit right.
Grab a casual lunch at Australia’s oldest and continuously licensed pub, The Surveyor General Inn. Their aptly named The Bushrangers Bistro, allows you to cook your own meat on the barbeque or pick from the a la carte menu. The beer garden is the place to be in the warmer months, but the cosy rooms inside are made for winter.
Treat yourself (and your inner child) at Lolly Swagman it’s literally bursting with sweet treats from childhoods passed – homemade fudge and jawbreakers to liquorice and lollies. They also have a selection of American, British and Dutch treats.
Fine Dine at Eschalot Restaurant- it’s the Southern Highlands answer to fine dining. They serve modern Australian cuisine in a beautiful heritage sandstone building, complete with simple yet homely décor – you will feel like you’ve stepped back in time into someone’s dining room.
Wine tasting is just one of the things that Bendooley Estate does well. The Berkelouw Book Barn put Bendooley on the map, but it has since grown to be so much more. A café and lunch destination, a cellar door and an events venue. The grounds alone are worth a visit.
Before you leave, make some time to visit…
Less than 15 minutes away is Bowral, a popular weekend destination and main hub of the Southern Highlands. Its rugged landscape tamed by English-style gardens, exquisite culinary offerings and estate homes – Bowral is all about the finer things in life and Sydneysiders can’t get enough of it.
The Wellness Spa at Milton Park Country House & Spa
Everything about Milton Park screams luxury and their Wellness Spa is no exception. Surrounded by beautiful landscaped gardens, take some well-deserved time and pamper yourself with one of their ultimate relaxation and indulgence treatments. There is a reason why they have consistently been ranked as one of the best day spas in Australia.
Diehard foodies have been known to come to Bowral for one thing only, Biota Dining. A two-hatted paddock-to-plate restaurant, renowned chef James Viles has created a dining experience that draws on ingredients sourced from the kitchen’s gardens and glasshouse (all only steps away from the dining room). What can’t be found onsite they source from local farmers and growers.
Bong Bong Street
The shopping destination of the Southern Highlands, Bong Bong and surrounding streets have an impressive line-up of boutiques and named brands. Dirty Jane’s Emporium and Antique market is a great place to source homeware that has a chic country feel to it. Bong Bong Street is also brimming with cafés that have mastered home-style cooling.
With so much going on at this estate, why not stay the night as well. They have luxurious one-, two- and three-bedroom cottages that overlook the lake, valley and gardens. Each one has been designed with interiors that are rustic chic. Freestanding bathtubs, heated flooring, upholstered furniture – it is simply luxurious.
Perfectly positioned between Berrima and Bowral, Peppers Craigieburn is a heritage resort set on 36 hectares of beautifully manicured estate gardens. The original building has been elegantly restored but with all the modern touches for a country stay. Did we mention there is a 9-hole golf course on-site as well?
The Rift Estate
An 1890 Victorian Italianate mansion sitting on 2.7 hectares of gardens, this is a country stay that you will never want to leave. Its stables have been converted into a six-bedroom home, The Coach House, which comes complete with claw foot baths, fireplaces and underfloor heating.