A Family-Friendly Guide to the Southern Highlands
Illawarra Fly Treetop Adventures
Just 90 minutes from the city, the Southern Highlands are a ready-made playground. With bushland and wilderness to roam, museums to explore, and villages dripping in history and charm, it’s an easy family getaway. Here’s where to eat, play and stay.
For a fun family trip to the Southern Highlands, be sure to…
Shop up a storm atSkoot Raglan Kids Store
Filled to the brim with Aussie and European clothes, plus bags, books, jewellery, shoes and lunchboxes, this cute store is a child’s dream.
Saddle up forThe Man from Kangaroo Valley Trail Ride
Suitable for kids over 10, the horse ride takes you through beautiful mountain, rainforest and bush landscapes all while teaching you how to interact with the horses.
Whip up pizzas and gelato atThe Cook’s Cooking School
In Bowral, these lively classes get parents and their children in the kitchen together to make a hearty meal from scratch (hint: there are Nutella calzones involved). They’re limited to 14 people, so try to book in advance.
Splash around at Carrington Falls, one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the region. It’s located in Budderoo National Park. Belmore Falls and Nepean Dam are stunning, too.
Stroll theBerrima Heritage Walk
Established in the 1830s, Berrima is the best-preserved example of a Georgian village in Australia. Take a walk through history and check out the Berrima Gaol, Parsley Cottage and Harper’s Mansion – where the kids can get lost in the maze of hedges and spot frogs in the pond. If you’re keen to keep walking, try the Cherry Tree Walk in Bowral.
Pack a picnic and walk toMt Gibraltar Reserve
At 864 metres, it’s the highest point between Sydney and Canberra, and the views are incredible. Let the kids choose which lookout they like best, then flop over on the grass.
Visit the Southern Highlands’ gorgeous parks and playgrounds
So many slides, so little time! Make your way to Berrima Park, Bradman Park or Lake Alexandra Reserve – just be sure to bring some bread to feed the ducks.
Wander through theInternational Cricket Hall of Fame(formerly known as the Bradman Museum)
Cricket lovers young and old will love this museum, which features tons of interactive touch screens, videos, and original equipment. There’s also a large Mary Poppins statue in the playground outside. Fun fact: The author, P.L. Travers, lived in Bowral for a bit!
Fuel up with breakfast at ludo
Formerly known as Red Tree Café, the café has gourmet dishes to please the parents’ palate, plus plenty of kid-friendly meals.
Treat yourself to a pastry atGumnut Patisserie
You can expect to wait in line, but it will be worth every second.
Grab a croissant atFlour Water Salt
The shelves of this Bowral bakery are lined with deliciously buttery pastries, as well as loaves of crusty sourdough for that picnic later.
Sink your teeth into a pie atSouthern Pies
In Kangaroo Valley, this pie shop slings out hundreds of chunky meat and veggie pies daily. Don’t forget the mushy peas!
Feast on Italian atOnesta Cucina
After so much activity, the kids will be tuckered out come lunchtime. Sit down for lunch at this family-run restaurant, where every dish features fresh local produce.
Tuck into pizzas atPizzas in the Mist
For a casual dinner, head to this local institution, which serves up all the usual pizzas along with gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan versions.
Stock up on picnic supplies atExeter General StoreorBerrima General Store & Café
Both are local haunts dripping in charm, and sell fresh produce as well as all the bits and bobs you need for a family holiday.
Let the kids run wild atLolly Swagman
Just this once! The lolly shop is bursting with nostalgic sweets, like homemade fudge, jawbreakers and liquorice.
Take a taste of the country life home with a trip to theThe Little Hand-Stirred Jam Shop
The kids will love this quintessentially Southern Highlands store, which is piled high with jams, chutneys and sauces. Mrs Oldbucks Pantry is a similar stop you can make – warning: it sells confectionary, too!
Grab a sandwich at2 Park Road
This gem of a café serves simple, fuss-free sandwiches and pre-made treats to eat in or take away. We recommend anything with ham – its ham off the bone is the best in the Highlands.
Dig into burgers atBernie’s Diner
This 1950s-style diner serves up the best, juiciest burgers, and doesn’t mind a rowdy crowd.
Enjoy a leisurely lunch atBriars Country Lodge
The old-school inn in Moss Vale dishes up gourmet pub grub, and it’s cosy in front of the fire in winter. While you wait for your food, the kids can entertain themselves at the fenced playground.
Finish the day with dinner atThe Grand Bistro
While its breakfast and lunch menus are winners, too, nothing beats topping a day of adventuring with a hearty meal at this rustic bistro.
Make time to visit…
Fancy a bushwalk? Lace up your sneakers and walk until you reach the cascading Fitzroy Falls, or do the Fairy Bower Falls loop. Pack your cossies in case you feel like a swim to cool down.
In Berrima, Bendooley is a wine and book lover’s idea of heaven. While you sip on wine, the kids will adore dining at the Book Barn. Once a hayshed, the restaurant has wall-to-wall books (including a great children’s section), and dishes up delicious woodfired pizzas.
From December to February, glow worms take over the Bundanoon part of Morton National Park. Go at twilight, and you’ll be there in time to see the quirky creatures putting on a twinkling light show.
Soar 25 metres above the rainforest canopy with this zipline tour, which operates Thursday to Sunday. If you’re not that adventurous, stick to the Treetop Walk (or just grab a bite at the café!).
Are your boys obsessed with trains? At this museum, they can hop on a real-life steam ride, climb into old-school carriages, and operate the steam machine to learn how steam power works.
In Bowral, these gorgeous gardens are best known for their colourful tulips, which are in full bloom during the Tulip Time Festival in September. During the festival, there are kids activities, live music and market stalls.
Perched on the outskirts of the Highlands, this working farm offers hands-on experiences, collecting eggs, milking cows and feeding the nursery animals. On weekends and school holidays, the farm runs a Kids Club.
Give the kids a peek into rural life at this picturesque farm. After you’ve done the Farm Walk, the team will see you off with a ‘farm box’ with fruit and veggies, milk, butter, cheese, eggs and preserves.
Held on the first and third Sunday of the month, these lively markets sell arts and crafts, jewellery, clothing and fresh produce. The kids will love choosing their ‘souvenir.’
Nestled in the rolling hills of Mt Gibraltar, the hotel caters to kids well with a heated indoor pool, an 18-hole golf course with kids clubs for hire, and kids meals. It also has a day spa… Go on, you’ve earned it.
This lovely lodge is very family-friendly. The rooms are large and well-equipped, and adjoining rooms are often available. At the inn next door, there’s a playground for the kids to play in while the adults cosy up by the fire.
Bendooley Estate’s accommodation options include one-, two- and three-bedroom cottages. They’re charming and spacious, and the kids can roam around outside to collect eggs and pet the animals.
This colonial retreat in Mittagong is perfect for families, with big, bright rooms and lush gardens to run around in. The grounds also include a tennis court, golf course, and restaurant.
Are you travelling with a few families? In Kangaroo Valley, this lakefront property comfortable sleeps 18 people. It features a chef’s kitchen, swimming pool, games room and tennis court.