The Southern Highlands of New South Wales have been a destination for travellers from Sydney, Canberra and the coast, seeking a refreshing change of climate, frosty winters and open spaces, since the 19th century. These days the Highlands' attractions range from sophisticated resorts, bed and breakfast getaways in Bowral with its numerous cafes, restaurants and bookshops to Sutton Forest and Bundanoon with its cycling in the Morton National Park, Highland Fling in November and Brigadoon Scottish Festival in April. There are also vineyards, open gardens, antiquarian print and bookshops and antiques to be found. Accommodation is equally diverse. Here are a few tips on the accommodation front.
Resorts, Hotels, Motels and Guesthouses
The Highlands has accommodation for everyone, including a range of resorts and good hotels. Peppers Manor House, which offers a luxurious weekend away on acres, including golf at the Mt Broughton Golf Club, is at Sutton Forest on the Old Hume Highway near the corner of Oldbury Road. Sutton Forest has a number of attractions including pub lunches at the Sutton Forest Hotel, the open cottage garden at Red Cow Farm (each year from 18 September), an antique shop and vineyard.
Sutton Forest is an historic area with many fine old homes, one of which, Hillview, was the holiday retreat of the New South Wales Governor. On Judges' Hill, Oldbury Road, you can see other fine homes including Whitby, an Arts and Crafts mansion with finely maintained English hedging around its extensive grounds.
Bowral, the centre of cafe activity in the Highlands and home of Bradman Oval and the Bradman Museum, offers resorts and boutique hotels. Another Peppers resort is at the historic Craigieburn Manor House on Centennial Road. Craigieburn and its extensive gardens have been taking guests since 1909 and is a popular venue for weddings and special events. Centennial Vineyard with its restaurant and wine tastings is nearby.
Other historic hotels In Bowral are Milton Park Country House On Horderns Road with its fine gardens and Links House with its Vida restaurant is in Links Road. Berida Manor is another historic and atmospheric hotel offering chintzy charm and open fires in the winter.
Bed and Breakfast, Inns, Farmstays
The Southern Highlands Online website lists a number of good motels with family accommodation, bed and breakfasts and farmstays in Bowral and the surrounding villages such as Berrima. Berrima is an historic village with many craft and gift shops as well as the sandstone Berrima Jail which still operates. Berrima is home to the White Horse Inn which has been feeding and accommodating travellers for over a hundred years.
Bundanoon Hotels, Solar Springs Resort and Bed and Breakfast
Bundanoon is a village about 25 minutes south of Bowral, close to the gorge country and views of the Morton National Park. Many guesthouses operated in Bundanoon in the late 19th century and through the 20th century where visitors would stay, cycle and take walks to the views in the Morton National Park. Many have closed but a range of accommodation remains.
The Bundanoon Hotel is an Arts and Crafts delight in Erith Street with a pool (a bit chilly until summer sets in) and tennis courts. The Solar Springs Resort on the Knoll is a destination in itself, a health resort, weekend break and relaxation centre. Tree Tops Guesthouse is an Edwardian cottage that has grown to offer a range of accommodation including family suites. There are other bed and breakfasts and a motel in Bundanoon listed on the Southern Highlands online website.
Cycling in the Morton National Park
Camping is not permitted in the Morton National Park but cycling and walking are. Bundanoon is one of the closest access points for the park and offers walks to Glow Worm Glen, Fairy Bower Falls, Echo Point and Bonnie View. The information about the walks is available at the NSW Government environment website.
To access the Southern Highlands from Sydney take the M5 to the Mittagong exit. The tourist road begins there and will take you to Bowral, Moss Vale, Sutton Forest, Exeter and Bundanoon. From Canberra take the Hume Highway north and use the Moss Vale or Mittagong exits. If you want to use the tourist road through all the villages turn off earlier to Tallong or Bundanoon. From the South Coast the Illawarra Highway to Picton and then left on the M5. A scenic route is up the mountain from Jamberoo or Macquarie Pass.