The Southern Highlands of NSW is truly the perfect spot for a weekend getaway. Within an hour and a half of leaving Sydney you’re already there, ready to explore the region filled with rolling hills, national parks, small towns and plenty of wineries. It’s inland, but you’re still pretty close to the coast if you want to hit up a few beaches on your trip – Gerringong and Seven Mile Beach are excellent picks for a swim and a picnic.
We spent two days in the Southern Highlands and already want to go back – there’s just so much to see and do. Here are our picks for bushwalks, waterfalls, pies, coffee, and brunch.
Here’s a video of our time, or keep reading for recommendations!
Best Bushwalks and Nature in the Southern Highlands
We were only there for 36 hours but we squeezed in as much nature as possible. First up, we stopped at Fitzroy Falls just outside Bowral. It’s a pretty heavily visited place, so go on a weekday if you want to bask in the serenity. There’s a short walk out to a lookout just above the falls, or you can continue on the trail for about 10 minutes to wind around and view it from the front. The lookouts all have sweeping views of the valleys that stretch on forever – I’ll admit I didn’t realise that the Highlands had such dramatic scenery!
We then went to Budderoo National Park, which has a ton of picturesque trails I’d like to go back and explore. We just went straight to the Blue Pool, which is near Carrington Falls. It’s definitely not the “emerald blue” that it had been described to me as, but it was a calm little oasis in the native forest that I imagine would be a great swimming and picnic spot on a hot day.
Finally, we did an epic trek in the morning of our second day up to Drawing Room Rocks just outside Berry. It was only about an hour and a half round trip, but it’s pretty steep straight up to the top. Oh boy, the views are worth it. It was a clear day so we could see all the way out to the beach, with rolling green farmland spread out behind us. This might be the best walk in the whole region, it’s definitely worthy of a spot on your itinerary.
Best Pies In The Southern Highlands
This could go under “food” but it really deserves its own entry. I love a good country pie shop, and Bowral certainly delivered. On the main street you’ll find Gumnut Patisserie, which has won TONS of awards for their pies and cakes. Once you take a bite of a pie, you’ll see why. I would drive all the way from Sydney to Bowral just for this pie. We had the potato and mince, and the Thai chicken curry – both excellent.
A special mention goes to Heatherbrae Pies which are legendary but a little out of the way. Worth it if you’re continuing south on the highway!
Best Food In The Southern Highlands
The reason that we chose to stay in Berry is because of the Famous Berry Donut Van. It’s more of a kiosk these days, permanently placed at the end of the town’s main street. They serve up piping hot fresh cinnamon donuts, which are freshly cooked when you order. I’m not exaggerating when I say this is the best donut you’ll have in your life. Definitely buy at least two.
We had a cute brunch in Berry after our hike, at The Garden. They have great fresh food and a good brunch menu that isn’t just eggs and granola. I had some of their homemade falafel, which were some of the best I’ve tasted. Sarah had a bacon and egg roll and can confirm that their gluten free bread is surprisingly good. Turns out it comes from Flour Water Salt in Kiama. If it’s warm and sunny, try to get a spot in the back garden that gives the cafe its name.
Can you tell I have a sweet tooth? After breakfast we stopped at Berry’s Milkwood Bakery for a treat. I got an apple and raspberry crumble which was DELICIOUS. They have a great range of sugary treats that are perfect breakfast dessert – big holiday mood.
For dinner we grabbed a takeaway pizza from Quattro in Berry. They had a vegan special, with chickpeas, cauliflower and hummus – surprisingly delicious! We can also confirm that the gluten free bases here are pretty damn good. Not chalky at all!
We were lucky that our visit coincided with the Berry Farmer’s Market on a Thursday night. They had a huge range of produce and fresh food, as well as baked goods and food trucks. Well worth a visit.
Best coffee in the Southern Highlands
A gal can only drink so much coffee without spiraling into anxiety, so I only have a couple reccomendations here.
The Elephant Boy in Bowral. A cosy shop that feels like a living room, the walls lined with bookshelves and the tables surrounded by cosy armchairs. They’ve got an excellent range of baked goods, with heaps of GF and vegan options.
The Press Shop in Bowral. I came here about six months ago but it’s worth including on the list! It’s a sunny space with excellent coffee and a great brunch menu. It’s a little on the fancy side but is still a local fave.
The Garden in Berry, where we had brunch. I got an iced long black, which can easily go pretty wrong. But it was delish and not too acidic. 10/10.
Did I miss anything? Let me know your fave Southern Highlands spots in the comments, I’ll definitely be back there asap!