Introducing the Southern Highlands
Relax and unwind among the rolling green hills of the Southern Highlands, renowned for its heritage villages and old-world charm. Drive through forests and bucolic valleys to find charming country inns and restaurants, farmers markets and produce shops stuffed with local fare.
What to do and see in the Southern Highlands
This route offers a range of active pursuits, from horseback riding and hiking through the bush, to golf, kayaking and cycling through wonderful scenery.
Be pampered with a soothing spa treatment or stop and smell the flowers in one of the region’s beautiful formal gardens. Follow the Southern Highlands Food and Wine Trail to cellar doors, food stalls, cafés and farmers markets.
Go bushwalking in Morton National Park; explore Berrima, settled in 1831; tee-off at one of the excellent public or private golf courses; and browse in antique shops packed with furniture, China ware and jewellery.
Trip length from Sydney 3 days
Total distance 335km
Road conditions All sealed roads
Segment distances: Sydney to Mittagong 1hr 30mins; 115km
Mittagong to Kangaroo Valley 50mins; 45km
Kangaroo Valley to Sydney 2hrs 15mins; 160km
Suggested overnight stops: Mittagong, Bowral or Moss Vale
Accommodation: Find the best deal, compare prices and read what other travellers have to say about hotels in Bowral at TripAdvisor.
Must-see sights along the route, include:
– Stroll along Main and Victoria streets past colourful gardens and many sandstone buildings that date from the mid-19th century, many of which are used today as antiques and craft shops as well as coffee houses. Pop into the Sturt Craft Centre and try your hand at photography, ceramics, sculpture or basketry on one of the centre's short courses.
Don’t miss the Boxvale Mine Walking Track, an easy 4.4km walk that follows the historic tramline. Drive to the top of Mount Gibraltar for great views from the lookouts, especially pretty at sunset, enjoy a picnic at Lake Alexandra or follow the wine trail to several local wineries.
– Discover one of the best-preserved Georgian villages in Australia. Stroll past a unique collection of unspoilt Georgian sandstone homes and important public buildings from the 19th century.
Take a self-guided walk around the village to visit the many historic buildings browse the local galleries and antique and craft shops and treat yourself to lunch at the White Horse Inn or a glass of ale at the Surveyor General Inn, Australia's oldest continually licensed inn.
– Head to the lookout on the escarpment above the falls, an easy 1.6km roundtrip bushwalk from the small village of the same name. From here you can watch the waterfalls plunge spectacularly into the thick eucalypt forests of the valley below. Nearby Belmore Falls is equally dramatic and easy to access.
Hike along any of the many trails through Morton National Park to discover a scenic region full of waterfalls, rainforest gullies, wildflowers, colourful parrots and rosellas, all easily admired from the accessible lookouts on the plateau.
– Drive through the magnificent countryside where the movie Babe was filmed; explore the natural wonders of nearby Budderoo and Morton national parks, featuring many spectacular waterfalls and bushwalking trails; the spectacular Carrington Falls, where you can swim in crystal clear watering holes; and the rainforest walking trails of Robertson Nature Reserve.
Pop into the Robertson Railway Station, now a heritage site and museum; sample the crafts and gourmet treats at The Old Cheese Factory; check out the fascinating local antique and craft shops in the area; and if time permits, don’t miss the Robertson Pie Shop, famous for its savoury and sweet pies.
– Relax in the old-world charm of Bundanoon. Stroll past historic buildings, revitalise at the health retreat, browse antique and crafts shops on Railway Avenue and overnight in fine old guesthouses. Watch glow-worms at dusk in the sandstone grotto known as Glow-Worm Glen.
Take a visit to nearby Exeter, known as ‘Little England’ because of its exotic trees and private gardens or rent a bike for the popular 11km ride through Morton National Park.
– Explore this pretty garden village peppered with historic buildings, tree-lined streets and colourful gardens – all surrounded by rolling green hills.
Stroll around Throsby Park, an impressive colonial Georgian mansion built in 1823; admire the town’s historic buildings, including the Dominican convent, the Anglican church and Kalourgan; pop into the Southern Highlands Regional Gallery in Railway Street; tee-off at the 18-hole championship Moss Vale Golf Course; and don’t miss lunching at the historic Briars Inn, built in 1845.
Follow the Food and Wine Trail to sample some great cool-climate wines at the nearby cellar doors of Eling Forest and Southern Highlands Wines, both of which also have renowned restaurants.
Head north to Bong Bong, the site of the first European settlement in the Southern Highlands or see the countryside from the windows of old-style carriages of the Cockatoo Run in a leisurely train trip to Robertson or along the coast.
– Nestled in the shadow of Mount Gibraltar, Bowral is famous for its country gardens and fields of tulips in spring. Discover quaint houses and gardens in the town's side streets; meander around the stunning private gardens, part of grand old estates; and browse for antiques, jewellery, arts and crafts.
Don’t miss the Sir Donald Bradman Oval, one of the sacred sites of cricket, and learn more about Australia's greatest cricketer inside the Bradman Museum of Cricket.
Saddle up and take part in or watch the many equestrian events held throughout the year, go fly-fishing on the lake, tee-off at one of the excellent golf courses or drive up to Mount Gibraltar’s lookouts for great views and easy walks. Make a date for the Bowral Tulip Time, held during September and October.
– Discover a pretty and dramatic National Trust-listed village known for its scenic bushwalks and river creeks as well as Hampden Bridge, the oldest surviving suspension bridge in Australia.
Wander over the historic bridge and through the Heritage-listed village. Browse the galleries and refresh over coffee and cake in one of the cafés.
Enjoy the spectacular views of the Shoalhaven River and Kangaroo Valley from Cambewarra Mountain Lookout, join a kayaking safari along the Kangaroo River to Shoalhaven Gorge, enjoy a picnic on the banks of the river and tour the Pioneer Farm Museum, based on a typical 19th century farmhouse.