Planning a day excursion from Sydney? Southern Highlands offers a perfect option for a day trip from Sydney if you want to enjoy beautiful rustic landscapes, cool temperatures, a relaxed lifestyle and plenty of historical architecture. In recent years plenty of affluent Sydneysider families have bought properties in these laid back towns because of open spaces, bigger landholding and amazing quality of life at a driving distance from the city of Sydney.
How to get to Southern Highlands from Sydney
If you want to make the most of your day, the best idea is to start early. There is not much traffic on the road on the weekend in the early hours of the morning and you can cover a lot of distance.
I started from Sydney city by getting on M8 TO M5 leading towards Canberra. M11 exits towards Mittagong from Hume Highway which lead to the country road towards Mittagong, Berrima and Moss Vale.
The green road signs are intercity freeway and the brown signs show the Tourist Drives, which are normally detours off the main freeway and passes through historical country towns, interesting lookouts and places of interest in the region.
Exploring Mittagong, NSW
Mittagong was my first stop along the way where I noticed the scenic pointing towards the historic building of Fitzroy Inn which has been serving the region since 1836. This well-maintained building is popular with visitors to Mittagong and all great place to organize wedding events. The adjacent grounds to the building have marquee and gazebo located close to a weir offering a very rustic look.
Fitzroy Inn Historic Retreat in Mittagong, NSW Saturday is the best time to travel as you can enjoy the weekend Markets in the downtown Mittagong. These markets are equally popular with locals and visitors to the town. Various vendors sell local produce including vegetables, condiments, hand made craft and antiques. There is a bit for everyone out there. Markets are a really fun place to enjoy the local culture of the town and enjoy some lunch and snacks.
Mittagong Weekend Market Fitzroy Inn Historic Retreat at Mittagong The main part of the city offers small local shopping malls, cafes, restaurants and some historical churches dating back to the last century. Mittagong is not a very large city and can be easily explored in a couple of hours. A major attraction in the region are vineyards, which are becoming popular for most tourist. The altitude of the region is approximately 800m above the sea level and offers a good mix of alpine vegetation and greenery.
Intersting things to do in Southern Highlands
Thinking about what to do in the Southern Highlands? Explore some of the interesting lookouts in Mittagong overlooking the rolling landscapes and deep gorges with waterfalls. Explore Mittagong Lookout, Jellore Lookout and Bowral Lookout.
Mount Gibraltar Walk is easily accessible both from Mittagong and Bowral and provides great views of the region.
Historic Wombeyan Caves are located at 1.5 hours ( 65 km ) driving distance from Mittagong. Make sure to start early at the 60 km stretch will take around 1.5 hours of driving time through country roads. The historic caves are over 400 million years old and home to some unique rock formation, stalactites and stalagmites and rock pools.
With the recent growth in the affluent population in the region, Southern Highlands has become an attractive destination for gourmet food and wine lovers. There are a number of quality wineries in the region. Centennial Vineyards, Cuttaway Hills Wines and Southern Highlands wineries are worth visiting for wine lovers.
The historical town of Berrima is located at 10 km from the town of Bowral. This interesting historical town has a number of heritage buildings including Berrima Gaol and Berrima Courthouse
Exploring City of Bowral in Southern Highlands
NSW Visiting Bowral NSW Bowral is the next town in line. Made famous by cricket legend Don Bradman, the city is home to Don Bradman Oval and Museum with great information on the cricketing history. Bowral downtown is home to a number of quality cafes, clothing stores, art galleries and antique stores which makes it a popular spot to hang around on the warm weekend.
Early September is the beginning of spring in NSW and a great time to explore these amazing country town. The quality of clothing stores and cafes and patisseries shows that this region caters to plenty of affluent clientele with an eclectic taste in food and clothes.
Busy Streets of Bowral, NSW Bowral has a similar feel like Katoomba and other towns in the Blue Mountains. Gumnut patisserie caught my attention as the corner shop had long queues of foodies waiting for their turn to enjoy a wide array of desserts and pastries.
Attractions in Bowral, NSW
A couple of interesting bookstores with cafes reflect a literacy legacy to this town. With a good mix of gourmet food outlets, book stores and over 60 vineyards, Bowral is definitely a great place for a weekend retreat from Sydney.
Fitzroy Falls NSW
NSW Fitzroy Falls is a popular location int he Southern Highlands commanding some great views of the waterfalls and scenic gorges int he region. With a number of walking tracks towards the scenic lookout, Fitzroy Falls area can be a great adventure to explore local flora and fauna on one of many bushwalking tracks in the region.
Fitzroy Falls parking area has an all-day parking fee of $4.00. Information centre near the car park provides valuable information on plenty of activities that can be conducted in the region. Local guide maps and brochures are available for free.
There are a couple of long walking tracks. Make sure to obtain all useful information and topographic maps from the information centre at the caves. A safety beacon is recommended if you plan to explore long walks in the region.
Driving from Fitzroy Falls to Macquarie Pass
Jamberoo Waterpark is a popular attraction in the region that attracts large groups over the summer. Check out my photo gallery for a trip to Jamberoo Water Park in Kangaroo Valley.
Two alternative ways to Wollongong from Fitzroy Falls Driving further south from Fitzroy Fall you can take a scenic route through Jamberoo Waterpark, Minimurra Falls with a Tree Walk as a major attraction. Book in advance as tickets are hard to find on arrivals.
Alternatively, drive towards Macquarie Pass and you will pass through rolling hills and scenic views on both sides before descending steeply down towards Illawarra Region. Enjoy the cascade falls at the bottom of the descent before hitting Albion Park.
The road from Albion Park joins Princess Highway. You can either turn right towards Kiama and South Coast or turn left towards Wollongong and back to Sydney. The driving distance from Albion Park to Sydney is 130 km.