Long black, ham and egg roll and a chocolate brownie for dessert.
I’ll cut right to the chase. If you are looking for excellent, well-priced food and coffee in the Southern Highlands, do yourself a favour and get over to 2 Park Road, The Corner Store in Bowral and place the aforementioned order. Trust me, they have got you covered.
Tucked away from the main drag in Bowral, this cafe is a hit with the locals and I make no hesitation in saying that Nick serves THE BEST COFFEE in town. 2 Park Road serves a simple breakfast and lunch menu and a range of delicious house-made treats to tuck into with your coffee. People flock here also for their freshly-carved leg ham and house-made corned beef, which is available for purchase by weight. The cafe doubles as a general store where you can find all your essentials (Southern Rise bread, local eggs, milk, magazines and even nappies!) and a great range of locally produced preserves and take-home meals.
The great news is that 2 Park Road is now operating a take-away coffee and snack window on Sunday mornings which means that we can FINALLY get decent coffee all weekend!
Where: 2 Park Road, Bowral, 2576. Opposite Bowral High/Bowral Tennis Courts.
When: Monday – Friday 7:30am – 5:00pm, Saturdays 8:00 – 3:00pm, Sundays (Coffee window only) 9:00am – 11:00am.
Berrima Village Pottery may sound familiar to some of you…it left the Highlands for a little while only to make its return last November – giving Berrima a much needed breath of fresh air in the retail department! Sitting just down the hill on the corner of the Old Hume Highway and Wingecarribee street, Berrima Village Pottery provides a stunning selection of hand-crafted ceramics and homewares.
Owners Louise and Paul Bruce have turned the once dark and dank bakery / cafe into a fresh, light-filled retail and studio space. They have beautifully preserved certain unique features and quirks of the site to pay homage to its history, including the original bakers oven and stone floor. Make sure you stop in here while you’re in the Highlands and see the spread of textures, neutral tones and natural materials for yourself.
Watch this space as Berrima Village Pottery continues to build its collection of hand-made pieces as well as possibly providing pottery classes down the track…
Where: Corner of Old Hume Highway and Wingecarribee street, Berrima
When: From 10am 7 days
There may be no such thing as a free lunch but there are certainly plenty of free things to do and see in the Southern Highlands. Following my own budget-friendly expeditions around the area, I want to share with you my TOP TEN suggestions for Southern Highlands freebies. Enjoy!
1. Nellies Glen and Carrington Falls
Nellies Glen is a stunning waterfall and swimming hole near Carrington Falls in the Budderoo National Park just outside of Robertson – and absolutely one of my FAVOURITE free things to do in the Highlands. There are so many pathways, rockpools and trails for exploring around here and plenty of gorgeous photo opportunities. It is a beautiful, clear and fresh place to swim – though it does get busy during the summer months. If you are looking for somewhere quieter, head further upstream to Blue Pool which is another lovely swimming and picnic area. Carrington Falls is close by, as well as numerous lookouts and hikes of varying difficulties. You could easily make this a whole day FREE outing. Picnic table and toilet facilities available.
Where: Follow Jamberoo Mountain Road onto Cloonty Road, then into Nellies Glen Picnic Area as signposted.
For more information: http://www.wildswimmingaustralia.com/locations/nellies-glen/
2. The Cherry Tree Walk, Bowral
The Cherry Tree Walk is a 5km stretch of pathway that winds through Bowral and is lined with 526 cherry trees representing fallen soldiers in the Vietnam War. It begins at the Vietnam War Memorial alongside the Bowral Swimming Pool and stretches right into East Bowral with numerous ‘exits’ along the way onto adjacent streets. There are a few great picnic and foraging spots along the path to look out for, as well as a public outdoor gym near the pool. Suitable for bikes.
Where: Begins beside the Mittagong Rivulet next to Bowral Swimming Pool extending into East Bowral
When: Any time
For more information: http://www.southern-highlands.com.au/visitors/see-and-do/member+id=72718
3. Berrima Marketplace Park, Berrima
This is a go-to recommendation for families with young kids thanks to the completely AWESOME fort-style playground, not to mention the bbq, undercover tables and toilet facilities nearby. A great place for a picnic, plus you can park the car and walk from Marketplace park to the rest of the town where there are several cafes, restaurants and quaint shops to visit. The park is also just across the road from the Berrima Museum, although this is not free entry.
Where: Berrima Marketplace, Old Hume Highway, Berrima
For more information: http://www.southern-highlands.com.au/visitors/see-and-do/berrima-marketplace-park/27023/member
4. Sturt Craft Centre, Mittagong
While you do have to pay for the cafe, the gallery and shop at Sturt Craft Centre in Mittagong are free to enter and they are really lovely places to wander through. The exhibitions, often featuring local work, change frequently throughout the year and are always a treat for the senses. The attached shop is equally interesting with an array of stunning handmade artisan pieces and many uniquely Australian gifts. The gardens onsite are a delight as well!
You can find a full post on Sturt Craft Centre here: http://someplacesouth.com.au/sturt-shop-and-gallery/
Where: Corner Range Road & Waverley Parade, Mittagong
When: 10am – 5pm daily
For more information: http://www.sturt.nsw.edu.au/.
5. Erith Coal Mine walk, Bundanoon
Erith Coal Mine is one of many beautiful walking tracks through Morton National Park in Bundanoon. It will take you around 20 minutes to get here from Bowral. The walk begins not far from the entrance to the national park on a signposted track through fairly thick Australian bush scrub, before following a series of steep stairways down towards the old Erith Coal Mine. Eventually you will find yourself looking down upon an extraordinary waterfall and rock pool which is generally deep enough to swim in (mind the eels!!). Depending on the water level, there are spots to picnic near the rock pool. Roughly an hour round trip.
Where: Morton National Park, Bundanoon, NSW
When: During daylight hours
For more information: http://bundanoon.com.au/morton-national-park/
6. Lake Alexandra Reserve, Mittagong
Lake Alexandra Reserve in Mittagong is a top spot for a free family outing. There is an amazing playground for the kids, public bbq, undercover seating areas, toilets, wheelchair access and a sealed pathway ideal for walking or cycling around the lake. Beginning from the lake are several impressive mountain bike and walking trails, including the Forty Foot Falls walk, along which are hidden a few geochaches as well! Look out for the fascinating variety of birds and ducks that live on their own private island in the middle of the lake…
Where: Queen Street, Mittagong, NSW 2575
When: Any time! Particularly beautiful first thing in the morning or at sunset
For more information: http://www.visitnsw.com/destinations/country-nsw/southern-highlands/mittagong/attractions/lake-alexandra-reserve
7. Mount Gibraltar, Mittagong
Affectionately known to locals as ‘The Gib’, Mount Gibraltar is the large hill between Bowral and Mittagong – you won’t miss it. It is absolutely worth driving to the top (accessible from Mittagong or Bowral) and checking out the three lookouts which each offer a different viewpoint of the surrounding areas. It is a great way to get ‘a lay of the land’ and figure out what is where in the Highlands. You can even see the Blue Mountains at one point! There are also several short – medium walks between the lookouts along signposted bush tracks. Picnic areas available.
Where: From Mittagong – Off Oxley Drive. From Bowral – Also off Oxley Drive (near Bowral Swimming Pool).
When: Anytime. Sunrise and sunset are especially wonderful times to visit!
For more information: http://www.visitnsw.com/destinations/country-nsw/southern-highlands/mittagong/attractions/mount-gibraltar
8. Bowral District Art Society Gallery, Bowral
There is a thriving artistic community and culture in the Southern Highlands making the Bowral District Art Society Gallery naturally a great place to visit for free while in the area. Details about exhibitions, which change regularly, can be found on their website as listed below. There is generally a mix of mediums – sculpture, paintings, drawings, textiles and fibres. There are also several exhibitions that specifically showcase local talent, including the ‘Young and Emerging Artists Prize’ and the ‘Kids on Show’ Exhibitions. Classes and workshops in various skill areas are available to the general public.
Where: 1 Short Street, Bowral NSW 2576
When: 10am – 4pm Daily
For more information: http://www.bdasgallery.com/
9. The Bong Bong Track / Cecil Hoskins Nature Reserve
Cecil Hoskins Nature Reserve near Moss Vale is another of the Southern Highlands’ many awesome free picnic and walking spots. From the Reserve can be seen the Bong Bong Weir, which is particularly spectacular after heavy rain, as well as beautiful Australian bushland and the Wingecarribee River. There are toilet and picnic facilities available. Just under the bridge into Moss Vale begins the Bong Bong Track, a shared cycling and walking track that goes all the way into Bowral and is a popular spot for the locals. The reserve is particularly nice on an early and crisp Highlands morning when you can still see the fog rolling off the river as the sun comes up.
Where: Cecil Hoskins Nature Reserve, Burradoo – just off Moss Vale Road as you come into Moss Vale
For more information: http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/Walking-tracks/Wingecarribee-River-walking-track
For some reason the Southern Highlands is just blooming with ‘stray’ fruit trees on the side of the road, making it the perfect place to forage for free produce, as many eager Sydney chefs have discovered. Keep your eyes peeled during your travels for apples, figs, cherries, plums, nectarines, peaches, blackberries, watercress, fennel, rosemary, kumquats and – if you’re feeling brave – pine mushrooms in Belanglo State Forest (make sure you do your research before picking and eating these!!). Who knows, maybe one day I will reveal to you my favourite Highlands foraging spots…
Where: Along the streets and backroads throughout the Southern Highlands
When: Any time! Produce most abundant during summer.
I love a good op. And yes, I use ‘op’ as a verb. Not so long ago Mr. Someplacesouth and I set ourselves a challenge to buy clothes exclusively from second-hand stores for twelve months. We are nine months in and going strong, excluding one or two necessary new items that the humble op shop could not provide. Fortunately, the Southern Highlands is home to a really solid selection of op shops which has made our challenge all the more possible. Seriously, it is AMAZING what people offload to charity shops down here. I’m talking tags-still-on-maybe-never-worn-mostly-brand-name-sometimes-fancy-european-designer kind of stuff.
For your benefit and because I am feeling crafty, here are some handy maps showing the go-to op shops in the area, specifically in Moss Vale and Bowral. Note that most op shops in the area are closed weekends. All the more reason to hang around the Highlands a little longer I say! Now, go forth and op!
When you hear the word craft the mind tends to conjure images of paste, glitter and egg cartons fashioned into trucks. The Sturt Gallery in leafy Mittagong is Australia’s oldest craft centre. However, craft in this instance refers to some of the most exquisite and refined woodwork, porcelain, weaving and pottery one might find.
Sitting just behind Frensham Girls’ School on Range Road, Sturt boasts an exhibition space for Australian artists and craftspeople, a gallery shop and a small pop-up cafe. Throughout the year there are various craft courses for people of all ages and skill levels in jewellery, woodwork, ceramics and weaving.
There is always reason to pop in to Sturt on your way through Mittagong. I find the shop an excellent place for discovering uniquely Australian gifts and one-of-a-kind homewares, espcially considering you can sip on a coffee while you browse! Not to mention the gardens around the site are just gorgeous.
Visit their website for further details on upcoming exhibitions and courses at http://www.sturt.nsw.edu.au/.
Where: Corner Range Road & Waverley Parade, Mittagong
When: Open 7 Days 10am – 5pm
Easter is a special time of year for so many reasons, not least for the abundance of delicious treats that tend to accompany the occasion – including my favourite the Hot Cross Bun.
Knowing the Southern Highlands has loads of great bakeries and patisseries, I have been eagerly awaiting the chance to munch my way through some stellar buns in hunt of the region’s best. It was a tough sampling process…(HAH, as if!) but I managed to narrow it down to the top 4:
1. FLEUR DE LYS | MOSS VALE
Not necessarily the prettiest, but most definitely the yummiest! Satisfyingly dense and sweet, with a pleasant fruit mix of currants and raisins. Best feature – the rich custard cross! Totally blows the old flour and water paste right out of the water. YUM. $2.50 a pop.
Where:254-262 Argyle Street, Moss Vale
When: Opening hours a little vague..just pop on by and try your luck!
2. FLOUR WATER SALT | BOWRAL
Dark and fruit toast-ish, not too sweet, and best enjoyed warmed just enough to smell the spice and served with lashings of butter. This plump-looking bun has the added bonus of being crafted from organic spelt flour. Available in classic fruit or decadent dark chocolate. $3- a pop.
Where: 374 Bong Bong Street, Bowral
When: 8am-4pm Tuesday-Saturday
3. GUMNUT PATISSERIE | BERRIMA
More of a sweet brioche than a bun – but hey, ain’t no one saying no to brioche! Fluffy crosses, very lightly fruit filled and covered in a sticky glaze. These buns ought to be shared, as they verge on the sickly sweet side of the pastry spectrum. $2.50 a pop.
Where: Shop 1, Post Office Corner, Hume Highway, Berrima
When: Open 7 days 9am – 5pm
4. SOUTHERN RISE | ROBERTSON
Simple and more classic, this bun is perfect for kids, or for those who prefer something a little more plain. At $1.50 a bun, you can’t really go wrong! Available in choc or fruit.
Where: 34 Hoddle Street, Robertson
When: Monday – Saturday 5am – 5pm
Now go forth and eat some buns, you can thank me later!
Without giving away too much ‘insider information’ on the who’s who of the Highlands (yes, I have some local know how now!), I can tell you there are a few big names in the Australian art world who call this region home. Generally speaking, the Southern Highlands has quite an established and impressive art scene with notable galleries and exhibitions in Mittagong, Bowral and Berrima.
If we can be frank – and I think we can – I really do not know that much about art at all. But I like the idea of knowing a lot about art! I would say, with some embarrassment, that I err on the ‘craft’ side of the art spectrum. You know, homemade cards, recycled wrapping paper, putting decorative things in jars and tying them with string etc. Which is maybe why The Artist’s Deli in Bowral makes an exhibition space with real grown up art so appealing to a crafty person like myself.
Beyond the artworks on display themselves, this little business offers an outstanding selection of beautiful big sheets of recycled textured saa (mulberry) paper from Thailand and Bali. There are also some general art supplies – brushes, paints, charcoals, oils, pencils – and some general quirky handmade giftware. My personal favourite is the range of Uashmama washable paper lunchboxes, handbags and satchels.
The Artist’s Deli is a fun place to visit and I think a good indication of the kind of creativity and ingenuity that seems to thrive in this part of New South Wales. Pop in for a look on your way to breakfast at the Milk Factory Gallery Cafe next door, or alternatively on your way to Rivers if you’re that way inclined..!
Where: 6-7/31 Station Street, Bowral
When: Closed Tuesday Wednesday, Thursday – Saturday 10am-4pm, Sunday + Monday 11am – 3pm.
I’ve never been to Japan so I won’t claim to know what I’m talking about, but I will say that Akira Sushi in Bowral makes some damn tasty Japanese food. I got the tip off about this little gem when some dear friends of mine mentioned they were going out to eat some delicious sushi (in the Highlands? Say whaat?). I promptly invited myself along to third wheel their date night and I have no regrets.The takeaway selection is great if you’re on the run, but I would recommend eating in and having yourself a feast among the cute origami paper styled wallpaper.
The sushi rolls are enormous and made fresh to order (like seriously, you can share these). The ramen and broths are piping hot and hearty and none of that all-noodle-no-goodstuff kind of nonsense from food courts. And if it’s just too difficult to decide, have yourself a Bento box! If you’re lucky you’ll catch a glimpse of their 2:30pm staff meal and wonder why they don’t put THAT on the menu too. Go for gyoza udon or the grilled salmon roll.
Where: Shop 6, 328 Bong Bong Street, Bowral (behind Gloria Jeans Coffee).
When: Monday – Saturday 10:30am – 9:00pm, Sunday 10:30am – 6:00pm.
I don’t know that anyone really knows how auctions work (I certainly do not), but I still think you should reserve this Sunday morning for Dirty Jane’s Antiques auction anyway. Once every couple of months the back parking lot of Dirty Jane’s antiques warehouse is converted into something resembling a posh flea market with all items up for auction as the day progresses. To my fellow penniless plebs, this is our time to shine in the antiques domain with most bids starting at the very reasonable price of $5.00! Less than the price of a cup of coffee on soy with an extra shot in a mug a day!
The forecast for this weekend is clear, sunny and mild but if the morning chill hangs around too long you can always nip inside to Your Vintage Occasion for a tea and scone. Items available range from random scraps of used timber to vintage scales and pirate chests. If you’re looking for something in particular, you will probably find it. And if you’re not looking, you will probably find what you never knew you missed! I will be busy working for the man this time round but I’ve left you with a few snaps of some of my favourite pieces from last time..
Where: 391 Bong Bong street, Bowral
When: 9am onwards Sunday 14 September (Bi-monthly from then onwards)
Markets like these are the stuff that dreams are made of.
Every second Saturday of the month the grounds of Bowral Public School are inundated with people, pets, plants and produce and the playground is transformed into a bustling marketplace. These are by far the best attended markets in the district, both in terms of vendors and the general public. It’s a real comfort to see such gusto in the community’s support for something like this.
The atmosphere is super relaxed and the selection of stalls feels like a perfect mix between Glebe and Paddington markets in Sydney…with less beards. Here can be found good coffee, cute clothes, weird seedling varieties, colourful fresh flowers, organic vegetables, damn good pho, talented buskers, tulip bulbs, turkish towels, foie gras…and the list goes on! You may even catch a glimpse of Geoff Jansz the man himself!
If you can time your visit to the Highlands with these markets, your weekend will be all the better for it I promise you. Go for a caramel shortbread from City Biscuits, spuds from Highland Gourmet Potatoes, and – if your budget allows it – leather ware from the cute boys at Paterson and Salisbury.
Where: Bowral Public School, Bendooley Street, Bowral
When: Every second Saturday of the month, 8am – 1pm