The Southern Highlands is a region in NSW comprising of many villages filled with award-winning wineries, amazing food, stunning landscapes and colonial charm. It’s the perfect destination to escape the big smoke for a weekend – there are national parks filled with spectacular waterfalls and gardens, rolling green hills dotted with vineyards and fresh country air.
Whilst Bowral is the largest and most popular of the villages (read all about my Bowral experience here) I highly recommend spending some extra time to explore the other, smaller villages. On my most recent trip I got to discover Sutton Forest, Berrima, Mittagong and Burrawang. Next time I’d love to check out the truffles in Robertson and the vineyards in Joadja. There is so much to do around here!
Peppers Manor House – Kater Rd, Sutton Forest
For the ultimate ‘country manor’ experience, look no further than Peppers Manor House. Set amongst expansive grounds in Sutton Forest, a 15 minute drive from Bowral, this retreat exudes old world charm and is perfect for a romantic escape.
The original homestead has been renovated to accommodate a bar, restaurant and “The Grand Hall” which is filled with roaring fireplaces, boardgames and comfy couches – the perfect place to unwind with a glass of wine.
There are 43 rooms and suites available to book, with some located upstairs in the Main House and the remainder located up on the adjacent hill with sweeping views of the countryside (including some kangaroo friends).
I stayed in the newly refurbished Highland Queen room which comes with a huge comfy bed, walk-in shower and Appelles bathroom amenities (my favourite).
I was fortunate enough to eat at the award-winning Katers Restaurant for both breakfast and dinner. Breakfast is a full country buffet filled with a huge selection of eggs, bacon, sides and pastries to choose from.
Executive Chef John Shelly is passionate about the freshest local produce from around the Southern Highlands area, including from hotel’s very own kitchen garden.
For dinner we had a fairly light meal as we were still stuffed from our lunch at Biota Dining. Highlights included duck prosciutto with honeydew melon, celery and crisp duck skin for entree, and a Wagyu bavette of beef with ale onions, potato beignet and sorrel for main course. The roasted pineapple pina colada sorbet with coconut and finger lime was the perfect way to finish off the meal.
When you’ve finished relaxing and eating and want to get active, Peppers also has the 18-hole championship Mount Broughton Golf and Country Club, an outdoor swimming pool, two tennis courts and volleyball, badminton, croquet and boules on offer!
Bendooley Estate – 3020 Old Hume Hwy, Berrima
Bendooley Estate is a 200 acre property filled with a gorgeous vineyard, restaurant and the iconic Berkelouw Book Barn. In addition to housing thousands of new and second-hand books, this unique space boasts cathedral ceilings and exposed timber beams, making it the perfect place to enjoy lunch.
It was a gorgeous day when we arrived, so we opted to sit out on the patio for our feast. To start we enjoyed smoked eggplant with labneh, dates, nuts and sourdough.
For mains we shared roasted pumpkin, goat’s cheese, pistachio dukkha and rocket pizza and slow braised wagyu brisket with spicy baked beans, gremolata and tahini yoghurt – both of these dishes were perfect for a crisp Autumn day.
With our stomachs full, we decided to explore the picturesque paddocks surrounding the estate. You can see why they regularly host weddings here, right?
We next explored the vineyards adjacent to the cellar door. The Southern Highlands is famous for its volcanic soil, cool climate and high altitude which ensure the vines thrive. Bendooley produces a range of blends including Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Pinot Gris.
We enjoyed a wine tasting at the cellar door and purchased a few bottles to take home – I was particularly a fan of the Riesling and Pinot Noir.
We jumped back in the car to drive into the heart of Berrima town itself. After wandering around this quaint town for a few minutes I was surprised to stumble upon a courthouse and jail! The courthouse is now a museum, however the jail, which was opened in 1839, has recently started operating again.
Berrima is also home to Eschalot, a multi award-winning restaurant that offers French-Australian inspired food. Unfortunately we had no time to try it, but as I’ve only heard good things about it I know we’ll be back!
As Berrima is a historic village, it’s a pleasure to simply walk the streets and check out the colonial architecture dotted about town.
Berrima is also home to one of Australia’s oldest licensed pubs, The Surveyor General Inn, which was built in 1834 by convicts! This is an old school Aussie pub at its finest, and I finally recommend popping in for a beer.
No trip to Berrima is complete without a visit to Stones Patisserie, which offers country baking at its finest. On previous trips I have tried the homemade sausage roll and pies, which are both incredible. This time round I was only interested in afternoon tea.
We shared a chocolate peanut cookie, which featured a rich yet crunchy biscuit base filled with a creamy peanut butter filling. It was the perfect sugar kick.
There are quite a few shops dotted along the main street in Berrima, including The Little Hand Stirred Jam Shop, several antique stores and even an Alpaca shop.
Tertini Wines – Lot 5, Kells Creek Road (off Wombeyan Caves Road), Mittagong
I had sampled a glass of Tertini Wines at Biota Dining the day before, and was very excited to try the rest of these award-winning wines (they were recently given a Star Award from Gourmet Traveller Wine as Best Cellar Door in the Southern Highlands!)
Due to the climate of the Southern Highlands, the grapes have a long and slow ripening period. The wines are made by viticulturist Jonathan Holgate, who is an expert in cool-climate wines, and lends his expertise to blending these subtle and elegant wines. Their focus on hand pruning, hand picking and low cropping ensures only the best grapes are turned into wine and no unnecessary chemicals or processing is required.
Tertini has a particular interest in alternative varieties of grapes. My favourite out of the tasting had to be Arneis – it is a white Italian wine grape variety originating from Piedmont, Italy.
Burrawang Village General Store Café – 11 Hoddle Street, Burrawang
The final stop on our Southern Highlands adventure is in Burrawang, a quaint village that was settled in 1862. Our breakfast destination is at Burrawang Village General Store, where an iconic building has been transformed into a culinary destination worth travelling for!
The space is huge, with 2 levels and high ceilings draped with pendant lights. The owners have kept as much of the original charm of the general store as possible, with signage and old grocery products decorating the walls.
After spending quite a while oohing and aahing over the interiors, we finally turned our attention to the most important part – the food!
The innovative menu offers a range of breakfast items with an emphasis on local produce. The most interesting thing on the menu had to be the jalapeño cornbread. It was served with poached eggs, avocado, sweet potato hash brown, pico de gallo and red pepper jelly and was a unique and delicious breakfast you wouldn’t necessarily expect in the middle of the country.
I couldn’t resist ordering the Croque Monsieur as well. This giant sandwich featured thick slices of white bread and was filled with dijon, béchamel, swiss, gruyere and ham from the bone. It’s definitely one of the best Croque Monsieurs I’ve ever had!
I also created a little video of my trip to submit to the #ILoveNSW campaign. Make sure you post your own NSW video or picture at visitnsw.com/ilovensw using #ILoveNSW and you could win a Canon Prize Pack!
Love Swah visited the Southern Highlands as a guest of Destination NSW. All thoughts and opinions are my own.