My Guide to the Southern Highlands of NSW, Australia

Last year, we discovered the Southern Highlands (NSW, Australia). Just a few hours from Sydney and filled with small town charm, antiques and scrumptious pastries, this array of villages is full of personality and makes for a perfect day-trip out of Sydney.

We first discovered the area by visiting the Mittagong Markets, which led us to Bowral, and then Berrima. Very quickly, we’d gone from Southern Highlands newbies to frequent visitors with favourite shops and local haunts.

Here’s my guide to the best spots to check out
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MITTAGONG


Just an hour and a half’s drive from Sydney, Mittagong is perfect for a day trip. It’s nickname is the “gateway of the Southern Highlands” and, true to its word, it’s a good spot to dip your toes into the mood that the area has to offer.

MITTAGONG MARKETS

The best attraction of Mittagong is the local market that occurs on the 3rd Saturday of every month (put it in your diary!). The markets are held at the Uniting Church (on the corner of Alice and Albert Streets) from 8am-2pm. As you drive closer, you will see quaint picket signs along the street pointing you in the right direction!

The markets have great produce and food for sale including:

  • A stall of seasonal and fresh vegetables (delicious produce here, you can always find something you want to pick up!)
  • Robertson potatoes available by the bag (we’ve got these multiple times and they’re delicious. So much better than those you find at Coles!)
  • A good ol’ breakfast BBQ (complete with stern older lady who writes your order on a raffle ticket).
  • An incredible pie/quiche store (these are serious business! I once bought a vegetable and cheese quiche to take to a party, convinced it would be quite boring, but it was so decadent and creamy)
  • Local honey (buy it by the jar or bucket!)
  • Church stall with all the staples: cakes, pickles, mini quiches, sweets, jams.
  • Pastries! Very good ones at that!
  • Various free range eggs (including those of the blue kind!)
  • Lady Bucket’s Kitchen (you MUST check out this stall and try the lemon butter. It’s too good! There’s also pâté and jams and all the good things you’d want in your kitchen cupboard)
  • Dehydrated fruit and fruit leather.
  • Devonshire tea in the church hall (how quaint!)

In addition to these, there’s food stalls for eating whilst perusing (including Okonomiyaki!), live music, antiques and lots of affordable plants (get in quick for these). I recommend starting your day here early before the lunch crowd rolls in.

BOWRAL


Once you’ve finished your morning bacon-eggy roll at Mittagong Markets, you’ll want to check out the epicurean lifestyle of Bowral. With a main road (named ‘Bong Bong Street’) lined with chic homeware boutiques and patisseries galore, and beautiful parks and homes, Bowral is a picturesque town (also the largest in the Southern Highlands). Here are some of my favourite places.

Dirty Jane’s

In Sydney-language, Dirty Jane’s could be described as Mitchell Road Antiques meets The Grounds. Dirty Jane’s is an expansive emporium of curated vintage wares, collectables, accessories, furniture and knick-knacks begging to be taken home. You could very easily spend an hour browsing, so make sure you put ample time aside. There are also 2 lovely cafes and a tea salon!

Bespoke Letterpress

This is the home of the super lux “couture stationery” brand. Drop into the super trendy store to see the letterpress in action and to fondle the embossed wares. This place is next level stationery.

Gumnut Patisserie

Holy moly – this place is serious about its pastries (you can tell from all the prize ribbons on front window). No trip to Bowral is complete without a pie from here. And don’t forget to takeaway some sweet treats for later – I recommend the Brandy Snap in particular! You can also get the classic Australian worm meringues and smiley-face cupcakes from here.

Barbara’s Storehouse

I don’t know who Barbara is but she sure knows how to stock a great homewares store! This shop is full of amazing crockery and kitchen accessories as well as so many beautiful decorations such as rugs and linen napkins. The best part: everything is rather affordable!

A Touch of Tea

A beautiful tea store with lots of variety on offer. Knitted tea cosies included!

Flour Water Salt

The Speculaas (Dutch spiced cookies similar to gingerbread) here is like crack! It’s so divine. In addition to baked goods, Flour Water Salt also sell their own products including olive oil, jam, and roasted eggplant. Stop over if you haven’t already gorged yourself on pies!

BERRIMA


Berrima is our most recent find, and wow I’m glad we found it! Berrima has a small country-town feel to it; most of the shops are along one road which has not much leading up to it and not much flowing on after it. But each one is worth a visit and I think it really rounds out a trip to the Southern Highlands. Places you shouldn’t miss:

The Little Hand Stirred Jam Shop

This place is something else! The high ceilings and chandeliers make this shop feel more like a palace of sauces, reductions, jam and dressings. There is so much well-curated variety on offer; take your time to explore!

Sticky Beaks Vintage Emporium

I could’ve spent all day in this store! Lots of well-curated homewares and knick-knacks. Worth stopping in for a browse if you’re a vintage lovers.

Hope you enjoy exploring the Southern Highlands!

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