The largest town in the Southern Highlands, Bowral was traditionally a rural summer retreat for the gentry of Sydney. There are still elements of this on display today, from fine manor houses to antique stores and gourmet restaurants.
Things to do
There are many great things to do in Bowral, including bushwalking and fly fishing. Hike to the summit of Mt Gibraltar, which looks over town. Or visit the Bradman Museum and International Cricket Hall of Fame, which honours legendary Australian batsman Donald Bradman, who hails from Bowral.
Walk through the beautiful Corbett Gardens; it’s the centrepiece of the annual Tulip Time Festival in September, when more than 100,000 tulips bloom. For spectacular views of the gardens and town, visit Bowral Lookout. Use Bowral as your base to explore more of the Southern Highlands and follow the scenic Illawarra tourism route to see the whole area.
Snow occasionally falls here in mid-winter, giving the town a fairytale feel. In summer it’s the ideal escape from the heat of the coast, where even in December and January nights can be spent by a roaring log fire with a glass of local wine.
Eat, drink and shop
Bowral is a gourmet getaway, with fresh produce and cool climate wines a feature. Visit the cellar door of Centennial Vineyards and dine at highly acclaimed restaurants like Onesta Cucina and Ludo. There’s also a handful of charming country pubs.
Enjoy wine-tasting tours with Grape Escape, then explore the town’s day spas and shops. Browse the Ten Thousand Paces gallery for art and wine. Check out the events calendar for what’s on, including the Southern Highlands Food and Wine Festival in spring.
Getting there and where to stay
Bowral is around 90min drive from Sydney and less than two hours from Canberra. You can also catch a direct train from Sydney and the journey takes around two hours. Accommodation options suit various budgets, from motels and pubs to B&Bs, cottages, country retreats and beautifully-restored heritage houses.