Natural wonders of the Southern Highlands

From spectacular waterfalls to breathtaking lookouts and historic parkland trails, the Southern Highlands is one of Australia’s most vibrant natural playgrounds. Explore lush rainforests, cycle through open woodland or visit local gardens as thousands of tulips burst into bloom.



Hiking & biking

The best way to explore the lush surrounds of the Southern Highlands is on two feet or two wheels. Start with an easy climb to the 863m summit of Mount Gibraltar, a 150-million-year-old collapsed volcano that’s now the highest point between Sydney and Canberra. There are multiple trails that wind around the mountain, all with spectacular lookout points over the valleys and villages.

Group of friends walking to Carrington Falls, Budderoo National Park

Carrington Falls, Budderoo National Park

In Morton National Park near Bundanoon, the Lovers Walking Track is a short trail that winds through open forest and native flowers to scenic views at Echo Point. The Bundanoon Cycling Route is an easy, 14km path winding through the national park with lots of picnic areas and scenic lookouts along the way. For something different, walk from Bundanoon into Glow Worm Glen at night to see millions of these tiny insects light up the darkness.

The Box Vale Mine walking track follows an old railway line through a tunnel to breathtaking views of the Nattai Gorge. The pretty Berrima River Walk combines nature and history, with 17 interpretive signs that explore the village’s past. Bird watchers will love the Barren Grounds Nature Reserve near Robertson, where trails ranging from two to 20km wind through fields of wildflowers, and the nearby Rainforest Walking Track in Robertson Nature Reserve. The Cecil Hoskins Nature Reserve in Moss Vale is perfect for spotting waterbirds. 

Wonder of waterfalls

Plunging more than 80 metres to the valley below, the magnificent Fitzroy Falls are a breathtaking spectacle in the Morton National Park. Enjoy a great view of the falls near the accessible Fitzroy Falls Visitor Centre or follow one of the two trails that lead around either side of the escarpment along the West Rim and East Rim. In Budderoo National Park, Carrington Falls tumble 50m through the lush greenery into the Kangaroo River below. Nearby, the falls at Nellies Glen are smaller but just as charming and the calm pool beneath is a popular swimming spot in the warmer months.

You can walk to the magical Fairy Bower Falls, close to Bundanoon. The trail takes you to the top of the escarpment with a ladder leading down to the bottom of the falls. A short drive east you’ll find the spectacular Belmore Falls with views of sandstone flora. Near Robertson on the Illawarra escarpment, explore the Macquarie Pass National Park and follow the Cascades Walk through lush rainforest and towering eucalypts to the beautiful Cascades Falls.

The scenic Belmore Falls waterfall in Morton National Park, Country NSW

Belmore Falls, Morton National Park - Credit: Above Down Under by Kramer Photography

Gorgeous gardens

The Southern Highlands is also home to some of Australia’s most stunning gardens. In Bowral, the vibrant annual Tulip Time Festival celebrates the arrival of spring in the beautiful Corbett Gardens with more than 75,000 bulbs in bloom. The Southern Highlands Botanic Gardens is a community-funded project run by volunteers who maintain the 15-hectare gardens filled with a mix of exotic and native species, including 22 species of silver birch, plus sculptures, picnic areas, a nursery and playground.

Many of the region’s historic country manors are surrounded by immaculately landscaped grounds, inspired by traditional English gardens. Visit the superb grounds of the historic National Trust-listed Harper’s Mansion, with its cool-climate plants and large hedge maze. Take a gentle stroll around the 20 landscaped garden rooms at Red Cow Farm in Sutton Forest, made up of woodlands, rose gardens, kitchen gardens, orchards, lakes and more. Spread over 2.5 hectares surrounding the original 1820s cottage, the garden is open from September to May each year.

Tulip Time Festival in Corbett Gardens, Bowral

Corbett Gardens, Bowral 

More ways to get back to nature