NSW SOUTHERN HIGHLANDS | 2 of My Favourite Places in Bowral to Stay, Play, Wine and Dine
THE UPSIDE: stunning wine region, country charm and friendliness, outstanding food.
THE DOWNSIDE: getting to all the hotspots in one weekend.
I’ve been visiting the NSW Southern Highlands regularly for a few years now and the more I visit the more it appeals to me. It’s within easy striking distance from Sydney, it’s full of natural beauty and boasts a collection of quality wineries. It’s also a foodie heaven.
I go back for the sense of comfort you get from country charm and the rejuvenation that comes with breathing in crisp, fresh air. And there’s something else about this region - there’s always a great lunch to indulge in or a vineyard to drop into for a cheeky wine tasting.
I’ve stayed at some of the finest hotels in the area, including Milton Park Hotel and Spa, Gibraltar and Peppers; and I’ve dined at the hatted restaurants as well as some of the more casual dining spots and local pubs – Biota is fabulous and the degustation a real treat, Eschalot is also very good (in the historic town of Berrima nearby), as are Hordern’s at Milton Park and the Centennial Vineyards Restaurant.
You really are spoilt for choice in this stunning part of the NSW countryside.
Special mention to the pub in Barrawang also. A quaint old town and the pub do hearty meals by the fire and they serve local brews. Worth a visit.
I highly recommend wine tours run by Cate at The Grape Escape, and visits to the wineries Centennial, Bousada, Artemis, Bendooley and Tertini.
Now, for my recent getaway, we decided to keep it simple: catch the train down after work on Friday – something different and a bit novel, and the countrylink service offers a dining cart complete with wine, cheese and crackers. Beats idling along in traffic and lets you start unwinding right away; have a nice local meal on arriving into town and splash out a bit on lush accommodation where we could nestle in for the rest of the weekend.
And that’s exactly what we did. Here's a spotlight on 2 of my favourite places!
1. Onesta Cucina
This has become somewhat of a tradition for us, as a first port of call in Bowral. We always head here for a dinner and enjoy the diverse Italian menu and local wines. The vibey atmosphere always seems full with locals and provides opportunity for a bit of people watching which is always fun when you’re in a new town – whether it’s family’s celebrating occasions or couples out on date night.
The restaurant has consistently maintained a high rating (often at number 1) on TripAdvisor and it deserves it. The food is fresh and hearty, the service friendly and there's a great atmosphere in the large dining room.
2. Milton Park Country House Hotel & Spa
Country luxury at its finest; that sums up this absolutely stunning property. It's a real old manor with a host of nooks and crannies, inside and out, to meander around in soaking up the history and sense of another time.
I love the authentic country décor, the many fireplaces and cosy corners and the gardens, of course. Winding trails and footpaths open up onto lovely vistas and overtop there are canopies of some spectacular old trees. The 2 weeping beaches near the entrance immediately transport you into a Secret Garden fairy tale.
The rooms and interiors are well maintained and combine some modern touches, notably in the bedding, with older, traditional pieces to keep with the style; antique furniture including large ornate mirrors, decorated arm chairs and lamps, and walls lined with Impressionist, landscape and still life artwork. It's a fine balance I find when it comes to country charm, and Milton Park hit the right note of comfort and luxury.
I really enjoyed staying around the grounds and exploring the property more fully this time; there is a French bathhouse, a wellness spa, high tea, garden walks, bikes and Hordern’s restaurant. Plenty to keep you occupied, albeit at a more gentle pace.
Great for an indulgent, relaxing stay – eat and drink without worry, lounge about in the spa, maybe treat yourself to a massage and enjoy the beauty of the place.
As always, it was hard to leave, and no doubt I’ll be back.