The Southern Highlands is an area just outside of Sydney, about 90 minutes south located east of the Blue Mountains on the Great Dividing Range. It’s the kind of place you visit for weekends around the fire.
The area has a wide range of walking trails and natural wonders. Take a long walk along one of many bush tracks and retire for the afternoon in front of the fire. Cook up a lasagne and settle in to play a game of cards or Rummi. Unwind and keep it low key.
Exeter for the win.
We stayed in a lovely house outside Exeter. It was huge. There were 3 couples, and 3 singles. 3 of the couples were traveling with kids and the rooms were large enough to house porta cots. Our room had an adjoining playroom with two beds for our kids. The Southern Highlands have loads of Christmas in July themed dinners and markets.
The other great time to visit is the Tulip Festival in spring. the various towns are alive with tulips of every colour and varietal you could find. Exeter was a lovely location and has a charming General Store come café/post office. The coffees are of a high standard, with delicious homemade food and gourmet goodies.
Things to do location by location:
Fairy Bower Falls, Riverview walking track, Lovers walking track, Bundanoon Creek walking track.
Bradman Museum, Gibraltar lookout and various shops and cafes.
Fitzroy Falls walking track, West rim walking track, Griffins walking track.
Harpers Mansion and various shops and cafes.
Nellies Glen picnic area, Missingham lookout track, Belmore Falls, Robertson Nature Reserve. Robertson has a walking loop but the grade is 4. Children under 10 will struggle with the inclines at times.
Illawarra Fly Tree Top
The walk has the most amazing views. We nearly aborted mission when we visited as the wind in the carpark was so strong we were freezing. Amazingly on the other side of the trees over the valley, it was not so brutal. I pushed a pram around – as they said I could. Not sure about that! You definitely can – but I think if you have a baby carrier you might feel a tad more comfortable. The views are breathtaking and you can see all the way to Wollongong.
Day trip around the area –
You can take the Highlands to coast route through Kangaroo Valley. The drive is lovely and there are plenty of stops along the way that you can stretch your legs and enjoy the view. Have lunch in Berry and wander through the shops before heading back to the highlands.
This Hotel has a great restaurant. If you are eating with the kids I would recommend getting in before any crowds so you do not wait too long for your meal. Personal I think it lacks character and charm.
We took the kids to a brunch function so whilst not a reflection of what the restaurants true operations are, they could not be faulted for their amazing array on the buffet. The food was diverse, tasty, and creative. I would love to experience the restaurant at night but the children would not be coming. It’s not that they wouldn’t be welcome but why would you take kids to a restaurant that boasts a 7 course menu for $225 each? There is a nanny service in the area. Read here for details.
Briars is both a Lodge and an Inn. On the day that we had lunch here we were surrounded by families and group gatherings. It seems this is the local ‘go to’ for baby showers, wedding anniversaries, and any other date were the family needs to get together. There are large log fires and the meals are heart warming and a welcome comfort from the bitter cold outside.
You would not be wrong to pinch yourself at the Sutton Forest Inn to ensure you are not dreaming that you are visiting a village pub in country England. This delightful little place is cosy and warm. Briars up the road is a much larger scale dining experience, Sutton Forest Inn is cosy and charming.
The bistro is award winning and do a great pizza. We however had schnitzels as I had not eaten lunch! The service is friendly and the food arrives quickly. we were visiting on a very busy night with a very large group and whilst that normally hinders a kitchen, we had no complaints. (they have rooms if you are brave enough to risk the potential noise form a pub)
Don’t drive past thinking this little store is not a café. It most definitely is. I love this place. But if I was going to build an Egyptian style tomb for my afterlife, it would actually be a fine produce store. I could read every label on every product desperately seeking what the company’s story is and what they stand for. Putting my obsession with fine food aside, the café has lovely dished that change seasonally and the coffee is A grade.
This cafe has been in business for a long time. In my mind that means you have something right. You obviously have regulars trade. The pies are fantastic and the coffee is good. The owners ran a previous business local to where I live for 16 years. They are the reason I first ate Indian and the reason why I like it now. The Elephant Boy has a lovely vibe and you feel welcomed just walking in. Great service.
Gibraltar Hotel – the rooms are large enough for a family to come and go but still have enough space when your in the room. It is a newer hotel and as such the rooms are clean and lushly decorated. I wouldn’t look past here for a room large enough for a family.
The southern highlands is an easy drive from Sydney and it is undoubtedly a beautiful area. The large houses with their lovely gardens are the reason tree changes started. Many people with flexible work environments gravitate to this area as an alternative lifestyle to the hustle and bustle of Sydney. It’s the best of both worlds. I’ll definitely be back. More and more people I know seem to move there. I certainly love added excuses to visit.