Best known for its picturesque gardens, stylish boutiques, charming antique shops and gourmet cafes and restaurants, Bowral is a terrific spot to visit on a day trip or for a longer stay. The lovely town is in close proximity to vineyards, wineries, delicious restaurants and gorgeous parks and outdoor areas.
Bowral is the largest town and main business centre of the Southern Highlands. In the past, it was used as a base by Sydney’s well-off, and the grand estates and manor houses are still evident throughout the district. Both the town itself and the surrounding countryside have an English feel, with well-established deciduous trees and beautiful bulb displays in spring.
Bowral is the gateway to several other historic towns a short distance away, including Mittagong, Moss Vale and Berrima, but there’s no shortage of things to do to fill a full day.
Fresh produce and cool-climate wines are a highlight of a visit to Bowral, with a highly rated cellar door at Centennial Vineyards and exceptional dining at Biota. There are several gourmet restaurants, cafes and country pubs to explore, and when you’ve finished feasting, it’s easy to while away a few hours browsing Bowral’s boutiques or poking around in antique stores.
Bowral is, or has been, home to a long list of household names including singer Jimmy Barnes, journalist Ita Buttrose, writer Bryce Courtenay, and entertainer Graham Kennedy. It’s also renowned for its association with Australian sporting legend Don Bradman. The Bradman Museum and International Cricket Hall of Fame is a tribute to the Don, who grew up in Bowral.
Bowral’s famous festivals and events attract hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.
Why you’ll love it
- Tulip Time Festival, with over 100,000 tulips in flower
- Open private gardens with spectacular displays at most times of the year
- Bowral Lookout and walking trails nearby
- Beautiful parks including Corbett Gardens, the home of the Tulip Time Festival but enchanting at any time of the year with its seasonal colours
- Restaurants, coffee shops and sidewalk cafes
- Famous cricket museum and walk
- Interesting streetscapes with historic buildings, from 19th century cottages to grand country manors
- Monthly village markets
- Many parks, playgrounds, cycle paths and walking trails
Bowral is just under two hours’ drive along the Federal and Hume Highways on the route between Canberra and Sydney. It’s an easy cruise on the freeway almost all the way, with the turnoff to Bowral around 5kms from the Hume Highway.
When to go
Spring is when the gardens in the region come alive. The Tulip Time Festival happens in September. Check the events calendar to see what else is on at the time you plan to visit. The Southern Highlands Food and Wine Festival is a terrific spring event if you prefer eating to gardening.
- Length: 170km from Canberra CBD
- Duration: just under 2 hours without stops
- Recommended for: most people! There’s something in Bowral to suit just about everyone, but especially garden lovers, nature lovers and anyone looking for great dining experiences
- More information: Visit NSW – Bowral
If you’ve been to Bowral, can you recommend any must-do places in the town?