If you’ve never stopped to explore the charming historic village of Berrima during a road trip to or from Sydney, you’ve missed the opportunity to discover one of the highlights of the Southern Highlands. The well-preserved village abounds with colonial-era sandstone buildings bursting with gift and specialty shops, fabulous galleries, top-notch restaurants and beautiful wineries.
Berrima is situated in a valley near the Wingecarribee River on the Old Hume Highway, a couple of hours from Canberra. Although its population is small, it has a great deal to offer, with many of the town’s old buildings enjoying a second life as quirky eateries or shops. Check out the Australian Alpaca Barn (where you’ll find actual alpacas as well as a range of alpaca products), or give your feet a rest at the Surveyor General Inn, one of Australia’s oldest pubs, built by convicts in 1834 and beautifully restored.
Why you’ll love it
Berrima is driven by tourism, and it shows. The main street is a rustic, exceptionally well-preserved vista of 1830s construction. It’s the perfect place to while away a few hours browsing in the shops, enjoying a coffee or meal, and appreciating the architecture of bygone times. The work of local artisans is at your fingertips in this pretty country town surrounded by farms and vineyards.
You won’t go hungry in Berrima. There’s everything from fine dining to cafes and takeaways to be found, with something for just about every famished traveller looking to refresh and regroup. The list of places to eat is extensive for a small location.
The list of shopping opportunities in Berrima is a long one. Fine art, fresh produce, soft toys, antiques, jewellery, books, clothing, crafts and many more are all on offer in the town. There are galleries, salons and specialist retailers to get your shopping fix. If you enjoy markets, the Berrima Schoolyard Market is held on the fourth Sunday of most months and promises intriguing stalls selling artisan jewellery, clothing and homewares and many fabulous food stalls selling jams, pickles, baked goods and more. There’s hot food to enjoy, live music, and plenty of activities for kids.
The Southern Highlands is a recognised cool climate wine region with Berrima at its hub. Joadja Estate is the region’s oldest winery, producing white and red wine as well as fortifieds.
The rustic stone cellar is located in a charming country setting with views across to the vineyard and a short level walk to the winery. In the cooler months, you can sit by the wood fire, or stroll through and picnic in the vineyard during the warmer months – Joadja Winery
Bendooley Estate is a winery set on a grand estate. It is a spectacular destination to visit, and as a bonus, book lovers can explore the iconic Berkelouw Book Barn, in an ex-hayshed, which now forms the centrepiece of the estate. Surrounded by picturesque paddocks, the unique building houses thousands of new, second-hand, rare and antiquarian books. You’ll also find the Bendooley Estate Restaurant, where you can relax by the fireplace with a snack, meal or of course, wine tasting.
A great way to get to know Berrima better is by taking a walk through its streets or river tracks checking out beautifully preserved houses and public buildings from the early nineteenth century. Berrima Historic Walk is a highlight. This walking guide will get you on the right track.
Berrima Courthouse, museum and jail are just a few of the historical buildings to see as you stroll around the village.
Berrima River Walk is a 1.8km track around the river, where nineteen illustrated panels explain the story of German internees who made use of the area during World War I.
If it’s galleries that pique your interest, you’ll find plenty to keep you happy in Berrima. Check out Peter Browne Fine Art which displays and sells local artwork and if pottery is more your thing, Berrima Village Pottery is worth a look.
It’s not only adults that will enjoy Berrima. There are several parks and plenty for kids to explore as well. Berrima Museum lets the kids see what life was like back in the day, and if they’re into all things spooky, they can check out a prison cell in the gaol where several bushrangers were hanged. Or check out the Lolly Swagman and its treasure trove of all things sweet.
From Canberra, travel north via the Federal Highway until it meets the Hume Highway. Follow the Hume in the direction of Goulburn/Sydney. The turnoff for Berrima is well signposted and the village is just a few kilometres off the highway.
When to go
Weekends can get busy in Berrima all year round, so visit during the week when you’ll be more likely to be able to browse the shops, explore the charming town, or relax and enjoy and indulgent meal at your leisure without the crowds.
- Duration: allow a couple of hours to drive from Canberra to Berrima via the Federal and Hume Highways
- Distance from Canberra: 160 km
- Recommended for: anyone with an interest in history, food, wine, shopping, or exploring a quaint village and its picturesque surrounds
- More information: Destination Southern Highlands: Berrima
Do you have a favourite place to stop in Berrima? Let us know by commenting below.