Looking for a weekend away in a country town with plenty of history and local culture? Look no further than beautiful Bowral.
Bowral is just a two drive from Canberra, following the Federal and Hume highways, making it a quick relaxing getaway from the city. You can also catch the train from the Kingston train station, which takes about 2.5 hours (tickets from $23.40).
What to do
The Bradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame – The Bradman Museum is a must for cricket lovers! It showcases a treasure trove of information and artefacts on this incomparable national icon, as well as other Australian and international cricketers. Take a look at Bradman’s baggy green, see video of him practising his batting technique against an old corrugated water tank, and bowl a coin into the Bowral Children’s Ward charity fountain. Tour the clubhouse and oval where “The Don” first played, then cross the road to see his old house, marked with a “Bradman Trail” plaque.
Mary Poppins statue – Did you know that Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers lived in Bowral during her childhood and adolescence? It’s said that a number of characters from the classic story were inspired by the real-life residents of Bowral at the time, and Travers developed a knack for storytelling by entertaining her sisters with tall tales around the fireplace. The Mary Poppins statue in Glebe Park (on the other side of the Bradman Museum) was commissioned in 2013 to mark a century since the author lived in the small town. Another fun fact: this statue is by Tanya Bartlett, the same artist that created the Donald Bradman piece outside the museum.
Corbett Gardens – Corbett Gardens really comes alive during the Tulip Time festival (think mini Floriade) in spring, but is lovely any time of year for a stroll or picnic on the grass or under one of the Gazebos.
Dirty Janes – Dirty Janes is a sprawling collective of boutique sellers set up in an old warehouse with adjoining plant nursery and coffee shops. You can easily spend an hour or two here browsing peculiar homewares, antiques, collectables, clothing and furniture.
Fitzroy Falls – Just a 20-minute drive from Bowral’s town centre is the picturesque Fitzroy Falls. The falls themselves are at their most spectacular in the wetter seasons, but the national park where they’re situated still provides scenic bushwalking and stunning views year round. Visit after a big rainfall to get the full waterfall experience!
Where to stay
The Berida Hotel is a charming old country manor, just a few minutes’ from the town centre. It offers gorgeous old fashion furnishings (embossed gold wallpaper and a suit of armour, for starters!), a quaint English garden, pool room and tiled indoor pool, spa and sauna. Staying here reminded me of the film the Grand Budapest Hotel – A magnificent hotel that is worn and ageing in parts, but which retains its charm none the less. The hotel also offers a fine dining restaurant and day spa.
Where to eat
For breakfast, you can’t go past a breakfast burrito, stack of pancakes or Nutella jaffle at The Press Shop. For lunch, try some classic pub grub at the Royal Hotel. For dinner, enjoy the luxury seasonal menu at Biota.
Have you ever stayed in Bowral? What would you recommend?