Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Southern Highlands Adventure

Located an hour or so south of Sydney is the beautiful NSW Southern Highlands, an area encompassing Mittagong, Moss Vale & Bowral. This area has moved on from its rural roots to be a more cosmopolitan, village orientated, big smoke escape area. I have never seen so many Volvo X C 90’s, Porsche Cayenne’s & BMW X5’s in one Woolworth’s car park in my life.

However, while it would be easy to dismiss this wonderful part of NSW as just a rural version of Double Bay, a sort of chic ‘yuppieville’ with its $4.00 lattes & Country Road shops.This would be giving a great disservice to the areas wonderful history & its outstanding natural beauty.

Of course Bowral is also the birthplace of Australia’s greatest sportsman, Don Bradman.

So of course the first point of call is Mt Gibraltar (you thought it was going to be the Bradman Museum!) to get my bearings & see the lay of the land. Mt Gibraltar is best known for its trachytes, an igneous volcanic rock that was used in a lot of turn of the century buildings in Sydney (as well as railway ballast) & continued until the mining of trachytes ceased in 1986.

The Bradman Museum in Bowral is wonderful place to visit to track the exploits of a batsman, who even today maintains a batting average that is unequalled, 99.94. The oval, part of this outstanding facility, is like a step back in time, white picket fences, beautiful players pavilion & traditional scoreboard.

Located to the west of Bowral is the historic town of Berrima, once touted as the ‘capital’ of the Southern Highlands district, so much so the government built the jail, built a beautiful sandstone courthouse & the community also had numerous beautiful pubs, schools & churches. Unfortunately when the railway went through to Melbourne in 1867, the line went through Mittagong, Bowral & Moss Vale.

Berrima missed out ... oops!

However, the town still survived as a convenient place to stop & refresh on the old Hume Highway that cut a swath through the middle of the sleepy country backwater. But things were about to change once more for the town; when the ‘new’ highway bypassed the town & Berrima reinvented itself as a day tripper’s paradise. Now the place has country kitchens, handicrafts & restored historic buildings to visit & more importantly, spend money. A truly remarkable turnaround for this tenacious little village!

Fitzroy Falls, located towards the eastern edge of the Southern Highlands & towards the Illawarra Escarpment, is a natural sandstone rock formation that drops the Yarrunga Creek down a sheer 90 metre drop to the valley floor below, which then flows on to the Kangaroo River. The Falls are a wonderful place to have a picnic, bushwalk & see some of NSW’s outstanding natural beauty, a truly awe inspiring location.

So while some of areas within the NSW Southern Highlands can be described as Noosa with cowpats, the area still has so much to offer, great place to visit & more importantly, it presents varied outstanding photographic opportunities, so make sure you pack the camera!

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