Bowral is in the heart of the Southern Highlands, the beautiful cool climate wine region south of Sydney. The town is well known for its art galleries, Tulip Time Festival, and the Don Bradman Cricket Museum. It is also the traditional land of the Gundungurra people who gave this place its name, meaning ‘high’.
Bowral is a popular and easy day trip from Sydney by car or via the Southern Highlands Train Line. You can expect quality food, great shopping, antiques, old wares and the special feel of a historic town. Popular among tourists and wealthy Sydneysiders this 19th century town continues to keep on giving.
Begin your day at in the centre of town at Bowral train station, a charming country-style station surrounded by well kept gardens. in the centre of town The main street is a very short stroll away, immediately displaying Bowral’s great diversity, culture, and love of art.
Wingecarribee Street is directly opposite the station and is home to terrific range of retailers. You’ll find a fabulous French Restaurant The Bowral Brasserie, Bronte Tram for Antiques, Leila’s at the Grand – a very worthy contemporary Lebanese restaurant, Sonoma Bakery, gifts stores, cafés, and the ever-busy Gumnut patisserie. All this in only the first 100 meters.
Head across the pedestrian crossing on Bong Bong Street, - Bowral’s main street- and head south to The High Street. This is a Melbourne-vibe indoor-outdoor arcade bursting with cool stores unique to the Highlands.
As ever, grab yourself a coffee to begin your little adventure from Bare Bites Bowl and Brew – a vegan friendly café that sells Byron Bay Coffee. With the same lovely owner, the store directly opposite is the Bare Body Beauty Co. Wander with your coffee in hand and explore her range of products for skin, mind bod, and soul. These products are created by the owner and are natural, smell incredible, and in hot demand.
The High Street is a destination in and of itself bustling with people, cute dogs, and lots of energy. Don’t miss All the Wild Horses who sell unique artisan products, and the incredible Fromagerie Cheese Etc, where you can try a cheeky glass of local wine to go with a perfectly proportioned cheese platter.
Bowral Sweets and Treats is popular with kids and grown-up kids alike. Make sure you grab
one of your time-honoured favourites and don’t miss out on the artisan chocolates. These are made by none other than Nina’s Chocolates located in Gymea. A place shared in earlier journals.
In the centre is fantastic florist Blooms of Bowral who also stock an array of ceramics. The Hungry Monkey is a go to favourite for visitors and locals - the slider board is a treat and the coffee they have on hand is White Horse Coffee, again from the Sutherland Shire.
If you have had your fill of coffee and shopping, think again. Wander slowly back along Bong Bong Street taking in their heritage buildings. You’ll find an old cinema, people in their weekend best, and the buzz of cafes, shops and unexpected nooks - this is what makes Bowral so unique and popular.
By now you’re feeling hungry, and you could of course go for a traditional highlands pie or pastry – perfect for cooler weather.A local favourite however is Genki Poki – one of the towns surprising Japanese eateries. This tiny little food van near the Milk Factory Gallery on Station Street delivers the goods: authentic incredibly fresh, made-to-order Japanese dishes. It's unexpected, delicious, and known well by locals but is often missed by visitors.
Take you treats up to Corbett Gardens, the park in Bowral that has hosted the Tulip Time Festival for 60 years. With a new theme each Spring the custom-planted gardens marks the start of the warmer weather. This ticketed event is very popular and is a delight for the eyes – worth putting on your bucket list. The gardens are intimate, with grand old trees and a rotunda that sets the stage for this annual event. At night the event is illuminated and Tulips after Dark becomes a whole new experience. If you’re staying the night, you must make time for this.
By now you’re really starting to feel the Bowral Vibes, you feel like a local and are probably rubbing shoulders with celebrities that call this place home. One of the most popular and must-see destinations in the town is none other than Dirty Janes. You almost naturally find your way there as you head south on Bong Bong Street.
The Press Shop on the corner generally has a line out the front because they serve such great food and coffee too. The grand old wrought iron and painted gates on Banyette Street is the entrance to what is the most amazing collection of antique and old ware providers under one roof. Pick yourself up something special and spend an hour or two exploring the ever-changing collections of one-off items.
If you’re staying the night, as many people do, the Berida Hotel is in walking distance of the main street. It is also home to Bistro Sociale, a fantastic restaurant with stellar gin bar The Gin Trading Co, and a separate whiskey bar in-house. The interiors are incredible, the food exceptional, and the country hospitality oozes out from every corner.
Bowral is in full bloom in Spring and well worth a visit. Just a train ride away, it’s the perfect way to see the countryside.