East Bowral is traditional land of the Gundungurra people and is a significant Aboriginal landmark in the cultural landscape, where Aboriginal engravings, paintings, and stencils, grinding grooves, scarred trees and campsites occur. It is a teaching place for educating children about Dreamtime creation stories, Aboriginal culture and its associated values and practices.
Located about 2 kilometres from the township of Bowral and is an easy drive or train ride from Western Sydney. The region is famous for great gardens, grand country homes and cool climate wines making it a very diverse and spectacular area to explore. East Bowral is also home to something very special, the recently opened Regional Gallery that sits within the National Trust Listed Property of Retford Park.
Begin your day in Bowral, an easy drive or train ride right into the heart of the town. You will be spoilt for choice for great coffee, pastries, and eateries. Nicks in Bowral is a cool little artisan café with some great ceramics and art you can admire while you mingle with the locals. Up the street there’s a Sonoma Bakery and if you get in early, you can grab yourself a warm, fresh out of the oven Portuguese tarts that are just something else. Just around the corner is a great little and very genuine French Patisserie, Les Gourmandises, try their Pain aux Raisin or a Croissant fresh from the over also. They do great Macaroons if you want to grab a treat for the road.
You could easily spend a day just in Bowral, but we are heading to East Bowral to the appropriately named Art Gallery Lane, only about 5 mins out of town or 30 minutes away via the Cherry Tree Walk. This memorial walk is tree-lined and makes its way up towards Retford Park. The Gallery, Ngununggula, meaning 'belonging' in the traditional language of the Gundungurra First Nations people, is the first regional art gallery in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales. It is within a repurposed dairy farm building and is a celebration of great art and culture.
Like other regional galleries, you will be able to regularly find travelling exhibitions. When we visited it was a celebration of Indigenous and European culture through the eyes of the Dingo Project, a collection of works based on the Australian Dingo and how it is interpreted in Australian Culture. The buildings themselves have been faithfully restored and transformed so the visual experience comes at you in layers.
If you have worked up an appetite then within the gallery grounds is Hearth by Moonacres, something of a local institution for true paddock to plate offerings with a café and cooking school in nearby Robertson. The café is in itself a great piece of interior design, and the food is simple and the coffee great. Locals have already discovered it and you can enjoy a leisurely lunch overlooking the gallery.
The Gallery, as we mentioned, is within the grounds of Retford Park, a National Trust listed property of stunning grace and elegance. It is now open to the public for tours or a gentle wander throughout the grounds. There are an additional two galleries in the grounds and so much to see and do. For a true Southern Highlands experience, you must make the time to see this property. A hidden gem that is quickly being discovered.