22 Things To Do In Bowral

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From scenic country drives and long walks to shopping for antiques and drinking wine, Bowral is a fabulous destination for anyone looking for a sophisticated country escape. The hub in the Southern Highlands is only a short drive from Sydney, and you can easily visit Bowral as a day trip.

There are lots of things to do in Bowral for all seasons, and it’s lovely to visit in spring for a colourful flower display or in autumn for fall foliage and in winter to warm up before a roaring fireplace. Once a summer retreat for Sydney society’s creme de la creme, Bowral is filled with stately manors, beautiful gardens, and boutique heritage accommodation. Tick these top things to do in Bowral off your weekend bucket list.

Bowral

22 Things To Do In Bowral

1- Explore the Bradman Museum

Home to famous Australian cricketer Sir Donald Bradman, one of the things to do in Bowral is to discover Australia’s cricketing history at the Bradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame.

The Bradman Museum is a historic Australian landmark, which has memorabilia, interactive displays and is where you can learn about one of the most famous cricketers in Australian history.

After visiting the museum, if you need more of a cricket fix, go on the 1.7km Brandman Walk, a self-guided tour of Bowral that explores Bradman’s childhood haunts.

Don Bradman’s average runs per innings were almost perfect and 50% higher than any other cricketer over 200 years. He averaged 99.94 runs per innings.

2- Follow the Southern Highlands Wine Trail

Another pleasurable thing to do in Bowral is to explore the Southern Highlands Wine Trail and relax while sipping wine.

The region’s elevation and cool climate are perfect for sparkling wines, pinot noir, riesling and chardonnay.

Although it’s a young wine region, which started in the 1990s, the area’s winemakers are passionate about their craft and produce delicious wine.

With around 15 cellar doors and over 60 vineyards, there are plenty of wineries in the Southern Highlands to explore.

Make sure to put aside a day to visit several wineries such as Bendooley Estate, the oldest winery, Joadja Estate, Tertini Wines, Bendooley Estate and Tractorless Vineyard.

Tractorless produces biodynamic wine using Hampshire Down Sheep that eat the weeds instead of using machines and pesticide.

3- Admire Flowers In Corbett Gardens

things to do in bowral corbett gardens
Visiting Corbett Gardens is one of the things to do in Bowral for gardeners.

The area is famous for its lovely gardens, so it’s not surprising that one of the things to do in Bowral is to visit Corbett Gardens.

These gardens are one of the loveliest and oldest in Bowral, dating back to 1911.

It’s home to Bowral’s famous annual Tulip Festival (September), and each spring, there are over 75,000 tulips to see at the Spring Garden Festival.

The tulip time festival is a magnet for thousands of visitors each year, and some say it’s even better than Canberra’s Floriade.

Enjoying a picnic lunch in the garden is one of the delights of the Southern Highlands.

4- Explore Belmore Falls

belmore falls in autumn
Visiting Belmore Falls is one of the things to do around Bowral for nature lovers.

A 35-minute drive from Bowral lies one of New South Wales’ most stunning waterfalls.

Belmore Falls is a double drop waterfall that gushes cascades over a plunging ridge and is a stunning sight.

There are walking trails, including a walk from the Hindmarsh lookout car park offering peaceful Kangaroo Valley views and a view of the waterfall from a lookout.

The flora is beautiful to see and includes banksia, wattle, tea tree.

Belmore Falls is at Belmore Falls Rd, Wildes Meadow.

5- Discover Fitzroy Falls

fitzroy falls
Visiting Fitzroy Falls is one of the amazing things to do near Bowral.

Home to the stunning Fitzroy Falls, Morton National Park has sheer cliffs and trails that lead to viewpoints where you can gaze at jaw-dropping views.

The Fitzroy Falls Visitor Centre, a short walk from the waterfall, has displays about wildlife, insights into the history and Aboriginal Cultural walks.

The centre is at 1301 Nowra Road, Fitzroy Falls NSW.

6- Visit the Cherry Tree Walk

A walking path in Bowral, the Cherry Tree Walk, is an ode to the men who died during the Vietnam War.

The walk’s highlight is the Cherry Trees, of which there are 526, one for each soldier who didn’t return from the war.

It’s a natural and poignant war memorial that brings home the reality of the sacrifice the soldiers made.

The best time of year to do this walk is in spring, to see the blossoms.

Begin the Cherry Tree Walk at Oxley Drive and walk for 1.3km to Boolwey Street.

7- Go Shopping For Antiques

Bowral is a magnet for antique hunters, and there are several places to shop for historical treasures, but one of the top things to do in Bowral is explore Dirty Janes.

Dirty Janes Emporium is an antique market with memorabilia and antiques, from old lamps to vintage records, period furniture, and other household items.

Aside from the regular stores, twice a month, there’s a market that attracts over 50 dealers who flock here to display their wares from estate jewellery to vintage books.

Dirty Janes Emporium is at 13 Banyette St, Bowral NSW.

8- Enjoy The View From Mount Gibraltar Reserve

Mount Gibraltar is the highest point between Sydney and Canberra, and at 863 metres, it has views of Bowral and the surrounding area from its lookouts.

The Mount Jellore lookout is high enough to have views toward the Blue Mountains.

The Gibraltar Reserve covers 130 ha at the summit and is a great place to spread out a rug in a picnic area or admire the view while sipping a glass of local wine.

This is the perfect place to go hiking as there is a range of trails, including the easy Rim Track.

9- Enjoy The Tulip Time Festival

bowral tulip festival
The Bowral Tulip Festival is one of the top events to see.

Around October, Corbett Gardens’ 75,000 tulips are a riot of colour along with 15,000 annuals and other bulbs.

The 10-day festival has attracted visitors for the last 60 years, and admiring tulips is one of the popular things to do in Bowral.

Besides admiring flowers, there are food trucks, gardening and painting workshops, entertainment and bands.

Tulip Time Festival is at Corbett Gardens in Bowral.

10- Shop in Green Lane

If you love shopping, the precinct is the place to go for homewares, gifts and garden items.

The Potting Shed has gifts for gardeners, ornaments, tolls and pots, while The Orangery is a great place to buy indoor plants, water features and outdoor furniture.

Not far is Bong Bong Street, which is home to more designer clothing stores and boutiques.

The leafy village square is also home to Harry’s on Green Lane, a popular eatery for a delicious meal.

The shops are at 21 Banyette Street, Bowral.

For more things to do in NSW read:

11- Follow The Stonemason’s Trail

Hunt for beautifully crafted artistic pieces made from sandstone created by local stonemason Ken McDonald.

Carvings of cockatoos, Christmas beetles, wombats, lizards, birds and flowers dot the region.

The trail takes you past beautiful scenery through Wingello, Penrose and Bundanoon.

12- Dine In A Fine Restaurant

The chef at Biota restaurant in Borwal
Dining in Biota Restaurant is one of the top things to do in Bowral.

Bowral’s chefs love using local produce to create delicious menus.

There are so many excellent dining spots you could spend a week eating and drinking without doing anything else around Bowral. 

Onesta Cucina

Onesta Cucina is an atmospheric family-owned restaurant that dishes up top-notch Italian cuisine, with a daily menu that changes.

Biota Dining

Biota Dining is a popular restaurant for a fine meal prepared with locally sourced produce from nearby farms. 

Harry’s on Green Lane

Harry’s attraction is the historic decor that’s brimming with memorabilia, trinkets and floor-to-ceiling books.

The small and cosy space is appealing for its quirky character, and there’s something to see in every corner. The restaurant offers set menus, and there’s a cafe next door.

Grand Bistro

For a casual meal, head to the Grand Bistro for a lamb sandwich, all-day breakfast or crab linguine.

13- Eat Croissants In Gumnut Patisserie

Gumnut Patisserie is a drawcard for Sydneysiders, who drive to Bowral to visit this award-winning bakery.

The cafe is a top spot to warm up with a coffee or hot chocolate in winter while munching on a croissant or lemon tart.

The bakery has won multiple awards for a list of delicious goodies such as their salted caramel tart, salted caramel mud cake, fruit tartlet and blueberry and custard brioche.\

14- See A Show At Empire Cinema

Watch a movie or an art-house film in the town centre, where the oldest continuously running cinema in mainland Australia still operates.

Empire Cinema’s building dates back to 1915 and grew from one screen to four screens, with digital and 3D projectors.

Empire Cinema is at 377 Bong Bong Street Bowral NSW.

The Milk Factory Art Gallery has displays of contemporary artwork in a 1921 milk factory that was once a depot for farmers.

The gallery’s seven-metre ceilings offer an aesthetic space for local and national art to hang on its walls.

A rotating exhibition of photography, sculptures, ceramics and other creative arts are often on display.

The gallery’s shop is an excellent place to pick up a quality gift or an artistic momento of your visit to Bowral.

The Milk Factory Gallery is at 33 Station St, Bowral NSW.

16- Hit The Coffee Trail

things to do in bowral cafes
Going on a cafe crawl in search of the best coffee is one of the things to do in Bowral.

Follow the aroma of freshly ground coffee wafting from cute cafes in Bowral and beyond.

The region has cafes that make excellent coffee, and as Bowral is a haunt for city folk, it’s not surprising that one of the popular things to do in Bowral is to hit the cafe trail.

Here are some top picks.

The Press Shop

This cafe is popular for brunch. Dine on grass-fed beef from Burrawang, local honey, olives and truffles.

Plantation

Plantation serves Double Roasters coffee and fresh pastries in a cool sunlit space.

Burrawang General Store

An atmospheric 1867 general store in Burrawang village, stop here for a baked treat, good coffee and a cosy spot by the wood fire.

17- Follow The Book Trail

The Southern Highlands region represents the international book town movement, which started in Hay-on-the in the 1960s and consists of villages around the world focused on saving the printed book.

The region is dotted with bookshops, where bookworms can enjoy hours browsing.

Second-hand bookshops are selling rare books and there are several bookshops with popular coffee shops.

The Berkelouw Book Barn in nearby Berrima is a famous bookstore and cafe.

18- Step Back In History At Retford Park

Retford Park in Bowral is a stately pink Italianate home built in 1887 by merchant Samuel Hordern and sold to James Fairfax in 1964.

The house was once part of a massive rural property, which has since been carved up.

It has lovely landscaped gardens, which are open to the public on the first weekend every month, and an art collection that belonged to James Fairfax, who bequeathed the home and contents to the National Trust when he passed away in 2017.

Retford Park is at 1325 Old South Road, Bowral.

19- Enjoy the Southern Highlands Pie Festival

bowral pies
Going on a pie-tasting quest is one of the fun attractions around Bowral and the Southern Highlands.

Another fun thing to do in the Southern Highlands is to attend the Pie Festival, where local bakers compete to create the best pie in the land.

The atmosphere during the festival is vibrant, but you can still go on a hunt for pies at local bakeries on the Pie Trail all year round.

Enjoy pie-themed events such as a winter solstice forest feast, a pie hunt or a pie and cycle tour.

The Southern Highlands Pie Festival is in winter, usually June each year, starting on Australia’s national pie day on the first day of the month.

20- Stay In A Luxury Hotel

The Southern Highlands has long been a NSW destination for luxury travellers, and there’s a pick of luxury escapes where you can enjoy fine wine in front of the fireplace, luxuriate in a wellness spa or relax in a garden. Here are some of our top picks:

  • The Rift Estate’s Coach House in Bowral is a luxury six-bedroom home that was once the estate’s stables in the 19th century.
  • Milton Park Country House Hotel & Spa in Bowral has tennis courts, a billiards room, an indoor swimming pool and a day spa amidst historic gardens.
  • Peppers Manor House in Sutton Forest is an elegant hideaway with a top restaurant.
  • Peppers Craigieburn is a charming heritage hotel in an 1887 homestead, with beautiful gardens, billiards, golf and tennis.
  • The Sebel Bowral Heritage Park is a country getaway with modern studio, one and two-bedroom suites.

21- Visit The Scottish Town Of Bundanoon

things to do near bowral bundanoon
One of the things to do around Bowral is to visit the Scottish village of Bundanoon, especially during the Bundanoon Highland Gathering.

22- Explore Abercrombie Caves

abercrombie caves
Not that far from Bowral is the fantastic Abercrombie Caves.

How To Get To Bowral

You catch a train to Bowral from Central or Campbelltown stations, but it’s not that convenient to get around the Southern Highlands on public transport. Bowral is about 90 minutes from Sydney and an easy trip by car.

Bowral
Bowral
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I'm a writer, photographer and video blogger based in Queensland, Australia, when I'm not on the road. I've lived in three continents and my career as a travel journalist has taken me to all seven continents. Since 2003, I have contributed travel stories to mainstream media in Australia and around the world such as the Sydney Morning Herald, CNN Traveller, The Australian and the South China Morning Post. I have won many travel writing awards and I'm a full member of the Australian Society of Travel Writers.