When you travel from Sydney to the cool Southern Highlands, the first major town you will enter will be Mittagong.
Here, you can spend an afternoon hunting for antiques and drinking afternoon tea, and the area is full of wineries and cellars popping up in the lush rolling hills of the Southern Highlands.
As such, Mittagong can be a convenient base for a wine-tasting holiday, or if you want something wilder, you can hike in unrestrained nature to waterfalls and towering lookouts.
Known for its flowers, the town of Bowral, the childhood home of cricketer Donald Bradman, is just 5 minutes from Mittagong.
1. Southern Highlands Wine Region
In 30 years, the Southern Highlands have become the premier cool-climate wine region, with Mittagong being one of its epicenters.
There are dozens of large and boutique wineries around the town.
As a wine region, the countryside is part of the charm, with idyllic green hills lined with rows of vines nourished by volcanic soils and extended ripening seasons.
Sparkling wine is a specialty of the Southern Highlands, with the main grapes being Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Riesling, while most wineries produce Cabernet Sauvignon blends with a hint of berry flavors.
2. Donald Bradman Museum and International Cricket Hall of Fame
The great hitter Donald Bradman (1908-2001) grew up a 10-minute drive from Bowral.
Bradman’s achievements and legacy in cricket cannot be overstated, it’s the Michael Jordan of basketball and Babe Ruth of baseball.
In fact, that’s the kind of respect he has, so much so that in 2010, the premier museum documenting his career also became the sport’s Hall of Fame and a pilgrimage site for cricket fans from all over the world.
If you’re new to the sport or a seasoned fan, the cutting-edge exhibits here will take you through the history of cricket, outline its movers and shakers, and explain the origins of its various forms.
Of course, you’ll learn about Bradman’s amazing career, and there’s a walking trail around Bowler that stops at landmarks from his childhood.
3. Alexandra Lake Reserve
You don’t have to be far from Mittagong’s central business district to enjoy the peaceful nature.
Lake Alexandra is a man-made reservoir that was impounded in the late 19th century to supply water to the engines that transport coal from Mount Alexandra to the Fitzroy Iron Mine.
Those industrial days are long gone, and for more than a century, Lake Alexandra has been a destination for relaxation and relaxation, with the wooded slopes of Mount Alexandra serving as an impressive backdrop.
There is an 800-meter mixed-use trail around the lakeshore, abundant birdlife, picnic shelters, BBQ facilities and a great children’s playground.
Don’t forget to pack something to feed the ducks, geese and turtles.
4. Artemis Wine
When the family-run winery arrived on the scene in 1996, it became the first winery in the Southern Highlands to plant the now widely planted Pinot Noir vines.
Artemis is known in some ways as a Pinot Noir pioneer, and the Balog brothers who host it come from a family with seven generations of winemaking.
Combining old and new world techniques, Artemis produces wines with the European sophistication and texture you would expect, with Australian varietal definition.
The cellar is open Wednesday through Sunday with cheese and charcuterie boards as accompaniment, and wood-fired pizza on Sundays.
5. Sturt Gallery
Claiming to be the oldest craft centre in the country, Mittagong was established in 1941 and remains a leading centre of excellence in contemporary craft and design.
Sturt offers full-time and part-time courses in a variety of disciplines including metalwork, ceramics, basketry, textiles, woodwork, and design and manufacturing.
But in addition to working in education, Stewart is also a tourist destination, surrounded by beautiful green gardens and a year-round changing exhibition programme showcasing the work of some of Australia’s most skilled artisans.
Plus, there’s top-notch retail space, which serves as a platform for around 300 designers and makers a year, and a lovely pop-up café serving desserts and refreshments.
6. Eden Brewery
There are also great beers in Mittagong, a craft brewery that was born in 2017 with a commitment to sustainability.
10% of all Eden profits go to Oxfam for water conservation activities, and the brewery uses only renewable energy.
You can go to the restroom from Wednesday to Sunday from 12:00 to 20:00. As of this writing in May 2020, Eden is pouring IPA, Hefeweizen, Cherry Sour, Pilsner, Bockbier, Black Port and Cider.
If you need to know the inside track, you can book a private tour to see how the beer goes from grain to glass.
Tours are available on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Another important cellar door in the Southern Highlands is just 10 minutes from Mittagong, in picturesque typical countryside.
Tertini Wines is one of the region’s most acclaimed producers, producing premium, cool-climate wines that benefit from longer maturation periods, low plantings and hand pruning and picking.
If you’re buying to expand your wine cellar, Tertini wines are known for their high natural acidity, which means they age well.
Pour in Riesling, Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Sparkling Chardonnay, the cellar is open 7 days a week, 10:00-17:00
8. Mount Gibraltar Reserve
The ridge of Mount Gibraltar is 863 meters high and forms a huge barrier between Mittagong and Bowral in the south.
Known locally as ‘The Gib’, it’s a volcanic remnant that can be seen from the conical peak which, if the weather is clear, offers a view of the Sydney skyline.
During the Great Depression, scenic lookouts were created on the slopes as a public works project.
To the south is Bowral Lookout, just minutes from Bowral’s CBD.
In the woods you’ll find benches, and the lookout’s wooden platform has a sign marking landmarks on the horizon, including Bowral, Wingecarribee Valley and Capital Country.
9. Jerol and Mittagong Lookout
There are two more majestic vantage points on the Mittagong side of Mount Gibraltar, both effortlessly close to the city centre.
The Jellore Lookout is on the north west side, where you can follow the Southern Rail Line between Mittagong and Bowral, looking north towards Nattai Wilderness and the Blue Mountains.
To the east of this habitat is the Mittagong Lookout, which offers full views of the surrounding area and its volcanic peaks.
10. Mittagong Antique Center
Just the kind of place you’d expect to find in a town like Mittagong, this antique center is a veritable treasure chest.
There are more than 45 dealers here, selling antiques and collectibles from all over the world.
Just a short summary, you can peruse silverware, collectibles, auto parts, old medical kits, china, upgraded items, clocks, religious artifacts, furniture, clothing, jewelry, military and vintage toys.
There are Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian objects in an Art Deco style, while you can also pick up some of the best works of contemporary art and craftsmen from the Southern Highlands.
11. Box Vale Trail
This walk starts in Welby and takes you into the Southern Highlands in a surprisingly easy way.
That’s because the Box Vale Walk follows the route of a long-abandoned 19th-century coal mine railway, so the gradient is never steep.
4.4 km (one way), you will hike through beautiful jungle along embankments and rock chips.
The best part is a roughly 1.8km tunnel cut out of the rock.
There are picnic areas and toilets at the entrance, and along the way you can take a detour to the falls, which we discuss below.
12. Natai Canyon Lookout
At the end of the Box Vale Track, you’ll come to the edge of the Nattai Escarpment, and your reward will be a view that stretches for kilometers across the seemingly uninhabited country.
From the Natai Gorge Lookout, you can look down the gorge and when the sky is clear you can see the peaks of the Blue Mountains in Katoomba, 80km to the north.
13. Joadja Estate
The oldest wine estate in the Southern Highlands is a 15-minute drive from Berrima.
Joadja was first planted in 1983 and was recently acquired by new owners.
You call the cellar to taste, and among the 2020 selections are an exciting sparkling Pinot Noir/Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blended with currant, peachy Reserve Chardonnay and Bubbly Moscato, etc. are just a few.
Joadja also produces a boysenberry liqueur distilled from boysenberries grown in the Southern Highlands.
Keep an eye on Joadja’s website for details on special events such as live music.
14. Forty Feet Falls
Outside the Box Vale walk, there is a short but demanding detour to this waterfall, which is 12 meters high if you’re not used to imperial measurements.
Forty Feet Falls is deep in a rocky canyon of ferns on Natai Creek, just a few hundred meters from the Hume Highway, although civilization can feel remote.
Once you get off the Box Vale Track, you’ll need to climb some tricky terrain, especially if you want to see the waterfall from the front rather than the top.
The water drops on the rock walls, forming curtains of tulle, and in the right light, rainbows, and you can easily spend an hour jumping from rock to rock to see the waterfall from behind the cave.
15. Tulip Time Festival
Every year in early October, one of the oldest and most attended flower festivals in the country takes place for two weeks near Bowral.
At the event, more than 75,000 tulips and approximately 15,000 annuals planted in the exquisite Corbett Gardens bloomed in a wonderful display.
In addition to this, 40,000 tulips bloom throughout the Shire, creating a burst of vibrant color throughout the region.
In addition to the public gardens and their photo-worthy blooms, there are live entertainment, flower art classes, and the opportunity to view the magnificent private gardens around the town.
Where to stay: The best hotels in Mittagong, Australia
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