Updated: Oct 7
Written by Siena Scanlon, Solar Springs’ Integrative Health Practitioner.
I believe that living a healthy life is all about balance. It’s great to nourish your body with good quality food, to prioritise restorative sleep, drink adequate amounts of water, manage your stress levels and move your body daily. However, good heath also comes from enjoying yourself, nurturing relationships and trying new experiences. With that said, today’s blog post is about finding joy and treating yourself (moderately!)
Below is a list of my favourite places to EAT, DRINK, SEE, DO & SHOP when I visit the beautiful Southern Highlands.
EAT + DRINK:
Josh’s Cafe in Berrima would have to be my favourite. It is always a ‘must’ when I am in the Highlands. The atmosphere is good, nothing fancy, but cool-country vibes (it is more a restaurant than Café so don’t let the name fool you). There are too many delicious dishes to offer a recommendation, but the veal dish has been on the menu unchanged for the past 11 yrs (I believe) as it’s so popular. It is worth booking in advance as this place is an institution and frequently books out.
Little Hand Stirred Jam Shop in Berrima is right next door to Josh’s Cafe & great to stock up on homemade jams, chutneys, salad dressings, pasta sauces, chocolates... everything fabulous. I can’t leave here without spending a fortune! There is just something so charming (perhaps nostalgic) and delicious about beautiful homemade conserves. Am I Right?
Once your tummy and hands are full with the above two suggestions, it is worth continuing to stroll down the street to visit the other little stores.
Eschalot in Berrima is another great dining option in the same town. But more fine dining so perfect for an occasion or special treat. It is in an old cottage so it feels like you are dining in someone’s home. Very charming.
Bendooley Estate in Berrima is outside of the main town but worth a mention as it is perhaps one of the most well-known and popular places for visitors in the area. Make a booking at the restaurant and then enjoy exploring the isles of their onsite bookstore, Berkelouw Book Shop. It is a paradise for book lovers, plus, you’ll appreciate the interior design that honours its beginnings as an old barn. (If you’ve done enough wining and dining you can just visit the bookstore for a coffee and cake.)
You can also stay here – the accommodation is meant to be nice.
Moonacres Kitchen in Robertson is a great brunch/lunch spot. The produce comes from their organic farm and is tasty with a side of indulgence (not your usual Organic café as they have Ruben toasties, homemade pies and gourmet burgers amongst lighter options.) The fit out is trendy and the service is great. Plus, you know you are enjoying the very best produce as their farm provides to some of Sydney’s best restaurants (Fred’s, Ester and Firedoor amongst others.)
After your meal it is also worth having a stroll around the little town of Robertson. You may want to pick up some bath soaks, candles or a cute straw market bag from the gift store there. Or perhaps enjoy a beer and watch the weekend sport in the quaint local pub.... (one for the boys!).
Jumping Rock Cafe in Bundanoon The pies here are a standout, and certainly some of the best I have had. If pies aren’t your thing, the Potters Pantry or DeliLicious Café in Bundanoon have plenty of good breakfast and lunch options to choose from. Or, if you are wanting to balance out all of the indulgence with a nourishing meal, book yourself in for a meal at Solar Springs - you won’t even realise you are dining at a health retreat, but your body will thank you for it!
Burrawang Village Hotel in Burrawang is the perfect venue to while away an afternoon if the skies are clear. Take a seat out the back and enjoy a vino overlooking the sweeping hills of the Highlands. If you’re hungry, the food there is done really well - they offer healthy dishes, plus all the pub classics.
Paste Thai Restaurant in Mittagong. This new restaurant is earning its reputation as a true culinary experience. I haven’t had the chance to enjoy a meal here yet, but I can’t wait. Run by Michelin-starred chefs, it is meant to be flavourful and fabulous.
Birch in Moss Vale. Another new addition to the local culinary scene that everyone is raving about it! It is certainly worth looking into if you are wanting to treat yourself to something special.
Aside from all of these suggestions each of the little towns in the Southern Highlands have wonderful bakeries, cafes and pubs that offer food that is well worth saving some tummy space for.
SEE + DO
Fitzroy Falls is a great bushwalk that has lookouts overlooking a waterfall. This is good for people of all ages and fitness levels as it is well signed, and you can choose between different trail lengths.
Morton National Park in Bundanoon This is my favourite place to explore. There are so many different trails of varying lengths that lead to magical lookouts overlooking hectares of bushland. Unfortunately, due to the bushfires some of this has been impacted, but it still offers plenty of beauty and adventure for those wanting a nature-fix.
Solar Springs Health Retreat in Bundanoon is the perfect place for some pampering. Surrounded by beautiful gardens and a great spa menu, this is the place to indulge in some ‘me’ time. The spa has always been one of the most popular in the area so it’s worth booking in advance to secure a treatment. If there are no bookings available, then contact Sun from Touch Innershine in Bundanoon, she is a miracle worker for anyone wanting to relieve tight, tired muscles.
Bundanoon is such a quaint little town. It feels like you are stepping back in time with some of the buildings still reflecting the marketing of yesteryear with a Bushells Tea sign sitting atop the General Store as it did in 1943. The Railway Station is also so charming, that you can’t not take a seat on the old bench and pretend you are in an olden day movie awaiting your lover to disembark from the next train! Aside from the heritage, there is also plenty of modern comforts with good cafes and little stores to explore. The pottery workshop is also fun to see.
The Farm Club near Moss Vale if you have kids, this is a great place to stop for a coffee. The kids can explore the farm with its animals and gardens. Plus, you can pick up some nice organic produce while you’re at it.
Truffle Hunting If you like truffles, then I hear there are some great truffle hunting tours in the region. Do some research to see which one appeals to you most.
The South Store in Bowral Is the best shop for local and international fashion. Don’t go here if you don’t want to fall in love with a ‘must-have’ piece.
Few and Far in Bowral Gorgeous homewares store. A mix of modern, Hamptons and Byron styles.
The Green Lane in Bowral If you love antiques, homewares, flowers and gardening this is a hidden gem that is worth checking out. Aside from the shopping, there are great restaurants and cafes there too. Take your pick as they are all popular options depending on what you feel like.