Weekender's guide to Bowral: NSW' other wine region

Courtyard of the Book Barn

Tianna Nadalin

Posted September 26, 2022

Move over Hunter Valley. This lesser-known New South Wales wine region is fast becoming the state's go-to drinks destination. Here's your ultimate guide to the best things to eat, see, drink and do in the emerging gourmet playground.

If a weekend in the Southern Highlands isn’t on your radar, it should be. At just over 90 minutes’ drive from Sydney (or a scenic, two-hour train ride), this flourishing New South Wales wine region, the closest to Sydney's CBD, is fast becoming the country’s hottest gourmet playground.

The Highlands (as locals refer to it) is a culinary cornucopia teeming with award-winning wineries, artisan pie dealers and trendy breakfast spots. And Bowral, with its rolling hills backdrop and charming Bong Bong street shopping strip, is the region’s unassumingly elegant epicentre.

Whether you’re planning a wine-soaked weekend away, an extended cellar-door escape or a quick gourmet getaway, here is our guide to the 21 of the best wineries, restaurants, cafes and things to do in this burgeoning gastronomic hinterland.

Tables at Harry's Wine Bar in Bowral

Harry's on Green Lane. 

Bowral's best restaurants 


For more laid-back dining, look no further than Eccetera Trattoria & Pizzeria. Here, the food is inspired by the flavours of southern Italy and is made using the best-quality Italian ingredients. The menu boasts everything from woodfired pizzas and handmade pastas to delicious Italian wines.

2/6 Boolwey Street, Bowral.


Whether you’re after a relaxed brunch or a pre-dinner aperitif surrounded by lush plants and exotic ferns, Harry’s has you covered. With a focus on rustic fare made using fresh, seasonal, locally sourced ingredients, this eclectic eatery-come-wine-bar, which spills out onto the leafy boulevard of Green Lane, feels like a home away from home.

21 Banyette Street, Bowral. 

Le Bistro Gourmand

Fans of French gastronomy are well catered to in Bowral, with the team behind Le Bistro Gourmand proudly bringing elevated French fare to the southern highlands. From laid-back and pet-friendly breakfasts at Le Bistro Gourmand to romantic dinners at The Bowral Brasserie or sumptuous pastries and cakes to go from Les Gourmandises, there's something for everything. Bon Appetit. 

52 Station Street, Bowral. 

The Mill

Keep it casual with a leisurely lunch at converted warehouse cafe The Mill. The vibrant community hub, which is housed in a former timber and hardware store from the 1850s, is also home to a co-working space, kitchen garden and concept stores. Stop in for coffee, cake and an interior design consult, or pull up a table in the courtyard and treat yourself to a feast of locally procured produce.

Corner Bong Bong and Bundaroo Streets, Bowral. 

Leila's at the Grand 

For authentic, middle eastern cuisine, head straight to Leila's at The Grand. Here, traditional Lebanese recipes have been passed down through generations, and arrive at your table made with love and a modern twist. The Lamb Mansaf - an eight-hour slow-cooked Cattleman's shank served over a fluffy meat and rice pilaf, and drizzled with the restaurant's signature almond, walnut, pistachio and pine nut sauce with a minted yoghurt dip on the side has garnered something of a cult following among Bowral’s foodie literati. The mouth-watering dish is a must-eat when visiting the region.

The Grand Arcade, 295-297 Bong Bong Street. 


Timber tables and barrels on rustic deck overlooking lush greenery

Sit out on the Terrace Bar at Centennial Vineyards and soak up the serenity. Photo: Facebook.

Best Bowral wineries and cellar doors

Centennial Vineyards

Set on 130 hectares of rolling Highlands paddocks, framed by steep vine-blanketed slopes, you’ll find Centennial Vineyards. A grand circular driveway guides you to the entrance of this five-star, Halliday-rated winery, where premium cool-climate wines reign supreme. The Dolce Classico (a sweet red made in the style of Italy’s famous Recioto wines, which uses partially dried grapes to create a full-bodied wine with more intense fruit sweetness) is a standout. So too the 2019 Reserve Barbera.

252 Centennial Road, Bowral. 

Bendooley Estate

Attention architecture addicts and history buffs. If you want to eat exquisite crab linguini under the cathedral ceilings of an antiquarian bookshop, explore an 1818 homestead built using convict-hewn stone, or drink wine from a cellar door against a backdrop of pristine, private gardens edged by some of the country’s oldest oak trees, you’ll love Bendooley Estate. This historic winery offers something for everyone – from the grape lover to the foodie to the bookworm. Side note: Bendooley is near the historic township of Berrima, which is recognised as the best-preserved example of a Georgian village on mainland Australia.

3020 Old Hume Highway, Berrima.

Tertini Wines

It’s all about old-school hospitality at Tertini. The warm and welcoming nature of this unassuming cellar door, where wine tastings are accompanied by free cheese platters, belies the fact that this humble winery is producing some of the region’s highest-rated wines. Pull up a stool at one of the barrel tables and settle in for a relaxed wine flight featuring some of the region’s best pinot noir, chardonnay and riesling, or branch out and try more interesting drops, including arneis, pinot blanc, refosco or corvina. The 2019 Private Cellar Lagrein (a red grape native to northern Italy that is closely related to shiraz and pinot noir) is well worth the trip to the Highlands.

Kells Creek Road, Mittagong. 


For a more modern vine affair, look no further than Artemis. Housed in a recycled river gum-clad shed, this rustic cellar door blends old and new to create a relaxed ambiance that is ideal for easy wine weekenders. Head down on Sundays for a guided tasting and some scrumptious woodfired pizza. The 2019 Close Vine Pinot Noir will go down a treat with The Chovy pizza (anchovies, caramelised onion, blue cheese and gremolata).

46 Sir Charles Moses Lane, Mittagong. 

Tractorless Vineyards

If you haven’t yet fallen in love with biodynamic wines, Tractorless Vineyards might just change your mind. Made using sustainably grown and biodynamically farmed grapes, these complex, experimental and undeniably delicious wines are proof that mother nature knows what she’s doing. If you’re after a break from the grape juice, they’re also brewing their own beers and ciders.

3/11 Pikkat Drive, Braemar. 

Close up of ham and cheese croissants

Cultured butter croissant perfection from Sonoma Bakery's Bowral outpost. Photo: Facebook.

Bowral's best cafes and coffee spots

Sonoma Bakery

If 36-hour sourdough loaves and devilishly good savoury pastries are more your style, you'll want to rise early because it's first-in best-dressed (or, in this case, fed) at Sonoma Bakery. As well as a range of artisan sourdoughs, the flakiest cultured butter croissants and other irresistible house-baked goodies (we're looking at you, lamingtons), they're also slinging seriously good gourmet pies. We'll take some chunky beef and country chicken to go, thanks. 

The Grand Arcade, Bong Bong Street, Bowral. 

Raw & Wild

Part organic grocer and health food store, part conscious cafe, this is your go-to for feel-good (and allergy-friendly) food and sustainable coffee. Hungry? Why not try the ricotta buttermilk hot cakes with berry compote, pistachio and coconut crumble, and organic maple syrup? Because what’s not to love about a sweet start to the morning?

250 Bong Bong Street, Bowral. 

The Press Shop

If you haven’t yet experienced breakfast gnocchi, stop whatever you’re doing and make it your top priority. We say experienced because one does not simply eat breakfast gnocchi. These are about the pillowy-est potato morsels on the east coast, so trust us when we say you need to try them. On the coffee front, they’ve got beans by Gabriel Coffee, teas from Little Wildling and all the lattes – velvet, turmeric, minty matcha and mermaid. They’ve also out-hipstered Melbourne with a frothy brew called a London Fog which, Google tells us, is an earl grey tea latte. It's not on the menu, but if you ask for it, they'll be happy to make it for you.

5/391-397 Bong Bong Street, Bowral. 

Primary Espresso

Keep it a little more casual at Primary Espresso, where the focus is on wholesome food and fair prices. The huevos rancheros are a delight or, if you’re feeling adventurous, try the savoury french toast with bacon, avocado and maple syrup. Coffee by La Casa Del Cafe.

23 Boolwey Street, Bowral. 

Rush Roasting Co

This family-owned espresso bar-come-coffee roastery has been pouring specialty blends in the Highlands since 2014. Tucked away in the Grand Arcade, stop in for an award-wining coffee, a bite to eat and a chinwag with the friendly owners.

The Grand Arcade, Bong Bong Street, Bowral. 


Vintage cricket grandstand

The vintage grandstand at Bradman Oval. Photo: Destination New South Wales

Best things to do in Bowral

Bradman Museum

It’s not all food and fashion. Cricket lovers can be bowled over at the Bradman Museum and International Cricket Hall of Fame. While away the time watching live footage from around the world, check out Sir Donald Bradman’s first cricket bat or be surrounded by legends of the game in the Hall of Fame. Refreshments – who wouldn’t want to try the Bradman Burger – are available from Bradman Cafe. 

St Jude Street, Bowral. 

Bradman Oval (Glebe Park) 

Sir Donald Bradman fans, this one's for you. This heritage-listed oval was named after Australia's best-ever cricketer, Don Bradman, who lived locally and played at the ground in the 1920s. His ashes are scattered on and near the oval, which means every match played on the hallowed turf is still imbued with the legendary cricketer's spirit. Also known as Glebe Park, this historic oval plays host to many local and international matches throughout the year, so pull up a chair in the vintage grandstand and soak up some sun and some spin bowls from the best seats in the house.

Glebe Street, Bowral.

Dirty Janes Emporium

Go treasure hunting with a wander through the sprawling, Dirty Janes vintage warehouse and antiques emporium. Covering more than 1600 square metres of undercover space, it is the largest indoor market in the Southern Highlands, selling everything from records and jewellery to pre-loved fashion and furniture. Once you’ve finished perusing the cave of vintage wonders, head to the Tea Salon for crust-less cucumber sandwiches and scones with jam and cream.

13-15 Banyette Street, Bowral

Corbett Gardens

See Bowral in all its blooming glory at Corbett Gardens. Though the gardens are open year-round, from 16 September to 3 October 2022, the public park wil be transformed into a kaleidoscope of colour when the annual Tulip Time festival sees 90,000 tulips saluting the arrival of spring. There is also live entertainment, market stalls and plenty of Intagram-worthy photo opportunities.

Bendooley Street, Bowral. 

Springett’s Arcade

Step back in time at Springett’s Arcade. This shopping arcade was opened in 1972 by the Springett Family, who also opened a general store in Bowral in 1926 and, later, became the first to sell soft drinks and sliced bread in the Highlands (their soft drinks plant was the first to make Passiona in Australia). The historic arcade is now brimming with boutiques, bustling cafes and small businesses.

302-306 Bong Bong Street, Bowral. 

Mary Poppins statue

Have your photo taken with Mary Poppins. A statue of the world’s favourite nanny was erected in Bowral’s Glebe Park to commemorate the birthplace of the beloved Spoonful of Sugar singer, with the idea for her character conceived when author Pamela L. Travers (real name Helen Lyndon Goff) lived in Bowral during her teens.

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