4 Day Escape to Historic Berrima

This beautiful, historic village (1831) that time forgot is like the grand old dame of the Southern Highlands of NSW. Berrima’s stunning colonial sandstone buildings, country cottage gardens and river walks make it super popular for couples looking to escape the big smoke to unwind and rekindle their love and enjoy life’s little pleasures. It’s also a great base to explore the picture postcard surrounding patchwork quaint towns and villages of the renowned Highlands region.
Day 1 – Getting to Berrima

Take a 90-minute (125km) leisurely drive south from Sydney on the M5 or M7 motorways to join the Hume Highway to reach Berrima in time for a Devonshire or High Tea to kickstart your indulgent escape from the hassle and bustle of city life. Alternatively head north from Canberra up the Federal Highway for 2 hours.

As you exit the Hume Highway and travel the handful of kilometres into Berrima you will feel A World Away from reality in a unique destination created in 1831. Berrima is best explored and experienced on foot or via an ebike. Drop your new age horse and buggy vehicle in the Marketplace car park until you are ready to check into your friendly and cosy accommodation for the next 3 nights.

Time to refuel the body for a big day of meandering and exploring this cute village with a barista coffee and some old English Devonshire Tea or why not spoil yourself with a High Tea experience sitting back in wicker chairs & white cloth tables and take in the vibe of the town on the street front of the Magpie Café .

If shank’s pony (walking) is not your first choice of sightseeing transport to orientate your way around Berrima, then why not pop into Schmokin at the Marketplace and take up their 2 or 4hour Vintage Vallkree electric bike tour around the village. The bikes are ideal selfie magnets and a fun and easy ecofriendly commute option for exploring the many attractions and secrets that Berrima holds.

Once you have had your induction & mastered your pedal legs head to the top of the village which provides a great picture moment view over the town before stepping back in time with a visit to Harpers Mansion National Trust, the towns original Georgian residence built in 1835 and furnished in colonial period style. It’s a great way to learn more about what life was like in The Highlands in the 19th century. Try to unravel your way out of the Mansions stunning Maze and period gardens before cruising down the hill with your love one to visit the towns other major attraction, the striking sandstone columned Courthouse. This is where you can have some fun and dress up in colonial costumes and immerse yourself in Australia’s first Trial by Jury murder case against lovers Lucretia Dunkley and Martin Beech in a sound and light show in the Courtroom called ‘Treachery, Treason & Murder’.

By now you will need to maintain your energy levels and quench your thirst with a stop off for a local ale and/or a cool climate Highlands wine beside the roaring fireplace at Australia’s oldest licenced pub, the iconic The Surveyor General Inn. Grab a pub style late lunch and sit back in the courtyard overlooking the imposing decommissioned sandstone Goal of 1835 before returning your vintage e-bikes and checking into your accommodation for the next 3 nights.

Where to stay: From charming heritage cottages and unique getaways in rural settings to the friendly motel located in the centre of the village, Berrima offers a variety of accommodation options perfect for your Southern Highlands romantic escape. The Berrima Bakehouse has 19 modern motel rooms fronting Berrima’s main street and stunning river set on parkland gardens amid shady trees and easy walking to quirky boutiques, art galleries, restaurants and cafes.

Day 2 – Platypus, Pies & Pinot

If you are an early riser take a stroll along Berrima’s Wingecarribee River before breakfast and try and spot the platypus that live along its banks. If a sleep-in with a cuddle is on the agenda, then pop down to the river at dusk to try and see these playful natives.

Enjoy a relaxing day and continue your discovery of Berrima’s past and present whilst savouring some of its local cuisine. Berrima’s past is best showcased at the local Museum where you will be surprised to learn that the towns Gaol and River banks were home to WW1 German Internees. Just a short stroll from your digs the passionate museum volunteers will help bring local stories to life – historical and current – with a mix of state-of-the-art digital storytelling, gorgeous photography and awesome historical treasures.

Discover Berrima’s colourful stories first-hand by taking a leisurely interpretive wander along the river and learn how the interned German merchant seamen-built cottages on the river banks in their four year stay during WW1. Alternatively book a fresh water experience in a kayak or canoe with Experience Nature.

Make your way back into the main street to enjoy the national award winning Gumnut Patisserie Pies and Cakes. They are renowned for ‘sweet pies’ having recently won Australia’s premier food award, the 2021 Royal Agricultural Show Presidents Medal. The Southern Highlands is Australia’s Home of Pies and if you visit in June Berrima becomes the Southern Pie-lands where there is 30 days & 100’s of ways to enjoy the great Aussie pie.

Now that the sugar levels are up, it’s time to satisfy your retail therapy urges. The village has so many fabulous stores. Meander your way from the top of the village down the main street ducking in and out of the gorgeous shops for fashion, homewares, unique arts and crafts and goodies for foodies.

If you love a good drop why not sample the Southern Highlands signature cool climate wine variety, pinot noir. Set off after lunch on a self-drive wine trail experience to nearby cellar doors. Just 10 mins (9kms) from Berrima visit the family-owned and rustic atmosphere of Joadja Estate that will give you a glimpse into the workings of the Southern Highlands’ oldest vineyard with its charming boutique cellar door, warmed with a wood-fire in winter, and taste beautiful cool-climate wines and fortifieds.

Take another 10 min drive to the Southern Highlands most beautiful venue of Bendooley Estate a destination for wine and food lovers nestled in a truly magnificent rural and vineyard setting. The stunning stone Cellar Door with its giant cork screw is an insta moment favourite before venturing inside to taste superb pinot wine varieties alongside their ‘Willy Whonker Chocolate Factory’ looking Fireplace. Round off a great afternoon by wandering through Bendooley’s Berkelouw Book Barn, the Southern Hemispheres largest collection of antiquarian books before heading back to Berrima to freshen up for an intimate dinner date at PepperGreen Estate Cellar Door and its signature restaurant.

Arrange with your accommodation reception to order you a beautiful picnic hamper to enjoy the next day on your travels. Spoil yourself tonight and book a table in the private tasting room of PepperGreen Estate where a relaxed but sophisticated dining environment married with local produce and wine menu will make a memorable evening. Enjoy the starry night sky on your short stroll back to your accommodation.

Day 3 – Explore the best of the Highlands

Have a yummy breaky at the Berrima General Store Café just a few meters from the Berrima Bakehouse Motel so that you are fuelled up to experience the Southern Highlands major attractions and the regions patchwork landscape today.

Follow Tourist Drive 15 and its brown and white signs that will take you out through the rolling green volcanic hills to the edge of the Highlands escarpment and coastal boundary onto Robertson and back to Berrima.

Before you head out pick up your Posh Picnic hamper full of local delicacies from reception for a romantic lunch along the way to enjoy in one of the many secluded and picturesque vantage points.

Head out of Berrima east via Moss Vale to Fitzroy Falls for a scenic rural drive of approximately 28kms (30mins) to view one of the most spectacular waterfalls anywhere in Australia, the 81m high Fitzroy Falls that drops dramatically into the untouched bushland of Morton National Park.

Another magnificent waterfall awaits at Belmore Falls just 16kms north (20mins) via Myra Vale Rd and Belmore Falls Rd. This unique majestic waterfall has 3 dramatic drops and is best viewed from Hindmarsh lookout that also overlooks the picturesque Kangaroo Valley below.

Head onto the town of Robertson the ‘Green Heart of the Highlands, home of the Big Potato and the scene for the filming of the renowned Disney movie ‘Babe’ via Belmore Falls Road for 10kms (15 min). Grab a coffee fix at the Robertson Cheese Factory whilst also sampling their great range of cheeses.

It might be time to find an intimate and relaxing spot for that Posh Picnic hamper or alternatively if you really want to find one of the most spectacular views of the Illawarra/South Coast and Pacific Ocean then take your hamper and make your way down Jamberoo Mountain Rd for 15kms to the awesome Illawarra Tree Top Walk. Experience 500 metres of steel suspended walkway which is nestled in the treetop canopy some 20-30 metres above ground level.The walkway culminates in Knights Tower, a spiral tower that rises to a breathtaking 45 metres above the forest floor. If you are into adventure and adrenaline pursuits then try their Zipline through the canopy… the highest in Australia.

Feeling exhausted? Why not leisurely make your way back to Berrima via Bowral and stop in to the Southern Highlands only 5 star James Halliday rated winery, Centennial Vineyards for a glass of their award winning bubbles. Take the Illawarra Hwy/A48 40km (45min) drive for that afternoon sparkling wow moment at the French Provincial style Cellar Door before returning on the Old Hume Highway for 10mins to your accommodation in time to freshen up before enjoying a beautiful dinner with your love one at Berrima’s acclaimed hatted restaurant Eschalot where you will savour a real local paddock to plate fine dining experience.

Wander directly across the road to one of the most iconic, historic buildings in the Southern Highlands where the historic sandstone inn has recently had new life breathed into the interiors, so expect to dine in an inspiring space reflecting a fusion of history and modern cuisine.

Day 4 – Bradman, Poppins & Bowral

A sleep in is on the cards this morning after an exhilarating but relaxing escape away to reconnect and recharge with your love one before entering back into another world of hustle and bustle of city life. Before heading home take the 15 min trip north along the Old Hume Highway into Bowral, the Southern Highlands largest town and known for its large coffee culture and boutique shops. But the two biggest Bowral icons are its international identities of Sir Donald Bradman and Mary Poppins.

Even if you are not a cricket tragic the Bradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame, which honours legendary Australian batsman and world renown sportsman Donald Bradman, who hails from Bowral is a must visit attraction. It even has a great café Stumps overlooking the oval and Mt Gibraltar (the highest point between Sydney and Canberra) for that coffee fix before heading home. Whilst there wander into pretty Glebe Park adjoining the Bradman Centre and have your selfie photo with Mary Poppins. The Disney character is in life like statue form to commemorate its author PL Travers who created the legendary story when she lived across from the park growing up as a teenager in Bowral with her siblings.

If time permits and you really want to destress for an hour before heading back home visit Endota Day Spa in Bowral. Or if you are already totally relaxed and want to take advantage of some last minute retail therapy then meander down Bowral’s main street and its many unique stores before ending up at Dirty Jane Emporium and The Acre complex to drowse the collectables and enjoy the quiet eating spots.

Make sure you return to reinvigorate your mind & soul in a town that time forgot but love has never been lost.

Suggested itinery courtesy of Destination Southern Highlands . Download Berrima Itinery pdf