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Bowral: Stately Glamour of Sydney’s “Hamptons”
Set at the base of Mount Gibraltar, Bowral has been the preferred alpine retreat of Sydney’s wealthiest inhabitants for close to 200 years. The resort town boasts many reminders of its past, from towering colonial mansions to elegant rose and tulip gardens.
Today, visitors can take advantage of numerous walking trails and nature reserves, expansive public gardens, gourmet restaurants and award-winning wineries. Wander through the town’s centre and view heritage buildings, or have family picnic on the shores of Lake Alexandra.
Bowral holiday rentals include refurbished farmhouses on the outskirts of town, grand estates decked in yesteryear glamour and cosy garden cottages.
Bowral Walks & Hikes
Bowral’s Mount Gibraltar has an extensive network of bushwalking trails, many of which lead to, or pass by, scenic lookouts. Make sure to stop and take some photos of the plunging alpine scenery. If you’d rather take it easy, you can still access most of Mount Gibraltar’s larger lookouts by car.
Gibbergunyah Reserve also offers a number of walking tracks. As you venture along bush trails, you might even spy some kangaroos, wombats or other iconic Australian species. The paths tend to be steep but provide panoramic views of the Highlands as a reward. The reserve is easily accessible from the heart of town via Boronia Street.
Bowral is home to a manmade lake, set within Lake Alexandra Reserve. You’ll be able to do some fly-fishing or try your luck at reeling in bass or trout. A paved path, almost a kilometre long, winds around the lake. Several grassy areas offer picnic facilities and there’s a large playground for children. The little ones will also enjoy feeding the ducks.
Bowral’s Vineyards and Wineries
Bowral is in the Highlands’ wine country, just a short drive from over 20 vineyards. While you’re here, learn all about wine production in colder, elevated climates as you sample local varieties of Pinot Grigio, cabernet and rosé.
Make reservations at one of the area’s award-winning winery restaurants for a meal composed of local ingredients, paired with regional wine. In town, a number of restaurants also serve local wine, so you won’t have to venture out to try it.
If you’d rather not drive during your wine tasting, join group bus tours, departing Bowral, which will take you to several wineries. Of course, you will be able to bring home some bottles of your favourite wine.
Bowral in Bloom
Bowral residents are proud of their town’s natural beauty, which they celebrate throughout the year. If you’re visiting in September or October, you might be able to tap into some of the Tulip Festival’s activities. Throughout town, you’ll be able to see 100,000+ tulips in an array of colours.
The Corbett Gardens act as the festival’s hub. No matter when you visit Bowral, you will be able to go for strolls through the park, one of the oldest public gardens in the area. The gardens are free to enter and showcase summer and fall displays of roses and many other flowers.
Bowral: In Town
Bowral’s clothing boutiques, galleries and antique shops are clustered around the town centre. As you stroll from shop to shop, you’ll pass by heritage buildings dating back to the early 20th century.
One of these is the oldest cinema in mainland Australia, opened in 1915 and still in operation. Enjoy a low key date or family night while on holiday, catching up on the latest blockbuster or indulging in an international film. Before or after the movie, choose from Bowral’s numerous restaurants, including 38 eateries mentioned in the Australian Good Food Guide.
To delve into the region’s heritage, head to the Bradman Museum and International Cricket Hall of Fame. Here, you will find for interactive displays and family-friendly activities with a focus on cricket.
Getting to Bowral
Bowral is just over an hour’s drive from Sydney. If you’d prefer to travel via public transport, take the train with a single transfer needed in Campbelltown. Coaches can also be booked, departing Sydney’s CBD and stopping at towns close to Bowral, from which you can catch a local bus.