Bowral’s catchcry of “so close a world away” holds very true for Sydneysiders in love with this aristocratic capital of the NSW Southern Highlands. The elegant little township teems with cafes, restaurants, art galleries and boutiques for the well to do, and its stately homes and mansions, as well as some of Australia’s oldest cultivated gardens, lend it a distinct Scottish Highlands feel.
It has played a huge part in Australia’s sporting history as the town in which Don Bradman spent his formative years (his ashes are scattered around the eponymous Oval and Museum). Delightfully, Bowral is also Australia’s best-known Book Town, part of a rapidly growing international collection of rural outposts with extraordinarily high concentrations of booksellers and bookworms – which only adds to its dignified charm.
“With great little antiques and arguably the best pie shop in NSW, Bowral is more than just another pretty town in the Southern Highlands.” – Justin Wastnage
The town’s famous springtime celebration, Tulip Time, during which Corbett Gardens overflows with more than 100,000 bulbs, has spread from Bowral across the rest of the Southern Highland’s pastoral country, colouring it in vibrant reds, whites and yellows once a year.
Autumn shows another vivid side of the 11,000-soul town, when its trees explode with bright reds and oranges and an entirely new aspect is taken on by its surrounding gardens and vineyards.
Where? // 115km (2hrs) south of Sydney in the Wingecarribee Shire.
Did you know? // The quaint township lays a pretty strong claim to being the birthplace of Mary Poppins. Author PL Travers lived at 45 Holly Street, Bowral, and is thought to have been influenced by events that occurred during her childhood years there.
Return to: the 100 Best Towns in Australia