Things to do in Bowral include
- nature play.
- historical excursions.
- enjoying numerous wine trails.
- delightful eating experiences.
Bowral is the largest town of the NSW Southern Highlands and is located just 30 minutes west of Wollongong and 90 minutes from Sydney.
Over 12,000 people live in Bowral with many residents choosing to live in Bowral while commuting to work as far away as the NSW capital. And for very good reason.
It’s warm in summer and cool in winter with rain falling regularly throughout the year. There is no specific wet season, meaning Bowral is great to visit at any time of the year.
Before we get more specific, let’s take a quick look at the top 5 things to do in Bowral.
Top 5 Things to do in Bowral
- Centennial Vineyards
- The Milk Factory Gallery
- Corbett Gardens
- Goanna Falls Reserve
- Wombeyan Caves and Campground
Ok, let’s delve a little deeper into this list. I’ve separated this list by category for you, so the list below is in no particular order.
Things To Do In Bowral: Food, Wine, and Spirits
Centennial Vineyards top the list of things to do in Bowral for wine lovers. Over 80 acres of vines sprawl across the site which is also just minutes from Bowral.
Because the climate is colder, vines ripen the fruit slower. As a result, the wines created here are balanced and aromatic. All wines are crafted on-site in the state-of-the-art winery.
Their vines, and talented winemakers, produce.
- Pinot Gris
- Pinot Meunier
- Pinot Noir
- and other specialty and seasonal blends
Centennial Vineyards export their wines all over the world. They are especially popular in England, Singapore, Korea and China.
There is also a world-renowned restaurant on site. The Centennial Vineyards restaurant uses local produce to produce outstanding quality food.
You will enjoy a unique and high-quality dining experience at Centennial Vineyards in a beautiful setting.
Southern Highlands Wine Trail
The NSW Southern Highlands boasts some of Australia’s best winemakers. Also, the food produced here is world-renowned.
As a result, its winemakers and food producers regularly win national and international awards. Highlands Food & Wine Tours will pick visitors up from their accommodation anywhere in the Southern Highlands.
The tours include sites such as
- Artemis Wines
- Bendooley Estate Cellar Door
- Cuttaway Hill Wines
- Cherry Tree Hill Wines
- Centennial Vineyards
- Eling Forest Winery and Cafe
- Mount Ashby Estate
Tour guides treat visitors to stories and information about the region on the journey from venue to venue. In addition, the award-winning food and wine is as good as the spectacular scenery.
Half-day or full-day tours of the Southern Wine Trail are also available. Prices for these tours start at under $100.
Things To Do In Bowral: Arts and Culture
This historic landmark is now a mainstream movie cinema. Empire Cinema brings the latest in mainstream and art house films from around the world. The Empire is also the oldest continuously running cinema in mainland Australia.
The building was originally constructed in 1915 with the main screen housed above a stage. This screen is still utilised today for special events.
Over its 102 years of operation, the Empire Cinema has never shied away from spending money to remain viable. For instance, in 1930 sound was introduced at the significant cost of 5,000 pounds.
Since then the complex has grown from one to four screens. 3D and digital projectors have been added. Once you’ve toured the gardens, lookouts and caves this is the perfect indoor venue to unwind and relax.
Ticket prices for adults start at just $13 and a family can watch a movie of their choice for $40. The Empire Cinema’s Facebook page is the place to visit to find out what is showing and when.
The Milk Factory Gallery
The Milk Factory Art Gallery and Exhibition Space was opened in 2005. It has two specific aims in its charter.
- To provide art lovers with a venue in which to view contemporary artwork.
- Offer a unique space for exhibitors to profile their works.
The original Milk Factory was built in 1921 and was originally a depot for local farmers. The floor area of the gallery is over 90 square metres. It also features 7 metre high ceilings giving it a real sense of space.
In addition, the Milk Factory Art Gallery is in the heart of Bowral’s CBD and solo artists exhibit throughout the year to solid crowds.
The art gallery also hosts mixed and group shows. Art mediums featured include
To check out what is on show during your stay in Bowral visit their website.
Things To Do In Bowral: Family Friendly
Explore Glebe Park
Another in a string of great BBQ areas and family spaces in Bowral is Glebe Park. Glebe Park has a fully fenced playground area the kids will love.
Likewise for adults Glebe Park is a great place to enjoy a coffee while soaking up the sun. The playground contains numerous climbing elements, swings and a slippery slide.
Also, Glebe Park has a public toilet and everything needed for a family BBQ including
- Green Space Areas
- Walking Tracks
- Picnic Tables
- Shaded areas
Playground review website “Playground Finder” gives the site a 4-star rating. Well worth visiting and another great thing to do in Bowral.
Things To Do In Bowral: Sights and Landmarks
Bradman Museum and International Cricket Hall of Fame
The Bradman Museum and the International Cricket Hall of Fame are meccas for cricket lovers. Both the museum and hall of fame are located in the buildings next to Bradman Oval, named after Sir Donald in 1947.
Bradman and his wife spent most of their adult livings living in Adelaide however, on their deaths their ashes were scattered on Bradman Oval.
The Bradman Museum opened to the public in 1989 and has grown over the years. It is completely dedicated to the sport of cricket and pulls in thousands of visitors from around the world every year.
The exhibits on display in the Bradman Museum include
- Sir Donald’s first cricket bat
- The interactive Bradman Gallery
- tributes to the other greats of cricket
- how media coverage of cricket has changed over the years
- A collection of stories from various sporter tribes from around the world (The Barmy ad Swami Armies and the Australian Fanatics).
The Internationa Cricket Hall of Fame exhibitions were added to the existing museum in November 2010.
The Hall of Fame contains several attractions sports lovers will adore.
- live footage from around the world
touch screen interactives
fascinating memorabilia items.
absorbing stories from cricketing greats
Bowral, Jellore and Mittagong Lookouts
These three major lookouts have great views of the town and surrounding mountains. Therefore, this makes them perfect for photographers, amateur and professional.
Bowral Lookout has parking and disabled access with views to the south-west. In addition, several walking tracks branch out from the lookout.
On-site Facilities also include
- picnic areas
Dogs must be on a leash.
Mount Jellore Lookout is located in the Mount Gibraltar Reserve and, on a clear day, you are able to see the Nattai and Kanangra wilderness areas.
The view of the Blue Mountains is what Mount Jellore lockout is best known for. The main attractions at this lookout include
- two self-guided walking tracks
- breathtaking views of surrounding farmlands and mountains
- a view of the Main Southern Railway
Mittagong Lookout is located just outside of Bowral, near the town of the same name. The drive to the lookout provides many great views.
Fauna in the area includes the yellow-tailed black cockatoo which is popular with photographers. Bushwalking opportunities are also available for experienced bushman. Guided tours are a better option for those less experienced.
Things To Do In Bowral: Bars and Restaurants
Ten Thousand Paces
Whilst its a bit of a stretch to call this place a restaurant or a bar, if you like wine but don’t like cellar doors, this place is for you.
Wine lovers with only a short stay in Bowral don’t need a day tour to enjoy the fruits of the region. Ten Thousand Paces is also a hybrid wine bar, gallery, shop and art project.
There is an exhibition space alongside a core group of permanent artists.
This also includes designers and craft makers. New exhibitions open on the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of every month. Patrons can sample an endless array of wines during their visit.
Wines from over 50 local vineyards are on offer including all the big names. Ten Thousand Places also hosts weekly wine tastings and education sessions. There are wine tastings every Thursday between 4 and 6pm.
Go to Facebook for more information regarding Ten Thousand Places.
Things To Do In Bowral: Getting back to Nature
Visit Corbett Gardens
Corbett Gardens is well established, picturesque and easy to navigate English garden. They boast a wide range of tulips and also colourful springtime bulbs, shrubs and trees. The gardens contain around 75,000 massed tulips on display and 15,000 annuals.
As a result, Corbett Gardens is the local showpiece of the annual Tulip Time Festival and the Spring Garden Festival.
Corbett Gardens were named for Mrs Ada Corbett who helped establish the gardens in 1911. The Bowral tourist association purchased what was then known as Deadmans Paddock. This site, right in the centre of town, would become the home for the Gardens.
The festivals I mentioned above are huge drawcards for tourists with the town population swelling every September for the Spring Graden Festival. The Bowral tourist association claim the Spring Garden Festival attracts over 40,000 people each year.
On a day to day basis, Corbett Gardens are open to the public and are managed by the local council. As a result of the council’s involvement, entry to the garden is free of charge at most times, however, an entry fee applies during the Tulip Time Festival.
More information about Corbet Gardens can be found via the NSW Southern Highlands tourism website.
Hike Through Mount Gibraltar Reserve
The three lookouts described above are all located in this massive wilderness area. Mount Gibraltar Reserve is located between Bowral and Mittagong.
The reserve contains 7 different walking tracks. Day users can explore these tracks, with dogs welcome as long as they are kept on a leash at all times.
NSW Heritage Council noted the Mount Gibraltar Reserve’s endangered ecological communities. Therefore, it is listed on the State Heritage Register in NSW. It was also listed for the sites Heritage Quarries Complex.
There are hiking opportunities including short treks from the carpark to longer circuits with steep tracks. The range of walks suit hikers of all experience levels.
‘The Rim’ walking track is the most popular which is a short, 25-minute walk. It also connects all the lookouts on the west side of the reserve.
Goanna Falls Reserve
Goanna Falls Reserve is the perfect picnic spot for a family outing. Its rustic charm can be found just off the highway down Greenhills Road.
When it rains, a stream flows through the reserve which attracts the local wildlife. A brand new picnic table is found in the middle of the reserve.
Outside of this, amenities are sparse so bring a toilet roll if you are planning to make a day of it. The natural beauty of this spot is also its attraction.
There are several beautiful waterfalls and walking trails for hikers. The famous grassy knoll on the site is also popular for kids. Goanna Falls Reserve is a family-friendly space that outdoorsy types will love to explore.
Things To Do In Bowral: Shop till you Drop
Visit Dirty Janes
Dirty Janes offers a unique shopping experience for visitors. As a result, the business has been expanding since 2009.
Dirty Janes moved to larger premises recently and houses a main showroom known as The Emporium. It also hosts an impressive warehouse space known as The Market.
Those who love shopping for collectables and antiques will love Dirty Janes. Over 75 independent dealers offer a vast range of antique pieces including
Dirty Janes is open 7 days from 10am – 5pm. A Vintage Tea Salon is also on site. The Tea Salon is open 7 days from 10am – 4pm.
Vacation Vine “Wild Card Selection”
Wombeyan Caves and Campground
If you love the idea of sleeping in the great outdoors the Womeyan Caves Campground is perfect. The large campground is also suitable for caravans and motor homes.
This includes 14 marked powered campsites.
- 4 in the general camping area
- 10 in the campervan/caravan area
As a result, no tents are permitted in the caravan area.
In addition, the campground has great amenities including
- A camp kitchen and dining hall.
- Cooking facilities including electric barbecues, electric stove/oven, microwave oven, fridge/freezer, hot-water urn, washing up area, and food preparation benches.
- Showers and flush toilets.
- Basic laundry with coin-operated washing machine and dryer, and a laundry tub.
- A children’s play area.
The caves themselves are also spectacular viewing. A variety of guided tours are available at Wombeyan Caves. Visitors have the option of one- or two-day tours.
In addition, there are 5 different caves to explore on the site.
- Figtree Cave (self-guided tour)
- Wollondilly Cave
- Junction Cave
- Kooringa Cave
- Mulwaree Cave
Details of the different tours available through the caves can be found here.
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