Renowned for picturesque villages, rolling hills and surrounding rural bushland, the Southern Highlands makes a great escape from the big smoke. Here’s how to enjoy a perfect weekend or short break.

DO The best time to visit is in autumn, when beautiful private gardens are opened to the public, or during the Tulip Time festival (http://www.southern-highlands.com.au/tulip-time), which runs annually in September. Tranquil Berrima is steeped in history and is home to landmarks such as Berrima Courthouse and Harper’s Mansion, as well as art galleries and boutique shopping. Neighbouring towns of Bowral, Mittagong and Robertson are all within close proximity. For wine enthusiasts, The Grape Escape (http://www.grapeescape.net.au/tours.htm) offers tasting tours, while FoodPath Culinary Tours (http://foodpath.com.au) run jam-making classes and preserving workshops, a great way to get your hands dirty.  

EAT AND DRINK Eschalot (24 Old Hume Highway, Berrima, +61 2 4877 1977) has an eight-course tasting menu, offered daily, but if you would prefer to dine a la carte, the signature twice-baked goat’s cheese soufflé should not be missed. Sit down to a casual lunch at the Mediterranean-inspired Josh’s Café (9 Old Hume Highway, +61 2 4877 2200).  

STAY Milton Park Country House Hotel & Spa (Horderns Road, Bowral, +61 2 4861 8100) is a grand estate with sprawling gardens, an inviting indoor pool and award-winning day spa. Breakfast is served in the Conservatory, restaurant Horderns offers French-driven fine dining and The Polo Bar, with its extensive selection of single malts, ports and cognacs, is perfect for a nightcap.

GET THERE The Southern Highlands is around one and a half hours drive from Sydney.

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