The Southern Highlands is known for its picturesque towns like Berrima, historic mansions and public buildings.  The Highlands is also a popular weekend getaway where one can get in touch with nature and relax among the gentle green hills of the Southern Highlands and enjoy the cool climate.

The Highlands is worth visiting all year round.  Spring is tulip time while summer has fragrant roses and autumn, flowering bulbs. Bowral Tulip Festival runs from the end of September until early October; the Autumn Garden Festival is held in May.

Shopping and Dining at Berrima Village

Our first stop at the Southern Highlands was the charming little village of Berrima. Established in 1831, it is the only example of an existing and largely preserved Australian Georgian colonial town left in Australia.  Today, Berrima Village is a living museum with dozens of art & crafts, antiques and souvenir shops – there is also a number of small cafes and restaurants.  The famous Eschalot restaurant is also located at Berrima Village.  Berrima village is most busy during weekends and public as well as school holidays – most shops will also be open during those period.

Some local shops and galleries worth checking out at Berrima includes the Bay Tree Gallery, the Brown Shutter, the Berrima General Store. Mrs Oldbucks Pantry and Mrs Oldbucks Corner.

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Exploring the Southern Highlands with the Southern Highlands Trike Tour

Before the trip to Australia, we had thought of the Southern Highlands as a quiet little area with not much exciting things to do and see.  So I was pleasantly surprised with the Southern Highlands Trike Tour run by John Ford.  A trike is a three-wheeled motorcycle – just think of a tricycle but much bigger and motorised – think **vroom vroom**!  This trike is huge and I have never seen anything like this before – according to John, this is a German engineered trike powered by a 1.6 litre Ford engine.

Unlike typical tour buses or cars, your views while on this unique Southern Highlands Trike Tour is unobstructed – no blurry windows to bother with but this also means you are exposed to the elements – wind, rain, sun.  Luckily, John provides each guests with an approved Australian Standards Safety helmet fitted with high tech 3 way communications so you can communicate with John and vice versa throughout the journey.  All guests are also provided with suitable climate clothing – for example, we visited the Southern Highlands during spring season when it was still a bit chilly and rainy, John outfitted us with layers of thermal wear, windbreaker and gloves – just see how bundled up we were in the picture below!  John shared with us that during summer in the Southern Highlands, guests can even experience the Southern Highlands Trike Tour in just Tshirt and shorts!

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One thing you can be sure of while on John’s Southern Highlands Trike Tour is that he will help you to take lots of pictures and there are a lot of photo stops and you can request for any along the way.  Having being bundled in comfortable thermal wear, I didn’t quite want to get off the trike to take photos – no problem, just stay put in your comfy trike seat and John will take photos of you with the background be it green pastures or interesting signboards!

We went on a Scenic Trike Cruise where we cruised through the beautiful picturesque country side, felt and smelled the country air as our trike wound its way through the open roads – we went deep into the Highlands off the beaten track and seen a lot of things that visitors to the Southern Highlands don’t usually see e.g. large herds of cows, one of the Highlands’ famous pancake shops and the beautiful countryside.  We even had a stop to get some hot chocolate and coffee at one of Southern Highlands’ towns -Burrawang.  It was an excellent experience as we learned a lot more about the Highlands – its history and fun facts about the place.

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John runs different tours tailored to his guests’ needs e.g. if wine tasting is your thing, you can always go on a winery and tasting Southern Highlands Trike Tour.  If you want to see nature, ask John to bring you on a Southern Highlands trike tour of the beautiful Kangaroo Valley and see the majestic Fitzroy Falls!  Get in touch with John at http://www.highlandtriketours.com.au/trike-tours/book-now/ for more info.

Prices for the Southern Highlands Trike Tour starts from AU$120 for 2 pax for the Scenic Trike Cruise and goes upwards of AU$420 for 2 pax for a trike tour of the Kangaroo Valley and Fitzroy Falls.

This is a video preview of what the Southern Highlands Trike Tour experience is like:

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Short video of our Southern Highlands Trike Tour with @highlandtriketours – driving though countryside and Bowaral town!

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Shopping at Bowral

Bowral is now the commercial and retail centre of the Southern Highlands. Here along the main street – Bong Bong Street, you find many historic public and private buildings, accommodation houses, boutiques, coffee shops, and restaurants.  My favourite shop has to be the Dirty Janes Emporium – a large warehouse collection of antiques from all around the world. dirty-janes-emporium-bowral I like how Dirty Janes Emporium is run – there are lots of displays of antiques from different seller gathered in a huge warehouse but the sellers ain’t there.  There is a central cashier who manages all transactions so you can take your time to browse and not bother with hard selling or bossy sellers.  Take all the pictures you want here! dirty-janes-emporium-bowral-antiques-market This is a short video clip of a display of World War II memorabilia which I found very interesting:

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Collection of war memorabilia and old coins at Dirty Janes Emporium @dirtyjanesmkt #dirtyjanes #bowral #NewSouthWales @visitnsw View on Instagram

Another interesting gallery to check out is the Milk Factory Gallery where you get to see artwork and interesting sculptures (as shown in the picture below) – no photography is allowed within the gallery though.  I also recommend the Rabbit Trap and Babilonia – interesting boutiques to check out.

milk factory gallery bowral southern highlands

This is what the main street of Bowral – Bong Bong Street looks like – no skyscrapers and very tall buildings – the town still retains its rustic charm with its old historic buildings.

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Experiencing the Fitzroy Falls

When in the Southern Highlands, you must not miss the Fitzroy Falls – this is a spectacular waterfall – even more impressive than the waterfalls of Jeju island which we visited earlier this year.  See for yourself in the video below.  What I like about Fitzroy Falls besides its beauty is its accessibility, usually such great natural sights are very far from the tourist centre entrance but Fitzroy Falls is just an easy 5 minute walk from the entrance (free entry)!

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Beautiful and spectacular Fitzroy Falls #NewSouthWales @visitnsw #fitzroy

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After spending the whole morning hiking up Jeju’s Seongsan Ilchulbong Sunrise Peak, we had to treat ourselves to a good lunch to replenish our energy – Jeju is known for its black pork and seafood – we tried the abalone porridge earlier near Cheonjiyeon waterfall and we heard that there was a restaurant near Seongsan Ilchulbong known for its black pork tofu kimchi hotpot.

I do not know the name of the restaurant but I have lots of pictures showing what the restaurant looks like and most importantly its Jeju phone number which we use as GPS coordinates to guide us to the restaurant.  I don’t think this place is accessible by public transport and it is about a 6-8 minutes drive from the Seongsan Ilchulbong carpark (so definitely not walkable distance).  If you have rented a car to drive around Jeju and is looking for a place to eat good Jeju food after checking out Sunrise Peak, I recommend this restaurant.

The GPS coordinate (or phone number) for this restaurant is: 7841794

seongsan-ilchulbong-restaurant-sunrise-peak

When we reached this restaurant at 1pm, there was no customer at all and also no big bus tour groups – perhaps most of them are at restaurants around the carpark of Sunrise Peak.  We had the whole restaurant to ourselves!

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There is a menu with some English words – the restaurant staff do not know English so just pointing to the menu helps a lot.  There is also Chinese characters on it.  For items with multiple price points e.g. for the signature Black Pork Tofu Kimchi hotpot, the assumption we made was that it was for small, medium and large servings.

jeju-seafood-black-pork-menu

We ordered the Seafood Hotpot (9000 KRW – about 9 USD).  We got a bowl of soup filled with mussels, clams, prawns, crab claws and many other shellfishes – the soup base is slightly spicy and very tasty!

seafood-hotpot-jeju-seongsan-ilchulbong

We were recommended by our friend to try the Braised Hairtail Fish (3 price points – 30,000; 40,000; 50,000 KRW – I assume for 2 persons, 3 persons and 4 persons or it could be mean 2/3/4 fishes) – I think we ordered the 30,000 KRW (30 USD) serving and it was quite a large plate and it tasted very very good!  I don’t usually take fish dishes outside because I am concerned about the freshness and preparation – but here at this restaurant (whatever name it is), this braised hairtail fish is very fresh and when eaten with the sauce, it is just perfect!

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Our meals come with lots of small Korean side dishes – typical of Korean restaurants.  Just an overview of what we ate in this restaurant.  There is a stove/cooker/grill in the middle of the table for the restaurant’s signature Black Pork Tofu Kimchi Hotpot.

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Now for the highlight of our lunch at this Seongsan Ilchulbong restaurant – the Black Pork Tofu Kimchi Hotpot (15,000; 20,000; 30,000 KRW).  I think our serving was for 20,000 KRW (20 USD).  Very delicious – the black pork is served in the soup raw so you will have to cook this hotpot for a while first.  Refills of the soup base is complimentary and if the ramen (Korean maggi mee) is not enough, you can request for a top-up of the ramen (you will have to pay for it but not sure how much – I think 2-3 USD).

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Happy diners at this restaurant – about 60+ USD for this entire meal (15+ USD per person) not a very cheap meal (for the budget conscious) but for the quality of food you get, I say it is well worth it.

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To get to this restaurant by car, just key in this GPS coordinate (phone number of this restaurant): 7841794 to get directions from Seongsan Ilchulbong (6-8 minutes drive away).  To find out more on where to go, what to eat and what to do during your Jeju trip, you can download our Jeju self drive itinerary here and you are going to Seoul too, download our Seoul itinerary too. :-)

Hope this helps – let me know if you have tried this restaurant and what was your experience and also feel free to suggest other good Jeju restaurants in the comment box below :-)

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OCBC Travelwise Travel Insurance

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Singapore Food Dining

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indiana-holiday-world

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Pullman Hyde Park Sydney

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puffin

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