Weekend away: The Southern Highlands

It’s been a long time between getaways for The Thirsty Travellers, so we were thrilled to be heading to the Southern Highlands last weekend for an autumn escape.

Our adventure started in style with dinner at Eschalot in Berrima. Set in a picturesque sandstone cottage, the menus are adapted to what’s in season and what’s fresh. The end result is described by chef Matty Roberts as an “attainable paddock to plate experience”, full of beautiful, fresh surprises and local nods.

We were seated beside the open fire and decided to sample the five-course tasting menu. It included cured kingfish with grape, zucchini pickle and cucumber water; dry aged sweet potato with preserved lemon, chilli, pomegranate and tofu aioli; pork belly with white rum & miso pineapple and sesame maple granola; lamb backstrap, bagnet vert, radish salsa, celeriac puree; and Pedro persimmon, filo, white chocolate patissiere, buttermilk gelato.

The food was thoughtfully prepared and plated, with consistently superb flavours.

Diners can choose to have matching wines, but we had a 20-minute drive to our accommodation. So we sipped a couple of luscious wines by the glass with our meals, including Ca diAlte Prosecco DOC NV, the local Cherry Tree Rose 2020 (which was the most glorious pink) and Quilty Cabernet Sauvignon Petit Verdot 2015.

After dinner, we headed to Bundanoon Guesthouse. It’s one of the few original guest houses remaining in the quaint village. Built in 1910, it’s filled with character, with an open fire and offers gracious accommodation for up to 36 people. There’s a generous guest lounge, public sitting room, games and conference room, dining room, bar, front verandah and extensive, gorgeous garden.

We stayed in a comfortable queen room and enjoyed a home-cooked breakfast in the dining room the next morning, before grabbing a second coffee at the Potter’s Pantry cafe in the village.

Our location had been chosen as the hub for a cycling adventure, with six more couples arriving on the Saturday morning. While the men rode, the women planned to shop, sup and sip their way around the neighbouring villages.

After the fitness fanatics headed off on a 75km marathon in the surrounding countryside, the cycling “widows” visited the lovely Exeter Village Market and Moss Vale. The Exeter market is held on the first Saturday of each month from 9am to 1.30pm, it includes producers and sellers offering local produce, crafts and collectibles, plants, jams, condiments, desserts, homewares, wine, hot foods and coffee. It’s well worth a wander.

After exploring the gorgeous homewares stores of Moss Vale, we returned to drink prosecco by the fire at the guest house, while the cyclists parked their bikes in the leafy beer garden of the Bundanoon Hotel for a few brews.

The owners of Bundanoon Guesthouse arranged the most gorgeous table, decorated with autumn leaves and candles, for our dinner and served a menu featuring comfort food classics such as chicken and leek pie and beef bourguignon.  

It was a wonderfully relaxed way to end the day, with a few games of pool played afterwards in the cosy games room.

The next morning we all headed our separate ways, eager to return to the Southern Highlands again soon.

Eschalot, 24 Old Hume Hwy Berrima NSW

Bundanoon Guesthouse, 101 Railway Avenue, Bundanoon NSW

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