Fancy driving through picturesque, rolling hills, dotted with cool climate vineyards, open fireplaces, sandstone cottages and the aromas of freshly baked scones?
Take in a gourmet trail that includes flavours and finds all easily accessible by car. Add in an exploration of native bush settings and a hair-blowing lookout with views of our nation’s Parliament. Then top it off with a stay at one of Canberra’s quaint old-style boutique hotels.
With fine dining and mouth-watering finds dotted along this road trip, get ready to be surprised by what this journey has to offer.
Pack light and drive south along the M31 to start your grazing journey. Take the Mittagong exit to the Old Hume Highway and stop in for a devine lunch at The Shaggy Cow near the main street of historic Mittagong. Try their famous ginger-infused refreshments and warm scones.
Wander the local arts, gifts and culinary delights dotted throughout Mittagong, Moss Vale and Bowral, all only minutes’ drive from each other. Look out for the beautiful sandstone cottages dating from the 1800s as you drive through these towns. While in Bowral, be sure to uncover some vintage threads at Dirty Janes and grab a coffee or fresh juice (along with all your organic needs) at Raw & Wild Market & Café.
Allow some time to enjoy a scenic drive through the Southern Highlands, with its pasture lands and stunning gardens. Less than 10 minutes’ drive from Bowral, you’ll come upon the rolling green hills of Centennial Vineyards – home to award-winning varieties of Shiraz. Take a bike tour to soak in the vineyard’s beauty, then cap off the afternoon with a well-deserved cheeseboard and a wine tasting.
Wrap up your gourmet day with a wholesome dinner – think only the finest Artisan produce – at Katers Restaurant within Peppers Manor House. Sit by the warm open fireplace for a nightcap before heading off to your charmingly luxe room for a rest.
Start your day in nature with a brisk walk through Cecil Hoskins Nature Reserve, about 15 minutes’ drive from your accommodation. The walkway provides excellent views of the wetlands and the 90 species of birds.
Caffeinate at much-loved Highlands Merchant in Moss Vale before heading off on a two-hour drive towards Canberra (re-join the M31 towards Goulburn).
Turn off for the little town of Gundaroo for a decadent fine-dining lunch experience hidden within a rustic frontage at Grazing. The restaurant is housed in the 1865 national trust Royal Hotel, with open fireplaces and private dining rooms. The setting is divine, yet it’s the food that pops, so make room for three courses.
Now only half an hour’s drive to Canberra, head towards the capital via the Federal Highway and turn off on Majura Parkway to drop into Mount Majura Vineyard. You can take a self-guided nature trail walk, or sit back to try a fresh and zesty Riesling.
From here, get back onto the Majura Parkway and make your way to Mount Ainslie Lookout. The vista is spectacular. See Parliament House, the Australian War Memorial and stunning mountain ranges in the distance.
Finish your day at Brassey Hotel, one of Canberra’s oldest hotels, which oozes charm and character. If you’re looking for a light yet quality meal, try some tapas or wood-fired pizzas at Ostani – a quick walk away at Hotel Realm.
Wake to the call of the magpies. After a wholesome breakfast at Maple + Clove, head back to the Brassey for some deep wellness treatments. Hale Spa is the most luxurious experience you’ll find. Start in the cave-like spa pool and then indulge in a full-body aromatic stone therapy massage.
Now you’re completely relaxed, drive a few minutes to Kingston Foreshore. This is your opportunity to see Canberra from a completely different perspective, atop Lake Burley Griffin silently floating on a GoBoat, complete with a personalised picnic. Take your time to breathe in the fresh air, watch for birdlife and see some of Canberra’s most iconic locations, including the National Gallery of Australia and the Carillon.
On your way out of Kingston, drive towards Lonsdale Street in Braddon so you can pop into a boutique or two for a hit of designer fashion and homewares. At a minimum, try Rebel Muse and Bisonhome. Then choose an unusual gelato flavour (Guinness flavour anyone?) at Frugii Dessert Laboratory before heading home.