It may seem cliché to say it, but we do live in the lucky country. I am a country girl at heart, but I also love the smell of salt water and sand between my toes and in this blog, I am going to share some of my favourite spots in the Illawarra region and Southern Highlands of New South Wales.
When I recently purchased a round of golf at Mount Broughton in Sutton Forrest, combined with a night at Peppers Manor House for my hubby, I was excited about returning to the beautiful Southern Highlands.
Located just two hours from Canberra and an hour and a half from Sydney, the Southern Highlands is home to gorgeous B&Bs, boutique art and crafts and superb local food and wine, making this a popular destination for weddings and romantic getaways. The highlands are also a short drive from golf courses, wineries, and magical spots on the south coast, such as Gerringong and Berry and within an hour you can go from spectacular beach views to picturesque countryside.
But not many people think about the golf on offer. While not in the top 100, the highland courses are well maintained and awesome value. Mount Broughton is located next to Peppers Manor House and is an 18-hole Par 72 country course with fantastic vistas of the surrounding farmland. The impressive club house is a nod to the Scottish heritage of the course and on our damp, chilly day it set the scene for a Scottish-style golf experience.
Mount Broughton embraces the countryside and while most fairways are wide, I still managed to find the creek which swallows balls like a snake devouring its prey and the rough which is almost impenetrable. The first time I played the course I purchased a box of golf balls at the end of the game to replace what I’d lost, this time around I played smarter and only lost a couple. A good achievement even if my score was less than desirable. My favourite hole was the par 3 hole 2, where you hit from an elevated tee onto the green with fantastic views onto the green. Mount Broughton is definitely worth a visit and if you do a stay and play package with Peppers Manor House you won’t regret it.
Peppers Manor House is a historic country homestead and estate, the main house is imposing and the gardens well-manicured and wonderful to explore. The main house has period furniture, open fireplaces, and old-world charm. We had dinner at Katers Restaurant and enjoyed a lovely meal. The accommodation is separate to the main house and our room was spacious, clean, and well-appointed, and opened onto a wide verandah, with little touches like the large gilt-edged mirror complementing the design and furnishings in the main house.
But Mount Broughton isn’t the only golf course in the Southern Highlands. There are eight courses all with their own character and challenging holes that you can explore. Bowral Golf Club, Moss Vale Golf Club and Mittagong Golf Club are all worth a visit.
And there is also good wine to be found. One of my favourite vineyards is Cherry Tree Hill in Sutton Forrest. Located off the highway, Cherry Tree Hill’s cellar door is open seven days a week and you can enjoy a cheese board as you sample the wine. I personally like their Rose and Riesling, but the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are also lovely. Staff are friendly and the place has a relaxed and welcoming vibe.
Centennial Vineyard in Bowral is a popular wedding destination and the restaurant serves up delicious meals which showcase fresh, local produce. But if you just want to experience the wine, the cellar door is open seven days a week, but allow up to an hour for your wine tasting experience. The Shiraz Viognier and Cabernet Shiraz are wonderful reds, and I again can’t go past the Cabernet Sauvignon Rose and the Reserve Chardonnay.
Take the scenic, but tricky road from the Southern Highlands through the Kangaroo Valley and you will find yourself amongst pristine beaches and bustling coastal towns. One of the most breathtaking golf courses is Gerringong. Hugging the coastline, the expansive course offers wide, rolling fairways, with tricky lies and fast greens. When we played, we faced a strong southerly and we had to think carefully about our game, keeping shots as low as possible and laying up. The par 5, hole 4 is my favourite. It is a monster hole in length and if you are not careful you can land on the beach below trying to escape the biggest bunker you’ll ever encounter. Gerringong is fabulous but will test your skill and your temper.
A few minutes from the course is the Crooked River Winery. Overlooking the vines, the restaurant is extremely popular you can do a wine tasting at the cellar door (open Tuesday to Sunday) but book ahead. I took away a bottle of Semillon and also enjoyed the Shiraz. After your tasting grab a chair and take in the view over the vineyard, and with chooks roaming freely, the winery is a wonderful destination for families as well as couples.
I personally enjoy Coolangatta Estate Wines and the wine garden is a beautiful spot to relax. Staff are friendly and informative, and the winery is family friendly. Stop by the cellar door, open seven days, to taste wines from the first grapes grown in the region by Alexander Berry. You can book ahead for a private tasting where you may get the chance to tour the vines. No surprises, I particularly like the Dry Rose and Verdelho.
While in the region, check out the town of Berry. It has some amazing cafes and shops and if you like the surf, then you have to visit the Natural Necessity surf shop in Gerringong, you won’t be disappointed.
This is my last blog for 2022. The year has been a busy and tumultuous one, but I will be back with more next year. If you have ideas for places you think I should visit, drop me an email and I always appreciate feedback on my content.
Top row L to R: Gerringong Golf Club; Gerringong Hole 4; Mount Broughton Club House; and Mount Broughton Golf Couse
Middle row L to R: Crooked River vineyard; and Crooked River winery
Bottom row L to R: Garden at Peppers Manor, Peppers Manor House; Sitting room at Peppers Manor