Postcard-pretty and packed with historical and gastronomical delights, here are some suggestions to make the most of a quick getaway to Berrima.
11am: Browse books and wines among the vines
Make a beeline for the new tasting room at Bendooley Estate: a lovely, sandstone space cleverly engineered to feel like an extension of the vineyard, featuring the vibrant work of artist John Olsen. Those so inclined can sample some estate-grown wines and choose from delicious share plates of local produce, or a more substantial menu selection. There’s also the restaurant next door at the famed Berkelouw Book Barn, which has both indoor and outdoor seating in the dappled sunlight that filters through the trees (bookings advised).
Don’t leave without browsing the selection of latest release and antiquarian books in the beautifully renovated space; you may be inspired to pick up a cookbook or some of the food and wine items on offer!
2pm: Step back in time
After all that food, how about a gentle stroll around the historic heart of Berrima? With highlights including the Berrima Courthouse and Harper’s Mansion, the village also boasts some of the finest remaining examples of Georgian architecture in Australia. Visit berrimavillage.com.au/historic-berrima for a detailed list of historical sites to help you plan your walking trail.
Families with kids will also love the Berrima River Reserve, a great park with heaps of space for picnics (drop into the nearby Magpie Cafe for some sweet treats; or stop in to the nearby Gumnut Patisserie to stock up on picnic fare) as well as a fantastic playground complete with mini fortress.
3:30pm: Take a (sweet) break
Time for refreshments… For a small village, Berrima is blessed with an abundance of places to satisfy those mid-afternoon cravings. Try Two Skinny Cooks, nestled down in a pretty courtyard off the main street, where you can also pick up prepared meals and accompaniments for dinner if you’re planning on staying in that night; or take a seat at Stones Patisserie, housed in a gorgeous historic building framed by greenery on the main drag. The interiors are Frenchy-chic and the food is to-die-for – you’ll have trouble choosing between delicacies such as perfectly torched mini lemon meringue pies, brulee tarts, apricot danishes and a never-ending array of mouthwatering special concoctions from the incredibly skilled Mark Stone.
6pm: Time for a drink
In the name of historical research, it’s imperative of course to stop in at the Surveyor General Inn, which lays claim to being Australia’s oldest continuously licensed inn (est. 1834). The front bar is especially characterful with its fireplace, polished wooden bar and pressed-metal ceilings; there are historical mementos dotted around the interiors; and the courtyard is lovely in warm weather. On weekends you can cook your own steaks, and the Bush Ranger’s Bistro also has a kids’ menu.
8pm: Dinner at Eschalot
Chef Richard Kemp is one of a rare breed – a stalwart who continues to innovate. Says Stefan Posthuma-Grbic, author and publisher of The Southern Highlands Cookbook: “Richard Kemp from Eschalot is a longstanding favourite who is always pushing with his menus. He’s got 10 chef’s hats under his belt, but still has a fresh approach to his food, staying innovative, relevant and true to his Highlands roots.”
This makes Eschalot a must for dinner, with its reputation for sublime dining within the lovely sandstone walls of a heritage (1840s-built) cottage, which originally served as an inn. The kitchen garden supplies herbs and vegies for dishes that look just as beautiful as they taste.
If you’re after a more casual but still excellent meal, Josh’s Cafe is a firm local (and visitor) favourite, located just across the road.
11pm: Rest easy
Bed down at Berrima Bakehouse Motel if you’re after something located smack-bang in the centre of the village – perfect if you’ve made dinner reservations in town.
If you’re keen to stay further afield but still within easy driving distance, there are a range of fabulous self-contained accommodation options – check out berrimavillage.com.au/accommodation for suggestions; Airbnb also has a range of properties listed (check out our review of Gunu Berrima on p29).
Looking for something a little different? At The Loch, 10 minutes out of town on Greenhills Road, you’ll have the option of taking over the whole house with your family or friends, and enjoying a real taste of life in the Highlands. Cook up a hearty country brekkie the next morning with the hamper of farm produce supplied, before browsing the farm stall and antiques housed below you on the ground level, and enjoy Sunday lunch on the veranda overlooking the stunning gardens (kids can meet the local farmyard animals too!).
9am: A delicious start to the day
Stones Patisserie does a great breakfast menu including eggs, hotcakes and gourmet granola; or, of course, you could go for the traditional croissant and coffee. The nearby Courtyard Café is also a popular choice, with a nice little outdoor space true to its name.
10am: Pick up a piece of the Highlands
Browse the charming local shops for the perfect little piece of Berrima to take home. The Bay Tree Gallery is home to a range of local arts and crafts, as well as leather goods, accessories and other gift ideas. The Brown Shutter stocks caneware, furniture and more; Berrima’s Natural Australia boasts lovely merino wool jumpers; while keen gardeners should pop into the Berrima Cottage Nursery. The Lolly Swagman is a sugary paradise to rival Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory… you’ve been warned!
If you happen to be in town on the fourth Sunday of each month (Feb-Nov) and 2nd Sunday in December, don’t miss the Berrima Schoolyard Market, where you’ll find seasonal produce, country-style cookery and local craft, fashion and homewares stalls.