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As we usher out winter and start taking off layers to welcome in spring, here’s a few of our favourite local things going on …


HIGH AS Nothing captures those childhood feelings quite like the thrill of flying a kite, so hotfoot it to Marulan this September and take part in the tiny town’s annual Time Flies Kite Festival. There will be loads of kites to see and lots of high-octane events to get involved in, including the famous Billy Boil Cup race (all competitors are given two blocks of wood, some water, an axe or tomahawk, some paper and matches, and whoever boils their billy fastest wins). There will also be a kids’ pet show and the Bol Run where you can test your strength against Mother Nature and try to pull a parachute behind you, market stalls and a mass kite fly-off. Don’t forget to take your kite. September 19 & 20, 9am to 3pm, Tony Onions Memorial Park, George Street, Marulan.


BE NICE With bees under threat globally, the dawning of a new spring is the perfect opportunity to become a local warrior for our honey-making mates. Starting point? Plant more bee-friendly garden varieties, says Bowral beekeeper Deb McLaughlin of Bulwarra Bees. “Purple flowering varieties are bee porn,’’ Deb says. “They adore all varieties of lavender, salvia, stachys (lamb’s ear), catmint, thyme and rosemary.” Australian natives they love are callistemon, grevillea, banksia and hardenbergia. Luckily, we have some fabulous nurseries in the Highlands (Mount Murray, Moss Vale; Wariapendi Native Nursery, Colo Vale, Welby Garden Centre, Mittagong, Tahmoor Garden Centre, Tahmoor and The Shrubbery, Exeter are a few favs) so make an outing of it and get planting. Also if you are looking for a fun, cheap, easy way to occupy the kids or grandkids, you can’t go wrong with making a bee hotel. Instructions abound on online but all you need is a few bricks, some bamboo, and whatever other recycled material you’ve got lying about the garden and soon the bees will be taking up residence at your place. “Bees are fascinating, intelligent creatures,’’ says Deb.

“They may appear domesticated, but they are independent and tenacious beings with a clear set of roles for each. Bees do what they do with precision. If the moisture content of honey is too high it will eventually spoil and start to ferment. Bees instinctively know exactly the right proportions, so the honey will never spoil. How wild is that?” If you want to go a step farther and become your own apiculturist, join John Scott, another local beekeeper for his Eezy Beez one-day intensive Beginning in Beekeeping course. Learn about bee behaviour, how to care for your bees and what you’ll need to raise happy, honey-producing bees. Sunday September 13. Workshops limited to 10 people.


SWING OUT SISTER One of the saddest sights recently was seeing our local playgrounds taped up like scenes of a crime. Now all that red and white tacking has gone, it’s time to revisit. The Southern Highlands Botanic Garden’s new playground opened in June and has lots to keep littlies entertained, from a great climbing frame, to tyre swings and a playhouse. It is fenced to stop any would-be escapees and has shade and plenty of seating for weary parents. For bigger kids, head to Berrima Market Place Park, Old Hume Highway, Berrima with its fabulous flying fox or Lake Alexandra, Queen Street, Mittagong for its bouncy climbing frame. Fun, free, outdoors and open all hours.


WILD THANG Fancy dressing up in feathers, fur and face paint and dining on spit-roasted animals and quaffing mulled wine with other tribes in beautiful forested surrounds? Feast of the Beast is back, only in a slightly socially distanced new format with fewer guests. Brought to you by WildFest and Highland Harvest Feasts. Book online for this spring equinox celebration. Saturday September 19


UISGE BEATHA Yes, you read that correctly but if you need a translation, uisge beatha means water of life in Gaelic and refers to that most famous and ancient of Highlander spirits, scotch whisky. If you love history and whisky, you can find both at Joadja Distillery, located in a magic, mystical place. Not only have distillery owners Val and Elissa Jimenez recently released their Paddock to Bottle single malt 11 & 12 bottling, made from their own barley, grown just 100 metres from their distillery door with water from their natural spring, but they are also caretakers and conservers of some special history. Between 1878 and 1911, 1200 Scottish migrants lived in the old Joadja township and mined kerosene shale from the surrounding hills.

Joadja Distillery is open Saturday and Sunday 10am to 4pm for free distillery tours and tastings. Historic town tours will  recommence as soon as possible. Joadja Distillery is at the western end of Joadja Road, Joadja.


HAMMER AND TONGS Steve Hogwood, blacksmith, teacher, and founder of the 1910 Ironworks in Wildes Meadow runs these great Going Hammer and Tongs Blacksmith Beginners Courses. Great for anyone who likes banging, thumping and making metal things, his all day workshops at his smithy includes fire control, forge welding, hot splitting and forging. You’ll also receive lunch and refreshments.

Workshops run 9.30am-3.30pm August 1, 15, 29 and September 12 & 26. One-on-one workshops also available and group bookings welcome. Book at or


PLEIN AIR If landscape painting is your thing or your dream, spend a very special weekend being taught by artists Jonathan Throsby and Sal Falkiner, whose own practises are entwined with remote Australian landscapes. This two day drawing and painting workshop at Ashton Park, the lovely property of former NSW politican Peta Seaton,  will include advice on technique and the building blocks of working in landscape plein air, as well as focusing on smaller scale perspectives to bring the colours and textures of rural Australia to life. Lunch, refreshments and essential materials included. Saturday and Sunday 19 & 20 September,  Ashton Park, 6077 Illawarra Highway, Moss Vale. For more information and to book

ORCHESTRAL MOVES Acclaimed international pianist Kathy Selby, artistic director of Selby & Friends and oft-time performer in the Southern Highlands is returning to the stage post-COVID. Only this time, it’s in your living rooms, in Selby & Friends’ first social distancing concert. Shot at Sydney’s City Recital Hall to celebrate Beethoven’s 250th birthday, Beethoven’s Ghost: Ludwig from Lockdown includes Beethoven’s revolutionary Ghost piano trio, his much-loved C minor Trio Opus 1 and his piano trio for Symphony No. 2. Kathy is joined by debut guest artist, violinist Harry Ward and acclaimed cellist Timo-Veikko Valve. Enjoy this musical spectacular from the comfort of your own couch. A treat for classical music lovers. Don’t forget the popcorn.


ANIMAL RESCUE Living in the bush, we often see injured and dead wildlife on the road. After last summer’s bushfires did so much damage to the wilderness and its inhabitants, now is a good time to get some training to help as a first responder. WIRES (NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service) has cared and rescued wildlife for 30 years. But did you know they also train volunteers? Courses include an introductory training course and other more specialised species courses. Kickstart your training at the nearest training centre to the Highlands in Goulburn, on Sunday September 27 and become a first responder on the roads.

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