Southern Highlands Tour
Our First New Southern Highlands Tour
I’ve given a number of Southern Highlands tours in the past for private groups and they have always been fun and interesting. The difference with this new one was we don’t go as far south (we used to visit the south coast of Kiama, then back up through Kangaroo Valley) which means less driving time. And we incorporate a visit to a boutique wine region in the Southern Highlands.
Sri Venkateswara Temple
We left Sydney at 8am, and within an hour we arrived at Sri Venkateswara Temple in Helensburgh, a beautifully designed and constructed Hindu Temple, one of the most significant along the East coast of Australia. If it weren’t for the surrounding gum trees, you would be forgiven for thinking you had actually arrived in India. Walking around and observing the holy men give blessings and provide various ceremonies to the local Hindu community is an honour to witness. It’s lovely how they open their doors for everyone to visit and learn.
Bald Hill Lookout
We then drove a little down the road to Bald Hill Lookout with one of the most spectacular views looking down the south coast (check out the photo above!). On the weekends this is a popular place for hang gliders to base themselves as they take turns gliding over the cliffs and beaches…an impressive watch. But there were none yesterday.
Sea Cliff Bridge
We then followed a scenic coastal drive that included Sea Cliff Bridge, a road bridge that heads out from below the cliffs and directs traffic out over the breaking waves and water before coming back to land. A spectacularly cool design that makes for a fun drive! We then wove through the coastal villages before getting back on the highway to head further south.
Nan Tien Buddhist Temple
Next stop was the Nan Tien Buddhist Temple near Wollongong. The biggest in the southern hemisphere and now with a recently built a university. The serene gardens and holy shrines are an impressive insight into what many of us believe is a philosophy of living that we can all learn from. It’s a place that is calming and interesting. I’ve been a number of times and every time I go I find a new room or path to explore.
We then headed to wine country! The new addition to our Southern Highlands tour. I’ve been providing Hunter Valley wine tours for over 10 years, and still do and love it. So I was really keen to trial a new wine region within Sydney’s grasp.
We first arrived at Berrima, a quaint country town that has a rich convict and settlement history, yet shamefully a violent history towards the traditional owners, being the Dharawal people. It’s lovely the way many of the older buildings are preserved, including the Surveyor General Inn, the oldest licensed pub in Australia (since 1839). However, like many Australians I think it’s important to also educate visitors on the rich Aboriginal history as well as atrocities that occurred when the settlers arrived. But there is no such acknowledgement there. Such acknowledgement is how we can all move forward as a nation. I believe we need to be true to each other and share such truths from our past, worts and all.
We had our first wine tasting at Peppergreen Estate, located in Berrima, a lovely cellar door. From the smell of the place, a delicious restaurant too! Greg was our tasting guide who took us through a history of the vineyard as well as provided a structured wine tasting. I couldn’t taste myself (being a responsible alcohol free guide!) however my guests loved the wines! They included Riesling, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Tempranillo, Merlot and Shiraz.
Southern Highlands Winery
We then headed to a neighbouring vineyard, Southern Highlands Winery. A lovely property that also had a restaurant (mental note as a future option). Again the wines here were enjoyed that included Sauvignon Blanc, dry Riesling, Rose and Cabernet. I also had a little walk around some of the vines that were looking great! So hopefully they will have a great vintage next year as none of the vineyards picked this year. Mostly due to smoke taint from the bush fires from last summer.
The Home Straight
Then back to Sydney! All in all it was lovely day out and I’d love to take more groups there in the future! I’m certain a lot of Sydney residents haven’t yet explore these regions. And there is no better way to do it with a guide who takes care of the driving and schedule. So get in touch if you feel you’d enjoy this day out too!
Why not also check out our Hunter Valley Wine Tour Itinerary