Kate Waterhouse's guide to the Southern Highlands

Aletha Wilkinson
·Head of Lifestyle
·5-min read

With international travel still off the itinerary, local trips, especially driving holidays, are increasingly popular in 2020.

Kate Waterhouse and her family spend plenty of time at their farm in NSW’s beautiful Southern Highlands, so she’s the perfect person to give us the insider info on where to eat, shop and play.

How often do you and the family find yourselves in the Southern Highlands?

We adore the Southern Highlands for its lush greenery and incredible rolling hills. My family have a property there so we find ourselves there most weekends and every school holidays. Most Fridays we pick up the kids from school and pack up our Lexus LX and hit the road. There is nothing quite like the open space and country air.

Kate Waterhouse leaning against a Lexus LX four-wheel-drive in the Southern HIghlands
Kate Waterhouse soaking up the rolling green scenery of the Southern Highlands. Picture: Supplied

Favourite boutiques?

This is actually one reason why I love touring in our Lexus LX so much. It’s born for some of the boutiques out in the countryside – mixing space and luxury with a HUGE boot so I can go shopping … sometimes at Dirty Janes antique market in Bowral, which offers the best in vintage and some wonderful furnishing ornaments and jewellery, or perhaps Suzie Anderson homewares in Moss Vale, which has some great furniture styles. There’s also The Bronte Tram and lots of hidden antique gems, and Lydie du Bray Antiques – outdoors to indoors, it’s a real treasure trove of antiques.

Dirty Janes is a treasure trove of antique and vintage finds. Picture: Dirty Janes
Dirty Janes is a treasure trove of antique and vintage finds. Picture: Dirty Janes

Favourite spots for a casual meal?

My favourite place for dinner is Eccetera – it’s perfect for the family and the food is delicious! My kids love the pizza and pasta and not to forget the Nutella pizza for dessert! There’s also Caffe Rosso - for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It’s also Italian and the food is great. It’s next to Harris Farm so I always stop there before or after my weekly shop.

Interior shot of Eccetera pizza restaurant in Bowral, NSW
Eccetera in Bowral has a rustic atmosphere and authentic, Neapolitan-style pizza. Picture: Eccetera

Station Coffee House is near our property in near Mittagong so we often go there for breakfast or lunch – from burgers to salads it’s the prefect casual cafe lunch spot. There’s Bernie’s Diner – for the authentic burger and shake experience – and Highlands Merchant cafe in Moss Vale with its great coffee … and being next door to Suzie Anderson homewares I can get a coffee and peruse some furniture! Toshi’s sushi has a “Japanese style" dining room - so a fun way to eat with friends, the food is amazing, everything on the menu is delicious. And finally, Berkelouw book barn and cafe at Bendooley Estate is great for stopping for a pizza while perusing the books in the book shop.

Best places for a special meal?

Onesta Cucina is my favourite place for a special occasion. Centennial Vineyards Bowral is perfect for a long Sunday lunch and it has a cellar door too so it’s great for wine tasting.

A warm, inviting dining room and exceptional Italian fare makes Onesta Cucina the right place for a special meal. Picture: Onesta Cucina
A warm, inviting dining room and exceptional Italian fare makes Onesta Cucina the right place for a special meal. Picture: Onesta Cucina

Best activities with the kids?

Quite simply, horse riding at Rosthwaite Farm. They offer riding lessons, trail rides and/or riding camps. We keep our family ponies here and try to ride here every weekend. There’s also the trail walks at Fitzroy Falls - they’re so beautiful and the water falls are breathtaking.

Fave pub?

Burrawang Pub in Burrawang.

Any hidden gems?

Farm Club Australia has a cafe with animals for the kids to pat. There is also a farm shop, organic market garden and grass-fed cattle butchery. Otherwise… well, it’s not so much hidden but you can’t go past Gumnut Patisserie for great pastries and pies.

Gumnut Patisserie is famous for its pies, pastries and decadent cakes. Picture: Gumnut Patisserie
Gumnut Patisserie is famous for its pies, pastries and decadent cakes. Picture: Gumnut Patisserie

What do the Highlands have over other NSW destinations?

I love the highlands because it’s so beautiful and Bowral and the surrounding suburbs have so much to offer. From great food and wine to fantastic shopping and wonderful outdoor experiences - there is something for everyone and best of all is that it’s only 1.5 hours from Sydney. The LX 570 makes the drive so quiet and effortless, and there’s heated and ventilated seats that ensures we’re all covered in winter or summer – and it has been pretty chilly down that way lately!

We also try to celebrate milestones down there too. And now thanks to the new Lexus Encore Platinum program, we try and use the benefits of Lexus On Demand to enhance these special occasions. On Demand means if you, like me, have picked up your LX luxury SUV after January 1 this year, you can basically swap it for another Lexus four times in three years, up to eight days at a time ... all complimentary! So for our anniversary or a birthday we can swap our LX for a flagship V8-powered LC sports car for a weekend away with my husband, or maybe the ultra-luxury LS sedan for a perfect dinner out.

It makes the weekend feel so special and it’s such a luxury to be able to do this – the fact it can be booked in real time via a Lexus App really does make it ‘on demand’. The fact Lexus have incredible customer care and new innovation such as this luxury mobility offering is one reason my values align so well with their brand.

Kate Waterhouse is a Lexus Australia ambassador.

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