About 90mins out of Sydney, heading South West, lies Paddy’s River. A rural area of the Southern Highlands, it’s closest, more known town, is Bowral. One of my longest and closest friends, Carrie, has her parents living on their 110 acre property known as Gullaweena, at Paddy’s River. Towards the end of winter, the lovely Deane family invited me and four foodie influencers to visit Gullaweena so we could check out their property, stay in their borderline McMansion Guesthouse BnB, and to get lost in the serenity of the Southern Highlands.
My merry crew of Cecelia, Kate, Jay, Lachlan and myself headed off after work on a Friday night. We stopped at The Scottish Arms pub for Chicken Schnitties and other pub foods on our way and arrived near Gullaweena close to 9pm on the first night in about four months that it rained. It didn’t just rain, it dumped like all the water on Earth fell at the same time.
We missed the turn into the property and drove for a long while into the land. We had wombats running around the car, big puddles of water forming on the dirt road and eventually Chris, Carrie’s dad, had to come and rescue us in his SES vehicle. He even put on all the flashing lights to rub it in haha. It was and is still quite funny. I felt like an incompetent city slicker, but hey, we saw heaps of wombats.
We soakenly walked into the guesthouse and all our jaws hit the ground, you enter into a two story library room that is from another era. Beautiful couches, gorgeous art and abundant books. It is warming and homely and the only thing missing in this room was an open fireplace and me in a cardigan smoking a pipe while twirling my moustache.
The house was being piped with show tunes (they know me too well) and we wandered to discover the rest of the accommodation and get our rooms. There is a sitting room, three beautifully appointed bedrooms, a decent sized bathroom and a huge eat in kitchen. The outdoors has so much more but you can see most of that in the pics and the video.
As a guesthouse and BnB it is the best and most wonderfully appointed one I have ever stayed in, that says a lot as my own family has a BnB on the South Coast. Ours is a smaller romantic studio apartment with water views. Check it HERE. Gullaweena is a McMansion, you can take all the family, the library has a massive section of children’s books and kids are welcomed with open arms.
WEEKEND PLANS DIDN’T WORK:
I could write an entire article on the guest house alone but it this is also about our weekend in The Southern Highlands. Home to the towns of Bowral, Mittagong, Moss Vale, Berrima, Exeter, Bundanoon and many other villages. Well known for its colourful gardens, leisurely pursuits, diverse landscape, history and heritage, and welcoming accommodation. And the bonus is everything is within easy reach of Sydney, Canberra and the Illawarra. Weekends out of Sydney or Canberra are incredibly easy.
Now being the OCD organisational freak that I am I had organised schedules for which restaurants to visit, what we would do every day and what everyone would cook on the night we decided to stay in and enjoy the fireplace while playing board games with too much wine. But we discovered that Gullaweena and the Southern Highlands aren’t about plans, it’s more about losing yourself to what is around.
THE WINE WON, AS USUAL:
We had next to no plans to visit wineries, and yet, most of the weekend we did just that. Carrie and her lovely mum, Jan, suggested we hit up the markets at Exeter on the Saturday. And this is where we found the breads for the afternoon cheese, and we got out duck pates, I bought the best moisturiser and soy melt burners. I also found a wickedly delicious Okonomiyaki from an elderly Japanese lady cooking up a storm in a stall, not something I imagined I would find in Exeter. And while you’re in Exeter, grab a coffee at the General Store, fantastic cafe.
If you want you can indulge in some incredibly mind-blowing rural food venues, some even with chef’s hats. Or you can spend it eating at pubs and visiting wineries. The Southern Highlands has endless activities and sights on offer. We didn’t even scratch the surface.
THE PRESS SHOP – I absolutely loved this place!!
For more ideas, if you need them, of what to do check out HERE.
I CAN’T WAIT TO RETURN:
I dined with a lot of people this last week all excited to tell me about their upcoming overseas holidays. It never ceases to amaze me at what Australians miss out on with their need to travel to exotic overseas destinations when our backyard has so much to offer. Sure I want a Himalayan hike and a Canadian ski trip but I would be just as happy returning to Gullaweena and eating my way through all the Southern Highlands’ restaurants.