A drive through the Southern Highlands of New South Wales for Dermott began in Moss Vale, two hours south of Sydney. He wound his way through the Kangaroo Valley and ended up in historic Berry. He only covered around 50 kilometres, but recommends you allow a whole day as there's a lot to see and do along the way.
Moss Vale arrived with the railway in 1867. Homes, churches, shops and a school from the 1800s are still there in a good state of preservation or restoration. The railway is an excellent example of Victorian architecture. The town is a pleasant place to enjoy a wander, a coffee and stock up on anything you might want for the drive ahead.
Twenty minutes out of town, Fitzroy Falls like in the path of the Yarrunga Creek which drops over 80 metres down a sandstone escarpment. They have been known to dry up just once in living memory. Long-known to Aborigines, the falls were 'discovered' in the 1820s by pioneer settler Charles Throsby.
Sixteen thousand hectares were set aside as a reserve in 1882 and attempts to develop the area were thwarted by residents. Fitzroy Falls' beauty is thanks to far-sighted early settlers.
It's the perfect place to stop and stretch your legs and take in the magnificent views across the valley. The real star of the show is the falls themselves. Water launches from a sandstone escarpment and falls 82 metres to the rocks below.
They are so impressive that Governor Fitzroy thought they deserved to be named after him, so changed the name from Throsby Falls to the name they have today!
From the falls, the road twists and turns for 10 kilometres down into the Kangaroo Valley.
When Europeans first sighted Kangaroo Valley in 1812, explorer/surveyor George Evans described the view as something no painter could beautify. It was the meeting place for many Aboriginal tribes and there are many indigenous heritage sites and original walking trails thousands of years old. The valley is thought of as a place of great healing and spiritual values.
Following the arrival in 1817 of Charles Throsby and Captain Richard Brooks, an explorer and a cattle man, settlement began. Cedar cutters felled and floated trees down the river and in the 1840s dairy farmers transformed the valley into the rolling green pastureland it is today.
Old Store Barrengarry
The store/post office/newsagent has been running for 130 years. They have home-baked pies and other treats and old fashioned malted milkshakes. They also stock lollies, fudge and locally produced honeys and jams, olives, eggs and even Akubra hats.
Locals have to collect their mail, and it's a good excuse for a chat and to tuck into one of the 'world's best pies'.
A good place to walk off your pie and milkshake, this suspension bridge crossing the Kangaroo River's construction began in 1895. It was opened in 1898, six days before floods washed the old bridge away. The 77m Hampden Bridge has four large crenelated turrets made of local sandstone. The medieval tower is an example of the Gothic revival architecture popular in the late 19th century. It is the state's only surviving suspension bridge from the colonial period.
Friendly Inn Hotel
This classic Australian country pub has been running since 1892. It lives up to its name and has a friendly beer garden where visitors and locals enjoy bistro meals and their favourite beer Australian or imported. In winter, open fires add warming comfort. Children are catered for.
Kangaroo Valley Fudge and Ice Creamery
If you have room, stop at this beautiful former bank for a sweet treat. It's been there since the early 1980s, making it one of the first fudge houses in Australia.
Owners Paula and Mick Woodney make old-fashioned fudge by hand without a trace of anything artificial. Most ingredients are sourced from small, family businesses in rural New South Wales. You can buy a slice of fudge for $3.50 or be tempted by brittles, coconut ice, a huge range of lollies, ice cream, local honeys, jams and condiments. They serve Devonshire tea and coffee on the verandah in vintage china.
Berry is a charming town, and Cuckoo Corner is right at home there, Lena and John Schyf began their collection as a hobby just eight years ago, and it evolved into Cuckoo Corner.
They have an outstanding selection of cuckoo, grandfather and novelty clocks, watches, pocket watches, weather stations, music boxes, tin toys, beer steins, fancy nutcrackers, Russian matrioshka and Kokeshi dolls, Venetian masks and so much more. Give yourself time to wander and re-visit toys from your childhood.
Many of the beautiful things you will see were hand-carved in Germany's Black Forest region. They repair clocks and word-of-mouth has meant they receive sick cuckoos from around the world to be repaired.