Don Burke is showing us around the glorious Southern Highlands.
The Southern Highlands of New South Wales is a very pleasurable place to visit. Don Burke was once a resident of the area, so who better to ask for a Getaway tour?
Settlers who arrived from Europe in the 1860s must have thought they had never left home. Far from a sunburnt country, there are softly rolling green hills and beautiful introduced trees which have thrived in the climate.
On the edge of the highlands is the small potato-growing town of Robertson. If you head for the Robertson Inn for a meal in spring, you will be delighted at the avenue of cherry blossoms. At the other end of town is the famous Robertson Pie Shop, which offers dozens of varieties of pies. Most customers make sure they take a couple home.
The Robertson Village Nursery has good old-fashioned service. If you're there at rhododendron time, be sure to have your camera ready.
Belmore Falls is 10 minutes further on and is the jewel in the crown of the Southern Highlands. The water is clear, the falls glorious and the valley below completes the picture.
Burrawang is a secluded village between Robertson and Moss Vale. In 1865 it was covered with dense scrub and forest, which was cleared to provide rich pasture and horticultural land. Hundreds of people settled there in the 1870s, resulting in several inns, a general store and post office, bank, schoolhouse and several churches.
It is a sociable and community-minded place, the scene for agricultural shows, horse races, cricket matches and a school of arts. It is also a place for city people's weekenders and hobby farms.
Mauger's Butchery is now run by the third generation and they grow the beef and lamb they sell. They make their own sausages and pies, have a catering business and smoke their own hams and bacon. It hasn't changed much over the years tiles have replaced the sawdust on the floor, but they still use the old butcher's block.
Burrawang Village Hotel is a classic English pub with accommodation, dining and superb rural views. It has been operating since the 1920s. In keeping with most businesses in the area, Scarletts' Fruit and Vegetable shop is third generation, and because everything they sell is locally grown, it's all fresh and of excellent quality. You will see colourful strings of chillies, garlic and onions hanging from the ceiling and the delicatessen section sells delicious cheeses and other goodies.
A visit to Marylyn Abbott's Kennerton Green in Mittagong is a must. Marylyn is a superb gardener and has written a book on the history of Kennerton Green.
Marylyn has spent 11 years changing and refining the garden and has almost doubled the size of planted areas. Her roses are truly magnificent and the potager is laid out as a St George's cross intersected by a St Andrew's cross. The design has been created with clipped box hedges, then filled in with vegetables, herbs and flowering plants. Three sides are enclosed by walls espaliered with red delicious and Jonathan apples, while the fourth side has a low building with Gothic-style windows … truly a labour of love for Marylyn and her helpers.