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Fitzroy Falls in Australia's Morton National Park

Living in Japan means a trip to the Australia involves fewer hours of flying than visiting the UK, and two hours of time difference instead of 9 means the holiday does not begin with a everyone feeling like a zombie for a few days. A summer Christmas is quite the novelty for Brits so we decided to head south-east for our Christmas break. Having spent quality time in Sydney just 16 months earlier, we were keen to see something new, but remain in New South Wales (NSW) so we could enjoy the festivities with family.

We decided to explore further an area known as the South Highlands which we had briefly visited twelve years ago. It is a lush agricultural area and has since blossomed as a weekend getaway destination for Sydney’s foodies seeking a genuine farm-to-table experience. Its position circa 600m above sea level normally provides a welcome relief from the heat of the city, although a huge thunderstorm rolled in the night of our arrival and the weather for most of our stay was pleasantly cool, perfect for hiking and exploring the Morton National Park. In fact it was so cool during the day that in the evenings we were very grateful for warmth of the gas fire in our self-catered cottage—not a phrase you expect to write about summer in Australia!

Fairy Bower Falls

Fairy Bower Falls

The spectacular vistas of both the waterfalls and the rugged valley deservedly make Fitzroy Falls the most popular attraction of the area. In contrast, we saw almost no other people on our hike to the more understated Fairy Bower Falls. This hike starts near the pretty and historic town of Bundanoon, where we prepared ourselves with a hearty brunch, vegan cake and decent coffee at Potter’s Pantry, and then enjoyed a delicious Italian dinner at Bottega B Ristorante after our walk. We were unable to stay late enough into the evening to experience it ourselves but the locals were keen to let us know that the formerly famous glow worm trails that this area have returned to their former glory following the extensive bush fires in 2020.

Driving down into the valley we passed opportunities for more adventurous activities including canoeing and kayaking, and of course plenty of wineries. After four very relaxing and enjoyable days our itinerary required us to move on to the coast, but I left the Southern Highlands with much enthusiasm for the area, and hope to return again one day.