We were on our way to a garden, we just weren’t sure which garden. Lorraine the navigator had several possibilities ticked as she studied the local brochure while we headed east but, suddenly, there was a sign to one of them – Milton Park.
I had visited many Southern Highland gardens but never heard of this one. So up the dead end road we went, along a lovely avenue until we turned left on a sharp incline and headed through the entry gates. There was a feeling that this might be something special.
Turns out that it’s a hotel, the kind where you might get married or have a conference. With a fully stocked wellness centre (gymnasium for the likes of us), European style spa and four poster beds, this is not the type of place to have a quick overnight stop......even if you could afford it!
Once owned by the famous Anthony Hordern and his family, money hadn’t been a problem when it was laid out by Anthony Hordern early in the 20th century. However, when his first wife Viola died, Anthony’s second wife Mary changed many of the garden design elements to what we see today.
We’d only come to see the garden, well within our budget range, and what an absolute treat it was. From the moment I saw the first weeping beech (oldest in Australia) it was obvious that someone who knew their pistils from their stamens had set this place out. The beech almost dominated the landscape across the way from the petal drenched water feature, named after Mary, and its next-door fully enclosed pool done in Georgian style.
We took a slight incursion into the Rainbow Lawn, whose grass was plain green but all beside and above was a blaze of colour, even more than you would find in a rainbow. Maples, rhododendrons, azaleas, irises, wisteria and a host of other plants contrasted with the high nitrogen blue of an Australian spring sky. The manicured lawn rolled down to even more colour, to the wisteria pond and the tulip lawn. You had to pause and reflect just to try and gather what was going on before your eyes.
Fondest memory: We eventually moved on down the road where branches cast their abstract shadows across the verdant grass and then we turned into the deep shade that covered the Japanese Pool with its small gurgling waterfall and overhanging ferns.
Just a few steps beyond lay another treat, for here the English boxwood hedges surrounded numerous rose bushes, one of the few plants not in flower, yet the vividly coloured trees that formed the backdrop more than made up for any lack of hues within.
Below on the Alpine Walk were espaliered fruit trees shielded by a large retaining wall of local sandstone and interspersed with exotics like Echium, cone flower, Arabis, May Bushes and Californian Tree Poppies.
The next optical feast was the sunken garden and the wisteria walk, the latter being a mature rounded affair beneath many varieties of the plant while the sunken garden had a winged cherub that held a seashell from which water idly dribbled.
At the exit from the pergola was an iron gate that opened onto the bluebell wood whose path, in turn, could be taken to the fence where evidence of another previous owner (from 1960 to 1978), the King Ranch cattle people could be seen. They were the first importers of Santa Gertrudis cattle and Quarter Horses to Australia and you can imagine some running the slopes beyond the pristine white wooden fence.
Doing a U-turn you start to climb the flagstones of the Fairy Walk that are flanked by winter flowering hellebores before you see even more azaleas, rhododendrons and daphnes, in part shaded by those wonderful weeping beeches.
Off to the left on high is a Roman-Crecho designed Pool House (with constant 27 degrees pool) and attendant gymnasium and tennis courts. Oh to be fit and rich I couldn’t help but think as I ruefully glanced at the awaiting motorhome across yet another lawn.
If you love odd shops with interesting stuff then you'll be sure to enjoy Bowral
Fondest memory: If you keep walking the main street and the mall you'll be sure to find some shop to interest you. Here are some examples.
"The greatest batsman the world has ever known"
Cricket fans of Sir Donald Bradman.....did you know that there is a Donald Bradman Trail?
Check out this website for all the information you need on the"DON" and to find out what towns and Cities you need to visit
FOR ALL THOSE CRICKET FANS................
This tip is not about Bowral, but about Donald Bradman......
"The greatest batsman the world has ever known"
I thought that cricket lovers may like to know about the Town where he was born.
This was at Cootamundra on August 27th, 1908. The family lived in the small nearby town of Yeo Yeo, and when the "Don" was 2yrs old, they moved to Bowral. All that is left of the family home now, is the Brick Chimney.
In Cootamundra, the small private Hospital where Granny Scholz, the mid-wife, brought Donald Bradman into the world is restored, and now is a Museum. It contains memorabilia of Sir Don, of cricket and of the Cootamundra district.
Next door, is Memorabilia Cottage at 87 Adams Street..
This cottage contains all sorts of Australian memorabilia, much of which dates back to the era when Sir Donald Bradman was born.
To reach Cootamundra, follow Highway 48 south of Bowral, then Highway 31 through Yass, and watch for signs to the right for road to Cootamundra.
OPEN.....9.00am to 5.00pm except Good Friday & Christmas Day.
ADMISSION......to the Birthplace is $3.00 for adults and children under 16 are free.
Fondest memory: The Bradmans Birthplace is situated at 89 Adams Street, Cootamundra
When visiting the Southern highlands, make your 1st stop at the Mittagong tourist information centre. It is located on the Old Hume highway, amongst some very pretty gardens, and if you are from overseas, you will probably like the Birdlife (Galahs) that like foraging on the front lawn.
The staff were helpful, and it was through coming here that we found out about the car show on in the area, that is only on once a year.
Plenty of FREE BROCHURES, MAPS........FREE TOILETS, and souvenirs
Open 9 - 5 pm daily
Address: 62-70 Main Street, (Old Hume Highway) Mittagong
Phone: (02) 4871 2888
Mount Gibraltar overlooks Bowral and can be seen wherever you are in the town. Despite its presence, it's a world away from what Bowral is all about.
Fondest memory: I drove up there and parked for the night at Jellore Lookout. It's only around 100 metres from the carpark to the lookout and the scenes here are what it was like while I was there and the morning mist was drifting away and the dawn was taking place.
Further down the road is a picnic area and a lookout over to Bowral though the view is somewhat blocked out by the vegetation.
Mount Gibraltar Reserve is rich in flora and fauna and the inner bowl of the mountain provides a protected site where the rich soil supports a unique vegetation community of eucalypts with an under story of ferns.
There are many picnic areas, lookouts and walking tracks. The lookouts include Oxley View Lookout which overlooks the original 'Wingecarribee' grant to John Oxley c1820; Mount Jellore Lookout regarded as the finest view on the mountain and Mittagong Lookout, overlooking the township of Mittagong.
Walking tracks include The Rim Track, Reservoir Track, The Ravine Track and The Gib Track. Each of these are of varying lengths, but take approximately between 10 and 25 minutes
Spring is a wonderful time to be in the Southern Highlands and 2009 was no exception.
Fondest memory: The centrepiece is always Corbett Gardens and each year it's done out with slightly different plantings. I didn't get a chance to do the bus trip this year but had a nice time in Corbett. In picture 4 you can see my motorhome.