Whoever said don’t go chasing waterfalls?
For some reason, I think waterfalls and rain go together perfectly. It could be because they’re both wet (that’s the sort of simplicity with which my brain makes associations). Or, it could be because I hate having my weekend plans spoiled by the weather. And while the beach can be downright miserable in the rain, there’s something enchanting about misty mountain air and the rhythmic dripping of water descending through gum leaves.
So when the latest cloudy Sydney day threatened to dampen my adventurous spirit, I ignored the forecast and commenced the two-hour drive to Fitzroy Falls in the Southern Highlands.
But first: breakfast.
One of the main reasons I love a day trip to the Southern Highlands is the opportunity to have brunch in Mittagong or Bowral, both of which have so many promising options. On my last trip, we tried out The Shaggy Cow in Mittagong, so this time we decided to give the other top brunch contender a shot: Raw&Wild Market and Cafe in Bowral.
There are so many reasons to love this cafe. First of all, their outside tables come with cosy, winter blankets to snuggle up against the Highlands chill. Second of all, their menu offers an amazing potato fritter breakfast (my second immense passion in life, after escapes). Crispy, fluffy and served with perfect poached eggs, mushrooms and wilted greens: 10/10 fritter game. I can’t even remember what Sam ordered because my fritters were so good (the big breakfast, probably).
The other part of Raw&Wild is the organic food market which is worthy of a browse on your way out – they sell all kinds of weird and wonderful health food that you’re unlikely to find anywhere else.
I actually had no idea how popular Fitzroy Falls is until we arrived at the crowded visitor centre (worthy of a visit in itself, with loads of interesting info from NSW Parks, quirky Aussie souvenirs and a cafe to stop for lunch or coffee). It’s clear why – with the water cascading over the exposed rockface and plunging some 80m down into the dense, green valley below, Fitzroy Falls has to be one of the most impressive waterfalls within driving distance of Sydney.
It’s a short walk to the Falls themselves (about 100m) but the real magic starts along the longer walks in Morton National Park, branching out from the Falls lookout to the East Rim (6.7 km return) or the West Rim (3.5 km return).
We took the West Rim walking track which boasted some breathtaking vantage points over the valley, Twin Falls (more waterfalls!) and a descent into the mysterious Grotto – and you can be sure we’ll be back to try the East Rim walking track sometime soon.
The icing on top
I think I’ve mastered the perfect formula for a lazy day trip from Sydney: brunch, walk, sweets. After all that walking, it’s important to refuel with treats (or at least, that’s what I’m telling myself). And I really wouldn’t need much more of an excuse to visit the Gumnut Patisserie in Bowral on the drive back to Sydney – the caramel tart was heavenly (as were the other 3-4 items we gobbled down without stopping to take a photo…)
I’m always adding to my list of incredible escapes within daytripping distance of Sydney, so I’d love to know – what are your favourites?