I love adventures where you discover hidden gems! It’s the unexpected pleasure in both the discovery and overall experience that often makes them so memorable.
Our road-trip back to Queensland was the opposite of our trip down to Victoria, rather than drive the 2200 kms in two days we took our time and made it a six-day adventure discovering a few hidden gems along the way.
Of course, the beauty of this approach is that you’re in no real rush, other than making it to your accomodations for the night.
My plan had been to make day one on the return leg the longest day of driving which allowed us then to take small hops on the subsequent days.
We left our hotel in Melbourne at 4:00 am and were in Bowral by mid afternoon and having virtually driven a third of the way home.
There is nothing like an early start! Well, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Lol!
The most perfect hidden gems were in the town of Bowral. It sits in a peaceful valley in the Southern Highlands of NSW, just two hours from Sydney. With a population of just over 10,000 it is hub for this region.
The first thing we noticed was the main street and shops… They were all busy with lots of people out and about which gave it a vibrant feel immediately.
After a little research back at the accommodation, and to our surprise Bowral is known for its boutiques, antique stores, gourmet restaurants and cafés.
What we didn’t expect when we drove into town for breakfast was that all the cafes and stores were already open up for the day at 7:00 am.
We decided on breakfast at the Hungry Monkey.
Wow!!! This was one of our hidden gems. Given the sheer number of cafes in town this was a fabulous find!
With a morning to laze we decided on visiting the Bradman Museum and International Cricket Hall of Fame.
Although not much of a cricket fan myself it’s difficult not to enjoy this historic site. A fabulous museum with tons of artifacts and stories from some of the greatest players of all time. I would highly recommend it!
Even Judy who knows nothing about cricket enjoyed it.
Next, we decided to grab another coffee back in town. As luck would have it, we stopped at a new coffee shop which has just opened.
Fortunately for us it was attached to Dirty Janes antique store.
Just another of the hidden gems on our journey.
We browsed the extensive collection while sipping our flat whites and while we were at it made two purchases.
The first was champagne bucket for the kitchen. We’d been looking for something unique to place our kitchen utensils in.
This was absolutely perfect! Sort of grand and expensive looking without being over the top if you know what I mean
The second purchase was a hand carved marble mortar and pestle. Although I’d brought one with me from Canada it was a no contest when I discovered this beautifully carved marble version.
Yep, it weighed a ton!
Interestingly, I’d never visited before and was super excited at seeing this UNESCO world heritage site. This incredible sandstone tableland was inducted in 2000 and covers some 1,032,649 hectares.
From an Australian point of view the Three Sisters rock formation situated just outside Katoomba is as iconic as vegemite so I couldn’t wait to see it in person.
Famous last words unfortunately as we discovered in the rain and mist.
This part of New South Wales had received over a year’s worth of rain in the last two months and so many of the roads have been quite severely impacted.
They had been either washed away or damaged to the point of the road being closed and awaiting roadworks.
Given the broader scenario we didn’t have access to the Three Sisters as the road was damaged beyond repair and blocked quite some distance from the lookout…
Not to be totally disappointed we walked from our accommodation to another local lookout, but were once again foiled, this time by the fog!
Clearly it wasn’t meant to be…
That being said we were about to encounter one of the best hidden gems of our entire trip.
The village of Comboyne is just over five hours north of Katoomba and set on a mountainous plateau some 700 metres above sea level.
With a population of just over 600 people it is a truly idyllic setting set amongst rolling hills, valleys, farms, and forests.
We stayed in a Bed and Breakfast that had been converted from a church. Both Judy and I agree that this was the best accommodation that we had during our 16-day adventure.
Not only was it beautifully appointed with impeccable interior design choices, but the pantry and fridge were fully stocked including a bottle of wine, cheese board and fresh fruit plate.
The Bella St Marks BnB (11 Main Street, Comboyne) is a perfect spot for a weekend getaway! This is piece of paradise, or as the locals like to say, “If you can’t get to heaven, Comboyne will do.”
Until next week