Though we’re not advocating you spend an entire weekend holed up in the tiny village of Berrima eating jam and drinking tea, if you are heading to the Southern Highlands, it makes for a great detour. Brimming with old-school country charm, it’s a place that almost seems frozen in time.[fold]
Berrima is widely recognised today as the best-preserved example of a Georgian village on the Australian mainland. The Old Hume Highway is the main artery through the small town and the diversion of traffic onto the modern Hume Highway ensured that the town retained its quaint sensibilities without the steady stream of travellers and trucks careering down its main street. As quiet as it may be, there is certainly enough to do (and eat) to keep you occupied for an afternoon. Here’s our list of suggestions.
Berkelouw Book Barn
Bendooley, 3020 Old Hume Highway, Berrima
(02) 4877 1370
Just a few hundred metres from the town centre, the Berkelouw family's winery, Bendooley, boasts a glorious new and second-hand bookstore in a stately converted barn, which has recently enjoyed a beautiful revamp, including a restaurant with wood-fired pizzas and a roaring fire in winter. Tables are set among the bookshelves for a little bit of romance, while seats are also set on the outside deck and in the front bar, where a range of Bendooley Southern HIghlands wines are beckoning. berkelouw.com.au/stores/book-barn
2/9 Old Hume Highway, Berrima
(02) 4877 2200
A relaxed, friendly country bistro with outdoor dining in the warmer months and a Mediterranean bent. Try the mushroom risotto, the ploughman’s lunch or choose from specials that are chalked up on the blackboard daily. We don’t recommend going anywhere else for coffee.
24 Old Hume Highway, Berrima
(02) 4877 1977
A sophisticated French restaurant on the more pricey side of things, with a charming courtyard and an open fire in winter. Oysters, rabbit terrine, twice-baked goat’s cheese souffle or a loin of veal with a sage and citrus crust are the winners here, though the menu does change seasonally. A seven-course degustation is also available, with matching wines if you’re making an occasion of it.
The Little Hand Stirred Jam Shop
1/9 Old Hume Highway, Berrima
(02) 4877 1404
An unmissable attraction of this petit town, it’s best to stock up when you reach The Little Hand Stirred Jam Shop, as the jars won’t hang around in your pantry long. It features over 200 products, including more jam varieties than you could imagine, lemon and passionfruit curds, an array of mustards (like a seriously hot English) and flavoured vinegars and oils. There’s also an ice creamery attached for the kids.
The Lolly Swagman
Old Hume Highway, Berrima
(02) 4877 1137
If you’ve still got some teeth without holes after all that jam, The Lolly Swagman is also a great pit-stop on the way home. Huge glass bottles loom from the walls, filled with aniseed drops, lemon sours, liquorice bullets, sherbet UFOs and every other kind of retro candy you could imagine. Our pick is the slab of slightly salted peanut brittle, the house-made caramel fudge, the musk sticks, the sour worms or the imported candies from the USA. The best and worst thing about this place is choosing your loot.
Surveyor General Inn
Old Hume Highway, Berrima
(02) 4877 1226
Built in 1834, there’s no denying the history of this sandstone inn. We won’t beat around the bush here – this watering hole for locals doesn’t boast an electric atmosphere. It is a good idea, however, to take your beer and plate of bangers and mash to the beer garden out the back, where tables sit under shady umbrellas.
Berrima General Store
13 Old Hume Highway, Berrima
(02) 4877 1225
Great for a bottle of local chutney, a fresh doughnut or a slice of fresh lemon and blueberry cake and the paper, service at this neat little general store always comes with a smile. There are a couple of seats out the front to sit and read the paper, too.
The Brown Shutter
3/9 Old Hume Highway, Berrima
(02) 4877 1211
Crammed to the rafters with crafty gifts perfect for your grandparents or the person who has literally everything, The Brown Shutter has a great collection of huge ornamental clocks, white lacquered wicker furniture and baskets, giant seashells, a massive range of scented candles, scarves and locally crafted trinkets you wont find anywhere else.