The Southern Highlands are filled with boutique shops, lovely warm bustling cafes and country chic bed and breakfasts. This rural idyll is almost equidistant between the nation's capital and Sydney.
But aside from the tulips blooming and the antique haunts, there is another sort of trail. The Pie Trail of the Southern Highlands takes you through the picturesque towns of Bowral, Mittagong and Sutton Forest, to name a few.
And while there's still a chill in the air, those crusty meat-filled pastries, a staple of the Aussie road trip, will warm visitors up on a jaunt through the Southern Highlands.
A staple is Heatherbrae's Pies, which was established in 2001. The pie shop originated near Newcastle, before owner Russell Cox then set up shop in Sutton Forest. Here, you'll find staples like their classic Bushman's pie, filled with locally sourced beef, onions and bacon is then simmered with carrots, parsnips and mushroom.
Every June, Heatherbrae's Pies also hosts a baking masterclass where visitors learn how to make sweet and savoury pastries.
Gumnut Patisserie has eateries in Berrima and Bowral, and is home to racks of classic French cakes and desserts like those delightful layered mille-feuilles, eclairs and St Honores.
But here, pie lovers will also find Cornish pasties and Eden pies which are a specialty on the pie trail. The beef is braised overnight in a specialty beer from the Eden Brewery across the road. A homemade smokey BBQ sauce is added, along with a few vegetables and then scooped into a shortcrust pastry with a buttery puff lid.
At Maugers Meat in Burrawang you can pick up a hot pie and even learn where the beef in your pie comes from. Local farmer and butcher John Mauger will take you around the family farm, Laurel View, in nearby Robertson. His three-hour tour includes a short presentation on their beef and lamb production, meat-tasting and a butchery demonstration.
Samuel Gee Pies & Pastries on the outskirts of Mittagong makes 27 different pies, some using family recipes dating back 150 years. Named after the family dog, this lovely eatery also serves seven varieties of sweet pies.
There's plenty more golden-pastry goodness to be had (there are some 30 outlets on the Southern Highlands Pie Trail) - you'll only be limited by your appetite and the length of your stay.
Take me there
- Drive: The Southern Highlands region is a 90-minute drive from Sydney and less than two hours from Canberra.
- Train: The train from Sydney to Bowral runs several times per day and takes about two hours. Tickets start at about $19.
- Info: Visit the Southern Highlands Welcome Centre at Mittagong.
- Explore more: visitsouthernhighlands.com.au