Towns & Villages: Bowral


Population: 12196 (inc. Burradoo, 2011 census)

Brief History

Bowral is situated in a valley at the foot of Mt. Gibraltar, largely on land originally granted to John Oxley, famous explorer of the early colony of NSW. For a generation it was farmed by his sons.

With the coming of the railway in the 1860s, the Oxleys subdivided part of the land for a private village. On this land (not much bigger than the current shopping centre) a town grew.

Soon, there was a railway station, churches, schools and public buildings. There were also many guesthouses, and private 'holiday houses', as Bowral became a favourite place to escape to from the city.

As early as 1886 Bowral was gazetted as a Municipality, and the corporate life of the town began. Within 20 years it had over 1000 citizens and many community, social, and sporting organisations.

Grand Hotel
The Grand Hotel (1888)

Land around the town was progressively subdivided and added to the Municipality, but most of the surrounding farmland and countryside was controlled by larger shires, and Bowral remained a purely civic centre.

It became the "big town" of the Highlands, with its well paved streets, neat residences, many businesses, and municipal amenities (such as a gasworks and electricity). Its main industries were tourism, a large Brickworks, a milk processing factory, and services for surrounding farms.

In 1981 the Municipality was integrated into the new Wingecarribee Shire.

Today Bowral has over 14,000 inhabitants, with new residential subdivisions expanding east of the town. Many of its recent residents are 'refugees' from the city looking for a better lifestyle, commuting back to the city on the freeway to their jobs.

Outdoor cafe
Sidewalk cafes

Bowral is now the commercial and retail centre of the Southern Highlands.

The beauty of townscape and countryside, and the climate - enhanced by over 100 years of plantings of exotic deciduous trees, "English" gardens, and annual massed displays of bulbs and perennials - gives it a unique attraction in the Australian countryside - especially in the leafy area of Burradoo with its fine houses and gardens stretching south towards Moss Vale.

The many historic public and private buildings, accommodation houses, boutiques, coffee shops, and restaurants - as well as famous festivals and events - attract hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.

Bowral is just over an hour away from the city, and worth a visit at any time of year.

St Judes
St Judes Anglican Church (c. 1887)

Corbett Gardens
Tuliptime in Corbett Gardens

For further details see our Past and Present pages.

Bendooley Street
Historic precinct, Bendooley Street (c. 1880s)

Bowral QuickGuide

Accommodation - LIST ALL
Berida Manor
Chorleywood B&B, Burradoo
Devon Cottage, Burradoo - self.cont
Devon Long Barn, Burradoo - self.cont
Gibraltar Hotel Bowral
Milton Park Country House Hotel & Destination Spa
Peppers Craigieburn
Southdown Cottage, Burradoo - self cont.
Southdown Stables, Burradoo - self cont.
Art, Craft Galleries & Studios - LIST ALL
Bradman Museum
Computers & Internet - LIST ALL
Furry Software
HiMac Computers
Ace Internet
Conferences: LIST ALL
Berida Manor
Gibraltar Hotel Bowral
Milton Park Country House Hotel
Peppers Craigieburn
Golf Courses - LIST ALL
Gibraltar Country Club
Health & Wellbeing - LIST ALL
Milton Park Country House Hotel & Destination Spa
Education - LIST ALL
Nicholas Deeprose - jeweller & goldsmith
Nurseries - LIST ALL
Moidart Rare Plants
Open Gardens - LIST ALL
Bowral Tulip Time
Restaurants - LIST ALL
The Manor Restaurant
Milton Park Country House Hotel
Montfort's - Peppers Carigieburn
Village Markets
Weddings - LIST ALL
Gibraltar Hotel Bowral
Merci Bouquet
Milton Park Country House Hotel
Nica Photography
Your Event Solution
Wineries - LIST ALL
Centennial Vineyards

Major Events & Festivals

Australian Open Garden Scheme
Bowral Show Society Show

March - April:
Open Gardens

S. Highlands Antique Fair
Classical Jazz & Ragtime Festival

Vietnam Veterans Day
Bowral Tulip Time
Wingecarribee Arts & Crafts Fair
Open Gardens

Bowral Tulip Time
Open Gardens

Bong Bong Picnic Races
Open Gardens

What to See and Do
For Visitors.
Bowral has a large variety of boutiques, bookstores, antique & craft shops, supermarkets and two major shopping malls. Its restaurants and takeaways are renowned for fine food and the many coffee shops and sidewalk cafes are a favourite place for visitors to dine. There are a number of wineries a short drive away.

Visit Bradman Museum and Bradman Walk. Interesting streetscapes with historic buildings, including residential areas with everything from C19th cottages to grand country houses. Village market each month.

Corbett Gardens (centre of town) has massed plantings of annuals and perennials three seasons of the year, and 100,000 tulips in spring. Many exotic trees in streets and private gardens offer spectacular displays in spring and autumn. Open Gardens can be visited most of the year.

There are 3 hotels (live entertainment), a resort, motels, many B&Bs and other accommodation houses. First class public (2) and private (1) golf courses; bowling club; public parks, and picnic areas. Lookouts, and bushwalking trails on Mt. Gibraltar and Gibbergunyah Forest.

For Kids.
Many parks, playgrounds, and sports fields with fixtures on year round; cycling paths from centre of town through East Bowral and a long, popular bike and walking trail along the Wingecarribee River (on way to Moss Vale).

Cinemas open 7 days. Some good kids boutiques, music and sports stores and other places for retail therapy or just browsing. Indoor Play Centre for younger kids open 7 days. Heated swimming pool (closed winter); international cricket matches often played on Bradman Oval (see cricket memorabilia in the museum); 3 golf courses; horseriding stables.

Last updated 10/1/17