Towns & Villages: Mittagong


Population: 9,000

Mittagong Visitors' Centre
Mittagong Visitors' Centre

Major Events & Festivals

Australian Open Garden Scheme

NSW & ACT Dahlia Championships

Open Gardens
What to See and Do
For Visitors.
The Mittagong Visitors' Centre is the main tourist information bureau for the Highlands: a stop here is a must for what to see and do.

Mittagong has a number of very good art galleries, antique and craft shops. There are 2 hotels (live entertainment), cafes, good restaurants, and take-aways. Plenty of motels, hotel, and good B&B accommodation, historic inn, and a caravan park. The RSL welcomes guests for dining, entertainment, large gaming areas, and even accommodation. For recreation try the first-class golf course, or the golf driving range at Braemar.

The main street, Pioneer Street, and the area near the station offer a range of interesting historic buildings. Winifred West Park, in the centre of town, has massed displays of flowers in spring and autumn.

There are many famous Open Gardens to be seen throughout the year.

See craftsmen, potters, and artists at the Sturt galleries, blacksmith at Mundrakoona Estate and wine tastings there and at cellar doors at Bou-Saada and McVitty Grove (both offer lunch in the vineyards) or Howards Lane. Pick fresh berries at the raspberry farm (in season).

The lookouts and walking trails on Mt. Gibraltar and Mt. Alexandra allow you to get close to nature, with abundant birdlife and wildlife.

Village market every month.

Autumn colour
Autumn colour, Mittagong

For Kids.
Several parks, playgrounds, and sports fields; heated swimming pool (closed winter).

There are lots walking trails around Mt Alexandra where you can explore the bush.

Check out the pet shop in the centre of town. Good craft shops for the creative and hobbyist - watch the artists at work at Sturt Gallery. There is also an indoor bowling centre next to the Marketplace.

A visit to the Model Railway exhibition in Braemar is a must for all kids and kids at heart.

Brief History
Mittagong lies on a plateau at the foot of Mt. Gibraltar, Mt. Jellore, and High Range - a chain of mountains across the northern end of the Highlands. Gaps here offer the only natural roads into the interior, and Mittagong from its beginning has been the gateway to the Highlands.

Mittagong was first settled by William Chalker (1821), principal overseer of Government Stock at Cowpastures, who was later granted land in the area.

Within a few years there were a number of inns serving travellers. Many of these buildings are still standing today (now "The Poplars', 'Braemar Lodge', 'Fitzroy Inn').

Fitzroy Inn
Fitzroy Inn (c.1836)

The centre of Mittagong as we know it today was only established on land reserved for a village with the coming of the railway (1867). Before that there were a number of small and private villages scattered throughout the area (Nattai, New Sheffield, Fitzroy, Lower Mittagong). Only New Sheffield, owned by Fitzroy Iron Works (near where the RSL is today) grew to any appreciable size before 1860.

Apart from farming and grazing, Mittagong was an early mining settlement. Over the years coal, iron ore, and shale oil formed the basis of prosperity up to the C20th. Together, of course with the hospitality industry (inns, hotels, and guest houses), catering for the traveller.

Even convicts bound for Berrima Gaol stayed overnight after a train trip from Sydney, albeit in the dungeon below the Grand Exchange (now Mittagong) Hotel, not the elegant suites upstairs.

Pioneer Street
Pioneer Street, Mittagong

Demand for residential land increased after subdivisions in the 1880s, with trainloads of speculators arriving by train to bid at auctions held by Richardson & Wrench, founders of a real estate dynasty.

Many of the public buildings erected at the end of the C19th - churches, school, shops, hotels etc. can still be seen in a good state of preservation.

Mittagong was created a Municipality in 1889, but major civic improvements did not follow until the 1920s, with paved streets, public parks, electric lighting, and gas. In 1939 it was merged into Nattai (later Mittagong) Shire, which was responsible for local government in surrounding areas (including Burradoo until transferred to Bowral Municipality only in 1954.)

Throughout the C19th, and until bypassed by the Freeway in 1992, Mittagong has been a major amenities stop for travellers on the main southern highway. It was also a major railway junction, where the Mittagong to Picton loop line met the main southern line.

From the earliest times Mittagong has had an industrial focus, with coal and shale oil mining nearby, iron foundries (which made much of the 'iron lace' decorating the now prized inner Sydney city terraces), petrol refining, timber mills (one still exists), coachbuilders, and blacksmiths among its industries over the years.

Traditional blacksmith Josef Balog, at Artemis Wines.

The large building (now under redevelopment) which can be seen on the left entering town from the north is the remains of a maltworks (1898, closed 1970s) which produced malt for Sydney Brewers Tooth & Co. Today there are mainly tourist and service industries, and some secondary industries (Commonwealth Engineering, Tyree Industries).

Diversion of the highway to bypass the town has allowed for improvement of the streetscapes and the proliferation of more "trendy" tourist oriented businesses - cafes, restaurants, boutiques, accommodation, art and antique galleries.

Mittagong is now also home to a number of boutique cool climate vineyards and wineries.

Its closeness to the city has made it a favourite destination for day-tripping tourists, and a rural residential area for city workers.

For further details see our Past and Present pages.

Morning Mist
Morning mist on cool climate vineyard, Mittagong

Last updated 10/11/17