The rolling hills and the unspoilt bush of the Southern Highlands is one of the best weekend getaways. Bernadette Chua discovers this lovely region, filled with quaint English villages and pies.
The Southern Highlands, just a short drive from the nation’s capital and an hour from Sydney, is filled with boutique shops, lovely warm bustling cafes and country chic bed and breakfasts.
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 some picturesque towns like Bowral, Mittagong and Sutton Forest, to name a few.
And while there is still a chill in the air, those crusty meat filled pastries, a staple of the Australian road trip, will warm visitors up on a jaunt through the Southern Highlands.
A staple is Heatherbrae’s Pies, which was established in 2001. Originating near Newcastle, owner Russell Cox then set up shop in Sutton Forest. Here, you’ll find staples like the classic Bushman’s pie, filled with locally sourced beef, onions and bacon is then simmered with carrots, parsnips and mushroom. The steak mince pie has Heatherbrae’s Pies secret special seasoning and gravy.
Every June, Heatherbrae’s also hosts a special baking masterclass where visitors learn how to make sweet and savoury pastries, and attendees get to fill and decorate their pies.
The Gumnut Patisserie which has eateries in both Berrima and Bowral, is home to some classic French cakes and desserts like those delightful layered mille feuile, eclairs and St Honore cakes.
But here, pie lovers will also find classic Cornish pasties. Also, the Gumnut’s Eden Pies 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 short crust pastry with a buttery puff lid.
At Maugers Meat, not only is there a delightful bakery but you’ll learn where the beef comes from in your pie. Local farmer and butcher John Mauger will take you around the family farm, Laurel View in Robertson.
He will take you a three-hour tour including a short presentation of John’s beef and lamb production, meat tasting and a butchery demonstration.
Samuel Gee Pies & Pastries, located just out on the outskirt of Mittagong make 27 different pie varieties, using family recipes dating back 150 years. Named after the family dog, this lovely eatery also serves seven sweet pie varieties.
But on the route, there are close to 30 local pie joints in the region. So while you’re exploring through this lush area, there are plenty of pie pit stops.