The Southern Highlands in NSW is one of the most underrated areas close to Sydney. It’s jam packed with natural attractions. But the area doesn’t get the praise it deserves compared to the Blue Mountains. Powerful waterfalls, serene walks and glorious lookouts are but some of the fine examples of natural wonder on display in the Southern Highlands. In fact, we believe visiting this area makes for the perfect weekend escape from Sydney.

STORY TIME: Growing up in Sydney and being a waterfall junkie, I had frequented the Southern Highlands many times. I had been looking forward to showing Beck this area since she first visited Sydney in early 2020. But our plans to travel there were foiled by the severe bush fires. We then travelled to South America and it seemed that we wouldn’t return to Australia again from some time.

But with COVID-19, we unexpectedly returned to Australia mid-March. After 2 weeks of self-quarantine and social isolation, NSW was then placed under a strict travel ban. We would have to wait until holidays were allowed again in NSW. In early June, we finally made the trip down south together!

Southern Highlands | Two Day Guide

This guide will thoroughly detail a weekend itinerary from Sydney. It’s the perfect weekend road trip to the Southern Highlands in NSW. The guide will focus on the natural attractions of the area, of which there are plenty! With so much to see it can be hard to fit it all in. So follow our guide to ensure you don’t miss out on any of the epic waterfalls, hikes or other natural wonders on offer!

Trails in this guide are graded by NSW National Parks using the Australian Walking Track Grading System. If no grading is provided, Travel Made Me Do It* have personally rated the difficulty.

For more information on other waterfalls in the Southern Highlands, check out our 5 Best Macquarie Pass Waterfalls guide and Mittagong hiking and waterfalls day trip itinerary.

Fitzroy Falls, Morton National Park. Viewing from above and to the side, a large single drop waterfall plunges below. The sun shines on one side of the cliff edge next to the waterfall, the other side is covered in shade. Trees will the scene otherwise.
Fitzroy Falls, Morton National Park.

What is the Best Time of Year to Visit the Southern Highlands?

Any time! The Southern Highlands can be visited all year round. The winters can get very cold overnight. But during the day can be quite warm and lovely any time of the year. Due to the unique circumstances around the COVID-19 travel restrictions, we couldn’t visit the Southern Highlands when we wanted to in Autumn. So we went in winter. If you do the same, you’ll only have light until around 4:30-5pm. Because you’ll have less daylight, your day will be busier. But the sites will be quieter compared to visiting the rest of the year.

Like a lot of Australia, summer here can get very hot and uncomfortable. This itinerary is outdoor focused. No surprises considering we’re outdoor enthusiasts and speed hikers! So doing all of these activities in the heat of summer may be unrealistic and slightly self torturous. So with that in mind, visiting in spring or autumn are the more ideal times of year to visit.

Other Highlights of the Southern Highlands

Southern Highlands Itinerary – Day One

Today is very waterfall focused. We can guarantee that the best waterfalls near Sydney are all located in the less touristic Southern Highlands in NSW. Yes, please do go chasing waterfalls! For information on waterfall trails closer to Sydney, check out our Northern Illawarra Day Trip Guide or the Top 10 Waterfalls in Sydney list.

1. Bowral

With this jam packed weekend, you’ll need to depart Sydney no later than 7am. The drive to Bowral will take around 1.5 hours. Bowral is the largest town in the Southern Highlands and is the cultural hub of the area. In essence, the town has a village feel to it with a historical ambience. This is exemplified by the stylish manor houses filling the streets, as well as antique stores and boutique eateries.

Stop for a coffee at any of the charming cafes on the main street (Bong Bong Street). They all looked nice so we just chose one at random.

Corbett Gardens in Bowral, Southern Highlands, NSW. Beck stands with coffee in hand below the Corbett Gardens sign. The park is surrounded by a white picket fence. There are large trees and bare patches of soil within the park.
Corbett Gardens in Bowral, Southern Highlands , NSW.

Whilst sipping on your coffee, go for a stroll around Corbett Gardens. In winter, the gardens were pretty bare and smelling of manure. Probably in anticipation for September when the flowers and tulips are in season. An event called Tulip Time is actually held at this time of year. There is an entrance fee of around $12AUD/adult ($8USD). Otherwise, entrance to the park is usually free. Find a chair to relax and people watch, before heading out to the first waterfall of the day!

Bowral perhaps deserves a weekend of its own. Similar to the charismatic town of Berry further down the South Coast near Kiama, you’ll feel far away from the busy suburban life of Sydney. Both places have a charming character. In particular, the older style properties will have you feeling like you’ve stepped back in time. But, this guide is all about exploring the natural wonders of the Southern Highlands in NSW. So, for more information on Bowral, check out Visit NSW and Southern Highlands Tourism.

2. Fitzroy Falls

  • Type: Out & Back
  • Distance: 4.5km
  • Time: 1.5-2 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 71m
  • Difficulty: Grade 3
  • Trailhead: Fitzroy Falls Visitor Centre Car Park

The Fitzroy Falls are a single 80 metre drop fall located in Morton National Park in the Southern Highlands in NSW. There are also other waterfalls flowing around this main fall throughout the impressive Yarrunga Valley. All of the waterfalls are generated from the Wildes Meadow Creek.

Fitzroy Falls is the most visited waterfall in the Southern Highlands. So it can be the busiest to visit. That’s why you should head to this waterfall first. The visitor centre is open from 9am-5pm daily. There is a large car park located at the visitor centre which is $4AUD ($2.60USD) to use. But parking is for free if you have a NSW National Parks Pass. We highly recommend getting the 1 year Multi-Park Pass for $65AUD ($36USD) if you plan on exploring the many beautiful NSW national parks.

There is a very easy and short walk from the visitor centre to the main viewing point. A neatly paved path will guide you there in only a few minutes. But for the photographers, it’s nearly impossible to capture the entirety of the waterfall from there. Luckily, there is an epic trail for speed hiking to follow that hugs the Yarrunga Valley, providing better views of the waterfall from afar. This waterfall and the others in the Southern Highlands will leave you awestruck!

Fitzroy Falls, Southern Highlands in NSW. Captured from afar and facing directly at a large single drop waterfall piercing through the deep valley below. Bushland surrounds the valley. The cliff face is brown and wet.
Jersey Lookout, Fitzroy Falls, Southern Highlands in NSW.

The Fitzroy Falls Trails

Do the West Rim Walking Track: The trail is a 4.5km return dirt track and takes around 1.5-2 hours to complete. It’s well signposted and there are no technical sections. Although narrow in parts, the trail is an excellent one for speed hiking. Covering the trail quickly will also free up some time to see all the other great waterfalls in the area!

This trail takes in many stunning lookouts of Fitzroy Falls and other smaller falls like the Twin Falls and the Grotto. Yarrunga Valley is in sight for most of the walk. Plus, with many of these waterfalls along the way, this bushwalk is certainly not your average bushwalk.

The first prominent lookout is called Jersey Lookout. This will give the best view of the falls with the least amount of effort. To reach here from the visitor centre takes around 20-30 minutes. If you are pushed for time, turn back after getting to Jersey Lookout. There will be many other waterfalls to explore today! But you should really complete the entire trail to enjoy all of the other natural wonders on display.

The final lookout known as Renown Lookout gives you views of another large waterfall below the main falls. The lookout provides an amphitheatre style perspective of Fitzroy Falls within the luscious deep valley.

Fitzroy Falls from Jersey lookout on the West Rim trail. Facing a large single drop waterfall from a far distance away. It's a clear blue sky. The waterfall is surrounded by luscious green trees above and within the deep valley.
Fitzroy Falls from Jersey lookout on the West Rim trail.

Other trails

There is also the East Rim Walking Track. Because of time constraints, we recommend skipping this 6.5km return trail for today anyway. The trail doesn’t offer any better views of Fitzroy Falls. It’s still a nice walk, offering some different and unique perspective of the Yarrunga Valley.

West Rim and East Rim Walking Tracks, adapted from NSW National Parks.
West Rim and East Rim Walking Tracks, adapted from NSW National Parks.

Similar to all of the waterfalls in the Southern Highlands in NSW, they are best visited after some rainfall. So hopefully before visiting the area, there’s been some rain during the week. Followed by sunshine on the weekend for your trip! The waterfalls are then even more voluminous, powerful and boisterous! Overall, the Fitzroy Falls are really beautiful, with the West Rim Walking Track providing a fun speed hiking trail.

WHY SPEED HIKE? A lot of people dismiss speed hiking as rushing through nature. But speed hiking is perfect for when you want a good workout but also want to complete the activity within beautiful surroundings. By speed hiking, you will also cover more distance. This means you can pack out a day’s itinerary to see and enjoy more of any given area.

3. Belmore Falls

  • Type: Out & Back
  • Distance: 1.5km
  • Time: 0.5 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 37m
  • Difficulty: Grade 3
  • Trailhead: Hindmarsh Lookout Car Park

Belmore Falls is a 2 drop waterfall over 100 metres tall piercing the Barrengarry Creek. It’s also located in Morton National Park. Luckily we visited after a solid period of rain. As a result, the Belmore Falls were louder and larger than when I had visited previously. Even on previous visits though, this waterfall has always been truly phenomenal to visit. It actually landed the number one spot on our Top 10 Waterfalls in Sydney list.

Belmore Falls, Southern Highlands, NSW. Facing a large two tier waterfall as it falls into the valley below. The waterfall is relatively thin compared to its great height. The valley floor is dominated by trees. There is a small pool at the bottom of the falls of the top tier. The bottom of the falls of the second tier is covered by the trees.
Belmore Falls, Southern Highlands, NSW.

Getting a view of the falls is very straightforward! Parking is easy to find at the generously sized Hindmarsh Lookout Car Park. The Belmore Falls Walking Track provides many viewpoints of the waterfall, starting from the car park. The return track follows the rim above Kangaroo Valley so expect mindblowing views.

It’s around 1.5km to visit all the viewpoints along the cliff’s edge dirt trail and only takes 30 minutes to complete. Because this walking track can get fairly busy during the day, it’s not one for speed hiking. With so many lookouts, it’s a good trail to simply stroll and enjoy.

Whilst completing the trail, you’ll feel far away from the falls. But it does give a nice perspective of the falls among its luscious forest surroundings. We found the morning sunshine lovely but unideal for waterfall photography. Perhaps visiting later in the day would be better in that regard.

At least views from the Hindmarsh Lookout over the valley weren’t impacted by the sunshine. The rolling green fields and luscious trees fill the valley with a frozen mist suspended in the distance. Bless the gorgeous Southern highlands!

Hindmarsh Lookout at Belmore Falls. A clear blue sky. Rolling green hills and forest trees dominate. A low mist is evident in the background, existing among the treetops, obscuring views of what sits beneath.
Hindmarsh Lookout at Belmore Falls.

Is There a Trail to the Base of the Falls?

Yes, there is a track that leads to the base of the falls. But it’s been officially closed since 2017. There actually hasn’t been any trail maintenance for some time. As a result, the trail is unsafe. When we visited recently, police were fining people doing this illegal trail. But with this busy itinerary, you will not have time to go there even if you wanted to risk the fine! On a serious note though, don’t be that person. There are many other waterfalls in the area to explore anyway!

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4. Robertson Pie Shop

The famous Robertson Pie Shop is an institution in the Southern Highlands in NSW. It’s also a popular spot for the bikies. But it’s really a must for anyone in the area. It makes for the perfect late lunch spot. So make sure you pack snacks or grab breakfast in Bowral to ensure survival to this point of the itinerary! A delicious hot pie here will set you back around $6-8AUD ($4-5.50USD). There are many flavours on offer. You might even be tempted to splurge and buy two pies each!

The famous Robertson Pie Shop. The sign 'Robertson Pie Shop' in large red capital letters on a yellow background board is located atop the white coloured building. There are glass windows from the floor, but they fall just short of the ceiling. Cars are parked side by side facing the shop.
The famous Robertson Pie Shop.

In general, I find that meat pies are served at a BOILING temperature. I mean the inside of the pie is essentially lava. This isn’t great for when you’re starving or if you’re on the go. Thankfully, the pies here were served at a reasonable temperature. So I was happy that my mouth didn’t endure third degree burns.

So after waiting just a few minutes for it to cool, wrap your laughing gear around one of these delicious pies. The flakey pastry will melt in your mouth as the flavoursome saucy meat sets your taste buds alive.

5. Carrington Falls

  • Type: Loop
  • Distance: 0.75km
  • Time: 0.5 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 35m
  • Difficulty: Grade 3
  • Trailhead: Carrington Falls Car Park

The Carrington Falls is yet another spectacular waterfall in the Southern Highlands. But this one is located in the Buderoo National Park. Its water comes from the Kangaroo River. Whilst the waterfall itself drops 50 metres into the deep gully. There is a small walking track starting from the moderately sized car park. The track leads to various viewpoints of the falls. The 570 metre paved loop trail is very easy and takes no longer than 30 minutes.

Carrington Falls, Southern Highlands. A NSW National Park sign illustrating the Carrington Falls walking area. Trees fill the background, whilst a paved trail to the left of the sign indicates the start of the walk.
Carrington Falls, Southern Highlands.

Again, given the expected traffic, it’s not an ideal trail for speed hiking. Start the trail by heading towards the Falls View. This means you’ll complete the trail in a clockwise direction. The walk begins in bushland. But soon enough, you will begin to approach a rim of the Kangaroo Valley. Views of the valley stretch far into the distance and are brilliant.

You will then arrive at the Falls View lookout. Visiting in the morning is unideal for photography as you’ll be pointing directly into the sunlight. So by the afternoon, you shouldn’t have this issue. The waterfall is another amazing natural display. There’s just something about waterfalls that totally fulfils my sensibilities. They’re simplistic in nature but absolutely captivating and commanding.

6. Kangaroo River Cascades

This walk will then take you past a nice set of cascades created by the Kangaroo River. But you will need to take this slowly for safety reasons. That’s because the rocky terrain of this large platform above the falls is quite steep in sections. Also, although a safe distance away, this area begins to near the cliff’s edge of the waterfall.

From these cascades, it is possible to get closer to the top of the falls. But there are signs discouraging this. We definitely don’t recommend walking over the streams at the top of the falls to get to the other side of the platform. If you must, you can access this point from Nellies Glen which is your next and final stop! This is a much safer way to view Carrington Falls from another perspective.

Carrington Falls photographed from the Nellies Glen side. The sky is partly cloudy. A large waterfall plummets into rocks below along the valley fall. Trees grow out from the cliff face either side of the waterfall.
Carrington Falls photographed from the Nellies Glen side.

7. Nellies Glen

The Nellies Glen is a small waterfall located right next to Carrington Falls. In reality, you wouldn’t visit Nellies Glen without seeing the much more impressive Carrington Falls. But these falls are worth the quick visit nevertheless. They can get very busy on the weekend though, particularly in the warmer months, as the pools are possible to swim in! So expect there to be a few people around.

There is a small car park located at the Nellies Glen picnic area leading to the falls. You’ll essentially follow a well walked wide dirt trail in the bushland to the small cascades. The walk only takes five minutes or so. It’s so short that we don’t classify it as a trail. The Nellies Glen itself is nothing too extraordinary. But it’s a nice set of cascades set in pleasant bush surroundings.

They’re particularly difficult to photograph during daylight hours. This is due to darkly shaded areas around the cascades and waterhole created by the bush overhang.

Nellies Glen, next to Carrington Falls. The sky is partly cloudy. A small watering hole has ripples throughout it, generated from a small cascade waterfall only a few metres in length. Most of the swimming hole is covered by shade created by forest overhang. Trees are located in the background behind the cascades,
Nellies Glen, next to Carrington Falls.

Also, this is the same car park that leads to the other side of the rock platform of Carrington Falls. Basically, you are provided with a totally different view of the waterfall. It’s a unique perspective, offering more insight into the power and magnitude of this single drop waterfall. Please note there are signs discouraging getting close to the cliff edges here. Safety first!

This will be the last stop of the day! For even more information about these waterfalls and others around Sydney, read our Top 10 Waterfalls in Sydney list.

Southern Highlands Itinerary – Day Two

8. Macquarie Pass National Park

An underrated National Park. We recommend another early start to make the most of your day. You’ll start your day at the Macquarie Pass National Park. Given that Morton and Buderoo National Parks are close by, Macquarie Pass is often overlooked. But you should visit this less frequented national park. That’s because of the stunning jump rock trail cascades and other waterfall cascades there. Please note that you will need to spend most of your morning here to see both sets of cascades.

Jump Rock Trail

  • Type: Out & Back
  • Distance: 4km
  • Time: 1.5-2 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 74m
  • Difficulty: Moderate-Difficult
  • Trailhead: Macquarie Pass National Park Cascades Picnic Area

The best trail: As you can see above, there is a different car park for each trail. But they’re literally across the road from each other. So you can access either trail from either car park. The Jump Rock Trail is a 4km out and back return trail that takes 1.5-2 hours. The trail itself is fairly narrow and a bit tricky at points. That’s because there are moderately steep sections that wind its way through the forest adjacent to the river stream from afar. Even the flat sections can be rocky and uneven. Beck rolled her ankle here so be careful!

The start of the Jump Rock Trail, Macquarie Pass National Park. A gravel trail for vehicles leads to a gate obstructing the path. It's surrounded by grass and trees. A Macquaie Pass National Park sign from NSW National Parks is lit up by sunshine.
The start of the Jump Rock Trail, Macquarie Pass National Park.

Also, portions of the track are muddy and difficult to manoeuvre. But with some common sense, it’s easy enough to follow. It’s better to start this hike early. That’s because the trail can get quite busy in summer with locals as it’s a popular place to swim. Please follow our Wikiloc GPS directions below if you need to.

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The Jump Rock

The trail itself is a beautiful walk through forest surroundings. Although the hike starts at the roadside, you quickly feel immersed in nature. You will essentially follow the river to your left as you make your way to Jump Rock. At Jump Rock, there is a lovely set of cascades. They are not very large. Compared to the mighty waterfalls of the Southern Highlands, it’s understandable why these cascades are not frequented as much. But this spot is truly serene.

Luckily we had it to ourselves around 9am. This always adds a level of sentiment to the occasion. These cascades gently and smoothly rush over a surprisingly level set of rocks. The resultant flowing stream creates a soft rhythmic background noise only ever punctuated by the chatter of the local birdlife.

We really enjoyed photographing this spot. Early morning was a great time to shoot the cascades as the sun hadn’t penetrated above bushland. At this most beautiful point of the cascades, you will also see a swing rope for swimming. But it was way too cold to swim when we visited. Please note there are signs discouraging rock jumping here due to safety concerns.

PLEASE NOTE THAT AS OF MID 2020, THE JUMP ROCK TRAIL IS CLOSED. Hopefully, it will re-open at some point. Instead, consider doing the below hikes or check out our Macquarie Pass Waterfalls Guide for other ideas.

Cascade Falls

  • Type: Out & Back
  • Distance: 2km
  • Time: 0.75 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 52m
  • Difficulty: Grade 3
  • Trailhead: Macquarie Pass National Park Cascades Picnic Area

Shorter trail: Whilst you’re here, you should also visit the Cascade Falls. Despite being a smaller waterfall compared to the ones you saw yesterday, it’s still worth the visit. Plus, it’s only a quick 2km out and back return trail that shouldn’t take longer than 45 minutes. From the same car park, you will start the walk by crossing a park with picnic tables.

One of the Macquarie Pass National car parks, Macquarie Pass National Park. A single white car is parked on gravel. BY the gravel are small wooden stumps. Beyond that is a picnic area setup upon a grassy area. Trees dominate the background. It's a clear blue sky.
One of the Macquarie Pass National car parks, Macquarie Pass National Park.

You’ll then be walking through similar terrain as the Jump Rock trail. So it can get a bit slippery and steep at points. Compared to the Jump Rock Trail though, this trail is much easier. It seemed to be more of a worn in trail with less tricky steep sections to negotiate. In regards to speed hiking, it isn’t the ideal trail as its fairly narrow at points and the terrain dictates that care should be taken consistently throughout. Don’t worry though, there will be some speed hiking later in the day!

Once you reach the waterfall, take some time to soak it in! For what this waterfall lacks in size, it makes up for in intimacy. You will get pretty close to the action here. Along with the single cascade drop, you’ll be enveloped by the surrounding forest. If it’s not too busy, you’ll feel like you’ve got your own room of rainforest!

The Macquarie Pass Cascades, Southern Highlands, NSW. A thin and diminutive cascade waterfall rushes to a waterhole below. The waterfall is surrounded by forest type terrain. Dan stands next to the waterfall.
The Macquarie Pass Cascades, Southern Highlands, NSW.

9. Clover Hill Trail

If you have time, or instead of doing the Jump Rock trail, you could consider doing the magnificent Clover Hills Trail. For more information, check out our Macquarie Pass Waterfalls Guide for more information. We’ll reveal how to find the difficult to reach Clover Falls!

10. Illawarra Fly Treetop Walk

I had previously completed the Illawarra Fly Treetop Walk a few years ago. We decided not to come here on this trip as we wanted to spend more time at the Minnamurra Rainforest. But if you haven’t been here before, it’s worth the visit. Unfortunately, it’s not a free attraction like the other activities on this itinerary. Buying tickets online is cheaper. Entrance is $20AUD ($14USD).

The entire walk is around 1.5km. 500 metres of it is on a steel walkway nestled among the roof of the forest. In fact, the treetop walkway has you around 20-30 metres above the ground. So the views around are quite good. The highest point of the walk is Knights Tower. It’s a spiral tower rising 45 metres above the forest floor. There are also other activities you can do with Illawarra Fly Tree Top Adventures including zip-lining.

Honestly speaking, the Illawarra Fly Treetop Walk is a nice experience. But it certainly aligns more with family holiday vibes rather than outdoor adventures. We certainly prefer to explore the untouched and less interfered parts of nature. So if you’re like us, then don’t feel too bad about missing this activity.

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11. Jamberoo Lookout

If you’re still after fantastic views of the area, but do not wish to pay for it, then make a quick stop at Jamberoo Lookout. This stop shouldn’t take too long. Please note that there’s limited signage for the lookout. So it can be easily missed. Once you have arrived, you will turn into a small car park.

Views of Kiama, Lake Illawarra and the Pacific Ocean can be seen from this viewpoint. Essentially, you’ll be positioned on the edge of the coastal escarpment. Rolling green hills and paddocks dominate the ground floor all the way out to the ocean.

When we visited, it was quite misty. So most of those usually epic views were obstructed. Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence at this lookout which doesn’t make for outstanding photography. So we didn’t take any photos here. But we’ve heard that on a clear day, you will have breathtaking views making for a great photo.

12. Minnamurra Falls

  • Type: Out & Back
  • Distance: 4.2km
  • Time: 1.5-2 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 189m
  • Difficulty: Grade 4
  • Trailhead: Minnamurra Rainforest Visitor Centre Car Park

The Minnamurra Falls is another waterfall on this itinerary located in the Budderoo National Park. To reach these falls, head to the Minnamurra Rainforest Centre. It’s open from 9am-5pm daily. There is a large car park which is $12AUD ($8USD) to use. But again, parking is free if you have a NSW National Parks Pass. So buy that 1 year Multi-Park Pass for $65AUD ($36USD) if you visit NSW national parks regularly. It’s worth the investment!

Because the gates close at 5pm, make sure you give yourself enough time to get to the falls. Therefore, we recommend not starting the walk any later than 3pm. The trail is Grade 4. But we think the walk itself is in fact quite easy. It’s really well signposted, paved and not technical. There are steep sections though which is somewhat physically demanding. For the speed hikers, it makes for a challenging and fun trail to walk. Be mindful that the track can get fairly busy on the weekends though.

The Minnamurra Falls Trails

Reaching the Minnamuura Falls involves completing the 4.2km return Falls Walk. However, to reach the start of this trail, you will need to do part of the Rainforest Loop Walk initially. This trail will begin to wind around the lovely rainforest with a slight incline. Part of it is actually a boardwalk. Reaching the actual start of the Falls Walk after starting the Rainforest Loop Walk takes only 20-30 minutes. Basically, follow the Falls Walk signage initially. Then there will be a small signpost directing you to the Falls Walk trail that’ll be to your right.

You will need about an hour to walk to the Minnamurra Falls and back from that point. The trail quickly becomes steep as you head deeper into the rainforest. Along the walk, you will see obstructed views of the larger lower falls. But the main attraction is ahead of you at the viewing platform of the upper falls. At 28 metres, this waterfall isn’t huge. But the falls are really alluring. We found the afternoon provided fantastic lighting for photography. This was despite it being an overcast day.

The Fitzroy, Carrington and Belmore Falls are celebrated for their size, magnitude and power. But there was something mesmerising about Minnamurra Falls despite its smaller size. But it seemed to be the perfect size for its surroundings and environment. Certainly, the rainforest setting aided in their uniqueness and beauty.

Rainforest Loop Track

If you have a bit of extra time, once you have returned from the Falls Track, completing the rest of the initial Rainforest Loop Track shouldn’t take too long. This track on its own is only 1.6km. Because you would have already completed half of it, the rest of the trail should only take another 20 minutes to complete. Unfortunately, when we visited, part of the loop track was closed due to a fallen tree. So we had to walk back the same way we entered.

Southern Highlands Weekend Hiking Recap

With so much to see and experience in the Southern Highlands in NSW, making a hiking itinerary for a weekend was genuinely difficult. But what has been included in this guide are the absolute must see places. By completing this guide, you will see the best waterfalls, trails and natural attractions that the Southern Highlands has on offer.

For more information on how to get there, accommodation and recommended gear, please read below!

The Kangaroo River cascades accessible from Carrington Falls, Southern Highlands. A wide set of small cascades tumble over rock. Surrounding the gentle cascades are trees and dry rock.
The Kangaroo River cascades accessible from Carrington Falls, Southern Highlands.

Getting to Sydney

Flights: Of course, you’ll need to be based in or around Sydney to do this trip. If you’re travelling to Sydney from overseas, use Skyscanner to search for the cheapest flights. When flying abroad, we always get the ball rolling with a Skyscanner search. Also, if you’re based in the UK or US, you should sign up to Jack’s Flight Club for the best flight deal alert service. By simply subscribing to the free weekly newsletter or buying premium membership, you could save lots of money on international travel. If you’re travelling to Sydney from interstate, subscribe to I Want That Flight for the best domestic flight deal alerts.

Getting to and from the Southern Highlands

Car hire: There is lots to see in the Southern Highlands in NSW. Seeing the highlights in just a weekend is challenging but doable. As a result, it’s a busy itinerary. So you’ll definitely want a car. If you don’t have your own set of wheels, we recommend using RentalCars.com. Search below for your perfect car hire! A 2WD is absolutely adequate for this trip and will be the cheapest option for you.

Accommodation in the Southern Highlands

Camping: We visited the Southern Highlands on a long weekend. Plus, it was the first weekend that holidays were allowed again in NSW post COVID-19 travel bans. So most accommodation was booked out. This included a lot of the campsites. As a result, we ended up camping at Moss Vale Village Caravan Park.

Moss Vale is a nice small town next to the more popular Bowral. The facilities at the campsite were great. The bathrooms were spacious, clean and rarely busy. There was also a communal kitchen with 2 BBQ hot plates, washing utensils, a TV and a large gas heater. An unpowered site was $31AUD/night ($21.50USD). We highly recommend using WikiCamps to search for campsite accommodation. It’s a fantastic app!

Other options: If you’re not into camping, unfortunately, other accommodation options in the Southern Highlands aren’t cheap. But for couples travelling on a budget and who don’t want to camp, we recommend using Airbnb. That way, you have your own private space but won’t have to pay through the roof for an expensive hotel or motel.

If you don’t find what you’re looking for on Airbnb, we recommend using Booking.com. They’re our favourite accommodation search engine to use otherwise. Use our link to find other options for accommodation in the Southern Highlands.

Buying Local Supplies

Generally speaking, travelling in Australia is quite expensive. Other than splurging at the Robertson Pie Shop, we packed our own food to cook. Plus snacks to fuel our speed hiking and exploring. We shop at Aldi for the cheapest prices. But we’ll head to Woolworths for branded products and more variety.

Total Costs

  • Accommodation: $31AUD/night ($21.50USD) for 2 people.
  • Petrol: $30AUD ($21USD) for 2 people.
  • Food/snacks: $20AUD/person ($14USD)

= $50AUD ($35USD)

The big saving on this weekend trip is camping for just 1 night. That means leaving early Saturday morning, staying that night, and then heading home late Sunday afternoon or night. You’ll also need to consider the 1 year National Parks Pass for $65AUD ($36USD). Plus, if you’re not a local, factor in accommodation and transport costs.

Five Hiking Essentials For the Southern Highlands

In winter, you’ll definitely need some extra layers in the morning and even throughout the day if it’s overcast. For a more comprehensive packing list, please check out the Ultimate Packing Checklist. It’s a great general summary of everything you’d need for a trip. For even more information check out our 66 Travel Accessories That You Must Travel With. We go in-depth into what hiking and camping gear we use. There, you’ll find specific recommendations for all the products we travel with.

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Trail Navigation

Most of the trails in the Southern Highlands in NSW are easy to follow. But for the Jump Rock Trail, signposting was non-existent. So to be fully prepared, download a GPS guided map before you set out. Feel free to use our Wikiloc directions above. For those not so prepared, if you’re needing navigation help during the hike and don’t have any phone reception, consider using Maps.me. Although you need to have at least downloaded the map of the general area beforehand.

Bonus Tips

  • Prioritise exploring nature: To get the most out of this trip, we recommend spending as much time as possible at the National Parks. Perhaps another weekend could be spent in the Southern Highlands seeing the towns and experiencing the cafes, restaurants and wineries.
  • Try to leave Sydney early: There’s nothing worse than being stuck in traffic. Make sure to leave Sydney early to get the most out of your weekend. It might be hard to avoid getting some traffic on the drive home on Sunday though. But you would have had a great weekend (we are sure of it) so no worries!

We hope you enjoy our Southern Highlands hiking based itinerary. Please share this post to spread the word!


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