A winter weekender

**Editor's note June 2018

You're likely aware of the bushfire that devastated parts of Tathra on 18 March 2018. This is all the more reason to visit and support this beautiful little town as it rebuilds. Sadly, one of our recommended places to eat, the Cliff Place Cafe, was destroyed in the fire. But all other businesses are open for trade and they need our support now more than ever!

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”— St Augustine

We’re into the last month of winter, but the cold weather can seem to drag on well into September as we wait for warmer temperatures and dream of summer holidays. But why wait until summer for a holiday? Be honest with yourself: isn't it time to be brave and emerge from the doona?

A couple of hours drive, cosy accommodation, some good reads, warm clothes and a sense of adventure is all it takes for a satisfying winter mini break.

Here are our suggestions for planning a winter weekend away, all within 3 hours of Canberra.

Tathra, NSW South Coast (3 hrs)

Tathra is an idyllic little beach village with a gorgeous beach, historic wharf and museum and lots of surrounding national parks to satisfy your inner explorer. It’s also a hop, skip and a jump to various other little coastal towns like Merimbula, Pambula and Eden, each with their own magical stories and sightseeing spots.

Tathra Historic Wharf from Tathra Beach

Photo via Instagram (@sapphiresnappers)

Place to stay: try Kianniny Resort for beautiful rustic log cabins in a bush setting. Bonus: the superior cabins come with a log fire!

Other accommodation options

Where to eat: Cliff Place Café for breakfast with stunning ocean views, Santa Fe Mexican Cantina in nearby Merimbula for delicious Mexican fare (and some of the best corn bread you've ever tasted), and Fat Tony’s Bar and Grill, which gets excellent reviews.

Update: the historic Tathra Hotel also reopened in November 2017 and has been beautifully renovated and reimagined. Well worth a visit!

Things to do: rug up and take a long walk along the pristine Tathra Beach, check out a quaint coastal market, or take in the amazing views from the historic Tathra Wharf.

Southern Highlands, NSW (1-1.5 hours)

The Southern Highlands of NSW boasts some of the most picturesque country you’ll see. Besides being touted as “Australia’s Home of Pies” (who doesn’t love a delicious pie?), this region is home to some amazing and quaint towns and villages including Bowral, Mittagong, Moss Vale and Berrima. With wineries, beautiful sightseeing opportunities and luxury accommodation galore, there’s something really special about this little piece of country that makes it perfect for a weekend getaway.

Eling Forest Winery

Photo via Instagram (@escapesouthernhighlands)

Place to stay: Eling Forest Estate. Truth be told, you’ve probably blinked and missed this place. Located on the Hume Highway, Eling Forest Estate is home to an amazing cool-climate winery, restaurant and colonial era cottage accommodation set amongst gorgeous gardens.

Where to eat: at the winery restaurant, or take a 15 minute drive into Berrima to check out the much-lauded Eschalot Restaurant.

Things to do: check out some of the amazing antiques and collectibles on offer (Dirty Jane’s in Bowral gets a particularly good rap), immerse yourself in nature at the idyllic Lake Alexandra Reserve, or get a dose of art at the Sturt Gallery in Mittagong.

Bungendore, NSW (<1 hr)

The Old Stone House in Bungendore

Photo via Instagram (@tracy_lee_photography)

Who says you have to travel far and wide for a weekend mini-break? Bungendore (affectionately known as "Bungers") is a popular hotspot for many Canberrans for a day trip, but why not take it a step further and stay a night or two? It's less than 40 minutes from Canberra, but as a quaint country town it still gives the feeling of getting away from it all.

Place to stay: The Old Stone House Bed & Breakfast. What a gorgeous little spot! The Old Stone House is a small boutique hotel, saved from dereliction in the late 1980s and restored to its old-world glory. The rooms are beautifully appointed and you will feel like you're stepping into another era. The sitting room features a large open fire, while the Snug Bar has a slow combustion fire where you can enjoy cheese plates, wine and charcuterie.

Where to eat: Breakfast at Café Wood Works is a must, while Le Tres Bon seems to be the locals' choice for fine French cuisine (they also do tours and cooking classes).

Things to do: No trip to Bungendore is complete without stopping in at the Woodworks Gallery, where you'll find Australian made wood art, sculpture, craft and contemporary furniture of a very high standard from the country's foremost designer/makers in wood. (Tip: the Chinoiserie Cabinet is an absolute must-see). Pick up amazing produce at the Southern Harvest Farmers Market from 9am every Saturday (bonus: the short trip home means you can stock up!), and browse contemporary art from local and international artists and designers at the gorgeous Suki and Hugh Gallery.

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