Bowral – home to brilliant tulip gardens, an array of hidden-gem boutique shops, and endless food and beverage options. Add in the fact that it’s just a 90-minute drive from Sydney, and it makes for the perfect weekend away.
Earlier this month, my best friend and I took advantage of the warm weather and headed south for a few nights, where we stayed at the new Park Proxi Gibraltar Bowral.
Park Proxi Gibraltar Bowral is Australia’s first Park Proxi hotel from StayWell Hotel group. Its design is equal parts rustic and modern, with all of the sleek design features you’d expect from premium accommodation coupled with earthy colours and floor to ceiling windows to make you feel at home in the space.
The hotel features 77 generously sized rooms and suites – we were lucky enough to stay in an Executive Suite, complete with a bath and walk in shower, comfortable bed, and a balcony perfect to sit at for your morning tea.
However, some of the main highlights are the amenities.
Park Proxi Gibraltar Bowral boasts an indoor heated pool, gymnasium and an inviting 18-hole golf course, which our balcony looked onto.
Observatory Restaurant offers a truly elite buffet breakfast, including all of your basics, as well as an array of hot food including hash browns and poached eggs, and a refrigerated section with fruit, yoghurt and cheese. There’s no better way to start the day!
For pre (or post) dinner drinks, Harveys Bar is the perfect place to go, offering a diverse drink menu featuring their signature dry martinis, locally crafted beer, and a selection of exquisite Australian wines. The place also exudes warmth and homeliness, complete with marble tabletops and a cosy fireplace.
During our stay, we were also treated to dinner at Observatory Restaurant, serving up a modern Australian à la carte menu celebrating the Southern Highlands. With excellent service and a menu with options for every appetite, you won’t want to leave the hotel – however I really recommend you do.
Bowral is famous for being a gourmet getaway, complete with numerous award-winning restaurants and local cool-climate wineries.
Just a 10-minute drive from Park Proxi Gibraltar Bowral, you’ll find Centennial Vineyards – a premier winery in Bowral that offers not only a sophisticated wine-tasting experience, but also an attached restaurant with outstanding food using fresh, local produce.
The picturesque surroundings alone make Centennial Vineyards worth the visit, with the restaurant situated amongst the vines, and next to their Cellar Door, enabling you to float in between as you please.
Given the beautiful weather, the restaurant’s glass doors were open, and we were able to sit out on the verandah to enjoy our delicious lunch, complete with wine and cocktails.
After this, we ventured to Artemis Wines – a family run winery situated in Mittagong.
As someone who’s not a massive fan of wines that aren’t a variation of Moscato, I found the staff here to be incredibly helpful in suggesting options I might like, and I will say, I really enjoyed the 2023 Artemis Sauvignon Blanc and the 2021 Artemis Chardonnay (which seriously tastes like crème brulee!).
We then finished the day off at Paste.
As far as accolades go, this place truly has it all, having been recently awarded a Chefs Hat by the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide 2024, as well as a Chef Hat from the Australian Good Food Guide 2023. Chef Bee Satongun was also voted Asia’s Best Female Chef by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
Knowing this, we went in with high expectations, and Paste did not disappoint.
Located on the main street of Mittagong, Paste serves up a unique approach to Thai food, using Australian ingredients to re-imagine ancient Thai recipes.
Upon being seated we were greeted by Satongun herself, who promptly delivered an array of entrées, mains, desserts and cocktails to our table.
The food we tried at Paste was unlike anything I’d ever had before, bursting with unique flavours that combine the two cuisines seamlessly.
Stand outs for me were the roasted duck with rice crackers, and the jeen juan chicken curry – two menu items that I’d never think to order on my own, but would absolutely get again.
Whether sampling delicious food is your goal out of a weekend away, or if you’re just looking to fill your stomach between hikes, rounds of golf or museums, you can’t beat a trip to Bowral, and the Park Proxi Gibraltar Bowral makes for the perfect base.
Cassidy Pearce is a news and entertainment journalist with The Western Weekender. A graduate of the University of Technology Sydney, she has previously worked with Good Morning Macarthur and joined the Weekender in 2022.