The Southern Highlands is a great weekend escape from Sydney but did you know Bowral along with its surrounds is also considered Australia’s first official booktown? The picturesque spot is well known for its gardens, cafes, colourful foliage, antique shops and more. It’s also teaming with bookshops rightfully turning it into a magnet for readers and writers. Bibliophiles are well taken care of in this part of NSW with everything from little boutique stores to libraries and cosy bookshops generously sprinkled around town. Inspired by Hay-on-Wye, known locally as Hay, a small town in Wales, Bowral became Australia’s first booktown in 2002.
Southern Highlands, Booktown
The international booktown movement began in the early 1960s recognising small towns or villages as cultural attractions due to their reading culture and bookshops. 18 towns around the world are now recognised as booktowns in places like Europe, Scandinavia, Asia and Australia. Aside from the Southern Highlands, Clunes in Victoria is also considered a booktown.
Wondering where to go in this town filled with books? You’ll be spoilt for choice with an entire Booktrail to explore that will take you to all the booksellers in the region with information about significant literary figures, local authors and more. Get started here.
Other recommendations include the lovely Berkelouw Book Barn, The Bookshop Bowral and The Phoenix Bookstore for excellent second hand quality books. A personal favourite is the popular Harry’s on Green Lane which is perfect for a wholesome meal surrounded by stacked bookshelves, wicker chairs and an old-world charm. There’s also a fireplace for cosy winter evenings.
And it’s not just bookshops, the town also hosts its own literary festival where you can hear from some of Australia’s leading writers and thinkers.
Learn all about the booktown and discover its many quaint bookshops and corners on its official website.