Photo below:

The library book that inspired this long weekend from Coast to South Highlands to Canberra. Recipe from this book at end of post.

The orange map (image below) outlines our journey from Milton/Ulladulla (where our house is) travelling north up the coast toward Nowra; then inland to the Southern Highlands (main town is Bowral…photos below). We stayed at Peppers “resort”, Sutton Forest, an historic “manor house” with accommodation on the surrounding property (photos below).

The blue map shows our route back to Canberra (the Australian capital)…our 2nd home is a small apartment near Lake Burley Griffin and the Parliamentary triangle…where we often stop for a light evening meal in Canberra’s little “Chinatown” in Dickson – now accessible by light rail from the city as well 🚆

We often stopped in Dickson, Canberra, on our 100s of road trips returning home from visiting family (and my spinal specialist over the last decade). We now take the train to/from Canberra sometimes, which also stops in the Southern Highlands eg. Bowral.

Photos below…Fitzroy Falls – stopped for lunch at the top of the mountain after the drive up from the coast

Our walk around Fitzroy Falls in the late afternoon

Photo below:

Banksia is one of my favourite plants at both the South Coast and around Fitzroy Falls and Southern Highlands. There’s a different variety in Canberra – just as beautiful too…

Our late May 2019 stay in Southern Highlands: Peppers Resort (photos below)…includes a “Manor House” (more information on it’s 1800s history later this week) + separate accommodation surrounding the manor house.

PHOTOS and around Peppers resort. The manor house has a Scottish highlands feel…I’ll type up the history (original owners had Scottish ancestry) later this week.

One day we had a high tea beside the open fire (can be seen in 1st photo below)…it was included as an extra as we booked directly. So much food!…both savoury and sweet at about 3 pm so we just had a light breakfast and a super light/late evening “meal” that day!

More photos in and around Peppers…beautiful place!

Exploring the gardens at Peppers…gardens not as well maintained as some places – perhaps hard to get the staff? As a garden lover it was a bit sad to see things overcrowded & struggling in some places but general view of the surrounding hills is beautiful.

Another historic place to stay in the Southern Highlands?…


A friend recommended it to me – she recently had a Christmas in July catchup with friends and stayed there.

I had a quick look at the reviews and photos on Trip Advisor…looks good so we might try staying there on our next visit to the Southern Highlands.

So many outdoor things to see and do as well…

Wetlands Walk…10 min drive from Peppers (more detail later this week)…a short or long walk highly recommended…

Enjoyed the walk…good/well maintained trail…walk could be 10 – 30 min or longer of if you’re feeling energetic – we ran out of light and headed home

Platypus image from Net…my pic of info board…

Photos below: More short walks around Southern Highlands...Berrima River Walk…30-40 min depending on how long you stop to read the many information boards.

Historic Berrima River Walk – information boards along the way describe the WWI German Internment Camp

A bit more WWI history…Venn diagram from the Net…

Photos below:

Lambies Well – Historic river walk including Indigenous information/history – Berrima…

More Berrima photos above…1 with dog is from the Net but 1 above that is mine. A popular walking track especially on a Sunday. There’s a lovely picnic spot nearby (only 2 min drive from town of Berrima). Berrima has lots of cafes and a few restaurants; there are also some historic sites of interest as well.

So many photos here…I love this place!…

Dinner at a beautiful Italian restaurant across the road from Peppers Resort…I’ll note more information on this later this week. We had both dinner one night and a lunch (with family who joined from Sydney on Saturday). The dinner included a cooking demonstration.

Photos of Bowral below…we loved Bowral too!…

Lots of cafes and European style patisserie stores in Bowral…

Photos below…A walk around Peppers Resort again on our last morning...last photo of gum trees back in Canberra that afternoon – gorgeous morning and afternoon light…best time for photos don’t you think?


A tasty one as an entree?…or sometimes we have a “Deli night”…might add to this some fresh bread; cheese; some vine ripened tomatoes sometimes with fresh basil from our garden + buffalo mozzerella or even better (if feeling a little self indulgent!) …a burrata – sometimes from a local market although Woolworths supermarket does sell a beautiful creamy one as well. My nutritionist (who I should see soon!) would not approve!

And some South Coast venues/recipes from near our coast place (from where we began this trip)…Cupitt’s also featured in the Southern Highlands cookbook…

MILTON/ULLADULLA on coast – about 1.5 hour drive from Southern Highlands; 2 hours from Canberra and approximately 2 hours from Sydney (outside of peak/rush hour).

Our favourite experience at Cupitt’s (photo above) has been for lunch overlooking the vineyard and hills of Milton…5 min from Ulladulla and our place in Mollymook. We usually just have a wood fired pizza + salad on a Sunday. They often have live music on Sundays too.

We’ve had dinner there a few times (usually in summer) but it was over crowded/noisy and the staff didn’t seem to cope so well so we can’t recommend it for dinner although we haven’t tried it for a year or so…of course things might have improved?

The other great place for pizza in the same vicinity at the coast is at Bannister’s pool bar (next to Rick Stein’s restaurant) at Mollymook Beach. We often go there for a casual dinner both in summer (when we sit outdoors overlooking the sea) and in winter beside the cosy fire.

ANOTHER RECIPE FROM MY NEW (2nd hand) COOKBOOK “Surfing the Menu” by Dan Churchill & Hayden Quinn (based on travel/food show on ABC TV 2016)

On front cover of Matt Moran’s book…”I plan to steal ideas from this book at every opportunity”…A. Bourdain

A SIMPLE/FAVOURITE FISH DISH…from our book – Surfing the Menu (2016)

HARISSA BREAM with flatbread and Labneh

We don’t always serve with flatbread and labneh (a super thick yoghurt) but if going for an middle eastern theme, which we sometimes do, it does work well. We also use a ready made Harissa Paste (available from good supermarkets or a middle eastern store), but there’s a recipe on P166 if you want to start from scratch.

Here’s recipe for just the bream…

2 tablespoons harissa paste; 2 teaspoons ground coriander; 1 teaspoon ground cumin; 4 bream fillets; 2 tablespoons olive oil; 1 onion finely chopped; 1 teaspoon ground allspice; 1 tablespoon honey; lemon juice, to taste; micro herbs (a Chefy thing!) and flatbread (optional – to serve)…I tend to finely chop some chives or similar growing well in our garden.


Combine 1 tablespoon of the harissa paste, the ground coriander, cumin and a pinch of salt. Spread all over the fish, cover and marinate in the fridge for a minimum of 1 hour or up to 3 hours.

Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook bream for 1 min on each side until lightly golden. Remove and set aside. Add the onion to the pan and cook until golden.

Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon of harissa paste, the allspice and honey. Season with salt and pepper, then return the fish to the pan and use a spoon to baste with the sauce. Cover and cook for 4 min or until cooked through. Season with a squeeze of lemon juice and sprinkle with microherbs (or similar). Serve fish with the sauce, flatbread and labneh (optional)…

We served with a salad and jacket potatoes (Tony loves potato!)…we also added a little turmeric for good brain health & a taste we also enjoy!

And another recipe/cooking suggestion below from an Australian chef’s book – Matt Moran (photo above)...our book and well used since 2006 when it was purchased at the National Library bookshop (a beautiful building/cafe there as well) in Canberra.

Roast Lamb with Preserved Lemon and Chargrilled Veg P 146


2 Kg lamb leg (good to get one that is de-boned and trussed)…I bought 1 on special from Coles for tonight; 1 clove garlic; 80 g preserved lemon (see P210 if you want to make your own); 6 rosemary sprigs (always in our garden…photo below); 30 ml olive oil; salt and pepper;

Vegetables: 3 potatoes (unpeeled); 3 cloves garlic (unpeeled); finely grated zest of 1 lemon; 300 g chat potatoes; 3 red onions; 1 bunch baby carrots (we love heirloom type from Costco); 1 bunch asparagus (or baby broccolini?); baby leeks…any veg you want eg. Red peppers as in the photo above


Preheat oven to 180 degC. Using a sharp knife, make a small incisions all over the leg and insert slivers of garlic, preserved lemon and the leaves from half the rosemary. Rub with olive oil and season liberally.

Roughly cut the unpeeled potatoes into cubes (he says small but I prefer medium) and place in a large roasting tin. Using the flat of a knife, lightly crush the unpeeled garlic cloves and add to the potatoes, along with the lemon zest and the remaining rosemary. Place the lamb on top of the potatoes and roast for approximately 1.5 hours for medium rare (if you have a meat thermometer, it should read 55-60 deg C).

Chargrilled vegetables:

We find the chargrill method Matt Moran describes on P146 quite time consuming…although definitely tasty even if the potatoes (cooked under lamb) isn’t a great option if you’re trying to cut back on cholesterol like we are!

So my suggestion is that you either cook a selection of fresh vegetables in the way that suits you best &/or you have time for…so important to eat plenty of vegetable my nutritionist tells me – particularly if they’re not soaked in fat (like Moran suggests). After cooking I usually drizzle with an extra virgin olive oil…Mediterranean diet has been proven to be one of the best!

IN SPRING….a nice one to try from this Matt Moran book P40


Sounds delicious with cherry toms; baby carrots; baby fennel; asparagus tips; 75 g peas in pod (shelled); 6 dill sprigs; 6 chives; 6 chervil sprigs (will try to grow in Spring); 6 basil sprigs; 3 zucchini flowers; 35 g hazelnuts; 200 g Persian feta (we buy that in a jar from Costco)

Dressing: garlic; 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard; 25 ml Chardonnay vinegar (or Maggie Beer 1 in cupboard?); 55 ml honey; 100 ml hazelnut oil (or similar?); S&P

In Spring we plan on doing a bit of experimenting with this salad & will report back here then!

I’ll end with a winter/rosemary inspired photo from our Canberra courtyard…

Rosemary is so hardy & looks great in a pot; I love the colour of pansies as well in winter.