Macarthur and the Southern Highlands
View some of the exciting destinations within this region:
- Burragorang Lookout(Burragorang State Conservation Area)
- Beyond the blue waters of the flooded Burragorang Valley stand the...View…
- Nattai National Park
- Nattai National Park takes in the cliff-lined valleys and sandstone...View…
- Thirlmere Lakes National Park
- Further south and some 15 million years ago, earth movements pushed up...View…
- Wollondilly Lookout
- This roadside stop on the Wombeyan Caves Road is on the south-western...View…
- Wombeyan Caves Karst Conservation Reserve
- Nestled in a remote valley, this bushland reserve protects much of the...View…
View the exciting experiences you can enjoy within this region:
- All Experiences
- Get the complete picture - you'll never be wanting for somthing to do! View…
- Aboriginal Heritage
- For many thousands of years the Dharawal and Gundungurra people have... View…
- National park style camping with good facilities is available at Wombeyan... View…
- Several of the Thirlmere Lakes provide opportunities for a quiet paddle... View…
- Galleries, Museums and Collections
- As well as huge range of art and craft galleries, the region has many... View…
- Guided Activities
- Travellers to the Macarthur and Southern Highlands areas can take... View…
- Historic Sites and Heritage
- Many historic buildings and villages have survived from the rich colonial... View…
- Mountain Biking
- In Thirlmere Lakes National Park you can take short rides on Slades Road,... View…
- Mountains, Forests, Rivers and Lakes
- Mountains Most of the World Heritage Area is made up of sandstone... View…
- Nature Study
- The 416 hectare Mount Annan Botanic Garden was opened in 1988 and will... View…
- Overnight Bushwalks
- Experienced bushwalkers can plan walks into the wilds of Nattai National... View…
- Mount Annan Botanic Garden has extensive picnic grounds Facilities:... View…
- Scenic Lookouts
- Burragorang Lookout (Burragorang State Conservation Area) Views over Lake... View…
- Short Walks
- A 7 km circuit track goes around three of the Thirlmere Lakes -... View…
Situated on the headwaters of the Nepean and Georges Rivers, the Macarthur region takes in the 'Cowpastures', where cattle strayed from the fledgling colony of Sydney in search of tastier grass. The colonists soon followed, with John Macarthur receiving the first land grant at Camden in 1806. It was on the shale soils here that Macarthur and other gentleman farmers established Australia's wool, wheat and wine industries.
Going south, the road climbs out of the Macarthur basin onto the Southern Highlands where the Nattai and Wingecarribee Rivers rise. This is another important agricultural region, with areas of even richer basalt soils and magnificent gardens.
For many thousands of years and still today, the fertile landscapes of Macarthur and the Southern Highlands have been the homeland of the Dharawal, the Gundungurra and the XXX people.
Today, the major towns and smaller villages dotted across the region supply all modern services to a picturesque countryside dotted with historic villages, galleries and cafes. To the west lie the foothills of the Blue Mountains, protected from settlement in the early days by less productive soils and rugged country. More recently water supply catchments and conservation reserves have formalised the protection.
Get up close to the edge of world heritage wilderness at Warragamba Dam, Burragorang Lookout, Thirlmere Lakes, Wollondilly Lookout and Wombeyan Caves.
Discover native plants in the spacious picnic grounds of Mount Annan Botanic Garden. Indulge in fine food and wine and explore the many wine tasting opportunities offered by the region's diverse array of vineyards, explore the local villages and wander the gardens and galleries of the highlands. Visit the Rail Heritage Centre at Thirlmere – home of Australia's oldest and largest railway museum – a step back in time, to an era when everyone travelled by train.
For further information on things to see and do in this region and local national parks, visit the following local visitor information centres or websites. See also the Greater Blue Mountains Drive Companion Guide.
- NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (Department of Environment and Climate Change)
- Toll-Free: 1300 361 967
- Web: www.npws.nsw.gov.au
- Tourism NSW
- Web: http://www.visitnsw.com.au
- 15 Old Menangle Road
- Phone: 02 4645 4921
- Web: http://www.campbelltown.nsw.gov.au
- Web: http://www.macarthurtourism.com.au
- 62 Main Street
- Toll-Free: 1300 657 559
- Web: http://www.southern-highlands.com.au
- Wombeyan Caves
- Phone: 02 4843 5976
Macarthur and the Southern Highlands Landscapes
Macarthur and the Southern Highlands border what at first appears to be a gentle corner of the Greater Blue Mountains, with rolling forest-covered hills on the blue western horizon. But as you head further west, the country grows into a more dramatic landscape of wild and plunging valleys.
Here, the national parks of Thirlmere Lakes, Nattai and Blue Mountains make up that part of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area known as the Colong sector – named for the square-topped basalt peak of Mount Colong near Yerranderie. Much of this land is classified as wilderness for increased protection and supplies clean runoff to Lake Burragorang, Sydney's main water supply.
Adjoining these wildest areas, but not included as World Heritage, are the bushland reserves of Burragorang State Conservation Area (SCA), Nattai SCA, Bargo SCA and Wombeyan Caves Karst Conservation Reserve. The state conservation areas protect the sandstone country east of Lake Burragorang while allowing coalmining to continue underground. Wombeyan takes in some of the state's most beautiful and scientifically important limestone caves and other karst features.
The following Discovery Trail can be found within this region...