COFFEE @ The Red Tree Cafe, Bowral 2576.
Bowral and Berrima is a non-reversible word pair just as ‘bacon and eggs’ and ‘house and garden’ are. These words automatically and comfortably go together; to reverse them would sound awkward and unnatural. So, in the spirit of the non reversible word pair, I suggest readers start their visit to the Southern Highlands with breakfast at The Red Tree Cafe.
Internally, the various spaces successfully provide patrons with a range of seating options to cater to different preferences. The original street-facing cottage is small and enticing with an open fireplace, original timber floors and a pleasant green outlook through the frameless glass enclosed balcony.
The rear ‘box’ addition is bright and airy with polished concrete floors, crisp white walls and a statement red chandelier. The option to dine in the rear garden makes The Red Tree Cafe a very family friendly location.
The menu contains all the breakfast dishes common to most modern cafes. The food is fresh, tasty and satisfying and the lunch menu includes a choice of salads and sourdough sandwiches which look delicious.
NOW & THEN around Bowral.
The area of Bowral was first explored by Europeans in 1789 when Governor Hunter commissioned ex-convict John Wilson to explore south of the new colony of Sydney. Decades later, further expeditions were carried out by John Warby and Botanist George Caley, the Hume brothers and later John Oxley and Charles Throsby.
Governor Macquarie gave John Oxley a land grant of 2,400 acres which is known today as Bowral. Oxley never took residence on the land, however his sons lived in the area as sheep and cattle pastoralists. Oxley’s sons named the area around Bowral Wingecarribee, which today is the name of the local council.
In the late 1850s, 200 acres of the Oxley grant was subdivided, as it was known that the railway would be constructed through the district. Further subdivisions for farms aided the growth of Bowral.
With the arrival of the railway in 1867 in Mittagong and Moss Vale, Bowral grew rapidly and by the end of the 1890s it was a small town with a bakery, blacksmith, newsagency, general store, hotels and a post office. Bowral Railway Station opened in 1886.
European plants and gardens thrived in the late 1800s when local residents began planting decorative European trees and plants to make the area look more British. The Oak trees at the start of Bong Bong Street are a prominent and distinctive legacy from the period.
Bowral’s population boomed in the early 1900s as evidenced by the opening of a number of schools including Bowral High, Chevalier College and St. Thomas Aquinas; now all heritage-listed or within a heritage conservation area. To supply bricks for the booming residential and commercial markets in the Southern Highlands, Bowral’s Brickworks was constructed in 1920 and still remains functioning today.
In the late 1950s, thousands of tulips were planted in the heritage-listed Corbett Gardens (established 1911). The plants flower in September and are the centre of an annual tradition known as Tulip Time. The festival is one of Australia’s oldest and most popular floral festivals and attracts large crowds to Bowral.
Australian cricketing legend Sir Donald Bradman, dubbed the boy from Bowral, was born in Cootamundra, New South Wales in 1908. Bradman’s family moved to 52 Shepherd Street, Bowral when he was a young child. Following recent restoration works, the locally listed home was awarded the title of Overall winner of the 2013 Wingecarribee Shire Council Heritage Awards.
In 1924 the Bradmans relocated to 20 Glebe Street, Bowral where it is said that Bradman repeatedly hit a golf ball with a cricket stump against the curved brick base of the family water tank . The modest 1920’s brick bungalow is a locally listed heritage item because of its historical associations with the cricketer.
In addition, the Bradman Museum and the NSW State heritage-listed Bradman Oval and Collection of Cricket Memorabilia commemorate Sir Donald Bradman’s achievements; Bradman played at the ground in the 1920s.
A photographic record of my visit to Bowral, NSW
Bowral is a town known and loved for its beautiful heritage buildings. In addition to Bowral s sixty two individually locally listed and three state listed heritage items, a relatively large portion of Bowral falls within heritage conservation areas.
The majority of the homes within these areas remain largely intact with alterations and additions mostly indistinguishable from the original fabric and of course, no contemporary additions are visible from the street.
Whilst the old Milk Factory is not heritage listed, nor is it located within any of the heritage conservation areas, it is an interesting example of a contemporary renovation/restoration of a 1920s building.
Milk was first transported by train from Bowral in the late 1870s and in the early 1920s the NSW Fresh Food and Ice Company constructed the Milk Factory which was outfitted with modern refrigeration units.
The front façade has been substantially altered, however the building retains it’s industrial heritage. The impressively restored internal space is currently used as an art gallery, function space and cafe. Externally, the use of bold colours and sculptures enliven the streetscape whilst playfully connecting the 1834 Electric Supply building and other structures on the site.
The Milk Factory Gallery was the overall winner of the 2009 Wingecarribee Shire Council Heritage Awards.
Australian Dictionary of Biography, Bradman Foundation website, Dictionary of Sydney, Office of Environment & Heritage State Heritage Inventory, Wingecarribee Shire Council website. Historical images courtesy of the State Library of NSW, the Berrima District Historical & Family History Society Inc and the Bradman Museum Trust Collection.