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New South Wales
Bowral NSW 2576, Australia - panoramio (106).jpg
Aerial view of Bowral
Bowral is located in New South Wales
Location in New South Wales
Population 12,949 (2016 census)
Established 1861
Postcode(s) 2576
Elevation 690 m (2,264 ft)
LGA(s) Wingecarribee Shire
Region Southern Highlands
County Camden
Parish Mittagong
State electorate(s) Wollondilly
Federal Division(s) Whitlam
Mean max temp Mean min temp Annual rainfall
18.7 °C
66 °F
7.8 °C
46 °F
905.5 mm
35.6 in
Localities around Bowral:
Berrima Bowral East Bowral

Bowral is the largest town in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia, about ninety minutes southwest of Sydney. It is the main business and entertainment precinct of the Wingecarribee Shire and Highlands. At the 2016 census, the population of the Bowral area was 12,949.

In the past, Bowral served as a rural summer retreat for the gentry of Sydney, resulting in the establishment of a number of estates and manor houses in the district. Today, it is considered a "dormitory suburb" for commuter Sydneysiders, though it is 132 km away from the city centre. Bowral is often associated with the cricketer Sir Donald Bradman.

Bowral is close to several other historic towns, being 5 kilometres (3 mi) from Mittagong, 9 kilometres (6 mi) from both Moss Vale and Berrima. The suburb of East Bowral and the village of Burradoo are nearby.


Bowral's history extends back for approximately 200 years. During the pre-colonial era, the land was home to an Aboriginal tribe known as Tharawal. This was not a permanent setting for the Indigenous people, as the climate of the region was considered too cool. The name Bowral is believed to be derived from the Aboriginal word "Bowrel" which loosely translates into the word "high". Ex-convict John Wilson, whose search party was commissioned by Governor Hunter to explore south of the new colony of Sydney. Other people to traverse the area include John Warby and botanist George Caley (an associate of Joseph Banks), the Hume brothers and later famous pioneer explorers John Oxley and Charles Throsby. Governor Lachlan Macquarie of the New South Wales colony had appointed 2,400 acres (9.7 km2) to John Oxley in a land grant, which was later incorporated as Bowral.

The town grew rapidly between the 1860s and the 1890s, mainly due to the building of the railway line from Sydney to Melbourne. In 1863, a permanent stone building was built for the church. However, the building would be replaced by the first Anglican church of St Simon and St Jude. The church and chapel had been designed by Edmund Blacket and was built on the glebe in 1874. The churches would once again be subject to rebuilding in 1887 because the churches had been deemed too small for the growing town. Today, only Blackett's belltower remains on the current Church of St. Simon and St. Jude.

Gardens and European plants flourished from 1887, when citizens of Bowral started planting European and English deciduous trees to make the area look more British. This legacy still lives on throughout Bowral. Notably, the oaks at the start of Bong Bong St are a characteristic that makes Bowral distinct from other rural towns, giving it strong autumn colour. The town became somewhat affluent, as many wealthy Sydney-siders purchased property or land in the town and built grand Victorian weatherboard homes, giving it a distinctly New England (USA) feel.


Bowral and the former spelling Bowrall. may have been derived from an Aboriginal word meaning "high and large".


Bowral NSW 2576, Australia - panoramio (40)
Bowral town centre

At the 2016 census, the Bowral area, including Burradoo, had a population of 12,949. A more local area had a population of 10,335.

74.7% of people were born in Australia. The next most common countries of birth were England 7.0% and New Zealand 1.6% and 88.4% of people spoke only English at home. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people made up 0.9% of Bowral's population. The most common responses for religion in Bowral were Anglican 26.2%, No Religion 24.2% and Catholic 22.7%.

In the 21st century, Bowral has become a haven for retirees and empty nesters, commonly from Sydney: 13.3% of Bowral's population is aged 55–64 years (compared with the national average of 11.8%) and 35.5% is aged over 64 years (compared with the national average of 15.8%). Consequently, the town has a number of retirement villages, some located only minutes' walk from the central business district and hospitals. Also, as measured during the 2016 census, 38.7% of the town's population are under the age of 45, whereas for the nation the figure is 59.4%.


Bowral 1
Bowral Railway Station

Bowral is about 5 kilometres (3 mi) from the Hume Highway, which goes north to Sydney and south to Canberra, the Snowy Mountains and Melbourne. In the past, Bowral served as an overnight stop-over for travellers.

Bowral railway station is served by the Southern Highlands Line with services between Sydney and Moss Vale or Goulburn. Long distance services operate to Canberra and Griffith.

It has public bus routes to Nowra, Albion Park and Wollongong. A private operator provides a service six days a week from Bowral to Greater Sydney (Campbelltown, Liverpool and Parramatta) and to the Shoalhaven and south coast of New South Wales.


Bowral has an oceanic climate (Cfb), enjoying warm summers and quite cool to cold winters. Frost is common during winter although temperatures rarely fall below −5 degrees Celsius. Snow falls occasionally, although falls in excess of 15 cm have been recorded. Historic maxima and minima have ranged from 40.0 °C (104.0 °F) on 30 January 2003 to −11.2 °C (11.8 °F) on 11 July 1971.

Climate data for Bowral
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 40.0
Average high °C (°F) 25.5
Average low °C (°F) 13.4
Record low °C (°F) 2.1
Precipitation mm (inches) 81.9
Humidity 57 64 61 61 65 68 64 56 54 56 60 56 60
Avg. precipitation days 13.5 13.4 13.4 11.1 11.2 11.3 10.0 9.4 10.2 11.8 13.6 12.5 141.4

Tourist attractions

Bradman Oval
The Bradman Oval, pavilion and museum at Bowral, NSW

Bowral is the best known of the towns and villages of the Southern Highlands and is noted for its boutiques, antique stores, gourmet restaurants and cafés.

The Bradman Oval, Bradman Museum and International Cricket Hall of Fame are dedicated to the achievements of cricketer Sir Donald Bradman and to the game of cricket.

Bowral is the setting for Tulip Time at the famed Corbett Gardens, a springtime celebration with a profusion of tulips and other flowers planted in the town centre. Held each year in September and October, Tulip Time has become one of Australia's leading floral festivals, alongside which gardening enthusiasts may view some of the nation's most beautiful formal gardens. A comprehensive private not-for-profit botanic garden is being established to include a mix of exotic, native, and endemic species including a shale woodland, the endangered ecological community endemic to the site.

The town has a Vietnam War Memorial and Cherry Tree Walk, constructed along the Mittagong Rivulet that flows through the town. Along a walking/cycle track beside the stream are planted 526 cherry trees, each dedicated to a soldier who died in the service of his country.

Bowral and surrounding region was proclaimed a Booktown in 2000 having numerous bookshops and associations with many literary figures including P. L. Travers, the author of the Mary Poppins novels, Arthur Upfield, and many others.

Bowral panorama
Panoramic view of Bowral from the Bowral Lookout on Mount Gibraltar. Moss Vale and the ranges near Bundanoon can be seen in the background.

The Bong Bong Picnic Races, commenced in 1886, attracted crowds of up to 35,000 but were suspended in 1985 and resumed in 1992 as a members-only event. The event still attracts around 5,000 people and is held annually in November, as well as other events during the year.

Bowral is also home to a few vineyards and cellar doors and is close to Mittagong, the winery centre of the Southern Highlands. There are 60 vineyards in the Southern Highlands, which is a recognised cool-climate wine district. Wineries around Bowral are listed in the Southern Highlands Wineries Index.

Bowral is overshadowed by Mount Gibraltar, which rises to 863 metres (2,831 ft) above sea level and has lookouts over Bowral, Mittagong, Moss Vale and the ranges near Bundanoon.

Notable residents

  • Sir Edmund Barton: First Prime Minister of Australia
  • Billy Birmingham: comedian, aka "The 12th Man"
  • Sir Donald Bradman: Australian cricketer, the town's welcoming sign features a likeness of him getting ready to hit.
  • Ita Buttrose: journalist, businesswoman, and Australian of the year 2013
  • Jennifer Byrne: journalist and former book publisher
  • Richard Carleton: former 60 Minutes reporter. Born in Bowral
  • Bryce Courtenay: South African novelist
  • G. F. J. Dart: headmaster of Ballarat Grammar School 1942–1970
  • Andrew Denton: television producer, comedian, television presenter and former radio host
  • Frank Debenham: Antarctic scientist and geographer
  • Roy De Maistre: painter, born Bowral 1894
  • Lorrae Desmond: actress (A Country Practice). Born in Mittagong
  • John Fahey: former NSW Premier, federal parliamentarian, president of the (sports) World Anti-Doping Agency
  • Peter Garrett: former Gillard Government minister and band member of Midnight Oil
  • Scott Geddes: rugby league player
  • Merv Hicks: Rugby league international
  • Nathan Hindmarsh: Parramatta Eels captain NRL
  • Geoff Jansz: television chef
  • James Kemsley: cartoonist (Ginger Meggs)
  • Graham Kennedy: "The King" of Australian television
  • Peter Khan: former member of the Universal House of Justice, the supreme governing institution of the Baháʼí Faith.
  • Elspeth McLachlan: neuroscientist, born in Bowral
  • Geoff Morrell: artist, actor Blue Heelers
  • John Olsen (Australian artist)
  • Paul Ramsay: businessman and philanthropist
  • Craig Reucassel: television satirist, attended Bowral High School
  • Leo Sayer: singer-songwriter
  • Clement Semmler: author, reviewer and deputy general manager of the ABC
  • Tim Storrier: artist, winner of the 2012 Archibald Prize
  • P. L. Travers: author of Mary Poppins
  • Arthur Upfield: author of the Boney detective novels
  • Paul White: "The Jungle Doctor" medical missionary to Tanganyika, author
  • Geordie Williamson: Mathematician specialising in representation theory
  • Tim the Yowie Man, lived his formative years in Bowral from 1982–1990. Cryptonaturalist, author, tour guide, motivational speaker, tv personality, radio broadcaster.
  • Lauren Cheatle: Lives in Bowral. Fast Bowler for Australia women's cricket team, NSW Breakers and Sydney Sixers.

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