Hidden gems: our best historic venues in Southern NSW

Are you looking for a venue in the Southern Highlands that's beautiful, unique, and steeped in history? Take a look at our venues in the area and get inspired for your next event.

There’s something special about the green hills and wide-open spaces of NSW’s Southern Highlands. Just a 90-minute drive from Sydney, the area offers an idyllic location for weddings and special events, while also being close enough for guests to zip down from the city for the day or an overnight stay.

If you’re looking for something with extra charm and character, consider a National Trust (NSW) historic venue for your event. Each has its own unique story to tell, and offers a timeless and effortlessly romantic atmosphere for weddings and parties. By hosting your special event at a National Trust site, you’ll also be helping to protect and celebrate Australia’s heritage.

Here are our best historic venues in the Southern Highlands and surrounding area. You can also explore our full venue hire offering around the state.

The gardens of Retford Park. Image: Merima S Photography.

Retford Park, Bowral

Recently opened for events, Retford Park is relatively new on the venue scene and still one of Bowral’s best kept secrets – but not for long.

The stunning pink mansion was built in 1887 by the Hordern family and lavishly redesigned by James Fairfax AC in the 1960s. The house is surrounded by one of the most spectacular all-seasons gardens in Australia, featuring private garden rooms, lush parkland and towering mature trees.

This is an ideal venue for outdoor wedding ceremonies of up to 60 people and outdoor functions for up to 100. All events are held in the gardens, with the mansion providing an unparalleled backdrop for photos. Best of all, the heritage gardens look great all year round, from blazing foliage in autumn to swaths of peonies and azaleas in spring.

Guests will also enjoy other landmarks around the estate, such as the striking modernist pool pavilion designed in 1969 by Guilford Bell, historic outbuildings and gardens dotted with sculptures.

Find out more about Retford Park venue hire

Retford Park in Bowral. Image: Waymark Productions.

Harper’s Mansion, Berrima

This pretty Georgian designed property was built in 1843 and overlooks the historic town of Berrima in the Southern Highlands. The weathered brick and sandstone mansion is a beautiful backdrop to photos, but the real star of the show is the picturesque garden, which features two acres of cool-climate gardens bursting with flowers PLUS one of NSW’s largest hedge mazes.

You can comfortably host an outdoor wedding ceremony for up to 60 people in the garden, which offers privacy and space for your guests to wander and enjoy the grounds. The unique maze and expansive strolling gardens at Harper’s Mansion have featured in a number of short films and fashion shoots because of their natural beauty and historic atmosphere.

Not too big, and not too small, Harper’s Mansion is a hidden gem of a heritage venue that both adults and children will enjoy for weddings and special events.

Find out more about Harper’s Mansion venue hire

Harper's mansion
Harper’s Mansion in Berrima. Image: Michael Kennedy.
The gardens and maze at Harper’s Mansion. Image: Michael Kennedy.

Cooma Cottage, Yass

Cooma Cottage holds a special place on the Yass tourist trail and is loved equally for its charming 19th century buildings and incredible setting overlooking the Yass River.

The location has a romantic backstory as well: it was the former home of famous explorer Hamilton Hume, who reportedly fell in love with the area during his explorations and set about creating a retreat here with his wife, Elizabeth.

The location is just a few minutes drive from Yass’ town centre, and is ideal for outdoor wedding ceremonies of up to 100 guests. Take your vows under the grand picconia tree, while guests soak up the peaceful views. You can also make the most of the historic house and stables for stunning wedding photography backdrops.

Find out more about Cooma Cottage venue hire.

Cooma Cottage
The original stables at Cooma Cottage. Image: SGR Photo.
Cooma Cottage
Wedding ceremonies take place under the historic picconia tree, with views of Yass Valley beyond.

Riversdale, Goulburn

If you’re looking for a garden wedding venue with a historic background, you’ll love Riversdale’s beautifully landscaped 19th century grounds.

Riversdale began its life as a coaching inn and later became home to the Twynam family for almost 100 years. Emily Twynam created many remarkable 19th century botanical sketches here, inspired by the flowers that grew in this very garden.

Today, the garden setting is both welcoming and intimate – perfectly sized to host micro ceremonies, or larger events for up to 100 guests. The colonial home’s Georgian features, such as verandahs on all sides, sandstone flagging and beautiful flowering gardens make Riversdale a charming backdrop for wedding photography and garden ceremonies.

Find out more about Riversdale venue hire.

The peaceful gardens at Riversdale in Goulburn.

Start planning your event

By hosting your special event at a National Trust (NSW) site, you’ll be helping to protect and celebrate Australia’s unique heritage.

Explore our full range of historic venues in NSW, or contact us to discuss options and bring your dream celebration to life.



NSW Editor


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