February 18, 2020 / By Nicole West
If you haven't visited historic Braidwood before, there's lots to do. Step back in time among colonial buildings, learn about the gold-rush era, explore national parks and check out what the creative locals are up to. All this within a three-hour drive from Sydney and less than an hour drive from Canberra. Here is my list of top things to do in Braidwood.
Visit the Braidwood Historical Society Museum
In the 1840s, the building that now houses the Braidwood Museum was the Royal Hotel, the first main pub in the area. Over the years, this grand building has been renovated, has hosted concerts and dances, and was even converted into flats at one point. Now, you’ll find inside a fascinating collection of photos and artefacts that depict the lives of locals over the decades and some of the big events that have formed part of the town’s history.
Pick up a map here to ensure you don’t miss any of the other historic buildings in the area. Also, don’t forget to ask about famous bushranger sites and stories. The region saw the likes of Tom and John Clarke, dubbed ‘the bloodiest Bushrangers”, and Jackey Jackey, an English convict known for exchanging outfits with his victims, create terror throughout the area.
Soak up the local history
Now that you have your map, it's time to wander the town's historic streets. Braidwood was the first town to be listed on the NSW State Heritage register and it really does pack a historical punch when it comes to buildings. By the 1830s, the town was already a successful pastoral community, and in the 1950s gold fever hit with the discovery of this precious mineral in land nearby. These developments brought more money to the town, so now you’ll find exceptionally well-preserved architecture and buildings.
Start your walk on the corner of McKellar and Wallace Streets, proceed south to Lascelles Street, then East to Elrington Street and back to McKellar Street. This route passes 33 places of interest including the Library Institute (1869), the Braidwood Hotel (1859), the Post Office (1865) and the local court house (1900) which is still in operation.
Shopping and dining
Braidwood locals are a pretty creative bunch and as a result the town has more than its fair share of quirky shops and restaurants that add to the town’s charming vibe. On the main street, head to Saloon for unique and locally-made fashion or Sandalwood Homewares for exotic pieces clothes, furniture and homewares sources from around the world. If you have a jewellery fetish - and let’s face it, who doesn’t - Mr. Mr Store is the place for original pieces, along with accessories and even swimwear.
When hunger calls, follow your nose towards the smell of Lonsdale Street coffee at the Albion, or head next door to Deadwood Cafe for a delicious breakfast or lunch made with seasonal, free-range produce and check out their fresh flowers and plants while you’re feasting. Further down the main street is Casanova, a fabulous place to buy breads and enjoy fresh and hearty food with a Mediterranean influence.
Discover nature parks
After your history fix, it might be time for a spot of hiking, swimming, kayaking or birdwatching. Deua National Park offers fantastic walking trails to see the chasm of The Big Hole and the ancient rock called Marble Arch, which features stalactites hanging from the ceilings. For water-based activities, hit both the Deua and the Shoalhaven rivers from here.
Monga National Park is nearby too, with the Penance Grove boardwalk trail through the Gondwana Forest and the historic - though fairly challenging - Corn Trail walking track. There are plenty of places to settle in for a picnic, so pack some treats from town and find a spot along the banks of the Mongarlowe River.
Airing of the Quilts
If you're lucky enough to be in the area on the last weekend in November, you'll be able to experience the Airing of the Quilts. The theme for this year's event is "Silver threads among the gold", and will involve over 500 quilts adorning the main street, plus a two day exhibition and craft market in the National Theatre Building on Wallace Street.
From natural wonders to historic attractions and a unique arts, dining and shopping scene, there’s not much you can’t do on a weekend away in Braidwood!
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