Bowral is the largest town in the Southern Highlands of NSW. It is located in the Wingecarribee Shire, with a population of about 11,500. Considered the commercial centre of the Highlands, Bowral has an impressive selection of retail outlets, boutiques, supermarkets, cafés, restaurants, and other businesses.
The town of Bowral can include the suburb of East Bowral and the village of Burradoo, which are adjacent to the town. Other Highland towns are within close driving distance, such as Mittagong (5km), Moss Vale (9km), Berrima (9km), Bundanoon (27km) and Robertson (26km).
For many decades Bowral was well-known as a rural retreat for the elite gentry of Sydney. This has left a legacy of many historical estates and manor houses. Rural charm and excellent facilities have ensured Bowral’s reputation as a fashionable destination. Some of the town's private gardens are among the world’s best, with many open to the public in spring and summer. Shopping in Bowral is popular for its antiques, homewares, jewellery, and arts and crafts. The region is also home to several vineyards and cellar doors.
Bowral has become a haven for retirees and empty nesters, commonly from Sydney. According to 2006 census data 14.2% of the population was aged 55-64 years (compared with the national average of 11.0%) and 26.5% was aged over 64 years (compared with the national average of 13.3%). Bowral caters well for retirees, with many retirement villages located a few minutes’ walk from the CBD and hospitals.
Bowral is about 5km from the Hume Highway, which goes north to Sydney and south to Canberra, the Snowy Mountains and Melbourne. It has a railway station on CityRail's Southern Highlands line, which has services to Sydney and Goulburn (Cityrail) and Canberra and Melbourne (CountryLink). Bowral also has bus routes to Nowra, Albion Park and Wollongong.
There is a wide selection of public and private schools including Bowral High School, Bowral Public School, Southern Highlands Christian School (East Bowral), Oxley College (Burradoo), Chevalier College (Burradoo) and St Thomas Aquinas Catholic Primary School.
Places of worship include St Simon's and St Jude's Anglican Church, St Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic Church, St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Bowral Uniting Church of Australia, Bowral Church of Christ, Bowral Baptist Church and Bowral Salvation Army.
Bowral is well serviced by hospitals including Bowral Hospital and Southern Highlands Private Hospital, with major hospitals in Wollongong, Sydney and Canberra relatively nearby.