Southern highlands - australia

Welcome to Australia’s first Booktown

Literary points of interest

We’re Australia’s First Booktown

The Southern Highlands has long housed more than its fair share of creative and well-read people but the crowning glory has to be its status as Australia’s First Booktown.


Jasmine Street was home to Arthur Upfield, creator of the Bony aboriginal detective character, and also Paul White, author of the popular Jungle Doctor books. Both had their works published in dozens of languages. Bowral has been home to P.L.Travers (author of Mary Poppins), critic Clement Semmler, playwright and film producer, Maslyn Williams. Cricketer Don Bradman was also a journalist and author of classic works such as The Art of Cricket and his autobiography A Farewell to Cricket.


In Rolf Boldrewood’s classic bushranging tale Robbery Under Arms (1888), Dick Marston and Captain Starlight escape from Berrima Gaol. Berrima has been home to poets, Grace Perry, John Millet (Winner NSW Premier’s Poetry Award) and radio scriptwriter Gwen Meridith of serial Blue Hills fame.


Little Forest is the final resting place of novelist, George Johnston, author of My Brother Jack.


Home to David Foster, leading contemporary Australian writer and Miles Franklin Award winner. The local post office features prominently as a location in Foster’s fiction.



Frensham School was attended by authors Nancy Keesing, Joan Phipson and poet Rosemary Dobson, among many other writers.



Nobel Literature Prize Winner and novelist, Patrick White, spent his early school days at Tudor House. Thwaites Street is named after prolific author, F.J.Thwaites, who lived here. HarperCollins Publishers has their major distribution centre in Moss Vale. Popular author, Frank Clune, was another longtime resident.



Home to Ginger Meggs cartoonist, James Kemsley.


Starlight’s Trail is the path to the legendary valley hideaway of the aristocratic bushranger, Captain Starlight, from Boldrewood’s novel Robbery Under Arms and a favourite bushwalkers’ trek.



Oldbury Farm (not open to the public) was the home to Charlotte Barton, author of the first book for children to be published in Australia A Mother’s Offering to Her Children (1841). Her youngest daughter, Caroline Louisa Atkinson also lived here and wrote the first work of fiction by an Australian-born woman Gertrude the Immigrant (1875).



The surrounding rural region towards Goulburn is linked with the famous author of My Brilliant Career, Miles Franklin. She grew up here and records her impressions of the area in her diaries.

Mary Poppins

Is Bowral the birthplace of Mary Poppins?

And the answer? Well, the place with the strongest claim to be the “birthplace” of Mary Poppins – both in a symbolic and literal sense – is a town called Bowral.

Bowral can claim to be the birthplace of Mary Poppins, the fictional character created by author, PL Travers, and made famous by the Walt Disney movie. Find out the answer to the question: Where did Mary Poppins come from? by visiting

Booktown MaryPoppins Booktown Southern Highlands