Welcome to Australia’s first Booktown

Southern highlands - australia

Come for the books - we’re 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.

Since 2000 the region has augmented its cache of local authors, publishers and book-lovers with a suite of bookshops and literary festivals to lay claim to that prestigious title, and a legitimate right to international fame. Inspired by the UK town Hay-on-Wye and other towns worldwide that have followed its lead. Join us in celebrating the art of the book! Explore our picturesque towns and villages and discover many fine bookshops and literary links.

Our booktown story

Why is the Southern Highlands Australia’s first booktown?

The Southern Highlands is our nation’s first, established in 2000 through the joint efforts of Churchill Fellow Paul McShane and the Southern Highlands Business Chamber.

Our book town is probably unique in that it doesn’t focus on just one township or village but embraces the whole district, pulling together both dedicated bookshops and shops that sell books, old and new.” Lori explains “Everyone knows Berkelouw’s at Berrima and the Bowral Bookshop, but even the Bradman Museum has its specialty in selling cricket-related books. 

what is a booktown?

The Booktown movement & its origins

Way back in 1960, a self-confessed ‘eccentric’ Englishman named Richard Booth bought an old run-down castle in a little UK town in Wales, called Hay-on-Wye.

Richard set up a bookshop in his castle, and he began trading in second-hand or antiquarian books. He did such a good job of attracting publicity with his mad-cap promotions that people began to travel long distances just to see what all the fuss was about.

Richard Booth
Book display
Booktown Bookshop at the Mittagong Antiques Centre

on the booktrail

Find it on the Southern Highlands Booktrail

It is in this spirit that we welcome you to the Southern Highlands Booktrail and hope that you enjoy all that this beautiful area has to offer the discerning literary visitor.

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“Books are our time machines and our mind expanders. Please come and buy a book or two and enjoy the journey in good company”

Fast facts

Did you know the Southern Highlands is home to a number of writers?