I'm a student living in Sydney with a great love of food, history and the outdoors.
Published June 6th 2013
Jane Austen would not be disappointed
Harper's Mansion is located in the picturesque town of Berrima in the Southern Highlands. Just off the main street, this Historic House has been converted into a museum. Berrima is situated just off the Hume Highway, about 125km from Sydney.
Run by the National Trust, Harper's Mansion was built by James and May Harper in 1934. It's a two-storey home, smaller than what one imagines a mansion to be but colossal by the standards of Colonial New South Wales. Built in the classic Georgian style, the mansion strikes an imposing presence upon the main street.
A museum store is run in the back room of the house, selling a variety of interesting books, Australiana and other wares.
While the house is lovely, the gardens are out of this world. Covering two acres and containing a real life hedge maze, pond and many varieties of flowers, the gardens are just like those out of a Jane Austen novel. You could almost imagine Elizabeth Bennett being pursued by Mr Darcy in amongst the flowers!
The Hedge Maze is by far the stand out in the garden. Challenge your friends to find their way out first, with the loser buying lunch in the town!
If you get too lost in the maze, you could always sit and enjoy the serenity!
The gardens have a range of interesting insect life, including some very bright beetles in the springtime. I've never seen such intriguing bugs before, which added to the allure of the garden even to a self confessed insect hater!
One of the colourful inhabitants of Harper's Garden!
The gardens also house a rose garden with a very impressive list of heritage roses dating back to the 16th Century. This important aspect of the garden has required much planning by the gardeners of the National Trust.
There is parking on the side street next to the mansion. Unfortunately only the lower level of the house and parts of the garden are wheelchair accessible, due to the nature of Georgian architecture.
Harper's Mansion is open on weekends and public holidays from 10.30am to 4pm. Entry is free for National Trust members or $7 for adults, $3 for children or $15 for a family. The venue is able to be booked for school and tour groups on appointment. Weddings and period photo shoots are also accepted by appointment.
If you are interested in Georgian architecture, Australian colonial history, gardening or simply feeling like a character in your favourite classic novel, Harper's Mansion is not to be missed on a day out in the Highlands.