After being cooped up in our own homes, neighbourhoods, states (and country!) for a time most of us have never experienced before, we’re more than ready to hit the road for a cheeky night or weekend away. Fortunately, us Australians are spoilt for choice with some stunning spots on our doorstep. I’ve chosen my two favourite spots in each city so you can either explore a destination close to home or jump the state border, if permitted.
Beach, forest, or vineyard? Take your pick at Margaret River (WA)
Sporting lush forest trails, rolling vineyard-clad hills, quaint farmers’ markets and some of the country’s best beaches – Margaret River has a lot on offer and makes the perfect spot for a quick getaway, being less than 3 hours from Perth. With over 150 top notch wineries, a trip to Margaret River isn’t complete without a day or two of wine tasting accompanied by fine food and picturesque surrounds. My pick is the five-course tasting menu at Vasse Felix, where stunning seasonal dishes are artfully paired with some of the region’s finest wines.
The beckoning beaches of Broome (WA)
The seemingly infinite stretch of white sand at Cable Beach, fringed by turquoise Indian Ocean waters, makes Broome one idyllic spot for a beachside escape. Lap up the chilled vibe (something we all need after what has been an intense year!) and watch the sun sink below the horizon while sipping on a local brew. I love Matso’s Mango Beer – produced by a Broome brewery; it’s a refreshing drop designed to beat the Broome heat. If you fancy a bit more adventure with your sunset, hop aboard a camel for a leisurely ride along Cable Beach – complete with elevated vistas and sea breezes.
Follow your tastebuds on a tour of the Barossa (SA)
In the heart of South Australia and just an hour north of Adelaide, Barossa Valley is full to the brim of opulent accommodation, scrumptious food and world-renowned wineries. Known as the ‘gourmet capital’ of South Australia, it’s the perfect escape with a group of friends to eat, drink and be merry. I love The Stables at Pindarie Wines for the vineyard to glass experience – paired with cheese of course!
Get a taste of the great outdoors at Mount Gambier (SA)
Nestled between pine tree plantations and a picturesque volcanic landscape, Mount Gambier is known for its stunning sapphire blue lake and bounty of natural attractions. Once an active volcano, the 72-metre-deep Blue Lake is surrounded by walking trails ranging from a one-hour lake circuit to a more difficult mountain trail taking in magical views over the area.
Day spa in Daylesford (VIC)
Unwind and leave the city behind with a visit to the healing natural mineral springs and spas of Daylesford. Disconnect from technology and enjoy the natural surrounds at Lake Daylesford and re-connect with nature. Simply take in the relaxed atmosphere in town and follow it up with a soak in the spa at our favourite spot, Lake House. The private treetop spa is a must!
Food, wine, and nature at the Mornington Peninsula (VIC)
Just an hour southeast of Melbourne, this is a fantastic weekend getaway that has something for everyone! Whether you fancy a dip with a pod of dolphins at Port Philip Bay or prefer to keep your feet grounded at the many vineyards, bush walking tracks or local eateries, the Mornington Peninsula has got you covered. Open subject to COVID health regulations, I think Peninsula Hot Springs offers the perfect stop off to recharge your batteries before heading back to the city.
Really escape the city at Jervis Bay (NSW)
At just under 3 hours from Sydney, you’ll feel a world away from the hustle as soon as you arrive in the small seaside community of Jervis Bay. Featuring jaw-dropping natural beauty and easily the east coast’s most pristine beaches, Jervis Bay is also home to a whale population from mid-October to late November as humpback whales and their babies shelter in the shallows. With crystal-clear blue waters and unrivalled visibility, Jervis Bay is arguably one of the best snorkelling and diving spots Australia has on offer – take advantage of the current lack of international visitors and see it for yourself!
Just chill at Byron Bay (NSW)
Channelling a chilled out hippy vibe, Byron Bay is a beachside town packed with boho boutique shopping, feel-good food and alluring surf beaches that will have you wanting to extend your stay. If sauntering between town and the beach isn’t enough, pop on your active wear and head to one of the many yoga classes, (COVID permitting) or tackle the Byron Bay Lighthouse Walk and be rewarded with amazing vistas. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, I love a lazy afternoon of grazing and cocktails at the middle-eastern inspired Mez Club.
Soak up the Sunshine Coast (QLD)
An easy 2-hour drive from Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast boasts year-round sunshine and warm days to satisfy your vitamin-D cravings – which we all need after a lot of time indoors! Time your stay around visits to iconic local markets – Eumundi for locally made arts and crafts or head to the Noosa Farmers Market and stock up on local, seasonal produce for a picnic lunch at the beach. Bliss!
Reconnect with nature in Toowoomba (QLD)
Get your dose of greenery in the serene backdrop that is Toowoomba (also known as The Garden City). Bursting with public greenspace like the Botanical Gardens and Japanese Gardens, you’ll feel at one with nature in no time. If you’re in the mood for something more strenuous, the Table Top Mountain walk is an uphill challenge that rewards you with sweeping panoramic views. Once you’ve clambered to the top, you’ll understand why hikers use this as their Kilimanjaro training grounds.
With so many amazing adventures to be had on our doorstep, a weekend or night away can be so refreshing – particularly in a time that has become a little repetitive in many ways.