The Best Staycation Ideas
Australians are an adventurous bunch, and with no end to the pandemic in sight, we’re narrowing our travel destinations down to what’s in our own back yards. Rightly so! We’re blessed with so many beautiful destinations and local businesses that could do with our support. So, we’ve compiled a list of locations close to each of the state’s capital cities to inspire your next staycation.
Image Credit: Visit NSW
Those living in the nation’s capital are lucky to have the Australian Alps at their doorstep. In just over two hours, you can go from the city to Kosciuszko National Park, home of Australia’s highest peak - Mount Kosciuszko. The national park is a fantastic year-round destination with snow sports, mountain biking and walking to keep you busy all year long. If you’d prefer to keep your alpine adventures in Canberra (Kosciuszko National Park is in New South Wales), head to bordering Namadgi National Park which is just over 30 minutes away. This lesser-known heritage area will spoil visitors with a variety of flora and fauna to marvel over. There are rugged mountains, alpine meadows, luscious rainforests and rural plains to explore.
Grazing and Gold in Gundaroo
Image Credit: Cork Street Cafe
For a bit of Gold-Rush history served with top-notch gourmet fare, head to Gundaroo. A 30-minute drive north of Canberra will lead you to the Yass valley and the quaint Gundaroo village. Here you can admire well-preserved 19th century architecture and history which includes slab huts, homesteads and historic cottages. After completing the self-guided Gundaroo Heritage River Walk, indulge in one of the many cafe’s, restaurants and wineries that serve up culinary treats made from the region’s local produce.
Bookish in Bowral
Image Credit: @bendooleyestate via Instagram
An escape to the country is a perfect chance to slow down and get lost in a good book. If you’re a bookworm living in Sydney, Bowral is one of the best places to do it! A 90-minute drive south west of Sydney will have you in a book lover’s paradise. Bendooley Estate is a must-see. The property makes the most of the idyllic rural landscape and is home to the Berkelouw Book Barn, the official HQ of the Berkelouw Bookstore Chain. It’s the magical farm-meets-library scene that dreams are made of. In town, you can also shop for a new read at the Bookshop Bowral and dig into your book over lunch at the booklined Elephant Boy Café.
Palm Beach Getaway
Image Credit: Sydney.com
For a beach getaway within Sydney, you can’t look past Palm Beach. Fans of Home and Away will recognise the golden sand and stunning coast as the real-life Summer Bay. Palm Beach is the perfect setting for a quintessential surf-beach experience, but also offers an opportunity for still water adventure such as kayaking or stand up paddle boarding in the calm bays of Pittwater. A hike up to Barrenjoey Lighthouse will be rewarded with panoramic views of the surrounding bushland and coast, and delicious coffee and breakfast awaits at the nautical-themed BoatHouse Café when you make it back down to sea level.
Romance in Ravensbourne
Image Credit: Ravensbourne Escape
For an easy romantic getaway, you can’t go past Ravensbourne. In just 35 minutes, you can escape the hustle and bustle of Brisbane and slow down in the temperate forests of Ravensbourne National Park. Gorgeous green forests are the perfect setting for long, cool walks with your significant other, and create wonderful growing conditions for delicious fresh produce to enjoy over candlelit dinner. There are also a handful of secluded cabins and chalets that will make you feel worlds away from the city.
A Sunny Escape in Noosa
For sun, surf and a slower pace of life, head two hours north of Brisbane to Noosa. You’ll have several resorts to choose from in this popular tourist spot – each as good as the last – which will make booking a last-minute escape easy. There are plenty of amenities such as cafes, restaurants, and local shops to make your stay comfortable, but really the best thing about Noosa is the world-class surf and beaches.
Learn about the Land in Nitmiluk National Park
Image Credit: Nitmiluk Tours
Three hours south of Darwin will have you in the heart of Nitmiluk National Park – a natural and cultural area of significance belonging to the Jawoyn people who welcome visitors to discover sights such as the Katherine River and Edith Falls. For a luxurious getaway, treat yourself to a stay at Cicada Lodge which is also owned by the Jawoyn people. The high-end, exclusive resort features 18 secluded suites each adorned with indigenous art and a private balcony that makes the most of the region’s beautiful natural vistas. Guests can also enjoy fine dining inspired by indigenous foods and cultural tours that will deepen their connection with indigenous culture.
Forest, Food and Wine in the Southern Forest Region
Image Credit: @trufflewineco via instagram
If you’re a wine and nature lover that wants to escape to somewhere a little different (you’ve probably already been to Margaret River), head to the town of Pemberton for a foodie meets forest escape. It’s three and a half hours from Perth, but the drive is well worth it. Small but fine cellar doors specialising in reds call the quaint town of Pemberton home. As do a number of restaurants that make the most of the region’s premium produce such as The Truffle & Wine Co and Hidden River Estate. You can balance a gluttonous meal by meandering through the towering Karri trees of Gloucester National Park.
Escape to the Ocean on Rottnest Island
A rugged coastal escape is just a ferry ride away from Perth on Rottnest Island. Here you’ll find an array of beaches to suit your sport – be it surfing a reef break at Radar Reef or enjoying a relaxing swim in the protected shallow waters of Thompson Bay. Rottnest Island is a nature reserve, so you’ll be sharing it with one of Australia’s most unique (and adorable) creatures – the Quokka, as well as fur seals, bottlenose dolphins and the occasional whale.
Vineyards in McLaren Vale
Image Credit: Hugo Wines
McLaren Vale is just under an hour away from Adelaide and boasts countless world-class wineries for visitors to choose from. One of the best ways to discover the region’s specialty variety (Shiraz) is by foot or bike along the 8km Shiraz Trail between McLaren Vale and Willunga. On the trail, you’ll pass by old favourites such as Hugo Wines and Hardy’s Tintara before you finish in the town of Willunga where you can reward a grumbling tummy by dining at one of the many restaurants or sampling fresh local produce at the Willunga Farmer’s Market.
An Easy Outback Escape in the Flinders
The Flinders Ranges are a little further afield, about five hours drive from Adelaide, but with ancient rocky landscapes and vast outback vistas to be discovered, the drive is well worth it. It’s some of the most easily accessed outback in Australia and offers the world-class, crimson landscape that you’d expect from an outback escape. A range of luxury resorts afford the serenity of seclusion and amazing private views, including stunning birds-eye views from a helicopter if you’re so inclined. Or you can keep it simple with a stay at one of the many campgrounds. The gorgeous landscapes can be discovered on foot or by four-wheel drive. No matter how you choose to explore the Flinders, there’s no doubt that this unique 540 million-year-old landscape will take your breath away.
Gorge-filled Getaway in the Grampians
Three hours west of Melbourne feels like a world away thanks to the dramatic natural landscape of the Grampians. A vast network of walking trails will lead you through rugged rock formations, jaw-dropping gorges and panoramic views. If you’re lucky, you’ll even be able to share the walk with a rock wallaby or echidna. After a long walk, cool off with a swim in the pristine Lake Fyans, but be sure to leave enough time to drive out to Boroka, Reed or Mount William lookouts at sunset to catch the dazzling show of colours as the sun sets over an ocean of treetops.
The Penguins of Phillip Island
Image Credit: Visit Phillip Island
A 90-minute drive from Melbourne will afford you the chance to see some of Australia’s cutest creatures in their natural habitat. Phillip Island is known for the daily Penguin Parade. Each day at dusk, Little Penguins race up Summerland Beach to their burrows right by the observation deck where onlookers can safely watch without disturbing the animals. Add to your wildlife fix with a visit the Koala Conservation Centre which features a woodland boardwalk that meanders through the trees and gives you a chance to spot Koalas in the trees as they sleep.
Go Gourmet on Bruny Island
Image Credit: @brunyislandcheese via Instagram
Tasmania has developed a name as a foodie paradise, and Bruny Island does not disappoint. The island is only 40 minutes away from Hobart and allows you to enjoy delicious local produce while surrounded by gorgeous natural scenery. Local producers are joined by local makers to offer visitors a bountiful selection of local delicacies including cheese, wine, whiskey, beer and chocolate just to name a few. It’s easy to wander off onto your own foodie tour as there’s no such thing as a wrong turn on Bruny Island. But Bruny Island Cheese Co. (which now includes a brewery) is a must-visit for world-class Fromage. If you’d prefer that a local show you around, there are many local guides and food tours on offer.
Smell the Serenity of Port Arthur Lavender Farm
Image Credit: Port Arthur Lavender
Lavender is becoming one of Tasmania’s new boutique industries with more handicraft and culinary producers making use of the aromatic herbs being cultivated by local growers. One of the best at both can be found just 45 minutes away from Hobart at Port Arthur Lavender. This waterfront estate affords you a unique opportunity to see fields of lavender meet the sea when they are in bloom in summer. Visitors can also enjoy a dish that makes the most of the produce at the on-site café serving up Poached eggs with spiced lavender chutney; lavender shortbread with toffee, ice-cream, nougat and lavender dust; or Farmhouse scones with lavender butter. If you want to stick around (and why wouldn’t you?), the property also includes a waterfront holiday home which makes for a stunning base to explore neighbouring Long Bay and historic Port Arthur.
Now that you’ve got your staycation inspiration, pack smart to make the most of your stay. Check our staycation packing guide to learn more.
Do you have a favourite staycation destination in Australia?
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