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6 Mini-Break Destinations You Can Help Bounce Back From Bushfires

As Australia’s bushfire crisis continues to rage, our tourism industry has taken a hit. Looking ahead to 2020, a strong push has begun to bring mini-break dollars back to bushfire-affected regions.

It’s now imperative to check fire danger ratings before you travel, and be mindful of local residents at a difficult time. However, as communities find their feet again, there’s never been a better time to pack your car and get out there.

The devastation of the fires affected what is usually peak season in various picturesque holiday spots. Beginning with Australia Day weekend, local businesses are now hoping for an upswing in visitors.

No matter where you live in the country, there’s a nearby town that needs a hand. Here are six destinations you can help bounce back from bushfires.

East Gippsland, Victoria

Like many areas of Victoria, East Gippsland has suffered loss of property, livestock and natural flora and fauna.

However, the local tourism board is encouraging visitors to experience the area’s untouched natural beauty.

Explore: Complete with hiking tracks, rolling surf and dunes as far as the eye can see, Ninety Mile Beach is safe to visit.

Eat and Drink: If you’re in Lakes Entrance for a mini-break, drop into Albert & Co. for a coffee and all-day breakfast, or take a 25-minute drive inland for superior craft beers from Bullant Brewery.

Business is all “back to normal” at the historic Metung Hotel, where you can relax by the river with a pint and a fresh catch of prawns.

Sleep: Hotels, motels and lodges all around the East Gippsland area are encouraging tourists to return. For a very chilled retreat on the river, try the rustic Jetty Road Retreat in Lakes Entrance.

 

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#holidaydreaming #nungurner #nungurnerjetty #jettyroadretreat #takemeback #repost #staysafeeveryone

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Sapphire Coast, NSW

After a tough few weeks around the New Year’s period, the picturesque NSW South Coast is welcoming tourists back.

While most national parks are expected to remain closed until at least February 1, several towns on the Sapphire Coast are cleared for holidaymakers.

The NSW Rural Fire Service advises using the Fires Near Me and Live Traffic apps to stay up to date.

Explore: There’s a lot to discover along the largely unscathed Sapphire Coast, including the tranquil town of Merimbula and its famous Bar Beach.

Eat and Drink: It’s all about freshly shucked oysters in this part of the world. The place to go in Merimbula is Dulcie’s Cottage. The restaurant is back to celebrating blue skies after “a strange and scary few weeks” in the region.

In nearby Pambula, Longstocking Brewery and Oyster Bar is a good bet.

Sleep: With water views and the chance of a whale sighting, Beach Cabins Merimbula is a great value base camp for exploring the Sapphire Coast.

 

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A spread for any day of the week. But would deffs recommend adding FRIES. 🍟

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Southern Highlands, NSW

Like other pockets of NSW, the Southern Highlands is still grappling with the fallout from fires. However, towns like Bowral, Mittagong and Moss Vale are hoping summer visitors hurry back ASAP. There’s still a lot you can enjoy in this region.

Explore: Bowral is the quintessential charming country town. You can stroll market stalls and art spaces, then finish the day with live music or a country pub meal.

On the topic of live music, Bowral’s FireAid 2020 festival featured Daryl Braithwaite, Megan Washington and John Paul Young.

Eat and Drink: If you’re looking for a high-end experience, try Bowral’s Biota Dining or its more casual offshoot Bertha’s Meats.

Stop into Mittagong for serious beer appreciation at Eden Brewery, or sample another set of local brews at Southern Highlands Brewing in Moss Vale.

Sleep: 30 minutes from Bowral by car, The Loch in Berrima counts itself lucky to have avoided the threat of fires. The hotel grows its own produce on-site, with fresh food and vegetables available to buy from the farm.

Blue Mountains, NSW

Blue Mountains Tourism has declared the destination open for vista-lovers. As its Facebook update goes, “The fires are gone, the waterfalls are awake and the views are as spectacular as always.”

The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service has reopened significant sections of the Blue Mountains National Park, including walking tracks and lookouts.

Blue Mountains Police Rescue (who also want tourists to come back) has a detailed post on which areas are open and which remain closed.

Explore: According to Blue Mountains Police Rescue, the sweeping landscape has emerged “a bit singed around the edges” but still green.

Govetts Leap Lookout is open, offering pretty unbeatable views. You should also get to the calming and photogenic Empress Falls, which escaped the fires.

Eat and Drink: The options are numerous in this area. Head into Katoomba to stock up at Hillbilly Cider or splurge on a five-course dinner at Darley’s Restaurant.

You won’t go uncaffeinated around here either: Cassiopeia Speciality Coffee in Katoomba and Anonymous Cafe in Blackheath are both good bets.

Sleep: While Fairmont Resort is the area’s splurgy institution, Echoes Hotel offers a classy mini-break alternative on a more boutique scale. It also boasts show stopping views and a panoramic terrace for those sunset cocktails.

Meanwhile, the Blue Mountains town of Bilpin has launched the #BackToBilpin campaign to address the fallout from fires.

As part of the push, the idyllic Eden Farm Escape is offering 50% off the price of its cabin stays with the code 50OFF. (For context, Eden Farm is about an hour’s drive from the Three Sisters.)

 

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One of the most beautiful places in the world to dine.

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Central Coast & Port Macquarie, NSW

Late last year, bushfires forced the cancellation of the Lost Paradise festival in Glenworth Valley, just an hour’s drive north of Sydney.

The Christmas and New Year period was tough on the Central Coast region. The likes of Bouddi National Park are still under threat, with occasional closures, so make sure to check local alerts before you travel.

However, other coastal destinations in the region are encouraging weekend road-trippers.

 

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No worries about time, just enjoy 🏖 #terrigal #terrigal #centralcoastholidays #centralcoast #fun #getaways #gosford

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Explore: Port Macquarie’s Jolly Nose Mountain Bike Park has just re-opened after the bushfires. If wilderness biking isn’t your thing, the region has 17 beaches.

Closer to Sydney on the Central Coast, you’ll find the supremely laidback Avoca Beach and its equally chilled neighbour Terrigal.

Eat and Drink: You can show your support for a handful boutique wineries around this region. Port Macquarie’s Cassegrain Wines is a standout in that field. Meanwhile, craft beer lovers can get their fix at Moorebeer Brewing Co. or Black Duck Brewing.

Sleep: Here’s a great weekender idea. First, lock in a stay at the endearingly no-frills Avoca Beach Hotel. Second, spend your days at the beach, and your evenings at the iconic Avoca Beach Picture Theatre, one of Australia’s best cinemas.

Kangaroo Island, South Australia

In response to the downturn in visitors to Kangaroo Island and the Adelaide Hills, SA Tourism has launched the #BookThemOut bushfire recovery campaign.

While bushfires hit Kangaroo Island hard, 50-percent of the island has not been affected. Tourists are encouraged to visit its eastern end. Here you’ll enjoy pristine conditions, while injecting much needed dollars into the area’s rejuvenation.

Go here to find the most recent updates about fires on Kangaroo Island.

Explore: Apparently most visitors don’t realise the island is so large. Its beaches boast pristine white sand and crystal-clear water. (File Emu Bay under dream swimming spots.) There’s so much space, you might have the beach to yourself.

Eat and Drink: Kangaroo Island is dotted with cellar doors and farm-to-table restaurants. For a combo of great wines and an epic view, try Dudley Wines. (Their website speaks for the island with the message: “We need you more than ever before.”)

Sleep: The “wild, rustic, edge of the earth” feeling can still be found at the super-luxe Stoaway Kangaroo Island. However, you’ll find a range of options for your mini-break, from affordable B&Bs to opulent resorts.

(Lead Image: Bar Beach, Merimbula / Destination NSW)