How To Have A European Getaway Without The Jet Lag
It's totally possible.
Dreaming of Europe but can’t manage to swing the time off work to make a big trip happen? We feel you.
But did you know there’s a whole bunch of places with just the same amount of European charm right in your own backyard? You better believe it.
Sleepy Trentham may look like any other rural town in Victoria’s Central Highlands, yet this assuming hamlet is harbouring a secret slice of France. About 30 minutes drive from the popular spa towns of Daylesford and Hepburn Springs, Trentham is home to The French House.
Unlike many other guesthouses, the French House actually lives up to its name by being decidedly French. Sleeping up to eight guests, this luxury French Provincial-style retreat nails the Gallic vibe with bright blue shutters on the windows, fragrant lavender bushes in the garden, and a century-old French Oak table in the dining room. There’s even some Pinot Noir vines out the back. Yes, the French House has its own private vineyard. Oh, and there’s a tennis court, spa and billiards table too if drinking wine by the fireplace isn’t your thing.
You don’t have to look far to pick up other traces of France throughout town. A visit to the sweet studio of local artist Catherine Abel reveals Art Deco-inspired paintings crafted with supreme skill acquired through years of living in Paris.
Stay at Quamby Home long enough and you’ll begin to think you’re living in rural England; such is the bucolic charm of Quamby Home and the town of Hagley it’s found in. Located an easy 25-minute drive from Launceston Airport, Quamby Home sits on 312 acres of English garden and prime farmland, and was once owned by the first premier of Tasmania, so it’s got a mighty pedigree.
While it was built in 1870, it’s been given a luxe makeover but not at the cost of its heritage – a ramble around the property and surrounding farmland reveals cows grazing in misty paddocks, row after row of onions and tonnes of opium poppies. With Tasmania producing more than 50 percent of the world’s opium poppy extract, this is not the place to start sampling the wares (if you want to get out alive).
Just up the road, Westbury continues the fly the Union Jack with an English-style village green straight out of an episode of Antiques Roadshow, as well as a quaint tea house and impossible-to-get-out-of hedge maze.
About 20 minutes drive away, Truffles of Tasmania gives visitors the chance to go truffle hunting with their trusty truffle hounds. While truffles are synonymous with France and Italy, the woodlands of England have a truffle scene of their own – and so does Tassie. While truffles may not be everyone’s cup of tea, there is no greater joy than seeing an adorable hound wandering around and sniffing out truffles.
Located an easy 60 minutes drive from Melbourne, the Tesselaar Tulip Festival is an easy way to get your fill of all things Dutch without committing to a 24 hour flight to Amsterdam.
Every September the farm transforms into a mini version of the Netherlands with half a million tulip bulbs flowering in the glorious spring sunshine after doing the hard yards through a Melbourne winter. With a tagline like ‘fields of fun’, you know you’re in for a good time. And a good time is guaranteed, with stroopwafels to feast on, entertainment from a group called the Rudy van den Bovenkamp Duo and the Australia’s biggest clog on display. Now there’s a party. There’s also a tent dedicated solely to the consumption of Dutch beer – which is all you need to know about this festival, right?
Maclean, New South Wales
No prizes for guessing that the town of Maclean is Scottish through and through. Sitting on the Clarence River in New South Wales, Maclean was settled by Scottish folk and while at a glance it might look a lot like any other country town in Australia, look closer and you’ll see slices of Scotland shining through.
Hundreds of power poles around town are dressed up in tartan and there’s shops selling everything from tartan to those naff novelty Scottish hats complete with tufts of ginger hair poking out the bottom. This may all seem fun, however it’s during the Maclean Highland Gathering that this town really gets a chance to take things to the next level with bagpipers, traditional dancers and the chance to participate in giant log throwing (also known as the Caber Toss).
Hahndorf, South Australia
Hanhdorf’s incredible commitment to all things German has to be seen to be believed. With pork knuckle, schnitzel and steins of Bavarian brews being the standard three-piece feed in these parts, Hahndorf embraces its German heritage at every turn.
Main Street is packed with pubs and hotels desperate to fill your stomach with German goodness in both solid and liquid forms, with the 150 year-old Hahndorf Inn being a stand out. Next door, the quaint Arcobrau Brauhaus delivers a $10 Bavarian breakfast on the weekends – because there’s nothing like the hair-of-the-dog to sort you out. When in Germany….
(Lead Image: The French House)