The Best Spots To Get Away From The City On A Long Weekend
Say yes to spontaneity.
For many of us, a long weekend means extra days of freedom. This year we’re saying “yes” to spontaneous travel, and a couple of days off is the perfect excuse to escape the city for a mini-trip across this great big backyard of ours.
Here’s some inspiration for your next great (and probably last-minute) adventure.
ROYAL NATIONAL PARK
The Royal National Park on the southern edge of Sydney has too many great things to fit into one paragraph, but we’ll try our best. Give the two-day Bundeena to Otford Coast Track a go if you’re keen on seeing the coast from a whole new perspective. Whale watching, bird watching or even people watching are good past-times at the Royal where lush greenery abounds and coastal views come in throws. Just an FYI: the Figure 8 Pools at Burning Palms, while recently experiencing a surge in popularity, can be dangerous for inexperienced hikers and should only be visited at low tide and with appropriate footwear.
The town of Berry is as sweet as its name suggests. If you’re looking to get all up in food, sweets and nature, this is your go-to place. Begin your food journey at The Berry Hotel where you can (and should) order the Alpaca Burger. Then head to The Famous Berry Doughnut Van for some mouth-watering doughnuts and finish off your trail at The Treat Factory, arguably the best sweet shop in all of NSW. There’s also picturesque scenery and horseback riding if that’s what you’re into. But, like, food, amirite?
THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD
It’s the holy grail of road trips; the Great Ocean Road is jam-packed with things to do for basically everyone, including surfers, nature lovers, foodies, hikers and general adventure-chasers. If you’ve got eyeballs and a pulse, then the Great Ocean Road is a drive you should do at least once in your life. Head past Lorne to Cumberland River Holiday Park for a cheap stay and an excellent hidden hike behind the campground, or splurge on a fancy house in the beach-side towns of Airey’s Inlet, Lorne or Apollo Bay.
If you’ve hung out on enough beaches, heading north-west to the Grampians is a nice alternative. There’s dozens of campgrounds across the state park (remember to book in advance to save your spot) and a bunch of motels in Halls Gap for those opposed to roughing it.
Once you’ve settled in, make doing the Pinnacle walk your priority. The views are killer and the tough (but fun!) rock-scramble is totally worth it. Load up on water before you depart because you’re going to need it. After your hike drive across to MacKenzie Falls for a refreshing dunk in this wondrous swimming hole and finish it all off with a look at the Balconies and some ice cream from Coola’s Ice Creamery.
LITCHFIELD NATIONAL PARK
A whole lot less populated than Kakadu, Litchfield National Park is the perfect getaway from Darwin. There’s popular swimming holes like Wangi Falls and Buley Rockhole for when the sun just won’t quit, as well as gigantic termite mounds, a “Lost City” and heaps of walking tracks for hardcore hikers.
Take a 4WD straight down through the diverse track that cuts through the park vertically – with all that natural beauty, your Instagram account will surely thank you. Be sure to check the park conditions before you go, though, as sometimes the roads close due to rain.
Visiting Katherine Gorge is a no brainer if you’re near Darwin. Head to the info centre at the beginning of your journey and try your hand at whatever takes your fancy. There’s helicopter rides, scenic flights, river cruises, kayaking expeditions or just plain hoofing it along the gorge’s cliffs. You’ll want to soak up every inch of this magical place for as long as possible.
Escape the cool altitude of the tiny capital and venture to Jervis Bay, about three hours away on the coast of New South Wales. This oceanic bay is home to some of the whitest sand on earth and is a haven for relaxation.
Hyams Beach in Shoelhaven is a sweet spot to settle in and take a barefoot walk down the sand. Take a detour on your way home to the small town of Ulladulla for a sea-side lunch from Tiger’s Fish & Chips on Wason Street.
THE SUNSHINE COAST
Yes, it’s possible to have a Sunshine Coast experience without the crowds. Try this: take an early morning drive to Noosa to peruse the local produce, trinkets and artworks at the Eumundi Markets, then set out for a weekend of exploring every natural body of water you can find.
Try the Buderim Forest Waterfall Walk, or an adventurous swim at Alexandria Bay (yep it’s a nudist beach, and no you don’t have to). Then head on to old fave Noosa Main Beach for a bucket of prawns from Noosa Surf Club. Finish it all off with a stop in at Kondalilla Falls in Maleny.
THREE CAPES TRACK
Tasmania’s Three Capes Track opened at the end of last year, with Lonely Planet naming it the hottest new travel experience of 2015. The three-night, four-day journey on the edge of the earth (literally – they’re the last land formation ’til Antarctica) takes hikers from Port Arthur to Cape Pillar and Cape Hauy through huge eucalyptus forests and along towering seaside cliff faces.
“Dramatic” doesn’t even begin to describe it. Pack light; the overnight huts dotted along the way provide comfy mattresses and gas-top stoves, so you can downsize your duffel bag.
A NATIONAL PARK ROAD TRIP
Pack your car with camping gear and head out of Hobart towards Freycinet National Park for some verdant and mountainous greenery that’ll have you seeing green for weeks. Wet your whistle at Devil’s Corner winery, take a peak at the Tasmanian Devil sanctuary and find your lookout of choice for the gorgeous Wineglass Bay.
Enjoy lunch at Freycinet Marine Farm and the drive to Deloraine, where you’ll settle in for the night. The next morning is a stopover at Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park where you’ll inevitably make plans to do the Overland Hike someday. Then venture back home with a belly full of berries from Kate’s Berry Farm. Perfection.
Drive south towards St John Brook Conservation Park and past Bunbury to find the Barrabup Pool, a hidden gem in Western Australia’s best bush.
The deep natural pool is almost always deserted so you might even have it all to yourself. If driving three hours for a swimming hole seems kind of absurd, you’re also just a stone’s throw away from wine country and Margaret River, so I guess we know where you’ll be spending your next few
Say farewell to Adelaide’s city centre and venture towards the sea to find the Australian wildlife trifecta – a kangaroo, a koala and er… a fur-seal. Staying on Kangaroo Island is easy – there’s an array of inexpensive accommodation options around, or you can just say ‘to hell with it’ and book a stay at the amazing Southern Ocean Lodge.
With the Flinders Chase National Park right at your doorstep and a view overlooking the sugar-white beaches of Hanson Bay, the only downside will be that you’ll eventually have to leave.
(Lead image: Buley’s Rockpool in Litchfield National Park by thinboyfatter / Flickr)