If you forgot to make plans for the upcoming Australia Day long weekend (yay!) and have zero time to plan anything, pack your luggage (preferably JOURNEY) and head to one of these top spots, just a short drive away from your city.
From Sydney head to… the Southern Highlands
Drive time: 2hr 20min
Given it’s Australia Day, why not go where the star of Baz Lurhman’s iconic film Australia has her Down Under residence, the Southern Highlands? Nicole and Keith live in Sutton Forest, but that is just one of the many charming towns that make up the Southern Highlands. The other must-see is Bowral, host to many Sydney it weddings and full of great antique stores.
From Brisbane head to… Noosa
Drive time: 2hr 20min
QLD is not short of a beautiful beach, but a recent survey revealed that Noosa is the second most romantic beach in Australia (behind Whitehaven which, while stunning, is not a weekend away destination!) We’re not going to give you any suggestions of what to do - the point is max your beach time - instead we’ll recommend you pack a Liane Moriarty book and some La Roche-Posay sunscreen in your JOURNEY beauty case.
From Hobart head to… Lake St Clair
Drive time: 2hr 30 min
The famed Overland Track hike in Tasmania is so popular because it traverses many remarkable spots, and it might just save best for last with the final stop being at Lake St Clair. At 160m, it’s Australia’s deepest freshwater lake and was carved out by ice during several glaciations over the last two million years. There are a number of accommodation options, but Pumphouse Point, set on a wharf 250 metres out into the lake, is truly remarkable and worth the splurge.
From Perth head to… Pemberton
Drive time: 3hrs 30min
This is the place that will satisfy everyone’s needs - from the adrenaline boyfriend who wants to get some mud on his mountain bike tyres, to the water baby who wants to relax by the lake, to the hipster who wants his quota of art galleries and design. And if you want to get real ‘Strayin, this is the place to go fishin’. The trout in the area break all sorts of records and it’s the only place you’ll find Marron.
From Melbourne head to… Red Hill
Drive time: 1hr 30min
Forget the usual haunts like Daylesford and Portsea, and instead venture a little off the beaten track to Red Hill. Don’t be fooled though, just because it doesn’t have the whopping tourist numbers other Vic hot spots do, doesn’t mean it doesn’t deliver. The food and wine options are plenty including Red Hill Epicurean, which is great for groups and delicious Italian food, Ten Minutes By Tractor is the place you’ll want to long lunch at, and Polperro Bistro is an interior designer’s dream. A quick drive away is also Ashcombe Maze and Lavender Gardens where you’ll find Australia’s oldest hedge maze, made from roses that bloom between November and June.
From Adelaide head to… Barossa Valley
Drive time: 1hr 10min
The Barossa Valley is not a hidden gem - its specialness is well documented. However, we’re recommending it because if you’re really going to make the most of it - and the wine for which it’s so famous for - you need three days. We also think it’s best explored with friends, so put forward the Kingsford Homestead (which sleeps 14) on the WhatsApp chat. If you think it looks familiar, that’s because it was the set of McLeod’s Daughters! BYO Akubra.
From Canberra head to… The Snowy Mountains
Drive time: 2hrs 30min
While famous for being a solid winter destination and that Banjo Paterson poem, we think the home of Australia’s highest mountain (at 2,228m) is just as special in the summer. The rivers are full, the flowers are in bloom and the hiking trails are in great condition (it’s a challenging but rewarding hike to the top of Mt Kosciuszko.) Plus, the main town of Jindabyne has really stepped it up lately, with a fantastic new brewery (Jindabyne Brewing) and cool new cafes including Birchwood, which serves top-notch plates. If you like turmeric lattes, head to The Market.