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Top 8 summer weekend getaways

Lifestyle — Posted 23/10/13

No matter where you live in Australia, here are the top weekend getaways close to your home city.

Brisbane – Bribie Island

Pack your gear, grab some friends and hit the road on Friday night for the short one-hour drive up to Bribie Island. Linked to the mainland via a road bridge, it’s a convenient city escape for weekends and holidays. With a third of the island blanketed by the unspoiled landscape of Bribie Island National Park, there is no shortage of white sandy beaches and shady walking trails to explore. Travelling through the park is best tackled in a 4WD and there are designated camping spots available. Make sure you arrange your spot and permit before you arrive – find out details here. Pitch your tent, set up base and let the stress of the week ebb away.  For weekenders preferring fixed accommodation, there are a few B&Bs and rented apartment options to choose from, along with larger hotels.  Swim, picnic, fish, kayak, bushwalk, birdwatch – or just lie on a beach in peace. tourismbribie.com.au


Canberra – Goulbourn

Just an hour’s drive north-east of Canberra lies Goulbourn, a town rich in goldrush history, peppered with local watering holes and home to a 15-metre tall concrete merino ram. Part of the Southern Tablelands, the area is surrounded by large expanses of flat land, making for some great country cycling – you can pick up a map for a heritage bike ride from the town’s visitors centre. A self-guided tour of Goulbourn’s local pubs is another fun way to explore the area. Download a booklet detailing the historical significance of each establishment and its location here. The township has plenty of accommodation options for groups, from cosy rooms in the Brewer’s cottage to sweet, self-contained cottages. Only minutes from town is the boutique winery Kingsdal. Head to their cellar door on weekends for a tasting, and don’t miss a weekend lunch at the Goulbourn Brewery’s Steam Mills Restaurant. igoulbourn.com


Sydney – Port Stephens

Around two and a half hours separate Sydney-siders from the beautiful coastal destination of Port Stephens. With a bay two and a half times the size of the harbor, it’s begging to be explored, with snorkeling, parasailing and diving just some of the options. Take the old timber ferry from Nelson’s Bay over to the Tea Gardens Hotel for fish and chips in a paper cone, skim the dunes on a sandboard or park yourself on one of the 26 beaches for a day to unwind. In the morning start out early for an invigorating walk along Fingal beach to the Point Stephens lighthouse or follow the Morna Point loop past local wildflowers and curious geological formations. portstephens.org.au


Victoria – Rotten Point House, Johanna

In summer, the Great Ocean Road calls, and this gorgeous house in surfing hot-spot Johanna is a perfect weekend destination for a group of friends. Known for its powerful surf, Johanna has been the back-up beach for the Bells Beach surfing competition over the years and is a hidden gem on this popular road. The four-bedroom modern house offers a clean, stark base for enjoying the breathtaking ocean views and sits on 100 acres of bushland and coastal scrub. Pick up fresh fish from the Apollo Bay Fisherman’s Co-op for a late-afternoon seafood BBQ, mix some refreshing sundowners or pack a picnic for a slow beach day. Nestled in between Apollo Bay and Port Campbell, Johanna is a great spot for exploring the Great Otway National Park and is about a 45-minute coastal drive from the 12 Apostles. rottenpointhouse.com


Hobart – Bruny Island

Board the last Kettering ferry for the night (40 minutes south of Hobart) at 7.30pm on Friday and take the swift 20-minute trip to Bruny Island for a weekend adventure. Just three kilometres from the Ferry terminal is the Bruny Island Smokehouse, open seven days and serving in-house smoked products including mussels, Atlantic salmon and chili sardines. Opening hours vary so be sure to ring ahead. Oyster fans must visit Get Shucked, a popular local oyster trader, while those on the hunt for delicious cheeses and fresh berries can’t miss Bruny Island Berry Farm and Bruny Island Cheese Co. To work off all that food, head out on a discovery walk around the island, taking in weathered sandstone cliffs, sea crags on Fluted Cape and rich local flora and fauna. Bruny Island has plenty of group accommodation options, including local beach houses, cottages and studios. One standout property is Cloudy Bay Beach House, on the island’s south. brunyisland.org.au


Adelaide – The Kirche, Charles Melton

A party of wine appreciators from Adelaide can set themselves up nicely with a weekend away at The Kirche, found in the famed Barossa Valley wine region. Just over an hour’s drive from the city, the converted church sits at the entrance to the Charles Melton winery and is a luxury property at the gateway to some of the best food and wine in country. Pick up some fresh local produce at the Barossa Valley farmers’ market, then head home to make an easy meal in the fully-equipped kitchen overlooking the vineyards. For a relaxing lunch, wander on foot up the road to sample the fare at the Charles Melton. Drive through the maze of streets to explore a few of the 70 cellar doors in the region and drop into Maggie Beer’s farm shop for some take-home delights. thekirche.com.au


Darwin – Litchfield National Park

Escape the heat of summer with a weekend among the cool waterfalls and shady hideaways of the Litchfield National Park, less than a two-hour drive south of Darwin. Set up base at the Litchfield Safari Camp, where you can sleep four adults in a safari-style tent for the weekend. Situated on the western edge of the park, it’s just four kilometers from the refreshing Wangi Falls and is a great home base for exploring the park. Take walks through the rainforest, lounge around in local swimming holes or arrange a day of fishing on the Reynolds River. After your day’s adventures, unwind with a Saturday night BBQ back at camp and nod off under the twinkling stars in this remote pocket of the world. litchfieldnationalpark.com


Perth – Mandurah

Easily accessed by train or car, Mandurah is a fast-growing tourist hot spot only an hour south of Perth. A great strolling city, plenty of its attractions are around the marina precinct, making it a convenient option if you do take the train down. Once you arrive, gather the group for a dinner of freshly caught crabs, sip some of the region’s crisp white wines and enjoy the slow pace of this pretty coastal town. For those wanting to venture beyond the city limits, local wineries are only 20 minutes away, with the Cape Bouvard Winery offering visitors waterfront views of Lake Clifton’s curious Thrombolites. There are plenty of water sports in town to work up an appetite and the Sunday carvery at The Clansman (just south of Mandurah) is a great way to cap off the weekend. visitmandurah.com

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