The top 8 summer weekend getaways in Australia

Australia, you deserve a holiday. This one’s been a long time coming. You’ve been patient. You’ve booked the leave, crossed days off your calendar, crossed your fingers, and now it’s finally here.

Written by Medibank

For me, after more than 260 days in lockdown in Melbourne, I’m as ready as anyone for a sea change. I don’t mind where. The Skeleton Coast? Let’s go. The Bermuda Triangle? Sign me up. I’m hitting the road with a boot full of books and the biggest tub of sunscreen you’ve ever seen in your life. I am ready. I’m vaxxed and relaxed. It’s time.

Fortunately for me (and for you), we are spoilt for choice when it comes to summer weekend getaways in Australia. You don’t have to travel far to find little slices of paradise to unwind in, no matter your budget or your holiday needs. Kid-friendly, pet-friendly, friend-friendly—you name it, we’ve got it. All you need to do is decide where to go.

Brisbane to 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 wilds 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. 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. You’ve earned it.

Canberra to Goulburn

Just an hour’s drive north-east of Canberra waits Goulburn, 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 Goulburn’s local pubs is another fun way to explore the area; you can download a booklet detailing the historical significance of each establishment and its location from the website below. 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 Kingsdale. Head to their cellar door on weekends for a tasting, and don’t miss a weekend lunch at the Goulburn Brewery’s Steam Mills Restaurant. 

Sydney to Port Stephens

Around two and a half hours separate Sydney-siders from the beautiful coastal destination of Port Stephens. With a bay more than twice the size of the harbour, it’s begging to be explored, with snorkelling, parasailing and diving just some of the options to do so. 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.

Melbourne to Daylesford

The shores of Lake Daylesford beckon year-round, but summer is an especially enticing time to visit. Only a 90-minute drive from Melbourne, Daylesford is as famous for its picturesque lake as it is for its mineral baths and relaxation centres, dotted all around the shire. After an early morning massage, lose yourself in the bustle of the Sunday morning markets where you can sample local produce begging to be packed into a picnic basket and taken to Wombat Hill Botanical Gardens. Art lovers should allow time for a mosey through the Convent gallery. Bring your camera; the views over Daylesford from the Covent are stunning. You won’t want to miss a meal at the Farmers Arms Hotel either, where miso glazed roast pumpkin, Nepalese curries and eye fillet mignon are washed down with local wine and craft beer in this well-loved country pub.

Hobart to 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. 

Adelaide to 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 the 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. 

Darwin to Litchfield National Park

Escape the summer heat 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 kilometres 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 barbeque back at camp and nod off under the twinkling stars in this remote pocket of the world. 

Perth to 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.

Medibank Domestic Travel Insurance

Pack peace of mind on your next Aussie adventure.
Plus, if you're a Medibank health member you'll save 15%.

Important things you should know

Limits, sub-limits, exclusions and conditions apply. This is general advice only. Medibank Private Limited, ABN 47 080 890 259, an Authorised Representative, AR 286089, of Travel Insurance Partners Pty Limited, ABN 73 144 049 230 AFSL 360138 arranges the insurance on behalf of the insurer. The insurer is Zurich Australian Insurance Limited ABN 13 000 296 640, AFSL 232507. Please consider your own needs and the Combined FSG/PDS to decide if this product is right for you. For information on the Target Market and Target Market Determinations, visit medibank.com.au/travel-insurance/help/

Written by Medibank

Previous article

5 things to do in Tasmania in Spring | Live Better

Next article

Epic Autumn Getaways in Australia

Related articles

Subscribe to receive the best from Live Better every week. Healthy recipes, exercise tips and activities, offers and promotions – everything to help you eat, move and feel better.

By clicking sign up I understand and agree to Medibank's privacy policy

Thanks for subscribing. You’re on the road to a better, healthier version of you!