Australia is arguably the motherland of day trips, weekend trips and, indeed, road trips in general. The abundance of excellent, singular sights and destinations is a foremost cause but so too is the country’s geography.
Think about it. Name another country with a city as cosmopolitan and vibrant as a Melbourne, Perth or Sydney that, as it happens, has so many rare gems on the doorstep. And by gems, we mean epic UNESCO World Heritage Sites and national parks, from the Gondwana Rainforests to the Greater Blue Mountains, world-class wine regions and historic towns.
Whatever your interest – nature, wildlife, recreation, culture, cuisine and more – these short trip destinations in Australia reign supreme.
The Greater Blue Mountains is where Sydneysiders go to get in touch with nature. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is just 50 km from the New South Wales capital and stays in lockstep with the seasons, whether you’re foraging for fungi in fall or birdwatching in spring. Crisp, clean air, abundant foliage and pulse-quickening panoramas punctuate the Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon region. All in all, it’s hiker’s heaven and comes equipped with enough forested trails to keep you busy for weeks. From the Jenolan Caves to the iconic Three Sisters rock formation, historic villages to exquisite regional food and wine, Blue Mountains hotels offer access to it all.
Gold Coast Hinterland
Most everyone has Surfers Paradise, Broadbeach and Burleigh on their Gold Coast radar but the hinterland of Queensland’s tourism lodestar deserves some love as well. The vibe shifts dramatically once you direct yourself west of the Q1, as the oceanside gives way to the stunning landscapes of Tweed Range, Nimmel Range, Tamborine Mountain, Numinbah Valley and the McPherson Range. For visitors who choose hotels near Gold Coast, the activities on offer are diverse, from the Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk to the Gondwana Rainforest canopy at Mount Tamborine and Lamington National Park, boutique winery or brewery tours to artisan and market stalls.
Drive 90 km east of Melbourne and the urban mien of the metropolis fades to green as you approach the Yarra Valley. This is wine country, of course, and occasions to quaff, taste and nerd out on oenophile factoids do not come much better. The area, however, is not just about grapes. There is excellent beer and chef-run tables to sample, for example, and wildlife and national parks (Yarra Ranges National Park, Toolangi State Forest, Kinglake National Park) too.
The southern gateway to the incomparable Kimberley region of Western Australia is like no other place on the continent. Desert, ocean, white sand, sandstone and ultramarine waters merge on a narrow peninsula town of 11,500 people, some 2,200 km from Perth. Welcome to the tropics and the tourist gem of Broome. Whether you explore the semi-arid wilderness and coastal enclaves outside of town or wander the streets and admire the architecture and pubs, your visit is sure to be a memorable one.
Margaret River Wine Region
Margaret River is not the only wine region in Western Australia but you might not know it based on the tourist literature out there. Truth is, when you’re this idyllic, it’s tough for upstarts to usurp your throne. Close enough to Perth to warrant a day or weekend jaunt but far enough to remain distinct, the jewel of the South West has become a gustatory capital of note and nirvana for avid spa-goers. The presence of a national park as extraordinary as Leeuwin-Naturaliste is a wonderful bonus.