5 Weekend Getaway Destinations in Australia
Some of the best places Down Under aren’t anywhere near the major tourist hubs.
Australia is home to some of the best beaches and most iconic landmarks in the world, making it a travel haven for tourists. However, locals will tell you that some of the best places Down Under aren’t anywhere near the major tourist hubs. Not to worry, HomeExchange has properties all over the country that have something unique to offer. Here are 5 lesser-known destination spots that will be perfect for your weekend getaway.
Photo Credit: Steve Lacy
Just a short drive from Melbourne City lays Phillip Island — a conservation and ecotourism paradise that caters to the nature and animal lover. Receive hands-on experience at the Maru Koala and Animal Park by taking a walk with dingos, or feed the always hungry, but friendly kangaroos.
For a more H2O-based experience, the penguin parade is where you want to be. At this popular attraction, you can enjoy being able to see the world’s smallest penguins waddle out of the water at sunset and into their homes on the beach from viewing stands and boardwalks.
If you need a break from the wildlife, a rather sweet option is to head to the Phillip Island Chocolate Factory, where you can take a self-guided tour of Panny’s Amazing World of Chocolate and learn all there is to know about the cocoa bean through interactive experiences. Your tastebuds will love the chocolate shop that is piled high with sweet treats. Afterward, make your way to Cowes to explore the main street that is packed with interesting shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants.
Photo Credit: Rory
Channel your inner cowboy in Tamworth — the Australian Country Music Capital and home to Tamworth Country Music Festival, the largest Country Music Festival in the entire Southern Hemisphere. When this festival occurs in January, the population of Tamworth triples! However, this is only one noteworthy reason why visitors flock to this destination. The city also has an array of attractions from natural wonders to cultural and artistic offerings, along with top restaurants that showcase regional wine during a 10-day festival called ‘Taste Tamworth.’
To help save during your stay, visit Oxley Lookout at the top of White Street for an incredible, birds-eye view over Tamworth, followed by a walk along the nearby Kamilaroi walking track. After, make your way to the Marsupial Park at the top of Brisbane Street and enjoy free entry into bushland that features the Eastern grey kangaroo and multiple bird aviaries.
Photo Credit: Travelling Otter
For effortless accessibility to Ningaloo Reef, Turquoise Bay and countless other spectacular beaches and coral lagoons, Exmouth provides it all. Here you can essentially experience summer year-round with winter temperatures reaching 25 degrees and the summer average being 35 degrees, so you can be assured that your weekend trip will almost always be sunny.
First-time or inexperienced snorkelers will find Exmouth an ideal starting point to explore the underwater world. Manta Rays, colourful and vibrant coral and countless species of tropical fish are present all year.
Head back to land and check out the Cape Range National Park — a massive limestone range that has been eroded over time. It will give you spectacular views of deep gorges, ridges, gullies and extensive caves. Take a scenic drive along the eastern side and keep an eye out for the wildlife that is regularly sighted around Exmouth.
Photo Credit: James Jardin
Just an hour’s drive north of Cairns, Port Douglas is a coastal town that offers the best blend of the forest and the Coral Sea. It is the only place on Earth where two World Heritage listed gems exist; the rainforest of Daintree and Cape Tribulation, and the Great Barrier Reef.
Take off from the closest departure point to the Great Barrier Reef, and snorkel or dive the day away in the most pristine parts of the reef including Ribbon and Tongue reefs, while immersing yourself in one of the greatest wonders of the world. From there, you can take a leisurely stroll along the breathtaking and tranquil Four Mile Beach.
After a water day, discover the breathtaking Daintree Rainforest walks and safaris and be inspired by the simplicity of Mother Nature. You’ll never want to leave this relaxing paradise.
Photo Credit: Cataract Gorge
To paint a picture of Launceston, simply envision yourself in the Colonial and Victorian age. Dubbed as one of Australia’s oldest cities and Tasmania’s second major city, Launceston boasts one of the earliest cityscapes complete with Colonial and Victorian architecture and century-old parks — making it one of the quaintest towns you could imagine.
Live simply and get your culture fix at the local art galleries, museums and local designer stores. From there, enjoy one of Launceston’s cool climate wines or take a tour at the historic Boag’s Brewery, founded in 1883.
Explore the imperial Cataract Gorge Reserve for a wonderful wilderness experience and take a river cruise to get a firsthand look at the Tamar River and wetland area. For a more organic experience, the Harvest Launceston Community Farmers Market that is held every Saturday is only a short distance from multiple homes listed on HomeExchange.com.
About the author
Emily is an American expat currently living on the Central Coast region of NSW, Australia. She loves all things Marsupial and enjoys seeing stamps collect in her passport. Whenever she feels particularly spontaneous, one of her favourite ways to see Australia is by picking the first place on a map that stands out to her and going there for the day to explore.