So you’ve Instagrammed your third shot of the Sydney Opera House for the day, and hung out at Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market. Take your holiday up a notch with a short trip out of the concrete jungle for a side of Australia you don’t often find on postcards.
1. Geelong and the Ballerina, Victoria
There is no need to travel far for a stop that combines award-winning restaurants, safari tours and the biggest water park in the state.
Victoria’s second-largest city, Geelong, and the Bellarine, just an hour’s drive from Melbourne, will entertain every member of your family. Kids want a thrill? Spend a day at Adventure Park Geelong, the state’s biggest theme park, which boasts some of Australia’s coolest water rides. Conveniently located just 10 minutes from Geelong, your kids can enjoy unlimited rides all day long on rapid rafts, roller coasters and waterslides. There are also many fun-filled land activities for the whole family including mini golf and archery.
These days, Africa isn’t the only option for a wild safari adventure. Check out the Werribee Open Range Zoo, which takes families on off-road safaris past free-roaming animals from Africa, Australia and Asia including rhinoceroses, giraffes, zebras, kangaroos, wallabies and emus — all just 30 minutes away from Melbourne’s city centre.
Unwind at the end of the day with dinner at Geelong’s renowned Igni, which serves unusual dishes like aged goose and crisp saltbush leaves. Or drop by the award-winning Jack Rabbit Vineyard for delicious seasonal grub, cool climate wines and unrivalled panoramic views of the Bellarine bay.
2. Hunter Valley, New South Wales
Enjoy a wino journey in Australia’s oldest wine region. Get a taste of the region at the Small Winemakers Centre, a two-hour drive from Sydney. With more than 26 local winemakers on display and over 30 varieties to savour, a wine-tasting session to try regional favourites such as Semillon and Shiraz is the perfect way to experience what Hunter Valley has to offer.
With a mere two-hour drive, you can surround yourself with a chorus of colour at the Hunter Valley Gardens, which features 10 themed gardens. Then, go birdwatching at the Werakata National Park, which springs alive with brightly coloured wildflowers between September and November.
3. Noosa, Queensland
There’s much more to Queensland than just beaches and theme parks. From seeing crocodiles up-close to horseback rides along a scenic lake, Noosa offers the perfect antidote for urban overload.
Catch some serious wildlife action at the world-famous Crocoseum (crocodile-themed museum) in Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo. Just an hour’s drive from Brisbane, learn how crocodiles live and behave in their natural habitat. Then get up close with other stars of the animal kingdom, including koalas, echidnas, giant snakes and more.
For a different wildlife experience, ride around the serene Lake Weyba on horseback. Only 10 minutes away from Noosa by car, Lake Weyba is home to unspoilt nature and abundant wildlife such as stingrays, kangaroos and birds. Top this off with an unforgettable meal of local seafood and champagne on the Noosa Cruiser as it meanders down the Noosa River.