Many of us are lucky enough to have four fabulous days off across Easter. It’s the perfect length of time for a classic Aussie short break, and there’s no shortage of great destinations to choose from. Here are five awesome options and a suggested itinerary for each to help you make the most of your stay.
Big, bold and beautiful Sydney is always a good bet for a short break destination, and with plenty of flight capacity, you should be able to pick up a pretty reasonable airfare, even around Easter.
Day 1: Once you’re all settled in, get the lie of the land on a hop on hop off bus tour with Big Bus Tours. There are 33 stops to choose from and two loops – city and Bondi Beach. See the Harbour City’s top sights and spend some time wiggling your toes in Australia’s most famous patch of sand.
Day 2: It’s time to get up close and personal with majestic Sydney Harbour. Choose from the plethora of harbour cruises, high octane jetboat trips and even kayak tours. If you’re on a tight budget, there are plenty of amazing self-guided walks on offer around the harbour’s edge. Enjoy an afternoon beverage at the fabulous Opera Bar at the Sydney Opera House.
Day 3: If you want to explore further afield, the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains National Park beckons! Catch a train from Central up to Katoomba and make your way down to Echo Point for a fabulous view of the Three Sisters. Scenic World is not to be missed. Ride the Scenic Cableway down into the Jamison Valley, and hitch a ride back up on board the iconic Scenic Railway.
Day 4: End your short break with a step back in time in The Rocks precinct. There are some seriously well-priced walking tours on offer, or just strike out on your own and see what you can discover. The cobblestoned, colonial-era passageways and back alleys share the stories of yesteryear, as does The Big Dig – an archaeological dig that’s uncovered more than a million artefacts!
Book your accommodation: Choose from several top hotels in Sydney. Our top pick: Castlereagh Boutique Hotel, Ascend Hotel Collection.
The nation’s capital makes a superb short break destination, especially for those interested in art and culture. Canberra is a 3.5-hour drive from Sydney, or jet in from various capital cities.
Day 1: Settle in, then head out for a relaxing stroll around Lake Burley Griffin. There‘s plenty to see around the lake, including the Australian of the Year Walk. Read some of the inspiring stories of those nominated for one of the country’s top honours. For a different perspective of the lake, MV Southern Cross Cruises offers a daily afternoon sightseeing cruise.
Day 2: Today is all about history and culture. Spend your morning at the must-see Australian War Memorial (a free guided tour is a great way to get the most from your visit). In the afternoon, get a dose of high culture at the National Gallery of Australia. It houses a collection of more than 160,000 pieces. The National Portrait Gallery is also well worth a visit and will appeal to a broad range of ages. See portraits of everyone from famous bushrangers, to musicians and sporting heroes.
Day 3: There are more than 30 wineries and plenty of gourmet providores located within easy reach of Canberra. Book a wine tour or designate a driver and head out on your own to taste test the best of the region. Four Winds Vineyard serves up awesome wood-fired pizzas between 12 and 3pm.
Day 4: Wrap up your visit to the capital with a morning jaunt up to Mount Ainslie Lookout for a bird’s eye view of our purpose-built capital city and the surrounding region. If you can get up extra early, the views from the lookout at sunrise are absolutely breathtaking. You’ll have earned a cafe breakfast back down in town in trendy Braddon. Try very cool Barrio Collective Coffee.
Book your accommodation: Choose from Quality Hotel Dickson located near the Australian War Memorial.
Townsville has done it tough of late, which is all the more reason to show your support and take a short break in what is one of Tropical North Queensland’s most beautiful coastal destinations.
Day 1: Drop your bags and head out to explore, starting with a stroll along The Strand – Townsville’s 2.2-kilometre palm-fringed waterfront promenade. It will have you wondering if you’ve accidentally surfaced in Tahiti or Fiji. The free water park is a great way for the kids to cool off.
Day 2: While you won’t actually be visiting Queensland’s magnificent Great Barrier Reef on this trip, you can still get a taste of its exquisite beauty at Reef HQ – the world’s largest living coral reef aquarium. In the afternoon, head along to the Museum of Tropical Queensland. Their fascinating Shipwreck Adventure will enthral young kids, while the Secret Language of the Reef exhibition reveals yet another fascinating side to this natural wonder.
Day 3: Take a ferry from Townsville to Magnetic Island and spend the day enjoying the tranquillity of this tropical island paradise. Discover hidden coves, swim, snorkel, ride horses and meet the local koalas. Just a word of warning – you won’t want to leave!
Day 4: Spend your final morning indulging in a taste of Townsville’s vibrant café culture. City Lane is a Melbourne-style laneway precinct which does great coffee, while Hoi Polloi in grungy Denham Lane serves up heart-starting espressos amidst some seriously popping street art.
Book your accommodation: Stay at the Clarion Hotel Townsville, conveniently located in the CBD.
The Northern Territory capital offers a vast array of things to see and do, including access to some of the country’s most iconic outback landscapes. This is a destination that has it all – a rich history to explore, great food, friendly locals and plenty of adventure!
Day 1: Spend the day getting to know the city of Darwin. No visit would be complete without coming face to snout with the scaly residents at Crocosaurus Cove. Then take a wander along Smith Street to see some of the remnants of the damage caused by Cyclone Tracy in 1974. There’s a monument outside historic Government House dedicated to the victims of the bombing of Darwin in February 1942 by the Japanese forces.
Day 2: Today is all about chillaxing on the Darwin Waterfront. Laze the day away on the rolling lawns with a good book, head for the super popular Wave Pool or splash down at the lagoon’s Big Bouy Water Park. Head for the Oyster Bar for a deliciously slippery lunch. In the afternoon, head out for a sunset cruise on magnificent Darwin Harbour with Darwin Harbour Cruises.
Day 3: World-famous Kakadu National Park can be done as a day trip from Darwin, but Litchfield National Park is a closer option. There are plenty of day tours on offer to the park, which is packed with picturesque waterholes and soaring rocky escarpments. Ethical Adventures offers a great Litchfield day trip with a BBQ lunch and an emphasis on sustainable tourism.
Day 4: After breakfast, take a morning meander through the picturesque George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens. Segway tours are a popular option or just explore the 42 hectares of beautifully maintained gardens, pathways, bridges and water features at your own pace.
Book your accommodation at Quality Hotel Darwin Airport located close to popular attractions in the city including Mindil Beach and Darwin Botanic Gardens.
With Qantas kicking off a new Sydney to Bendigo service six times a week, accessing the heart of Victoria’s gold rush country has never been easier. Once you get there, there’s a superb range of experiences on offer in this elegant Victorian-era city.
Day 1: Part of the charm of a visit to Bendigo is taking in the city’s well-preserved heritage architecture. The historic Post Office, which dates back to 1887, is one of the finest examples. The city centre is very walkable, but the iconic Vintage Talking Trams that trundle around town are a great way to get around – and you‘ll enjoy informative commentary along the way.
Day 2: One of the reasons visitors flock to this city is the Bendigo Art Gallery, which has gained a name for staging blockbuster regional exhibitions. The gallery houses an impressive permanent collection of Australian colonial artworks and 20th century pieces by Sidney Nolan and Arthur Boyd. You could literally spend a full day taking it all in. Retire to the nearby Wine Bank on View (a wine bar housed in a former bank building) for lunch or dinner.
Day 3: Bendigo was built on the back of the Victorian Gold Rush and while the Central Deborah Goldmine doesn’t date back that far, it does offer an incredible insight into the life of a miner working underground. Choose from three underground mine tours and leave enough time to explore the heritage buildings at ground level. The mine is located just on the edge of the CBD. In the afternoon, drop into the Golden Dragon Museum. It documents the history of Bendigo’s Chinese community, which dates back to the goldfields.
Day 4: Get the day off to a relaxed start with brunch on View Street and a stroll in Rosalind Park. Poking up behind the park is a former mining poppet-head, which now serves as an observation tower. Climb to the top for a superb view across the entire city.
Book your accommodation: Choose to stay in the centrally located Quality Inn Colonial, or Quality Hotel Lakeside with an outdoor pool.
About the writer
Adam Ford is editor of The Big Bus tour and travel guide and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger and photographer. He has previously had the opportunity to travel the world himself as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten.
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Your Next Adventure: What’s on this Easter around the country