Love is in the air across this amazing country of ours. And with Valentine’s Day fast approaching, it’s time to start planning that special short break just for two. From captivating capital cities, to romantic regional retreats and sublime coastal paradises, here are eight ideas for a loved-up Aussie getaway that won’t fail to impress.
1. Experience the magic of the Great Ocean Road
Saying ‘I love you’ at sunset with the 12 Apostles as your backdrop is guaranteed to make a memory that will last a lifetime. The soaring limestone sea stacks are just one of the many wonders to be found along Victoria’s incomparable Great Ocean Road. Hire a car in Melbourne and head off along the winding coastal route, stopping off at Torquay to indulge in a Couples Pamper Package at the award-winning Saltair Spa. Then move on to celebrated Brae at Birregurra for lunch. Time it just right from there, and you’ll make it to the Apostles right on time for sunset.
Accommodation options near you: If you’re driving from Melbourne to the Great Ocean Road, spend a night at the Quality Hotel Bayside Geelong, Victoria’s largest regional city. Choose to relax in the outdoor heated pool or enjoy the view overlooking the magnificent bay area.
2. Explore Adelaide’s urban playground
Popping street art, cool cafes, innovative eateries and an eclectic small bar scene are all part of Adelaide’s smooth new groove, making the South Australian capital the ideal getaway destination for urbanite couples. Let your better half sleep in while you nip out early to the Adelaide Central Market to shop for an ‘impromptu’ picnic brunch by the River Torrens. In the afternoon, head for the hills to Hahndorf Hill Winery and indulge in their ChocoVino experience – a wine tasting matched with chocolates from around the world. The evening is yours to while away in intimate small bars like Maybe Mae or the Pink Moon Saloon.
Accommodation options near you: There are several places you can stay in Adelaide. Choose Comfort Inn & Suites Sombrero located near the Adelaide Casino, or the Comfort Inn & Suites Manhattan that has easy access to the iconic Barossa Valley. A great option near the airport is the Soho Hotel, Ascend Hotel Collection.
3. Say I love you in Launceston
There’s a lot to love about Launceston for a romantic short break, including its proximity to seriously beautiful Tasmanian landscapes like Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. Book a day tour with Gray Line Australia and let someone else do the driving while you focus on the stunning scenery – and each other. Stroll hand in hand by Dove Lake and snap a selfie in front on the 1940s-era boatshed. Closer to the city, wine lovers can sample Tassie’s finest cool climate wines along the Tamar Valley Wine Route.
Accommodation options near you: Located close to several popular attractions, Quality Hotel Colonial Launceston is perfect for both business and leisure travelers. If you’re looking to stay near sprawling vineyards, we’ve got just the place for you.
4. Wine and dine around Wangaratta
Wangaratta in north-east Victoria is an unassuming regional destination, but it’s a match made in heaven for those looking to wow their Valentine with fine Australian food and wine. The Milawa Gourmet Region and the sublime King Valley (a wine-producing region renowned for its Italian grape varietals) are both on Wangaratta’s doorstep. Must-visits include the architecturally-stunning Sam Miranda Wines (enjoy a grazing platter and chilled prosecco on the shaded lawn chairs), and Pizzini Wines – which produces zesty sangioveses, pinot grigios and nebbiolos. Chrismont Restaurant and Larder is well worth the drive to the far end of the King Valley for lunch.
Accommodation options near you: Choose to stay at the award-winning Quality Hotel Wangaratta Gateway located minutes away from the nearby towns. Or if you’re looking for the perfect hotel to explore popular Benalla attractions, book your stay at Comfort Inn Benalla.
5. Couple up with some culture in Canberra
Canberra’s cultural credentials are impeccable. Museums, galleries and arts spaces abound (there are around forty to choose from), so if fine art floats you and your partner’s boat, this is the destination for you. Top options include the National Gallery of Australia and the National Portrait Gallery. Speaking of floating, one of the most romantic activities in Canberra has to be a hot air balloon flight over Lake Burley Griffin at dawn. Book well in advance. There’s no shortage of great places to eat in the nation’s capital, but the Pialligo Estate Farmhouse Restaurant is something really special.
Accommodation options near you: A great option for foodies is The Quality Hotel Dickson – located walking distance from more than 40 restaurants, cafes and bars. What better place to stay in Canberra?
6. Book a beach break for two in Busselton
A two-and-a-half-hour drive south from Perth will bring you to the relaxed coastal retreat of Busselton, which makes the perfect romantic escape for couples who love to wiggle their toes in the sand. Great beaches are a given, as is the close proximity of the plethora of superb wineries and gourmet providores of Margaret River. Voyager Estate offers a seven-course degustation menu, complete with matching wines. On your way back to Busselton, stop off at The Margaret River Chocolate Company for a gooey chocolate fondue. At 1.8 kilometres in length, Busselton Jetty offers plenty of scope to walk off the extra kilojoules during a leisurely sunset stroll.
7. Enjoy some island time off Bundaberg
Island getaways are always romantic and if you happen to be spending Valentine’s Day around Bundaberg in Queensland’s Wide Bay-Burnett region, then it’s just a hop, skip and a short flight to Lady Elliot Island – one of the jewels in the crown of the Southern Great Barrier Reef. Day trip packages from Bundaberg include your flights, buffet lunch, and the chance to snorkel the stunning reef straight off the beach. The island has been named by PADI as one of the top five places in the world to dive with manta rays, and green sea turtles are also a common sight. Leave time in your schedule for a little romance – including a leisurely walk along the white sands of Northern Beach.
Accommodation options near you: Find many of the most popular tourist attractions in Bundaberg near Econo Lodge Park Lane. Don’t forget to enjoy the outdoor pool and hot tub.
8. Make a date to visit Melbourne
There’s no Australian destination that will sweep a Valentine off their feet faster than Melbourne. The Victorian capital offers fabulous dining, top cultural attractions, amazing shopping and plenty of world-class entertainment. You really can’t go wrong, but here are some options that will ramp up the romance. A Classic Carriage Hire offers horse-drawn carriage rides through some of Melbourne’s prettiest parks and gardens, while Punting on the Lake’s boater-wearing boatman will row you around the Ornamental Lake in the Royal Botanic Gardens. In the evening, dress to impress and head out for pre-dinner drinks on the Parisian-inspired rooftop terrace at Siglo Bar. Channel more good vibes from the city of love with dinner at Garçon Paris Steakhouse.
Accommodation options near you: If you’re looking for a place to stay in one of the most livable cities in the world – we’ve got you several options to choose from. Located 15 minutes from the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground), book your stay in Comfort Hotel East Melbourne. Or check in at the Quality Hotel Melbourne Airport, located just five minutes from the Melbourne-Tullamarine Airport. Another great option is Quality Hotel Taylors Lakes – a convenient place for business and leisure travelers.
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.