Australia’s top weekend day trip destinations

by Brittany Wheeler

Now that intrastate travel restrictions are starting to ease across Australia, it’s time to get out and explore the sights and delights of your region. For many, an extended holiday break might not be feasible, so we’ve rallied up some of Australia’s top day trip destinations that are all within close proximity of the major cities. Think wide open spaces, fresh air and a diversity of local wildlife!

Scenic World Blue Mountains cable car
NSW: Blue Mountains

Just 1 hours’ drive from Sydney is the spectacular World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains. Set out on foot to explore some of the many bushwalking trails, revel in views of Katoomba Falls, the Three Sisters and Jamison Valley with a visit to Scenic World and reward your adventurous efforts with a spot of high tea before heading home.

Explore things to do in the Blue Mountains

Daylesford region
VIC: Daylesford

Australia’s original spa town has been drawing visitors to its mineral rich waters for more than 100 years. Head straight for the Hepburn Bathhouse to soak in the pools and indulge in a dreamy spa treatment. Once you’re suitably relaxed, have a wander around the charming town of Daylesford and its quirky boutiques, galleries, antique stores and second-hand bookshops. Grab a late lunch at the Farmers Arms, the oldest pub in town that’s had a seriously swish makeover.

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Rottnest Island, Western Australia
WA: Rottnest Island

Forget taking the ferry with the hoi polloi. The only way to see Rottnest Island is from the deck of a luxury catamaran with the wind in your hair and a glass of wine in your hand. Rotto, as the locals call it, is just 19 kilometres off the coast of Fremantle and fringed with perfect, powder-white beaches. Your ship will drop anchor for snorkelling, stand up paddle boarding and kayaking, or you can paddle yourself over to the sand to catch some rays. Keep an eye out for the island’s cutest resident, the quokka.

Explore things to do on Rottnest Island

Glasshouse Mountains helicopter flight
QLD: Sunshine Coast Hinterland

Queensland’s beaches tend to get all the press, but head inland for the day and you’ll be amazed at the beauty of the lush hinterland. The Glass House Mountains dominate the landscape with their striking vertical columns formed by volcanic activity. You can appreciate them from the climate-controlled comfort of your car, by helicopter or get your blood pumping with abseiling or rock climbing. The area is dotted with delightful little towns such as Montville and Maleny where the quiet streets are lined with excellent restaurants including the two-hatted The Long Apron.

Explore things to do in the Sunshine Coast

St Hugo Winery restaurant
SA: Barossa Valley

South Australia is famous for its wine regions and the best ones are within easy reach of Adelaide. It’s hard to go past the Barossa Valley, which is at the heart of the state’s wine industry. Jump on a bus or take a private car tour (you won’t want to be driving) for a day of tastings at legendary vineyards like Penfolds and Jacob’s Creek, as well as some of the smaller local labels. Just remember to pack light – you’re going to need some room in your bag for a few bottles!

Explore things to do in the Barossa Valley

Bruny island day tour from hobart
TAS: Bruny Island

All of Tasmania is a gourmet paradise but on Bruny Island, things get even more delicious. Spend the day driving around this little laid-back gem, stopping off to sample smoked meats, freshly shucked oysters, artisan cheeses, crunchy sourdough, creamy fudge and the best locally grown produce. Visit Australia’s southernmost winery to pick up some fantastic cool-climate chardonnay or try a flight of Tasmanians single malts at the Bruny Island House of Whisky. You’ll probably need a nap on the ferry home.

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