With Christmas just around the corner, thoughts inevitably begin to turn to the family holiday. Should you pack everyone in the car and head off to your favourite beach resort? Or hop on a plane to Bali and soak up a little culture? Or does the idea of days travelling on the road or a big trip leave you feeling exhausted? This year, a staycation in your own city could be just the ticket.
Treat yourself to a plush getaway with a difference. St Jerome’s – The Hotel offers glamping (glamorous camping) with 20 stylish tents set up on an artificial turf rooftop in the CBD. Mobile bathrooms, a bar, wi-fi, gourmet snacks and a morning meditation class complete the set-up.
Melbourne has embraced outdoor cinema like nowhere else in Australia. Just about every night in summer you can set up your picnic blanket in the Royal Botanic Gardens, at a reserve beside St Kilda Beach, in a city square or on a trendy rooftop and enjoy the latest blockbuster. Keep an eye out for specialty nights with live bands, dancing or sing-along movies.
Just off the coast of Adelaide is one of the only places in the country you can swim with dolphins in the wild. Sailing on Temptation, a 58-foot catamaran, you will track these amazing creatures in their natural habitat before donning a mask and snorkel to swim among them.
For 100 years, Adelaideans have been heading to the Morialta Conservation Park to escape the heat of the city in summer. Just 10 kilometres from the CBD, the park is a cool, lush retreat with rugged gorges and tumbling seasonal waterfalls. There are bushwalking and mountain-biking trails, rock-climbing routes, picnic areas and plenty of birds, frogs and kangaroos to spot.
Sydney is one of the world’s great walking cities and you can spend the sparkling summer days exploring on foot. Take the classic Bondi to Coogee trek, walk from Taronga Zoo around Chowder Bay or cross the Harbour Bridge from Circular Quay and reward yourself with a swim in the gorgeous North Sydney Olympic Pool.
Take a mini-break right in the centre of the harbour with a night or two on Cockatoo Island. It’s the only harbour island where you can stay overnight, with accommodation ranging from basic camping to five-bedroom Federation homes. There are self-guided history walks, plenty of kids’ activities and the prettiest tennis court in the city.
Use your summer break to learn more about your city with 100% Brisbane. This interactive exhibition from the Museum of Brisbane brings together 100 very different residents and uses their stories to put the city under a microscope. You can even contribute your own story to add to this fascinating self-portrait of Brisbane.
Spend a day paddling around the famous Tangalooma Wrecks just off the coast of Moreton Island with Australian Sunset Safaris. The site is made up of 15 scuttled vessels that have formed an amazing dive and snorkel site teeming with fish – all of which you can see on your unique transparent kayak. It’s most impressive at night (on the two-day tour), when the kayak’s LED lights give the wrecks an eerie glow and attract curious fish and even sea turtles.
Jump on the ferry from Fremantle and spend the day on Rottnest Island. Hire a bicycle (or bring your own), grab a picnic lunch from the general store and set off to explore more than 60 picture-perfect beaches. The best part? By mid-afternoon, hundreds of quokkas, the island’s most famous residents, will start to emerge. The braver ones will hop right up for a selfie.
Perth summers are notoriously scorching, so take the family and head to Splash City. It’s the country’s first pop-up waterpark and has swimming pools, kids’ areas and several huge inflatable waterslides including The Drop, a seven-storey monster that is the tallest inflatable slide in the world. Not for the faint-hearted.