Best secret Aussie weekends

Are you bored of people suggesting the Gold Coast for your next weekend getaway? Leave that to the schoolies and let our resident Aussie experts share their secret spots for a great weekend, whatever your taste or budget.

Romantic weekend in South Australia

There’s something magical about wineries in winter, or anytime really. Head down to South Australia’s Clare Valley, home to award winning vineyards and spectacular views.

Less than two hours from Adelaide, the drive itself is an enjoyable voyage of nostalgia. It’s a sepia-tinted trip down memory lane, where you’ll pass vintage English-style cottages and vine-covered community meeting halls.

There’s plenty to do once you get there too. Pack your hiking boots and head for the Red Banks Conservation Park, or sample some of the local produce on the well-travelled Riesling Trail.

A few minutes out of town, the Clare Valley Motel is an affordable accommodation option, priding itself on friendly service and 27 well-kept acres.

Time with the kids in WA

For a truly Australian experience, you can’t go past a weekend on a cattle station in Western Australia. Learn the ins and outs of working in the outback with a trip to Bullara Station.

Accommodation ranges from fully self-contained cottages to camping. A short drive to Coral Bay means you can spend the morning snorkelling, and the afternoon lounging in a hammock. For those unafraid to get a little dirty (whilst keeping the kids entertained), you can fill your days exploring the Mingah Creek beds for fossils, tumbling down sand dunes, or helping to muster cattle.

There are spectacular views to be enjoyed from the Bull Bar, which offers the chance to take in an Aussie sunset like no other.

The Marvellous Murray

The Murray River in the summer is both blistering and beautiful, with temperatures getting up into the 40s. Yes, you’ll definitely need a hat, but don’t let the heat put you off. A trip down Australia’s longest river offers delight and insight into the Australian landscape.

The Murray is famous for its popularity amongst water-skiers, while catching Murray cod is win for fishing enthusiasts. The best way to experience the Murray is to pair up with another family and hire a houseboat. Echuca’s historic port is a great place to start.

It is ideally suited for a long weekend, but is also a highly accessible holiday spot, only three hours from Melbourne by car.

The Marvellous Murray
The Marvellous Murray

Quintessential Queensland

The Molle Islands National Park in the Whitsundays was the shining star of our summer camping shoot. Aside from its beautiful scenery, the Molle Islands offer the ultimate exclusive camping experience – as you can only get there by boat!

Sandy Bay on the west side is ideal for keen bushwalkers, offering wide open spaces without separately defined campsites. If you’re after something a little quieter, Paddle Bay, on a sandy spit, can only house 12 people at a time.

You can channel your inner Tom Hanks (think Castaway) by visiting Planton Island, for a truly deserted experience. The Island can only be booked by one group at a time and offers dry-rainforest tent sites that back onto your very own stretch of sugar white sand. It is Queensland at its most stunning, so open up your tent and head straight for the crystal blue waters, after all, they’re only metres away!

Amazing ACT

Set on the banks of the picturesque Cotter River is ACT’S Cotter Campground. Located just 20 minutes outside Canberra, Cotter caters to a range of camping styles – from swags to trailers to caravans.

Visit this amazing part of the ACT and you’ll be greeted by walking trails, fishing, swimming and canoeing. Jump on your bikes and explore Stromlo Forest Park, a haven for riders of all abilities. For a different type of ride, the Brindabell Ranges are only a short distance away and offer an awesome selection of 4WD trails.

Wonderful walks in WA

If you’re anything like us, you’ll find it impossible to resist exploring the deep red canyons of the Cape Range National Park in Western Australia. Home to the Mandu Mandu Gorge and the Charles Knife Canyon, walking enthusiasts will love the endless trail options and panoramic views.

The UNESCO listed Ningaloo Reef is a short drive away, offering respite from the heat, as well as some of Australia’s most stunning beaches. Camping starts at just $10, and styles of camping are only limited by your imagination. Park your caravan at Osprey Bay, pitch your tent behind sand dunes at Neds, and let the good times roll.

Fun for the Foodies in Victoria

Victoria’s Otway region is renowned for its local, seasonal produce. Only a 90 minute drive from Melbourne, The Otways are a food and wine lovers delight. The region is also home to some of Australia’s top restaurants and wineries, including the legendary Brae and the Otway Estate Winery.

There are heaps of accommodation options in the area, ranging from budget bed and breakfasts, to Brae’s sustainably-built luxury Guest Suites, which are inspired by their mountainous surroundings. Speaking of scenery, Great Otway National Park features high waterfalls, narrow valleys, dramatic cliffs and secluded beaches.

If you fancy some top-notch hiking, travel south to Cape Otway. Here, a 10km hiking track winds its way through sand dunes and coastal scrubland on the way to the peaceful pastures of Aire River.