The Most Beautiful Day Trip Destinations From Every Australian Capital City
Staying home for the weekend or being stuck at home for the holidays, is no excuse not to get out and explore. The pandemic has taught us (amongst other things) how to fall in love with our own country and state while international travel is off the cards.
With that in mind, we’ve teamed up with new travel platform Lonely Continent to round up the best day trips out of every Australian state capital city. Each destination is less than two hours from the CBD – and brimming with natural beauty, fine food and plenty of charm.
The best day trips from every Australian state capital city
Where: The Mornington Peninsula
Why: The city and suburbs of Melbourne may not be blessed with an abundance of beaches, so a day trip calls for a cruise down the coast. The Mornington Peninsula region comprises a string of seaside villages – including Mount Martha, Flinders, Sorrento and Portsea – each filled with cute cafes, wineries, hot springs and blissful beaches.
Distance from Melbourne: About one hour.
Other Victorian day trips: The Yarra Valley, Phillip Island, Daylesford and the Dandenong Ranges. Find a guide to the Dandenong Ranges here.
Where: Bruny Island
Why: This little pocket of paradise, off the south-east coast of Tasmania, is a mecca for foodies and nature lovers alike. Sample world-class oysters, cheese, whiskey and wine, and make sure you stop for a photo at The Neck - a spectacular isthmus of land connecting the north and south sections of the island. Look out for wandering locals (hello, fairy penguins).
Distance from Hobart: A 40-minute drive, then 20-minute ferry trip.
Other Tasmania day trips: Richmond, Hastings Caves, Russell Falls and Port Arthur.
Where: Fleurieu Peninsula
Why: Right on Adelaide’s doorstep, this sublime stretch of land plays host to white sand beaches, the McClaren Vale wine region and endless Instagram moments. Don’t miss the Port Elliot Bakery or Port Willunga beach and its famous Star of Greece restaurant.
Distance from Adelaide: Less than one hour.
Other South Australian day trips: Carrickalinga Beach, and of course, the Adelaide Hills wineries. Find tips and recommendations for the region here.
Where: Pearl Beach and Patonga
Why: Done Palm Beach to death? Travel a little further north to Pearl Beach, an understated gem on NSW’s Central Coast. Start with the picture-perfect Pearl Beach to Patonga walk, which conveniently finishes up at The Boathouse Hotel, where you’ll replenish your energy supplies with buckets of seafood and sublime water views.
Distance from Sydney: About a 90-minute drive.
Other NSW day trips: The Southern Highlands, the Blue Mountains, the Royal National Park and the Northern Beaches. Find a guide to the Northern Beaches here.
Where: Rottnest Island
Why: While you’ll need more than 24 hours to visit many of Western Australia’s star attractions, Rottnest Island is a no-brainer for a day-trip from Perth. Take the ferry across, jump on a bike and explore the 63 beaches and sparkling turquoise bays. There’s also whale-watching, snorkelling, sky-diving – and countless selfie opportunities with the island’s native quokkas.
Distance from Perth: A 20-minute drive, then 45-minute ferry.
Other Western Australia day trips: Black Diamond Lake, Yanchep, Yorke and Swan Valley.
Where: Litchfield National Park
Why: Waterfall chasers should hotfoot it to this lush national park, only 90 minutes from the city. Swim in clear lagoons and waterholes under tumbling waterfalls. Don’t miss Buley Rockholes – the mid-rock area is safe from crocodiles, though always follow the signs.
Distance from Darwin: About a 90 minute drive.
Other day trips from Darwin: Crab Craw Island, Berry Springs and Mary River.
Where: Southern Queensland Country
Why: Eschew the obvious Queensland choice – a day on the coast – for a trip to the countryside. The quaint and quirky town of Toowoomba, west of Brisbane, boasts a burgeoning café and arts scene and hosts the Carnival of Flowers festival each spring. If time permits, drive a further 45 minutes to Allora, which bursts into blooming sunflowers in summer. Find more details here.
Distance from Brisbane: Toowoomba is a 90-minute drive.
Other day trips from Brisbane: Caloundra, Lamington National Park, Moreton Island, North Stradbroke Island.
Why: Take a break from urban life for a quick visit to the heritage town of Braidwood. The streets are lined with charming colonial buildings and rural beauty, which served as the backdrop to several iconic Australian films including Ned Kelly. You’ll find antique and retro-collectable stores, and gourmet cafes serving up artisan sourdough and handmade pies. On your drive back towards Canberra, drop by at biodynamic vineyard Lark Hill Winery for a glass of their famous riesling, chardonnay or pinot noir.
Distance from Melbourne: An hour drive east of Canberra.
Other Canberra day trips: Gundaroo, Snowy Mountains, Huskisson and Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve.
Kathryn Madden is the editor of Lonely Continent, which spotlights stylish, conscious travel in the Australian bubble. Follow Lonely Continent on Instagram to explore more hidden gems and holiday havens.
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