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5 Australia Day long weekend getaway ideas in your own backyard

Perfect Aussie escapes for a three-day long weekend.

Heads up holidaymakers, Australia Day falls on a Saturday this year, so you're looking a pretty sweet three-day weekend ahead of you without even trying. Or having to sacrifice any annual leave.

This calls for a getaway.

Yeah, you know where we're going with this. To help you celebrate Australia’s national day in style, we've come up with a guide to some of the best long weekend destinations in Australia you can take this year.

You're welcome.

Top 5 picks for an Australia Day long weekend getaway

1. Best for a patriotic Australia Day: Canberra

Where else would you go to celebrate Australia Day than our nation's capital?

Canberra comes alive on Australia Day with all your standard celebrations and more. This includes the flag raising and citizenship ceremonies as well as an Australia Day in the Park festival and fireworks over Lake Burley Griffin at night.

  • What to do: Cycle around Lake Burley Griffin, climb Mount Ainslie, visit the National Museum of Australia, Ben & Jerry’s Openair cinema.
  • Day trips from Canberra: Batemans Bay, Merimbula and the Sapphire Coast. Search for your car hire here.
  • Where to stay: Peppers Gallery Hotel.

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Melbourne.Australia.Day

2. Best for a city break: Melbourne

For a long weekend, Melbourne is always a good idea.

Hip cafes, boutique shops and a walkable city centre make Melbourne the ideal destination for a short getaway. Wherever you turn on Australia Day, celebrations with be rife with parades, concerts and fireworks to highlight the day.

  • What to do: See the Victoria Street Markets, sunbake or kitesurf on St Kilda Beach, have a picnic in Kings Domain, shop Brunswick Street and relax in the Royal Botanic Gardens.

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Tasmania.AustraliaDay

3. Best to go bush: Tasmania

Escape the summer heat in our nation's most southernmost state. During January, it revels in comfortable 20-24°C temperatures. True story.

It's one of those escapes that you can cover in anything from a few days to a few weeks. If you've saved yourself four, why not rent a car and road trip your way around this picturesque island?

Be sure to stay in Hobart on Australia Day though as its local beach Kingston hosts a great event which includes an iconic inflatable thong race – something that other Australian cities have stopped doing.

  • What to do: Cradle Mountain, Museum of Modern Art, Salamanca Markets, Freycinet National Park, Port Arthur, Burnie Island and Coles Bay.
  • Day trips: Tasmania is so small it's possible to do a day or overnight trip practically anywhere from your base. From Hobart we suggest Port Arthur and the Devil's Kitchen / Tasman Arch.

Search for flights to Tasmania


HamiltonIsland.AustraliaDay

4. Best to cap in on the summer sun: Hamilton Island

An idyllic island escape for an idyllic three-day long weekend.

Family-friendly activities fill the island from December to January so if you're taking the brood out for a long one this weekend, you'll not be short on activities.

That's not to say that couples or sunseekers can't enjoy Hamilton on their own. With plenty of activities and private bungalows at your fingertips, you're sure to find exactly what you need to unwind on Hamilton Island.

  • What to do: Snorkelling, diving, sailing, golfing and other watersports.
  • Day trips: Whitehaven Beach, Airlie Beach and Conway National Park.

Browse cheap flights to Hamilton Island


5. Best for the Australia Day fireworks: Sydney

Love Sydney's New Year's Eve fireworks? Wait until you get an eye on its Australia Day celebration.

Sydney goes off with a bang on Australia Day with a fantastic 15-minute pyrotechnics display. Traditionally over Darling Harbour, the city of Sydney now celebrates the day at Circular Quay. See our Australia Day Sydney guide for all the best vantage points.

During the day there are more celebrations than you can poke a stick at including a concert at the Sydney Opera House and a ferrython race through Sydney Harbour. With three days, you can sightsee the city and then some, making it an ideal destination for a long weekend – especially if you've never made the trip before.

  • What to do: Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Bondi Beach, Sydney Tower, Taronga Zoo and Barangaroo.
  • Day trips: The Blue Mountains, Hunter Valley and Wollongong.

Browse cheap flights to Sydney


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Stephanie Yip

Stef is the Travel Editor at finder.com.au and has been writing about travel for over a decade. She's visited over 50 countries and has had some incredible experiences, including hot air ballooning over Cappadocia, hitchhiking across Romania and seeing the Northern Lights (twice!). And while she’d never say no to a luxury escape, she's far more likely to stretch her travel dollars as far as they can go by keeping her ear to the ground for unbeatable travel bargains. And she'll tell you all about them, too! Stef has had articles featured on Travel Weekly, Escape and Hostelworld.

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