7 domestic holiday hotspots to spend Australia Day long weekend
Explore your own backyard this 26 January and check out these Aussie locales
While technically there's no Australia Day long weekend in 2016, with the holiday falling on a Tuesday, it’s the last few days of school break and by taking the Monday off work you can stretch it into a relaxing four-day weekend.
Here’s where we think you should spend it.
Feature image: Expedia
Image: Virgin Australia
- While the rest of Australia’s sizzling in the summer heat, Hobart’s a comfortable 22 degrees on average in January
- The Salamanca Markets (held every Saturday), Battery Point’s architecture, the unique Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) and panoramic views from Mount Wellington are a few excuses to visit
- The historical town and former convict settlement of Port Arthur, Bruny Island and numerous wineries are within easy reach of the city
Getting there: Fly with Virgin Australia, Qantas, Jetstar or Tigerair. Drive from other destinations within Tasmania, or bring your car on the Spirit of Tasmania ferry.
Image: Hamilton Island
- Explore the Great Barrier Reef, sail the Whitsunday Islands, indulge at a spa or play a round of golf
- There’s a range of accommodation options ranging from modest hotel rooms to ultra-luxe villas
- It’s less than three hours’ flight from all major cities on the east coast, ideal for a short break
Getting there: Fly direct to Hamilton Island with Virgin Australia, Qantas or Jetstar. Alternatively, fly or take a train Proserpine on the mainland and take a ferry from Airlie Beach’s Shute Harbour. There’s also coach access to Airlie Beach and car parking available near the harbour.
- Make a patriotic visit to the capital and stop by Parliament House, the Australian War Memorial and the National Portrait Gallery … on your way to Questacon
- Take in the view of the city from atop one of many lookout points, like Mount Ainslie or Red Hill
- On 25 January, catch the free Australia Celebrates Live concert on the lawns of Parliament House where Matt Corby, Jessica Mauboy, Jimmy Barnes, Guy Sebastian and more will be performing
Getting there: It’s a 3-hour drive from Sydney and a 6.5-hour drive from Melbourne. You can also fly from most major cities with Qantas and Virgin Australia. Coaches and trains also service the city.
- Watch the sun rise from the easternmost point of Australia at the Cape Byron Lighthouse, swim at world-class beaches like Tallows, Wategoes or Main Beach, and visit the lush hinterland
- Travel + Leisure calls Byron one of the “world’s coolest surf towns”
- It’s laid-back, family friendly, and an easy drive from south Queensland
Getting there: Fly into or drive from Ballina/Byron Airport (30 minutes away), Gold Coast Airport (45 minute away) or Brisbane Airport (2 hours away). You can fly into all three airports with Virgin Australia and Jetstar, while Qantas and Tigerair flights are only available to Gold Coast and Brisbane. Byron Bay is also serviced by coach. Alas, there’s been no train service since 2004.
- Learn about Australia’s aboriginal history at Uluru-Kata Tjuta, a sacred site to the Anangu people, where you can see waterholes, wildlife, rock caves and ancient paintings
- Watch the famous sunrise or sunset over the rock, illuminating the sky in pinks, purples, oranges and reds
- Traveller notes: “what better way to teach kids about our rich indigenous history than take them to the beating heart of Australia?”
Getting there: Fly into Ayers Rock Airport with Qantas, Jetstar or Virgin Australia, which is approximately 20 minutes from Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and four hours from Kings Canyon. It’s a six-hour drive from Alice Springs to either Kings Cayon or Ulut-Kata Tjuta.
- Watch the Australia Day Harbour Parade, where flag-covered boats fill the harbour and cheer on the tall ships race before watching the fireworks display
- Check out the free concerts at the Opera House, including The Wiggles, Jessica Mauboy and Justice Crew
- If it's a hot weekend, visit the city's dozens of beaches like Bondi, Coogee, Manly and Balmoral
Getting there: Fly into Sydney from most major cities with Virgin Australia, Tigerair, Qantas or Jetstar. Train and coach service from across Australia is widely available.
- Australia’s theme park capital is home to Wet ‘n’ Wild, Dreamworld, Movieworld and Seaworld, perfect for a bit of excitement for the kids before returning to school
- Explore the area’s more than 50km of beaches and the rainforests of the Gold Coast hinterland, which Lonely Planet says you can’t miss
- Visit Evandale Parklands for the city’s Australia Day events with live music, food and entertainment on offer
Getting there: Fly into Gold Coast Airport with Virgin Australia, Tigerair, Qantas or Jetstar. Alternatively, fly into Brisbane Airport (1.25 hours away) with the same airlines. There are also coaches from various cities and local trains from Brisbane that stop along the Gold Coast.
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