For many Aussies with the travel itch, the COVID-19 pandemic put an end to flying to far-off destinations or even venturing beyond your own city or state. While we may be grounded for some time, fortunately you can still enjoy novel and fun adventures closer to home. You might be surprised to find out what is within reach. And at the very least, start planning trips for the coming months ahead.
If you can’t make it all the way to England to see Stonehenge, Esperence offers a full-size replica in Western Australia. Esperance Stonehenge has been designed to look just like the original. The stones have a local touch though, made from Esperance Pink Granite, and the layout cleverly takes into account the Summer and Winter Solstices in the Southern Hemisphere. Once you’ve marvelled at the rock formation, be sure to check out other Esperance sights such as the Pink Lake and array of pristine beaches.
For wine lovers and foodies
So France has Bordeaux and Spain has Priorat, but we have the Barossa Valley. The world-famous wine producing region in South Australia should be on every wine lover and foodie’s travel list. Less than an hour outside of Adelaide, the Barossa is home to over 150 wineries and 80 cellar doors – think Penfolds, Wolf Blass, Jacob’s Creek and plenty more. Clearly you’ll want to pace yourself and there is plenty to explore in the three main towns: Tanunda, Nuriootpa and Angaston. The restaurant scene is thriving in the Barossa so book in advance to ensure you get a seat at the table.
Be like a bird among the trees at Victoria’s Otway Fly Treetop Adventures. The 25m high and 600m long walkway gives incredible views over the Otways rainforest. For those wanting something more daring, the 47m tall Spiral Tower sways in the breeze so you can feel one with nature. Ziplining will find you suspended 30m from the forest floor – while it’s not as daring as Zip 2000 in South Africa’s Sun City, it’s an exhilarating experience not to be missed.
Thousands of hikers from across the world descend on Tasmania’s Overland Track every year. It’s easy to see why this bushwalking track is so popular, with Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park being part of the incredible Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. It’s not suitable for the novice walker, being a six-day hike which is 65km one way, with rocky and steep sections. But you’ll be rewarded by breathtaking views and alpine flora and fauna. If plans to do the Appalachian Trail in the US or the Tour du Mont Blanc across Europe were shelved, head to Tassie instead.
Australia has some of the best beaches in the world, so instead of Hawaii, head to the Gold Coast. Currumbin Beach is regularly voted Queensland’s cleanest beach and makes for a picture-perfect holiday spot – just think of all those amazing Instagram pics you can share! Known as The Alley, the entrance to the ocean is patrolled by lifeguards and is a great place for beginner surfers and swimmers. Whether you’re up for a surf, swim or just want to lay on the sand, Currumbin Beach is the place to be during the summer.
Dreaming of Niagara Falls? Why not head to Fitzroy Falls instead? Located within Morton National Park in the Southern Highlands, it’s only two hours out of Sydney. The waterfall descends 81m into picturesque Kangaroo Valley. As well as the beautiful waterfall, there are a range of hiking trails you can embark such as the East Rim and West Rim walking tracks. There are great picnic spots making for a perfect day trip, as well as a nearby campground if you want to stay put to soak up the ambience.
Travel will look different for some time to come. Holidays at home can provide an opportunity to experience the wonderful, diverse country we call home. As you head home with great memories, stories to share and spectacular photos you’ll also be leaving a lasting impact on the local tourism industry, who need the support on their road to recovery.