The Best Long Weekend Destinations That Don’t Involve Days of Driving

The Best Long Weekend Destinations That Don’t Involve Days of Driving
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Finally, travel is back on in Australia. Domestic borders are open again and some of us are even brave enough to venture across international waters. But for those of you looking for a break that doesn’t require weeks of annual leave and days of travel, there are loads of incredible local destinations that make for a pretty incredible long weekend.

Here, with the help of Tourism Australia, we’ve pulled together a list of holiday spots that are driving distance from central cities in each Aussie state and territory.

New South Wales long weekend destinations

long weekend destinations nsw
Southern Highlands NSW (Image: iStock)

Bilpin

Take a 90-minute drive towards the mountains and you’ll land on a sweet little gem known as Bilpin. The “Land of the Mountain Apple’ is a haven for cosy B&Bs, apple orchards, open gardens and organic produce”.

Artesian Baths, Lightning Ridge

This is a longer trek (about 8 hours out of Sydney), but it can certainly be managed over a four-day weekend if you’re a road trip fan.

Lightning Ridge is best-known for its opal mining, but if you’re headed to the quirky town it’s worth checking out the Artesian Baths. They’re said to hold water that’s “approximately two million years old and have therapeutic qualities that relieve muscle aches. Take a dip with locals and enjoy the balmy 41.5 degrees celsius temperatures all year round.”

Southern Highlands

If you’re planning a long weekend trip, the Southern Highlands area is about a 2-hour drive from Sydney and is home to beautiful natural sites like Fitzroy Falls.

Australian Capital Territory long weekend destinations

National Arboretum Canberra

Just 6km out of Canberra’s city centre, you’ll find the National Arboretum Canberra. Tourism Australia recommends you “Start with brunch at Discovery Garden, followed by a stroll around the grounds.” Just be sure to book your meals in advance, or back a blanket and set up a picnic.

Blue Range Hut in the Uriarra Forest

“Centred around the heritage-listed remains of a World War II Italian internment camp, the Blue Range camp is a very popular camping location for families and history buffs,” Tourism Australia shares. Set up camp here and take a hike along one of the alpine walking trails of northern Namadgi National Park.

Canberra District Wine Region

Within a 35 minute drive of Canberra, you’ll find more than 30 cellar doors, ready to serve you a tasty pour.

According to Tourism Australia, “Sangiovese, Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Shiraz, Tempranillo and rare varieties such as Grüner Veltliner are all produced in this region”.

Victoria long weekend destinations

long weekend destinations victoria
Macedon Ranges (Image: iStock)

The Macedon Ranges

A short drive out of Melbourne will bring you to the charming villages of the Macedon Ranges. Tourism Australia suggests you “Stop in at The Wine Collective for panoramic views and a glass of Chardonnay which the region is known for. Drive another 15 minutes and reach Kyneton,” where you can indulge in a little shopping.

Mira Mira, Crossover

The “fantasy-style retreat of Mira Mira” is found just 90 minutes out of Melbourne. Its otherworldly ambience will offer a weekend like no other. From fairy-tale comparable cottages to rooms that emulate a “Hobbit-style underworld” it’s about as Instagram-worthy as you can get.

Queensland long weekend destinations

Australia
Aerial View of Moreton Island, Brisbane, Australia (Photo by Reinhard Dirscherlullstein bild via Getty Images)

Tropical Northern Queensland

Take a drive through North Queensland and see spots like the Waterfall Circuit from Cairns to the Atherton Tablelands. The lookouts, historic towns, waterfalls and dairy farms will keep your long weekend loaded with options to keep you busy.

Also within TNQ is the stunning Mossman Gorge – it’s about an hour’s drive from Cairns. If you choose to visit this rainforest area, it’s well worth taking a Ngadiku Dreamtime Walk, conducted by local Indigenous people, where you can learn about the significance of the area.

Moreton Island

If you’re living near Brisbane, in particular, this is an easy weekend trip to take with just a ferry ride. Dive in for some snorkelling around the man-made reef Tangalooma Wrecks, where you may see green turtles, wobbegong sharks, hundreds of fish and maybe even a dugong.

Noosa

Noosa is a not-so-secret hotspot on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, about two hours north of Brisbane, and there’s a reason everyone loves to visit.

Noosa beach has that crystal blue water that tourism ads dream of and it’s backed up by a huge array of beautiful waterfront properties, scenic hikes and a strip of premium dining and shopping options.

South Australia long weekend destinations

long weekend destinations SA
Yorke Peninsula (Image: iStock)

Drive along part of Explorer’s Way

This road trip can take you all the way to Darwin if you so choose, but for the sake of a short weekend, there’s plenty to see within a short distance of Adelaide. From Adelaide to the Clare Valley is under two hours, and the striking Flinders Ranges sits just over five hours away from the city.

Yorke Peninsula

Innes National Park is a 3.5-hour drive from Adelaide and offers some incredible surfing sports. Set up camp at Cable Bay Campground and wander over to “the rusty remains of the wreck of the Ethel”.

Oodnadatta Track

This one is another long drive (close to 9 hours), suited to road-trip lovers. But the Oodnadatta Track, set in “some of Australia’s most significant parts of The Outback” is a truly unique experience. As Tourism Australia writes, it’s “the world’s largest art installation. Featuring countless exhibits along its ever-changing and rugged landscape, it’s truly an outdoor museum like no other in the world!”

Tasmania long weekend destinations

The Best Long Weekend Destinations That Don’t Involve Days of Driving
Lake St Clair (Image: iStock)

Lake St Clair

2.5 hours out of Hobart, you’ll find the snow-capped peaks of Lake St Clair. This destination, Tourism Australia shares is the perfect place to “grab a canoe and a thermos of hot chocolate and drift along without a care”.

Town of Murals, Sheffield

Did you know Tassie had a town of murals? Now you do. It’s just 30 minutes from Devonport and contains “a collection of 100 murals painted on the walls of buildings, created by local artists which depict local history and its characters”.

Coles Bay

Coles Bay is the idyllic getaway you dream of when escaping to Tasmania. It’s particularly an experience for oyster fans who can shuck and eat some of the local treats right in the water.

The bay is also a short drive from Freycinet National Park which is home to a plethora of wildlife and fauna. Coles Bay is just a couple of hours’ drive from Hobart.

Western Australian long weekend destinations

long weekend destinations WA
Lake Cave, Augusta WA (Image: iStock)

Augusta

This quaint town is about 3.5 hours out of Perth – the perfect length drive for a long weekend. Stop by Lake Cave “a stunning crystal chamber deep beneath the earth (bookings essential)” and prepare to be stunned.

Urawa Nature Reserve

According to Tourism Australia, “The historic location of Perkins Well #2 is a great viewing spot” for folks hoping to view the Milky Way. Spend a weekend stargazing here, staying in Mullewa and perusing the many Astrotourism Towns nearby.

Northern Territory long weekend destinations

long weekend destinations NT
Kakadu National Park, NT (Image: iStock)

Kakadu National Park

Spend a weekend in the Cooinda Camping Ground close to the Yellow Water Billabong where you can board a cruise and look out for crocodiles and birds.

Litchfield National Park

Just under 1.5 hours drive from Darwin, you’ll find Litchfield National Park where you can explore 4×4 tracks and “experience challenging terrain, big rivers and wildlife”. Be sure to check-in and see which part of the parks are open at the time you hope to visit, however.

This article has been updated since its original publish date.

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