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Australia’s 13 best weekend road trips

This article originally appeared on www.hotelclub.com/blog. which is now part of hotels.com

Ah, the weekend  –  it’s long enough to get away and see something new, but not too short that you’re forced to embark upon yet another ‘staycation’. With that, here are 13 of the best weekend road trips in Australia. Choose one, and go.  

1. Sydney – Blue Mountains

Drive time: 1.5 hours

Stay: Emirates Wolgan Valley

The UNESCO World Heritage Site that is the Greater Blue Mountains Area contains a lot more than just national park. Try Wollemi, Yengo, Nattai, Kanangra-Boyd, Gardens of Stone and Thirlmere Lakes national parks and, remarkably, 400 plus types of mammals and reptiles over 1 million hectares of wilderness.

  2. Brisbane – Byron Bay

 

  Drive time: 2 hours

 

 Stay: Shambhala Byron Bay

Known colloquially as the most chilled out place in all of Australia, this laid-back northern NSW surf town is flanked by pristine beaches, home to a smattering of welcoming pubs, restaurants and cafes, and a short drive from the more fast-paced, club-laden streets of the Gold Coast. Head to nearby Bangalow to trawl the town’s eclectic market stalls and sample some local fare, while the infamous Lighthouse Walk is your go-to for scoping out the coastal scenery.

  3. Melbourne – Great Ocean Road

Drive time: 2 hours

Stay: Cumberland Lorne

While the northern parts of Australia’s east coast are all about iconic beaches and green rainforests, further south is home to a much more raw, rugged and breathtaking coastline – best of which can be witnessed on the famed Great Ocean Road drive. A few clicks from Melbourne and you’ll be snaking between looming cliffs and endless azure ocean all the way down to Lorne, which will be your stop-off before you do the second leg to the Twelve Apostles and beyond (it’s all on the same road) on day two.

  4. Sydney – Jervis Bay

Drive time: 3 hours

The slim but pretty South Coast of New South Wales unfurls a trove of first-rate destinations, from Bega Valley to Shoalhaven. The big bay they call Jervis, however, is sublime.

5. Canberra – Snowy Mountains

Drive time: 2 hours

Stay: The Denham

When it comes to the white stuff, Australia scores barely a fraction compared to our European brethrens. Heavy snow or not, the NSW alpine region is one of the most unique and beautiful landscapes to play as backdrop to a weekend road trip. Nip into the Wildbrumby distillery for lunch with a lick of local schnapps, before driving past lake Jindabyne enroute to your very own snow-capped chalet for the weekend – followed by some skiing (apres, obviously) or a chairlift ride up Mt. Kosciuszko in the summer.

  6. Adelaide – Barossa Valley

Drive time: 1 hour

Stay: Stonewell Cottage

A practical metonym for wine, Barossa is the most famous viticulture hub in Australia. Home to some of the most desirable labels in the wine world, Barossa is a mere 60 km from Adelaide and welcomes scores of oenophiles, critics, collectors and tyro tasters. Start with telltale varietal Shiraz, nosh your way across delightful regional produce and book a table at one of Barossa’s elegant chef-run, farm-to-plate restaurants.

  7. Brisbane – Lamington National Park

Drive time: 1.5 hours

Stay: O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat

Nestled deep in the lush rainforests of the Gold Coast hinterland lies Lamington National Park – an Eden-like escape with 160km of walking trails, waterfalls and native wildlife. The best place to take it all in? O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat – a century-old nature escape in the heart of the park with breathtaking views of the hinterlands.

  8. Sydney – Seal Rocks

Drive time: 3 hours

The quiet coastal town is the perfect spot for winding down and watching the local wildlife put on a show. Rent a place overlooking the beach and you’re likely to witness dolphins, native birds and – in the summer – fur seals lounging on the nearby rocky coastline (it’s all in the name). Pro-tip: pack some groceries and a selection of wine before setting off, as shopping pickings are slim in the area. Then sit back, vino in hand, and watch the afternoon waves.

  9. Melbourne – Yarra Valley

Drive time: 1 hour

Stay: Chateau Yering

Located just an hour outside Melbourne CBD, the Yarra Valley is buzzing with new cafes, local organic eateries and world-class accommodations. Enjoy a farm-fresh meal at superchef Shannon Bennett’s The Piggery Café; then, sip a glass of Chardonnay at Oakridge Wines picturesque cellar door with panoramic views of the vineyard, followed by catching some rays by the pool at Coombe the Melba Estate.

  10. Perth – Margaret River

Drive time: 3 hours

Stay: Margaret’s Forest

Our love for South West, Western Australia is inexhaustible. Add grape vines to the equation and our heart skips a beat. If you only have a day or two to explore the Margaret River Wine Region from Perth (you do), make the most of it. From national parks to caves, gourmet chocolate to beer and wine, consider this list a suitable primer.

  11. Adelaide – Kangaroo Island

Drive time: 4 hours

Stay: Wilderness Valley

Australia’s third largest island – with over a quarter of that being conservation area – is considered one of world’s few unspoiled wildlife refuges. Located 110 km (70 miles) south-west of Adelaide, the island can be reached by ferry or plane. Wildlife spotting surely is the major attraction here, with winter being the perfect climate to spot the local echidnas, kangaroos and koalas.

  12. Brisbane – North Stradbroke Island

Drive time: 2 hours

Stay: Padanus Palms

Accessible only by ferry, the world’s second largest sand island is a nature overload of white-sand beaches, endless dunes (and, naturally, off-road vehicle rental options) and oceans brimming with whales and other local sea life. Take it all in on the deck of the Pandanus Palms and after that – well, not much else. The key is to relax. 

  13. Sydney – Hunter Valley

Drive time: 3 hours

Stay: Peppers Guest House

The paragon wine polestar of the state and home to world class Semillon, the Hunter Valley is a perpetual target for collectors, aficionados and those who have yet to refine a palate (everyone).

  Top image: Great Ocean Road by @imoova