The Weekend Australian - Travel - - DESTINATION AUSTRALIA -

Let’s not for­get the sun­shine state, or at least its cooler cor­ners. A se­ries of 15 Au­tumn Breathe Breaks has just been re­leased by South­ern Queens­land Coun­try. There are two in the Toowoomba area, six across the South Bur­nett re­gion and seven in the South­ern Downs and Gran­ite Belt. Tour­ing op­tions range from food and wine trails and guided cy­cle tour­ing to art­themed breaks; ac­com­mo­da­tion cov­ers cot­tages, cab­ins, con­verted churches and charm­ing B&Bs. More: south­ern­queens­land coun­ bal­conies, LCD TVs and kids’ ac­tiv­ity kits; th­ese cham­bers look out to Yarra Ranges Na­tional Park and Cathe­dral Ranges. Amid the seclu­sion, there are bush­walk­ing and bike trails, wa­ter­falls (ho­tel ex­cur­sions to ma­jes­tic Steav­en­son Falls, flood­lit nightly) or the ho­tel spa, sauna, gym, pool, ten­nis court and slow-cooked cui­sine with house-made breads. Take a tree-shaded walk across the grass to Fraga’s Cafe, Marysville Patis­serie, the His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety mu­seum (pi­o­neer­ing life, bush­fire mem­o­ra­bilia) or ven­ture nearby to a golf course, play­ground, river­side walks, Bux­ton Trout and Salmon Farm (fam­ily fish­ing) and the fab­u­lous Bruno’s Art and Sculp­ture Gar­den. More: tfe­ho­tels. com/brands/vibe-ho­tels/vibeho­tel-marysville.


EAST HO­TEL, KINGSTON, CAN­BERRA: The Amer­i­cans call it the leaf-peep­ing sea­son and, while Can­berra is not Ver­mont, there are op­por­tu­ni­ties aplenty in the cap­i­tal in au­tumn to view trees clad in gold and red. From civic parks and gar­dens to the liq­uid am­ber-lined av­enues of well-es­tab­lished sub­urbs, this is a city that cel­e­brates her­itage plant­ings and well-tended gar­dens. Fallen fo­liage is heaped on streets and across lawns like colour­ful rugs or shawls scat­tered in an ex­otic bazaar, and don’t for­get to take that al­most-oblig­a­tory feet-on-leaves selfie. I can think of no bet­ter base for all this na­ture wor­ship than East Ho­tel, within easy strik­ing dis­tance of Lake Bur­ley Grif­fin. As wel­com­ing to fam­i­lies with young kids in tow as to chic cou­ples, gue­strooms come in flex­i­ble con­fig­u­ra­tions and with tonnes of ex­tras and there are good pack­ages to sea­sonal events and block­buster show­ings at the Na­tional Gallery. The snug Joe’s Bar on the ground floor serves au­then­tic Ital­ian fare and heart­en­ing cock­tails of the ilk of Spicy Joe, with in­gre­di­ents that in­clude chilli-in­fused tequila, zesty lime and black pep­per. Whoa. More: east­ho­tel.


THE HY­DRO MA­JES­TIC, MED­LOW BATH, NSW: The Hy­dro Ma­jes­tic sprawls like an art-deco ap­pari­tion along the rim of the Me­ga­long Val­ley at Med­low Bath in the Blue Moun­tains, west of Syd­ney. Opened in 1904, the Hy­dro hosted the likes of Arthur Co­nan Doyle, Nel­lie Melba (who sang there) and Aus­tralia’s first prime min­is­ter, Ed­mund Bar­ton (who died there in 1920). Ini­tially a glam­our spa and later oc­cu­pied by US forces dur­ing World War II, by the 1990s its windy halls were whistling with the ghosts of debt and furtive dal­liances. A loved but faded diva, it nev­er­the­less fre­quently threat­ened a come­back, a la Dame Nel­lie. And now it has done it, el­e­gantly so, with art, stained glass, smart menus and 54 very hab­it­able gue­strooms, all thanks to the Blue Moun­tains’ hos­pi­tal­ity spe­cial­ists The Es­carp­ment Group, which has com­mit­ted se­ri­ous money and her­itage tal­ent to restor­ing the Hy­dro to its domed, crenel­lated, white wed­ding­cake glory days. Stay­ing here is the best way to wit­ness the spec­tac­u­lar val­ley below and, in au­tumn, the rus­set riot of the ex­otic Euro­pean trees around Med­low Bath

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