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 country.com.au. 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. com.au.
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