Short hop, big re­ward

When time’s not on your side and you need a break, a spot close to home is the an­swer. Check out our ‘short’ list and get pack­ing!

Australian House & Garden - - TRAVEL -

Book­ing long-haul flights and hol­i­days to far-flung desti­na­tions is an ex­cit­ing but big un­der­tak­ing – best planned well in ad­vance so you can make the most of ev­ery dol­lar and sker­rick of time. Less travel time re­lieves the pres­sure no end, so we’ve found 10 fun op­tions for quick trips from ev­ery part of the coun­try.

Auck­land and Wai­heke Is­land, New Zealand

It’s just over three hours’ flight time from Syd­ney or Mel­bourne to New Zealand’s largest city and well worth the hop over the Tas­man. When the weather is good, Auck­land is a de­light to walk around. Or to ex­plore on wheels: jump on a lo­cal bus to a neigh­bour­hood you’re in­ter­ested in and stroll about for a few hours, ad­mir­ing the gar­dens and di­verse ar­chi­tec­tural styles. The suburbs of Par­nell, Pon­sonby and Newmarket are pop­u­lar peo­ple mag­nets. You’ll find good cafes in them and any other shop­ping district, with lovely wine bars to boot. If you’re up for a mem­o­rable ex­pe­ri­ence, climb Mount Eden, an ex­tinct vol­cano that lies just south of the CBD. It’s quite an easy walk to the top and the panoramic view from the cen­tral crater is breath­tak­ing. Ac­com­mo­da­tion op­tions are plen­ti­ful in Auck­land, but if you want to treat your­self, book into the Auck­land Hil­ton on the har­bour’s Princes Wharf; it has bliss­fully comfy beds. Also well worth do­ing is a day trip on a Fullers ferry to Wai­heke Is­land (pic­tured). The 40-minute boat ride is lovely, and once there you can use the pub­lic buses to reach beau­ti­ful beaches and winer­ies (al­ter­na­tively, bring your own car on a SeaLink ferry). Rec­om­mended is Fenice cafe in Oneroa, a short walk from the ferry stop, which serves pretty de­cent wood­fired piz­zas and an­tipasto. Look out for reg­u­lar air­line deals to snap up a bar­gain. wai­heke.co.nz

Great for… mak­ing the most of a four-day week­end. John McDon­ald >

Ark­aba Walk, SA

Few things can be more in­vig­o­rat­ing than an ex­tended walk through some of our most spec­tac­u­lar land­scapes. Case in point is the Ark­aba Walk in South Aus­tralia’s Flin­ders

Ranges, a four-day, three-night trek that takes you through ma­jes­tic scenery and var­ied ter­rains. It feels so lib­er­at­ing to be dis­con­nected from tech­nol­ogy and traf­fic. The jour­ney is rated moder­ate to chal­leng­ing – you’ll be trav­el­ling 12-14km per day – so be sure to pre­pare by walk­ing as much as pos­si­ble be­fore­hand. Along the way, you’ll stay in pri­vate lux­ury camps and be treated to plenty of de­li­cious and nu­tri­tious food. Cost is $2900 per per­son (twin share) from Ade­laide. ark­abawalk.com

Great for… health and well­be­ing. JMc

Sanc­tu­ary, Mount Cot­ton, Qld

A 40-minute drive from Bris­bane, Sir­romet win­ery re­cently in­tro­duced glamp­ing stays on its grounds. Sited for max­i­mum pri­vacy, the tented pavil­ions are won­der­ful – the only thing that feels tent-like is their roll-up can­vas blinds, which ad­mit the light and sounds and smells of the bush. You’ll be wo­ken with a cho­rus of kook­abur­ras and a de­li­cious break­fast ham­per. The win­ery also boasts one of the state’s best eater­ies, Restau­rant Lurleen’s, so fine din­ing is right on your doorstep. From $380 per day for two adults, with a min­i­mum two-night stay. sanc­tu­ary­bysir­romet.com

Great for… re­con­nect­ing with na­ture in com­fort and style. Deb­o­rah Grant It’s so fa­mil­iar to Aus­tralians, we some­times need to be re­minded that Bali is one of the most fun short hops you can have. Though no more than six hours’ flight time from any main­land cap­i­tal, it couldn’t be more dif­fer­ent to Aus­tralia. First-time visi­tors may be struck by the pure chaos of the traf­fic, but if you head in­land to Ubud (pic­tured above right) it’s all seren­ity and re­lax­ation. There you’ll find ac­com­mo­da­tion for ev­ery bud­get, great yoga re­treats and the un­miss­able sa­cred Mon­key For­est.

Great for… sim­ple R&R. JMc

Jenolan Caves, NSW

A three-hour drive west from Syd­ney takes you to this world-class sys­tem of lime­stone

caves, which of­fers var­i­ous lev­els of ex­plo­ration. Most tours in­volve 1-2 hours of easy-to-moder­ate walk­ing through amaz­ing cham­bers with stun­ning for­ma­tions. You might opt for, say, the River Cave tour and dis­cover the mys­ti­cal un­der­ground lake, or take a night tour by torch­light. Fol­low the day’s ex­plor­ing with a stay at his­toric Caves

House. And while you’re in the area, visit

Ark­aba Walk camp May­field Gar­den (may­fieldgar­den.com.au),

Aus­tralia’s largest pri­vate gar­den. It’s de­signed for leisurely strolling, with ex­tra­or­di­nary plant­ings to ad­mire all year round. A cafe and nurs­ery make it easy to spend a day there. jenolan­caves.org.au

Great for… wow­ing peo­ple of all ages.

El­iz­a­beth Wil­son

New Nor­cia, WA

Founded by the Bene­dic­tine or­der, Aus­tralia’s only monas­tic town, 132km north of Perth, is now renowned for its neo­clas­si­cal ar­chi­tec­ture and de­li­cious lo­cal

food and wine. Re­treat there for a short break with pals or check in solo for a spir­i­tu­al­ity work­shop. Down the road is the Euro­pean Space Agency’s Mars-track­ing an­tenna, but there’s no need to leave town to learn more; dis­cover its work, and the 170-year his­tory of New Nor­cia, at the on­site ed­u­ca­tion cen­tre. newnor­cia.wa.edu.au

Great for… a jour­ney into the past, present and space age. DG

Lizard Is­land & Re­sort, Qld

The flight to idyl­lic Lizard Is­land from Cairns, in a tiny plane over the Great Bar­rier Reef, is breath­tak­ing, but the is­land it­self is some­thing else. For many, the big pull is the

ocean ex­pe­ri­ence. You can dive and snorkel to your heart’s con­tent, see­ing ev­ery­thing from reef sharks and gi­ant cod to big, friendly eels, del­i­cate corals, nudi­branchs and vi­brant gi­ant clams. The re­sort is sub­lime, with fab­u­lous ac­com­mo­da­tion.

Try to book a stay of at least five nights to get the most out of this piece of par­adise. Rates are from $1949 per room per night, in­clu­sive of fine food, bev­er­ages and many of the ac­tiv­i­ties. lizardis­land.com.au

Great for… a mile­stone an­niver­sary treat. Roz Wy­att, Tay­lor & Turner Travel As­so­ci­ates

Dar­win and beyond, NT

Plan­ning a trip to the Top End? Dar­win is a cul­tur­ally di­verse trop­i­cal city with nat­u­ral won­ders at its doorstep. Litch­field Na­tional Park, an easy hour’s drive from

the CBD, of­fers gen­tle bush­walk­ing and swim­ming in brochure-per­fect wa­ter­holes. Wangi Falls is eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble and, if you’re pre­pared for steep stairs, Florence Falls – where two wa­ter­falls plunge into a clear, deep pool – of­fers rich re­wards. Fur­ther afield, Kakadu Na­tional Park (three hours’ drive on a sealed road from Dar­win) is a World Her­itage-listed won­der­land. Spend at least two nights (choose from camp­sites, ho­tels or ar­chi­tect-de­signed bun­ga­lows) and take a Gu­luyambi Cul­tural Cruise of the East Al­li­ga­tor River with Kakadu Cul­tural Tours (kaka­du­cul­tur­al­tours.com.au).

You’ll see pro­lific birdlife (and plenty of croc­o­diles) as you learn about the land­scape and indige­nous cul­ture. For a cul­tural jour­ney you’ll never for­get, take the Arn­hem­lan­der full-day 4WD tour of West­ern Arn­hem Land, vis­it­ing the com­mu­nity of Kun­bar­lanja and the In­jalak Arts cen­tre (dry sea­son only, MayNovem­ber). APT also has an eight-day

Arn­hem Land Ex­pe­di­tion Cruise

de­part­ing from Dar­win (aptouring.com.au). Great for… a once-in-a-life­time fam­ily ad­ven­ture and cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ence. EW

Emi­rates One&Only Wol­gan Val­ley, NSW

Lo­cated in the heart of the Blue Moun­tains, 190km north-west of Syd­ney and in a se­cluded lo­ca­tion, this is a desti­na­tion in it­self. With spec­tac­u­lar views and a choice of lux­u­ri­ous vil­las, Wol­gan Val­ley is the per­fect place to re­lax and un­wind or ex­plore the lo­cal area and sur­round­ing bush­land at your own pace. If you’re af­ter some­thing more vig­or­ous, horserid­ing, moun­tain bik­ing and ten­nis are also avail­able. Meals and bev­er­ages are in­cluded, so it keeps the cost won­der­fully un­der con­trol. one­an­don­lyre­sorts.com Great for… bond­ing in a bush set­ting. Kel­lie Wood­ward, Reis & James Travel As­so­ci­ates

Mur­ray River house­boat trip, SA

For a re­lax­ing hol­i­day with friends, hire a boat from Kia Ma­rina House­boat Hire in Man­num and travel 50km up the Mur­ray to Big Bend. The boats are sur­pris­ingly easy to drive, con­sid­er­ing their size, and all you need is on board. As you pass the small towns and charm­ing shacks lin­ing the river, the land­scape changes con­stantly – from arid farm­land to rocky cliffs to stands of gumtrees and wet­lands teem­ing with birdlife. From $1500 for three nights over a week­end (plus bond). kia­ma­rina.com.au Great for… a take-it-easy tour where na­ture comes to you. Ade­laide Bragg H&G

A well-earned rest on the Ark­aba Walk. Glamp­ing at Mount Cot­ton. The green paths of Ubud.

Lizard Is­land’s aquatic won­der world. East Al­li­ga­tor River in the Kakadu. Scenic lux­ury at Wol­gan Val­ley Re­sort.

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