Hidden gems: 10 of Australia’s best short breaks
We bet these aren't on your bucket list...yet.
By Jessica Wilkinson
There has never been a better time for Australians to get out and explore the wonders of their own backyard. Australian Traveller magazine has curated their top getaways on home soil in the 100 Ways to Holiday Here This Year edition, which celebrates the wealth of Aussie adventures right on your doorstep.
Inspired by this list, we’ve rounded up 10 of the best itineraries that help you get out and explore Australia in less than 10 days. Choose from road trips in tropical towns, idyllic island escapes, and food and wine journeys through hills and hinterland. From outback adventures to remote wilderness destinations, these hidden gems are perfect for a quick escape.
Experience a four-day outback adventure
- Inspired by #31 of 100: Explore Alice Springs in an unexpected way, Northern Territory
Alice Springs, known as the beating heart of Australia's Red Centre, is surrounded by a sea of ochre sands and speckled with majestic rock formations. Home to incredible outback beauty, it’s no wonder that ‘Alice’ is one of Australia’s most extraordinary destinations.
This four-day itinerary will have you exploring the vibrant town centre, mountain biking the vast desert landscapes, discovering the rugged terrain and outback waterholes of the West MacDonnell Ranges, and enjoying a unique wildlife experience at the Kangaroo Sanctuary.
Head to the hills for a six-day food and wine tour
- Inspired by #72 of 100: Tour the wineries and distilleries of McLaren Vale, South Australia
This six-day round-trip from Adelaide is made for food- and wine-lovers, showcasing the region’s best cool-climate wines, cheesemakers, butchers, chocolatiers and distillers. Follow the winding roads through mist-shrouded valleys, apple orchards and verdant vineyards in the Adelaide Hills and McLaren Vale, then watch the spectacular Fleurieu Peninsula coastline unfurl before you. This seaside stretch is home to incredible natural wonders, as well as some of South Australia’s best local produce.
Explore a coastal paradise on a six-day road trip
- Inspired by #1 of 100: Be revitalised on the Sapphire Coast, New South Wales
Sweeping coastlines, rolling paddocks, lush bushland, and more delicious food stops than you can count (think freshly caught seafood, home-made gelato, and award-winning cheeses) are just a few of the reasons you should embark on a six-day road trip along the coast of New South Wales. Starting and ending in Sydney, you’ll circle through some of the most idyllic towns the Sapphire Coast has to offer, including little pockets of paradise in Mollymook, Bega, Eden and Merimbula.
Road trip around a tropical paradise in five days
- Inspired by #5 of 100: Explore the legacy of Cooktown, Queensland
Showcasing the best that Tropical North Queensland has to offer, this five-day road trip takes you from the rainforest and tropical gardens of Cairns to the coastal getaway of Cooktown, along the Great Barrier Reef Drive.
Hugging the coastline, you’ll get to witness the lush tropical scenery unfold in front of you, with white sandy beaches on one side and emerald-green rainforest on the other. Take a moment to marvel before heading inland for a uniquely Australian cattle station experience at Mount Mulligan Lodge.
Embark on a four-day wilderness adventure
- Inspired by #98 of 100: Road trip through East Gippsland, Victoria
Set off from Melbourne on a four-day food and wilderness tour and explore the seemingly endless Victorian coastline. A road trip through East Gippsland will take you through the forests, fern gullies and rainforests of Wilsons Promontory, and then lead you to the beaches of Gippsland Lakes.
Along the way, enjoy the local wineries and vibrant food scene with farm-to-table dining, small-scale local growers and delicious locally made produce (like fresh cheeses, free-range charcuterie and ‘escargot caviar’).
Spend four days exploring a volcanic crater
- Inspired by #69 of 100: Unearth the surprises of the Scenic Rim, Queensland
Set among the stunning scenery of lush rainforests and mountain ranges in an ancient volcanic caldera, Queensland’s Scenic Rim is a hidden haven of nature, food and adventure. Just over an hour from Brisbane, you’ll find quaint villages, luxury rural retreats, wineries, breweries, and an abundance of local paddock-to-plate producers. Take a four-day food and wine tour through the hinterland to breathe in the eucalypt-scented air and witness some of the region’s most impressive natural formations, like Tamborine Mountain and Lost World Valley.
Discover Tasmanian delights on a five-day getaway
- Inspired by #26 of 100: Seek out the foodie secrets of Flinders Island, Tasmania
When it comes to combining outdoor adventure and out-of-this-world culinary experiences, Tasmania’s Flinders Island is the ideal destination. During a five-day getaway, you’ll soak up the serenity of remote wilderness, get your heart pumping with mountain biking and diving, and indulge in delicious Tassie treats.
Beyond the swathes of green paddocks and pink and grey mountain ranges, you’ll find the island’s farmers, fishers, and growers waiting to share their organic produce and incredible cool-climate wines.
Uncover delicious foodie hotspots over four days
- Inspired by #74 of 100: Road trip through the Yass Valley, New South Wales
The perfect winter escape, this four-day food and wine tour highlights the local wineries and fresh produce of the scenic Yass Valley. Take a 2.5-hour road trip from Sydney to the Southern Tablelands, stopping in at the Southern Highlands for a cosy lunch by the fire.
Head off to explore the quaint historic towns of Murrumbateman and Wallaroo before dedicating a few days to sampling the beautiful cool-climate wines at the wide selection of cellar doors. Finish your trip in Canberra for an arts and culture fix.
Take a three-day break in Canberra
- Inspired by #10 of 100: Take the perfect short break in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
Canberra is an all-rounder destination offering luxury hotels, a thriving bar scene, sophisticated dining experiences, brilliant museums and galleries, and plenty of outdoor activities. Spend three days exploring the capital city as you cycle the shores of Lake Burley Griffin, or head out to explore the surrounding national parks.
Delve into Canberra's art scene at the National Gallery of Australia before enjoying an afternoon beer at a local brewery. End the day by sampling local produce at one of the several top-notch restaurants.
Sail away on an eight-day island escape
- Inspired by #28 of 100: Cruise to the intriguing Abrolhos Islands, Western Australia
Western Australia is known for its vast nature, and the state’s islands are no different. An eight-day getaway to the Abrolhos Islands is perfect for those looking for a true escape from everyday life. Leave from Perth and embrace the open road as you drive along the Western Australian coast through scenery dotted with wildflowers and sculptural rock formations. Then, set sail to explore the Abrolhos Islands. Along the way, you’ll learn to fish for lobster, snorkel over the 1629 Batavia shipwreck and even swim with playful seals.