Margaret River Region, Western Australia © Walk Into Luxury
See a classic destination in a new light
Look beyond the obvious and discover a new side to some of Australia’s most iconic holiday spots.
By Krysia Bonkowski
We’ve all been guilty of it – buying the guidebook, ticking off the must-see sights and considering the destination “done”. But if you want to truly get to know some of Australia’s most popular holiday hangouts, try looking past the main attractions. Put aside your preconceptions and get ready to be surprised by these hidden gems.
Go beyond the cellar doors in Margaret River
There is no denying it – Margaret River produces some downright fine wine. But there’s more to this geographically blessed coastal region, particularly if you’re thirsty for adventure.
Locals know that the best days in Margaret River are spent outside. And we’re not just talking about the terraces of acclaimed winery restaurants. Wander among towering stands of karri trees; chase breaks that surfers cross the globe for; set off on world-class walks, and chill out on postcard-worthy beaches where dolphins jump between the waves. Catch the annual profusion of wildflowers in September and October, or watch migrating whales cruise past from June to December. This laid-back locale offers the kind of unspoiled beach holiday you thought was a thing of the past. Slip off your shoes, breathe deep and drink it in (in every way).
Take a time-out from the Gold Coast’s theme parks
Our love of the Gold Coast’s theme parks will never fade. But Queensland’s second-largest city, just north of New South Wales, has much more going for it than rollercoasters and waterslides. There’s the 70 kilometres (43 miles) of idyllic beaches, with stretches perfect for everyone from surf pros to paddling toddlers. Then there’s the verdant embrace of the Gold Coast Hinterland a short drive west of the city, with its rainforest walks and boutique retreats. Within the city itself, a new generation of locals drawn by the coast’s abundant natural charms can be spotted living their best sun-kissed lives at open-air markets, craft breweries and airy beachfront restaurants. Soak up the Gold Coast’s coastal vibe with a stay at the dreamy bon Sol beachfront apartments in Burleigh Heads.
How to experience it: Head to Burleigh Headland to watch the sunset paint the evening skies pink. You’ll feel a thrill different to the one waiting inside the city’s theme parks – but no less invigorating.
See Canberra’s cool side
Once upon a time, you might have thought Canberra was more concerned with legislation than lifestyle. But the capital of the nation has developed some serious cultural clout. Pair the obligatory tour of Parliament House with a detour to Canberra’s lesser-known drawcards. From must-visit eateries such as Pilot and Rebel Rebel to boutique cool-climate winemakers and a compelling brood of galleries; you’ll soon discover that Canberra has become, dare we say it, cool. Browse local designs and handcrafted wares at the Old Bus Depot Markets on Sundays, captain a GoBoat for a floating picnic on Lake Burley Griffin and stake out a spot on its banks for sunset. Spend enough time in this delicately designed city and you’ll come to know that its charms aren’t just reserved for civil servants.
How to experience it: Stay at the chic Hotel Hotel in the hip NewActon precinct, and take advantage of the onsite bike hire stand to explore the cycle-friendly city centre.