Top 10 Aussie summer staycations
Adventures in your own backyard
For some of us, the perfect Aussie summer is about family barbecues and long days at the beach. For others, it’s sunset drinks at an inner-city rooftop bar.
Whatever your idea of the perfect Australian summer, this sunburnt country of ours has no shortage of adventures to suit all travellers.
From iconic road trips to luxe weekend retreats, here are 10 of the best Australian summer staycations to spend the holidays exploring your own backyard.
1. Live local at the Festival of King Island in Tasmania
Home to abundant turquoise waters, heart-pumping surf and beef prized by some of Australia’s top chefs, King Island remains one of Australia’s best-kept secrets. Nestled between Victoria’s southern coast and the western tip of Tasmania, King Island has fewer than 2,000 residents but no shortage of community atmosphere.
Spend an afternoon enjoying the sights and sounds of the annual Festival of King Island and you’ll see what we mean.
It’s far from the largest summer music festival in the country, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in personality. You’ll find some of Australia’s brightest folk artists entertaining the crowd while local food stalls keep tummies full with a selection of the island’s best produce and Tasmania’s cool-climate wines. The Festival of King Island runs from the 28th to the 29th of January in 2023.
2. Hop between beach towns from Sydney to Byron Bay
You don’t need to be a surfer to appreciate one of the most iconic coastal road trips in New South Wales: Sydney to Byron Bay. The roughly 800km drive passes by unspoilt beaches, lively regional towns, and arguably some of the country’s most legendary bakeries (like Fredo Pies in Kempsey, famous for their crocodile and kangaroo creations!).
If you’re planning to sleep beneath the stars, you’ll find a range of affordable campsite options on the drive but be sure to book in advance. Some of the highlights between Sydney and the famous Byron Bay include Seal Rocks and the Great Lakes region, Crescent Head and Yamba.
3. Feed wild dolphins in Western Australia
Jutting into the Indian Ocean in the most western reaches of the Australian mainland lies the shimmering bay of Monkey Mia. The world heritage area surrounding Shark Bay is beloved for its dramatic coastal scenery, where rich red sand dunes meet azure seas, teeming with wildlife.
But it’s the sheltered waters of Monkey Mia that have attracted some incredibly special visitors for over 50 years: hungry Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins. The local Parks and Wildlife Service operates a unique feeding experience, where visitors can witness the feeding of these magnificent marine mammals, all run under careful conditions to ensure the well-being of the local dolphin population.
4. Surf in the city at URBNSURF Melbourne
If you’ve always wanted to experience the thrill of riding a wave but find the big wild ocean too intimidating, URBNSURF has you covered. Whether you’re a first timer, a casual surfer, or an experienced pro wanting heart-pumping barrels, this inland wave pool is the perfect place to sharpen your skills.
Located just 10-minutes from Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport, URBNSURF runs surf sessions to suit all skill levels in a safe and controlled environment. Forget the unpredictability of the ocean, the chaos of a busy summer surf session, and the fear of not knowing the rules - URBNSURF makes it easy to get the waves of your life, over and over again.
With an onsite restaurant, Three Blue Ducks, and plenty of places to relax between waves, this is a great day out for the entire family.
5. See the Red Centre in style on The Ghan
In the 19th century, Afghan cameleers journeyed across inland Australia carrying goods for European settlers, on a route that was dubbed the Afghan Express. Today, that same route is traversed by the country’s most historic train, The Ghan.
While the journey passes through some of the harshest landscapes in Australia, your trip on The Ghan will be anything but. Private cabins, curated menus featuring local delicacies, and off-train experiences like dinner beneath the stars - this is rail travel at its most luxurious.
The Ghan schedule runs just either side of summer, so if you’re looking to enjoy an indulgent domestic trip outside of the school holiday crowds, this could be a great option for you.
6. Unwind in an Eco Villa on Kangaroo Island
Another one for the luxury travellers, Kangaroo Island’s Ocean View Eco Villas offer panoramic views of Nepean Bay in truly remote, off-grid serenity.
The property comprises 500 acres of the coastline known as “Rebanks”, where you’ll see joeys bounding across the fields, echidnas shuffling through the shrub and kestrels patrolling the clifftop.
South Australia’s Kangaroo Island isn’t only a favourite for luxury travellers, with plenty of budget accommodation options scattered around its shores.
7. Eat your way around Adelaide
For many outside the state, South Australia’s Adelaide has flown under the radar as a must-see holiday destination. However, the cosmopolitan capital has emerged as one of Australia’s most revered food scenes, with a smorgasbord of award-winning restaurants serving everything from simple homestyle cuisine to 16-course experimental degustations.
You’ll find a variety of unique dining experiences in the Adelaide CBD, such as Africola, Peel St and Restaurant Botanic, while the shores of nearby Henley Beach will beckon with a combination of old-fashioned fish ‘n chip shops, pubs and waterfront diners.
8. Mix things up with unique accommodations
Whether it’s sleeping on a houseboat, in a glamping tent or even in a treehouse perched above the forest floor, your hotel can become as unforgettable as the destination itself. Airbnb can be a great place to find unique accommodations, allowing you to filter and search for keywords like “treehouse”, “barn” and “glamping”.
If you’re out to make your friends and followers really jealous, the stunning Lilypad Palm Beach will certainly do the trick. The floating villa is poised on a pontoon in the heart of the Pittwater on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, complete with an onboard sauna and wine cellar.
9. Take a tour of a working oyster farm
For many of us, a plate stacked with oysters is as much a part of the Aussie Christmas lunch as the ham, turkey and pudding. And luckily, our native Sydney rock oysters just happen to be prized around the world for their rich creaminess and enduring sweetness.
If you’ve ever wondered how these marvellous molluscs go from ocean to plate, an oyster tour on the NSW South Coast is sure to leave you with a salty smile. With a local tour of the oyster farms in Pambula and Merimbula, you’ll learn why the region is renowned for producing some of the country’s best oysters. You can expect an educational cruise along the estuaries, an oyster-shucking masterclass and of course, plenty of taste testing!
10. Let the kids loose in Queensland’s theme parks
Australian family holidays don’t get much more iconic than a trip to the theme parks of Queensland’s Gold Coast. With Movie World, Dreamworld, Wet’n’Wild, Aussie World and more all within striking distance, the kids are sure to be sleeping with smiles on their faces at the end of a long day.
It’s no surprise that the Gold Coast’s theme parks can be bustling with crowds over the summer months. Many of the parks have downloadable apps with information like current wait times for rides, presentation schedules, parking information and more, which can help you to enjoy your visit to the fullest.
Why domestic travel insurance is a good idea
At first, domestic travel insurance might sound unnecessary. After all, you’ll be protected by things like Medicare and private health insurance if a medical emergency happens during your trip. However, the truth is that a lot can go wrong while travelling, even on shorter trips within Australia.
Just ask one of our unlucky travelling families who had to cancel the remainder of their Queensland adventure due to a medical emergency. Thankfully, they’d protected themselves with our domestic travel insurance and were able to submit a successful claim for $4,685 to cover their booking cancellations.