So, you can’t have an overseas holiday?
Don’t despair. You can enjoy a foreign adventure without even leaving our shores.
Australia is a melting pot of cultures, and many destinations have such tangible international flavours that it’s easy to feel like you’re on the other side of the world. Well, almost.
Check out this superb line-up of culturally rich Australian destinations.
What/why? Australia’s oldest-surviving German settlement, Hahndorf was established in 1839 by Prussian Lutherans in search of religious freedom.
Evidence: The charm-filled, tree-lined main street of this delightful Adelaide Hills town feels a bit different. It is different, evidenced by striking old buildings boasting traditional Fachwerk architecture.
Prized pubs and restaurant menus are dominated by classic German fare, best washed down with a tasty hefeweizen. They’re complemented by gourmet delicatessens and traditional German cake shops. Throw in a world-class wine region on its doorstep — not necessarily thanks to the Germans, but who cares! — and it’s no wonder Hahndorf is a crowd magnet.
Stay at: BIG4 West Beach Parks, Adelaide.
What/why? The gold-rush days were a frenzied period that drew miners from around the world, all with hopes of striking it rich. At its peak, 20 per cent of Bendigo’s population came from China, and that legacy is entrenched.
Evidence: Head straight for the centrally located Dai Gum San Chinese Precinct for a piece of Oriental pie. This area is dotted with Chinese structures and symbols and includes several first-rate attractions, most notably the magnificent Golden Dragon Museum, Yi Yuan Gardens, and Kuan Yin Temple.
Nearby, the fire engine-red exterior of the circa 1860s Bendigo Joss House Temple sets the tone for a “visit” to China. Head indoors and that feeling is only amplified as all manner of Chinese displays dominate the walls, while tour guides fascinatingly detail ancient beliefs and customs.
What/why? Cornish copper miners descended on SA in the 1800s, establishing their influence in various locations, including the Yorke Peninsula.
Evidence: Signs of the Cornish influence on the Yorke Peninsula town of Moonta – billed as ‘Australia’s Little Cornwall’ – is served up by the bucketload. Begin at the Moonta Mines Museum, which comprehensively explores the stories of Cornish copper miners.
Elegant Cornish-influenced buildings and ruins are scattered throughout the town and its surrounds and are well worth a look: Hughes Engine Pumping House, the Miner’s Cottage and Garden, and Moonta Mines Wesley Methodist Church are key examples.
Or visit Moonta in odd years in May when the biennial Kernewek Lowender Copper Coast
Cornish Festival takes centre stage (due to be held in 2021).
What/why? This Central Highlands town was settled by pioneering Scots in the early 1820s and was named after a town in Scotland.
Evidence: With its cluster of heritage buildings and rolling hills, Bothwell provides an instant association with Scotland. A round at Australia’s oldest golf course, Ratho Farm, only enhances that feeling; its often likened to playing golf in Scotland. Learn more at the absorbing Australasian Golf Museum, which comprehensively details this popular sport and its association with Bothwell.
Or get a taste for the UK at Nant Distillery, highly regarded for producing exceptional single malt whiskeys.
What/why? The 1850s gold rush attracted miners the world over, but it was tobacco farming that sparked a wave of Italian migrants to the region in the 1920s. By the 1970s, one in seven Myrtleford residents was Italian born.
Evidence: Myrtleford best celebrates its link with the ‘Beautiful Country’ at the annual La Fiera Italian Festival each May. This event combines tasty food and wine with art, culture, and heritage across multiple venues.
Elsewhere, draw on this history at the Myrtleford Old School Museum, which traces the past through an extensive offering of displays. Or sample the tasty vino of family-owned Michelini wines: its cellar door is housed within a Tuscan-style villa.
What/why? Glen Innes’ first settler was Scottish and from little things, big things grew. Today, the town’s rich Celtic influence is firmly embraced by its residents.
Evidence: The Australian Standing Stones collection is a cultural icon, built by dedicated locals to honour Glen Innes’ Celtic heritage. These giant stones, inspired by Scotland’s Ring of Brodgar, are dotted around Centennial Parklands and make for an enchanting sight. Keen photographers take note: the stones are at their eerie best on a mist-cloaked morning.
The standing stones are the key setting for the annual Australian Celtic Festival, held in early May, which celebrates the culture with a wide assortment of exciting, themed events.
Stay at: BIG4 Armidale Highlander Van Village.
What/why? Like many Australian cities, Melbourne has welcomed immigrants from all over the world.
Evidence: The Victorian capital has such a vast, palpable influence of cultures that you could conceivably take your tastebuds on a world tour. There’s the buzz of Lygon St just north of the CBD; lined with inviting Italian restaurants all vying for your attention. Or wander along gritty Victoria St in Richmond to be greeted by a feast of seriously good, no-frills Vietnamese restaurants: those with double names like Tran Tran are generally winners.
Melbourne’s massive Greek population is best celebrated along Lonsdale St, or enjoy an Asian culinary experience with a visit to Chinatown in and around Little Bourke St in the CBD’s heart. This vibrant Chinese precinct has thrived since the gold-rush days.
What/why? Many early settlers to Maclean and surrounds were originally from Scotland, and the town is named after a Scotsman.
Evidence: This beautiful Clarence Valley destination proudly calls itself ‘The Scottish Town in Australia’, and its nod to the UK’s northernmost country is all around. Hundreds of tartan-painted power poles are scattered throughout, backed by abundant street signs written in Gaelic. Scottish dance schools and a Scottish shop continue the theme, while a stone cairn in Herb Stanford Park is further proof of the link.
Yet the peak time to celebrate the Scottish influence is at Easter when the Maclean Highland Gathering hits town. The century-old event creates a wonderful atmosphere and includes a wide selection of Scottish games, entertainment, food, and more.
Stay at: BIG4 Saltwater @ Yamba Holiday Park.