Our favourite Australian short break destinations

With thanks to guest blogger Jennifer Adams of Places We Go.  

BIG4 NRMA Ballarat Holiday Park

You can’t beat a great Aussie break. Often, a short escape from everyday life to recharge, relax, and rejuvenate can be just what the doctor ordered.

Aussies love nothing better than throwing a few things in the car or jumping on a plane for a short break, and there are so many opportunities to do so in Australia.

What I find is that I don’t want to necessarily spend a short period of time in a region that is going to leave me longing for so much more. I hate leaving a place unsatisfied, so my preference is to go to a smaller destination where I can cover most of the highlights in a few days and have time to relax.

Here are a few of my favourite short break destinations that I have experienced over the years…

Lake Wendouree, Ballarat.

Ballarat, Victoria

A charming regional city 100km northwest of Melbourne, Ballarat was born out of the Gold Rush of the 1850s and now boasts an incredible heritage because of it. When gold was discovered here in 1851, it quickly turned from a sheep station into a major settlement. Within months, 20,000 migrants had descended upon it, all caught up in gold fever.

Ballarat sustained high gold yields for decades, and these days the odd nugget or two is still unearthed at Sovereign Hill. This historical open-air museum depicts Ballarat’s first 10 years after the discovery of gold with recreated buildings, costumed staff, and many other attractions and assets appropriate to the area. It is also one of the biggest tourist attractions in Victoria and a fascinating place to spend a day. Don’t forget to head to the Photographic Shop to dress up in the 1800s costumes and have your picture taken – it’s all part of the experience! 

Sovereign Hill, Ballarat.

Aside from Sovereign Hill, discover the Victorian-era heritage that is evident in the grand architecture and streetscapes, a lively café culture, galleries, museums, parks, gardens, and more. You can literally spend your time wandering the main streets, caught up in the beautiful buildings and culture.

On a recent weekend in Ballarat, my partner Clint, daughter Charli, and I took a walk around Lake Wendouree, which was the perfect place to begin our short break. There is nothing like the water and beautiful gardens that Ballarat is famous for to make you immediately kick back a gear. 

BIG4 NRMA Ballarat Holiday Park

We based ourselves at BIG4 NRMA Ballarat Holiday Park where the entertainment continued. A jumping pillow, playground, cabins, caravan sites, and a community of friendly guests will appeal to the whole family. And conveniently, just a few minutes from the park, is Sovereign Hill. 

The beautiful beaches of Byron Bay are well worth a visit.

Byron Bay, NSW

This is one of the most famous holiday destinations in Australia and for so many reasons it will always make my list. Not everyone thinks to come here for just a weekend, but with both Coolangatta and Ballina airports nearby, it is a realistic option. And some of my favourite things to do here revolve around the famous surfing culture.

If you are not a surfer already, there is no reason not to give it a go in Byron Bay. Take a lesson and discover just how Byron really rolls. We were lucky enough to meet with surfboard legend Bob McTavish, who showed us just how deeply ingrained surfing culture is in this coastal town – a fever that is certainly catching.

Or if you opt to keep dry, there are plenty of cafes, restaurants, and bars to keep you busy. Make sure you discover Byron’s passion for local produce – everyone is certainly into living the ‘good life’ here, and it shows in the locals’ relaxed vibe and healthy lifestyles. 

Soaking up the local vibes in Byron Bay.

Of course, Byron is famous for its music festivals as well, and I couldn’t think of a better excuse to plan a short break here than the Blues Festival or Splendour in the Grass, both held annually.

At nearby BIG4 Ballina Headlands Holiday Park the good life continues, with swimming pools, landscaped gardens, a new kids playground, jumping pillow and more, only a short walk to the local beach.

On our next stay, we are looking forward to staying at the new BIG4 park: Ingenia Holidays Byron Bay.

Cataract Gorge, Launceston

Launceston, TAS

Launceston is the perfect size for a short break. Of course, you could spend a week or more here but you can cover the highlights in a few days.

My perfect holiday in Tasmania always includes the state’s amazing nature and top-class wine. So a short break in Launceston that combines both is the ultimate getaway. Cataract Gorge is a slice of wilderness only 15 minutes’ walk from the city centre, and you can find everything from walking trails, a flying fox, the world’s longest single-span chairlift, swimming pool, restaurant, wildlife, a suspension bridge and more. It’s the perfect place to relax on your own or with family and friends – being as energetic as you wish to be.  

Josef Chromy Wines, Launceston

And right up the road in the nearby Tamar Valley, don’t miss a visit to Josef Chromy Wines. This renowned Tasmanian winemaker has a cellar door and restaurant in a stunning location, with a focus on fresh local produce and some of the best Australian wines you can find.

And when it comes time to relax, BIG4 Launceston Holiday Park makes the ideal accommodation option with its stunning views over the city and its surrounds.

Hahndorf Resort Tourist Park.

Hahndorf, South Australia

Just a 30-minute drive from the city of Adelaide, Hahndorf is Australia’s oldest-surviving German settlement and the jewel of the Adelaide Hills.

A short break here will immerse you in this wonderful culture, which combines German heritage with modern Australia, beginning with the beautifully preserved main street that oozes German character.

With a fiercely passionate local population, many of whom are direct descendants from the founding families, visitors to Hahndorf will experience the best in regional produce and craft, including top-shelf wines, and much of it with a distinctly German flavour. 

Enjoying a meal at the Hahndorf Inn, Hahndorf.

We loved our time at the Hahndorf Inn where 1m-long sausages came with all the trimmings and beers were served out of traditional steins. Down the road, we met the third generation owner of the leatherwork shop, just one of the historical buildings in town that still pays homage to its original owners yet evolves enough to be a viable and busy storefront.

Almost every building in town has a story, and combined with the Adelaide Hills location that prizes local food and wine, you can have one of the most enjoyable short beaks you can experience.


What is your favourite short break destination?

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