Maybe this year you just can’t get to the beach in Bali, Paris for the summer, or surfing at Waikiki … but it’s still possible to get out of town for a winter weekend away.
Tip Check the specials! Most of these have low season and winter package deals on the hotels’ own websites as well as the wotif.coms of the world.
1.5 hour drive from Melbourne
A small private hotel – laid-back and friendly – just around the corner from Queenscliff’s old-fashioned main street, and a stroll to the pier, the beach or the ferry to Sorrento. Settle down in the guest lounge with its fireplace, magazines and board games. Better still, book room number 1 – with your own fireplace, king-size bed and double French doors onto the upstairs’ balcony. Breakfast is fantastic – all made to order, fresh juice, house-made granola, locally grown tomatoes and excellent coffee. The low-key restaurant is good for dinner too.
Don’t miss: The Shed at Terindah Estate Winery for Sunday lunch and fabulous views.
3–3.5 hour drive from Melbourne
Hidden away in the King Valley, a friendly country pub with a serious dash of foodie-style. The restaurant is top notch (Blue Swimmer crab lasagne– yum!) with house-made charcuterie; the pub menu is also great (and cheaper). The four motel-style units are fairly modest, but hey! it’s the food and friendly atmosphere we loved. Have a coffee at Whitty Café across the road (a favourite with locals and there’s a log fire) and check out the wineries – Pizzini, Dal Zotto and more. Take your winter woollies as it gets cold here!
Don’t miss: Sampling the proseccco and pick up some fresh local walnuts.
3 – 3.5 hour drive from Melbourne
A French provincial-style pub (just two guestrooms, family-run, top-tier bistro) about 10km from Beechworth. Room 1 has its own sitting room and two (yes two!) fireplaces, super comfy bed, lovely linen. Log fires warm the dining room and snug bar as well. Read a book, take long country walks, have dinner at the bistro – food is seasonal, regional and matched by a fine wine list. If you fancy something heartier than the continental breakfast, head into Beechworth to one of the many cafes, then potter around the shops.
Don’t miss: Stock up on Beechworth honey, and country-crisp apples.
1.5 – 2 hour drive from Sydney
This 1920s, slightly old-school guesthouse-meets-boutique hotel makes the perfect retreat in the Southern Highlands. Bedrooms are well kitted out (soft doonas, electric blankets, TV,WiFi) and breakfast is classic and generous. Mooch around the gardens, or the sitting rooms with their open fires, or borrow a DVD and catch up on some movies. Hire a bicycle at McGees’ Cycling Store, or just wander around looking at Bowral’s lovely architecture, antique shops and old-world gardens.
Don’t miss: For sports fans: the Bradman museum. For foodies: the intriguing food at (the fashionable) Biota.
3.5 hour drive from Sydney
A surprisingly sophisticated, boutique hotel with contemporary European flair in an 1860s Mechanics Institute. And at very reasonable rates. Who would have thought? We loved the moody lobby, designer fabrics, king beds, and the swag of 5-star extras – iPod docks, flat-screen TVs, luxury toiletries, robes, and even Nespresso machines in some rooms. There are 13 suites, of different sizes, all with kitchen facilities. Some have spa baths, some have balconies. Explore the old gold town of Gulgong, tour some of the cellar doors. There are plenty of good restaurants.
Don’t miss: Joining the locals for a wine, wood-fired pizza and some music at Roth’s Wine Bar.
1 hour drive from Adelaide
These little cottages – in the heart of vineyards, with log fires, king beds, spa baths and tranquil water views – are ideal to share with friends, or family (though the hidden-away Cupid’s Cottage is just for two). Kitchens come with ample breakfast provisions. Stock up on local produce, maybe some Barossa Wines (try the boutique wineries along Seppeltsfield Road) and cook up a storm to enjoy in front of the fire.
Don’t miss: Getting a photo of the ducks to take home! And pop into Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop.
1 – 1.5 hour drive from Brisbane
When you want to get away from Brisbane for the weekend you can go to… the Gold Coast! Amazing. And why not stay at a groovy hotel? The QT is young, fun and kinda quirky. Pack a Hawaiian shirt (and a sweater just in case) and channel Madmen on vacation. Rooms are modern and beachy, everything is new and crisp with splashes of eye-popping colour. You get a flatscreen TV, iPod dock, stylish bathroom and ocean, river or mountain view. Relax at the spaQ (Coffee and Sea Kelp Contour Wrap anyone?), stroll along the beach and order a Martini at sunset.
Don’t miss: Getting the QT Gold Coast Concierge iPad app.
3 hour drive from Perth
With its forest and beaches, wineries, restaurants and galleries, Margaret River ticks pretty well every box for a getaway. Heritage Trail Lodge’s 10 suites, surrounded by majestic Karri trees, are a 10-minute stroll from town. You can crunch over gum leaves and listen to the birdlife, gaze at the forest from your balcony or retreat to your suite with its spa bath. Fresh breads, local cheeses, yoghurt, jams and honey are part of the continental buffet breakfast.
Don’t miss: Watch out! Winter is whale-watching season around here.
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