Get away from the big smoke with one of these trips
Over the long hot summer, beat the city blues by escaping to somewhere that’s cooler, has great food and wine or brilliant beaches. Whichever state you’re in, there’s a wonderful option awaiting you.
ADELAIDE – McLaren Vale
Want all the flavours of the Barossa but with the ocean as your backdrop? Take the M2 out of Adelaide and head to McLaren Vale on the Fleurieu Peninsula. McLaren Vale is both the name of a town and the region: the former is the perfect place to fuel up for the day. Wineries are what the region is all about (there are 60-plus), many of them with great views of the St Vincent Gulf: Coriole, d’Arenberg, Penny’s Hill and Hugh Hamilton are among the stand-outs. There are two excellent restaurants here, too: The Salopian Inn and Star of Greece in nearby Port Willunga. Good luck choosing. Finish the day with a dip at the pristine Maslin Beach.
BRISBANE – Sunshine Coast Hinterland
Forget the Sunshine Coast’s usual suspects and, instead, take the Glass House Mountains Tourist Drive exit off the M1 to explore the slower pleasures of the coast’s hinterland. Maleny, Montville and Mapleton are the three villages you’ll want to explore, with their dizzying line-up of eateries, galleries and shops. Food and drink lovers should add Flame Hill Vineyard, Maleny Cheese, Brouhaha Brewery and restaurants The Long Apron and The Tamarind to their must-try list. Afterwards, you’ll need to move… do a little or a lot of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk, take a dip in the (always chilly) pool at Kondalilla Falls or wander through 55 hectares of rainforest at the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve.
MELBOURNE – Mornington Peninsula
An hour south of Melbourne, the Mornington Peninsula has a lovely triumvirate of attractions: lovely seaside villages, beautiful beaches and great food/wine. Get your morning culture hit (and a spot of brekky) at the McClelland Sculpture Park & Gallery in Langwarrin, then head to the Western Port side of the peninsula to visit Flinders, a fishing hamlet with a pleasant beach. Stroll the boardwalks at Cape Schanck, about 15 minutes west, for great views of the Bass Strait, then head to Sorrento, where you can eat, wander and shop to your heart’s content. Take the scenic car ferry to historic Queenscliff on the Bellarine Peninsula and make your way back to Melbourne via Geelong.
PERTH – The Swan Valley
This wine-growing region, about 25 minutes north-east of Perth, might be compact but it packs plenty of punch. Follow one of three excellently plotted trails to experience the valley’s best food and wine offerings. On the Sweet Temptations Trail, try everything from French macarons at Maison Saint-Honore to sweet and fortified wines at Pinelli. The Cider & Ale Trail includes nine breweries and cideries, including Funk Cider and Elmar’s in the Valley, where you can enjoy a cold ale in the beer garden. The Food & Wine Trail covers every eatery and drinkery in the region: eat in, or stock up on gourmet goodies and picnic at pretty Maali Bridge Park on the Swan River.
SYDNEY – The Coal Coast
To discover the little-known gem that is Wollongong’s Coal Coast, take Bulli Pass off the M1, turn on to Lawrence Hargrave Drive and head straight for the Sea Cliff Bridge, a 665-metre-long engineering feat at the north end of the coast. Stretch your legs at the viewing platform and, if you’re lucky and the season is right, you might spot a whale migrating north. Head back south to the Scarborough Hotel: it looks unprepossessing from the road, but the ocean views from the back are sublime. Austinmer, 10 minutes’ drive away, has the nicest beach on the strip, with a divine ocean pool and a lovely park shaded by Norfolk Island pines. Then head south to Thirroul, ideal for a little late-afternoon retail therapy or a coffee hit.