Lisa Wilkinson: I've Travelled The Globe But My Heart Lies In These Fave Aussie Holiday Spots
I don’t think I’ve ever thought so much about what it means to be Australian than I have over these past few weeks.
While we’ve all struggled to adjust to this new, COVID-19 world, there’s also been plenty of confusion, anxiety, and quite frankly, boredom.
But as Aussies, we’ve also felt a renewed sense of solidarity, hope and optimism. Loo rolls are back on the shelves, our politicians have mostly been getting it right and we’re enjoying the flattest curve and one of the lowest infection rates in the world. Together, we’re sticking by the rules, and our health system is coping better than anyone could have foreseen.
The unity, the courage, and the care I’ve witnessed reporting on this pandemic has, quite simply, amazed me, and I can’t help feeling that we’ve rediscovered just how special this country we call home really is. Sure, our borders to the rest of the world are closed, and we even had to close some of our beaches for a moment, but all of that just serves to remind us has that what we have right here in our own backyard should be treasured.
So, while overseas travel might be off the cards, from Tassie to Townsville, Perisher and Perth, Broome and Brissy, to that cute little camping ground you’ve loved since your childhood, there’s never been a better time to start planning your next holiday among all the natural beauty we have in spades here at home.
The added bonus? All those tourist dollars you spend are going to keep our fellow Aussies in jobs. Heck, from what I can see, that next holiday you take is your national duty. So go on, start planning, and enjoy!
To get you inspired, here are a few of the favourites I’m planning on heading to as soon as I can...
Noosa and the Sunshine Coast
I first went to Noosa on my first ever interstate family holiday when I was just 15. For me, it was love at first sight. Sure, it was a slightly sleepier '70s hippy village back in those days and the cafe and restaurant scene wasn’t quite what it is now. But the thing about Noosa is, for all its beachside glamour, brilliant shopping and 52-flavour ice cream shops, at its heart, it's never really changed.
The National Park is still one of the country’s most beautiful. The whale-watching, the coastal walks, the Saturday markets at Eumundi with all of their colourful local characters and crafts, and the endless kilometres of untouched beaches up and down the Sunshine Coast are its real attractions, and they can be enjoyed in balmy temperatures all year round.
If you can, hire a dinghy and cast a line on the Noosa River, or do some beach fishing at Sunshine Beach (I always manage to catch some dinner!). And make sure you venture up to the hilltop towns of Montville and Maleny for a rummage through their charming shops and a spot of Devonshire tea -- it's still some of the most delicious in the country.
Perisher and Thredbo
Who needs European ski fields when we have so many great ones of our own here at home? Two of my favourites are Perisher Valley and Thredbo. This year the snow has started early and the prices are down, so it looks like it’s going to be a great season. Both resorts are ideal for families, with its huge range of ski runs, but if you make it to Thredbo, and you’re pretty good on the skis, you have to try the Wednesday night “flare run” where everyone skis down the mountain in a single line from the top.
Whether you take part yourself, or just enjoy the stunning light spectacle from one of the many outdoor bars down the bottom, this is special stuff. Seriously one of my best ever holiday experiences.
The Great Ocean Road
One of the most memorable holidays we’ve ever taken with our kids was along the extraordinarily magnificent Victorian coastline that is the Great Ocean Road. From Geelong all the way to Apollo Bay, the scenery simply floored us as we stopped at every gorgeous caravan park along the way, each one more charming than the last.
Special highlights for me were finally seeing the iconic Twelve Apostles, discovering the gorgeous seaside village of Lorne (where I could have happily set up house for ever more), and walking the sands of the legendary Bells Beach, home to so many Australian surfing championships over the years.
There is nothing that quite prepares you for your first glimpse of Uluru. From the air it appears to be a million shades of red into brown into purple and back again. It's almost cartoon-like, sitting as it does so proud on its flat and barren surrounds. It looks as if a giant on the other side of the world has stamped its massive foot, and out the other side Uluru has popped up.
Worried it’s not worth the trip now that you can no longer climb the rock? Don’t be. In fact, the true beauty of Uluru is all about standing back in awe, and enjoying the daily light and colour show, which literally changes with every hour and from every vantage point. Be sure to take your REAL camera to properly capture it too -- trust me when I say that your iPhone just won’t do the memories justice.
For some real fun, get yourself on the back of one of those Harley tours around the Rock. Totally worth the investment! Be sure, too, to pre-book for the Field of Light experience with its 50,000 spindles of light creating a gigantic nighttime coloured fantasy garden with Uluru as its backdrop. And then look to the heavens for those night skies -- if you’re patient you’ll see more shooting stars than you ever thought possible.
In fact, make that ALL of Tassie! But whatever you do, don’t miss Hobart. It’s the home of the now internationally renowned MONA museum -- and before you yawn, you should know this is no ordinary museum. From the curiously alluring video room full of screens of people singing Madonna songs (I spent a whole hour in there), to the legendary “vagina wall” (which has to be seen to be believed), to the magnificent and mesmerising two-storey “word waterfall”, this is a place you’ll find difficult to leave. Make sure that you have lunch here too as the food is superb.
Superb also are some of the new hotels and B&Bs that have popped up in and around Hobart in recent years. Don’t miss the charming Salamanca Market on Saturday morning.
And if you’re planning on exploring the whole island, check out the gorgeous fishing village of Bicheno on the east coast, charming Strahan on the west coast, Port Arthur in the south east with all of its stories of our early history. Plus, be sure to go trekking at Cradle Mountain and spend a few days at Wineglass Bay -- still Princess Mary’s favourite holiday destination when she comes back home.
Broome and the Kimberley
There is something about the warmth of the people in this part of WA -- much like their even warmer glorious beaches which seem to go on forever. Somehow here it always feels like a perpetually long, languorous summer’s day. And the sunsets are probably the best in the country as you watch that great red orb sink into the Indian Ocean exhausted, before getting ready to hit you once again with its full force the next day.
They do a good beachside pub here too, so make sure you make the most of them. A trip to Broome has to include a visit to the gorgeous old 1920s-style outdoor cinema -- quite the scene on Friday and Saturday nights. A camel ride on the beach is also a must-do, and maybe buy yourself a little pearly something from the Paspaley store in town.
Then it’s time to head to the Kimberley, and if you do nothing else on this trip, you thrill seekers have to go and experience the incredible Horizontal Waterfall by speedboat.
The Love Australia Project special airs tonight, May 15 at 7.30 pm on 10 and 10 Play.