Weekend Getaways That Give Back: Do Your Bit for the Australian Bushfires

Gather your friends, pack the car with an #emptyesky and discover the delights of regional Australia – here’s how to give back to our bushfire affected communities
Kangaroo Valley

With the recent bushfires devastating many parts of regional Australia, we’ve seen an outpouring of donations. Although helpful, the survival of these towns depends on what happens in the weeks and months to come, in the wake of rebuilding homes, businesses and communities. 

Now that towns are starting to re-open and welcome visitors, it’s our turn to do our bit by spending some tourism dollars at home. There’s no better time to gather your friends and pack the car for a weekend escape that gives back. To help you plan your #emptyesky pilgrimage, we’ve rounded up a handful of rural towns that could do with your support. These rustic weekend getaways are so worth splurging on.

Top: Three Sisters, Left: Leura Garage, Right: Invisible House

Blue Mountains, NSW

Why visit? For a mountain escape, this iconic locale provides the goods. From shopping and fine dining, to hiking amongst nature, there is plenty to see, do and experience in the stunning Blue Mountains.

Eat: Leura Garage

Drink: Champagne Charlies

Play: Lilianfels Resort & Spa

Stay: Invisible House

Shop: Leura Mall

Nearby Towns:  Leura, Wentworth Falls, Blackheath, Bilpin, Lithgow, Wolgan Valley

Top: Hyams Beach, Left: Hyams Beach Café & Store, Right: Paperbark Camp

Jervis Bay, NSW

Why visit?Just 2.5-hours south of Sydney, Jervis Bay is a unique landscape bordered by beautiful coast and bushland. The renowned white sand beaches provide the perfect backdrop for a summer getaway.

Eat: Hyams Beach Cafe & Store

Drink: The Quarters

Play: Booderee National Park

Stay: Paperbark Camp

Shop: Indigo Love

Nearby Towns: Callala Bay, Hyams Beach, Vincentia, Huskisson

Mollymook, NSW

Why visit? Unassuming yet alluring, Mollymook, on NSW’s south coast is wonderful all year-round. With Ulladulla and historic Milton close at hand, the thriving community is bonded by a strong surf culture and the forested mountains. A sleepy village where you’ll be forced to slow down. So sit back, relax and take in all that this coastal town and its surrounds has to offer.

Eat: Rick Stein at Bannisters

Drink: Cupitt's Winery and Craft Beer

Play: Bogey Hole, Mollymook Headland

Stay: Bannisters by the Sea

Shop: Milton’s Revival Antiques & 20th Century Design

Nearby Towns: Milton, Ulladulla, Kings Point, Burrill Lake


Top: Seven Mile Beach, Left: The Famous Berry Donut Van, Right: Two Figs Winery

Berry, NSW

Why visit?  Where countryside meets rugged coastline, Berry is an alluring village with plenty of rustic charm. Heritage buildings, foodie hangouts and boutique shopping are just some of its drawcards.

Eat: The Famous Berry Donut Van

Drink: Two Figs Winery

Play: Seven Mile Beach

Stay: Circa 1890

Shop: Few and Far

Nearby Towns: Bellawongarah, Gerroa, Gerringong, Nowra, Kiama, Broughton Vale

Top: Hampden Bridge, Left: The Friendly Inn Hotel, Right: THE COTTAGE, Kangaroo Valley

Kangaroo Valley, NSW

Why visit?  The kind of place where shop owners know you by name, Kangaroo Valley is as friendly and homely as they come. The jaw-dropping views and rugged bushland are just some of the perks of this quaint rural gem.

Eat: Kangaroo Valley Bakehouse

Drink:The Friendly Inn Hotel

Play: Kangaroo River

Stay:THE COTTAGE Kangaroo Valley

Shop: Quirky Bird

Nearby Towns: Burrawang, Kangaloon

Top: Port Macquarie (Photo credit- Destination NSW), Left: Bills Fishhouse & Bar, Right: Sails Port Macquarie

Port Macquarie, NSW

Why visit?  With white sand beaches, picturesque surrounds and a laid-back, sleepy vibe, Port Macquarie is the epitome of coastal living. From beach hopping and water sports to getting amongst nature, there’s no better place to spend a weekend away during summer.

Eat: Bills Fishhouse & Bar

Drink: Black Duck Brewery

Play: Sea Acres Rainforest Boardwalk

Stay: Sails Port Macquarie

Shop: The Foreshore Markets

Nearby Towns: Thrumster, Fernbank Creek, Lake Cathie, Lake Innes, Sancrox

Top: Jindabyne, Left: Wildbrumby Distillery, Right: The Eastern Thredbo Village

Snowy Mountains, NSW

Why visit? In all its natural beauty, the Snowy Mountains and its breathtaking surrounds, is an adventure-seekers paradise. Attracting hikers, rock climbers and cross-country cyclists year-round, and snow bunnies and après-ski lovers come the winter, its rugged charm and warm hospitality make it the perfect weekend escape.

Eat: Alpine Larder

Drink: Wildbrumby Distillery Door

Play: Horseriding Adventures

Stay: The Eastern Thredbo Village

Shop: Tumut Local Farmers Market

Nearby Towns: Cooma, Crackenback, Thredbo, Perisher, Jindabyne, Tumut

Top: Bird in Hand Winery, Left: Hardy's Verandah Restaurant, Right: Mount Lofty

Adelaide Hills, SA

Why visit?Known for its magnetic charm and idyllic landscapes, the picturesque and tranquil region of Adelaide Hills is guaranteed to surprise and delight. Home to award-winning wineries, rugged bushland and stellar local produce, the Adelaide Hills is a rich and vibrant playground for tourists and locals alike.

Eat:Hardy's Verandah Restaurant

Drink: Bird in Hand

Play: Mount Lofty Botanical Gardens

Stay: Simon Tolley Lodge

Shop: That Pony Shop

Nearby Towns: Aldgate, Crafers, Prospect Hill, Stirling

Top: Coastline, Left: Sunset Food and Wine, Right: One Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island, SA

Why visit? Just a ferry ride from Adelaide, Kangaroo Island is famous for its wildlife, landscapes and buzzing foodie scene – the the golden trifactor for any great Australian escape.

Eat: Sunset Food and Wine

Drink: Dudley Wines

Play: Seal Bay Conservation Park

Stay: One Kangaroo Island

Shop:Fine Art Kangaroo Island

Top: Tangalooma, Left: Cape Morton Lighthouse (Photo credit- @wonderdrifter_mm), Right: Tangalooma Island Resort (Photo credit- @hannahhoughton)

Moreton Island, QLD

Why visit? Considered "The Gem of South East Queensland", Moreton Island is a tropical oasis made up of sand roads, mountainous dunes, glassy lakes, wild forests and stunning beaches.

Eat:Beach BBQ

Drink: The Gutter Bar

Play: Champagne Pools

Stay:Tangalooma Island Resort

Shop:Castaways Store & Café

Bundaberg, QLD

Why visit? A quintessential Queensland town that’s also home to the much-loved, eponymous rum and ginger beer brand, Bundaberg is where the country meets the city. Bordered by a river, expect the warm hospitality of rural Australia combined with the vibrancy of a buzzy town centre.

Eat:Water St Kitchen

Drink:Bundaberg Rum Distillery

Play:Mon Repos Turtle Encounter

Stay: C Bargara Resort

Shop: Artisans 4670

Nearby Towns: Bargara, Woodgate Beach

Top: Wandiligong (Photo credit: Bright Mystic Valley), Left: Tomahawks, Right: Canyon Trail (Photo credit- @photojennic)

Bright, VIC

Why visit?A summer playground for thrill-seekers, Bright is all about the great outdoors. From horse riding, paragliding and rock climbing, to hiking, kayaking and caving, a weekend in Bright is sure to spark your sense of adventure.

Eat:Tomahawks

Drink:Reed & Co Distillery

Play: Canyon Trail

Stay:Altitude 1

Shop: Red Ramia Trading

Nearby Towns:Myrtleford, Mount Beauty, Harrietville, Dinner Plain, Porepunkah, Wandiligong

Top: Eldorado Dredge, Left: Dal Zotto, Right: Mt Bellevue

Wangaratta, VIC

Why visit?Nature meets history in rustic Wangaratta. Spend the day sipping on award-winning drops or hike your way through the surrounding villages where you’ll get to wander amongst wildlife and nature. 

Eat: The Milawa Bread and Kitchen

Drink:Dal Zotto Wines

Play: Warby-Ovens National Park

Stay: Mt Bellevue

Shop:Provincial Home Living

Nearby Towns:Oxley, Milawa, Glenrowan, King Valley, Eldorado


Inspired to do your bit for the Australian bushfire relief appeal? There are plenty of ways you can give back through donating supplies and money, to planning a road trip and booking a farm stay.

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