If the cold weather is starting to get you down, fret not. There are plenty of places to indulge your wanderlust – and no need to trek across the Pacific. Whether you’re looking for rural relaxation or gourmet-fuelled adventure, we’ve whittled down the dreamiest escapes on Australia’s east coast, guaranteed to get you out of your winter slump.
Book a gourmet wine weekend in the Mornington Peninsula
Famed for its beautiful beaches, hot springs and stunning national parks, Mornington Peninsula is a rural playground where nature, food and wine lovers unite. Rustic landscapes come scattered with orchards and vineyards, while quaint cellar doors and friendly local eateries give you endless reason to indulge. Just a hop, skip and a short drive from Melbourne – 1.5 hours to be exact – it’s no wonder this countryside gem is where the city’s cool kids flock to escape the chaos of the weekly grind.
THINGS TO DO
Breathtaking coastal walks and native bushland reign supreme in the Mornington Peninsula – if nature is your thing, then you won’t leave disappointed. But with a gourmet food scene that’s as buzzy as Bourke Street on a Friday night, it would be rude not to tear yourselves away from the serenity of the steaming, open-air plunge pools – as hard as that may be. If not to sample the region’s inventive cuisine, then to stumble on one (or three) of the local cellar doors. Because spa lounging sure is thirsty work.
For food, you can’t go past Cape Schanck’s luxurious fine diner. With ex-Estelle chef Josh Pelham at the helm (formerly the head chef of London’s two-Michelin star restaurant The Square), Cape showcases some of the finest seasonal produce of the region, with complex execution and creative flair.
Pt Leo Restaurant – a hatted bistro serving regional woodfired eats with an accompanying Victorian wine list – never disappoints, and then there’s Laura, headed up by revered ex-Rockpool and Eleven Bridge chef Phil Wood, who will surprise and delight with his innovative menu, which takes influence from the dairy, wines, land beasts and fish of the region.
WHERE TO STAY
Indulge yourself in five-star luxury at RACV Cape Schanck Resort. With its curvaceous design, you’ll be treated to 180-degree views of the coast, with Port Phillip Bay on one side, and the distant blur of Melbourne’s CBD on the other. An architectural dream, this blissful retreat is the ideal stomping ground for a weekend of wine, food and wellness in the Mornington Peninsula.
Head to Torquay for romance and relaxation
Known as the ‘Surf Capital of Australia’, and the official starting point of the Great Ocean Road, Torquay’s bustling seaside town is a beach lover’s paradise, where the bronzed and the brave gather together in tow for a taste of coastal living. Home to iconic surf brands – Rip Curl and Quiksilver – and world-famous Bells Beach, Torquay’s crashing waves and soft golden sands draw in the crowds year after year, from summer to spring, to autumn and winter.
THINGS TO DO
Scenic landscapes provide a beautiful backdrop for adventure, no matter what the season. The beach beckons during the warmer summer months, but throughout the year the lush rainforests, rugged clifftops and hidden waterfalls sparkle in the distance as captivating as an ocean sunset.
But asides from the stunning vistas, there’s plenty to keep you as busy or as relaxed as you’d like. The surrounding walks come teeming with wildlife, providing the perfect setting for a romantic stroll. And for blissful relaxation, Daylesford is practically on your doorstep – just a short 1.5 hour drive away, where your pick of heavenly spa treatments await.
WHERE TO STAY
For the ultimate weekend indulgence, check into the RACV Torquay Resort. With its open fires, rustic wood floors and snuggly lounges, this has winter getaway written all over it. Oh, and did we mention there’s an indoor pool and spa? Stop off for a hammam, heat up in the sauna, then cool off under the citrus and cinnamon-scented rain shower, and let the blissful tranquility wash over you.
Soak up culture in Tasmania
Once known as the capital of Australia’s oft-forgotten island to the south, now a breeding ground of creatives and forward-thinkers from all corners of the globe, Hobart has quickly earned itself cult following status. From its burgeoning food scene, to the city’s rich history Hobart, really does have it all.
THINGS TO DO
Whilst it’s widely known that it was MONA (once described by the Lonely Planet as the ‘best modern art gallery in the world’) that brought popularity to the city, there’s much more to Hobart than the obvious. But of course, a visit to this cultural hotspot is an essential for any Tasmanian itinerary.
It’s the scenery, however, that will leave you breathless. One of Australia's most picturesque and dramatic coastal drives, Tasmania’s natural paradise is a beauty to behold – and the best way to see it is by car. From Hobart to the magnificent Bay of Fires, this road trip hugs the island’s eastern (and most peaceful) coastline, for a true taste of Tassie.
In Hobart, you can meander through galleries and eat your way through the city’s award-winning restaurants. Ettie’s charming dining room will transport your taste buds to Europe, whilst Born in Brunswick will inspire your latest foodie Instagram feed. The finest fresh seafood is served at Charcoal, alongside a tasty selection of local drops, but if you’re dreaming of sunnier climes, head to Rude Boy on Elizabeth Street for a taste of the tropics. Their Caribbean cocktails are dangerously delicious.
And of course, there’s Freycinet National Park, which sits around two hours from the city. Allow yourself a full day, that way you have plenty of time to explore its majestic landscapes. If you can’t go past a good drop, follow the East Coast Wine Trail to some of the state’s best cellar doors.
WHERE TO STAY
Heritage meets modern at this sleek Tasmanian retreat. Nestled in the heart of the bustling capital, RACV Hobart Apartment Hotel is your passport to the city, with many of the main attractions practically on your doorstep. Treat yourself to the luxury penthouse for panoramic city views. You won’t regret it .
Outdoor adventure on the Gold Coast
Let’s not mess around, this sunny Queensland gem is famous for its warm weather, sandy shores and world-class surf breaks. But beyond beach life, there’s so much more to explore. Just an hour south of Brisbane, you’ll discover lush rainforest and stunning national parks, whilst the centre plays host to sprawling shopping malls, buzzy casinos and twinkling hotel towers. It’s glitzy and glamorous, but still manages to retain its laid-back, family-friendly vibe.
THINGS TO DO
A long-time tourist hotspot, Burleigh Heads has undergone a bit of a facelift in recent years, ditching its former souvenir-slash-fish-and-chips façade, for a fresh new look. Now a buzzing hotspot with endless bars, cafés and restaurants paving the streets and the city’s hidden laneways. Here, foodies can sample cuisines from all over the globe, from Rick Shores’ carefully curated Asian fusion, to Justin Lane’s sun-drenched rooftop bar, where sourdough pizzas are the order of the day.
For cocktails and trendy eats, head to Palm Beach – The Collective at Palm Beach is positively dreamy – whilst culture calls in Currumbin Waters, the Gold Coast’s arty precinct. Stop off for coffee at hip café Dust Temple, a former clothing factory that now doubles up as a café and gallery space for local artists.
But with 57 kilometres of beaches, it’s all about the surf swells. Home to four of the world's best surf breaks: Snapper Rocks, Kirra, Burleigh Heads and Currumbin Alley. If you’ve been looking for a place to break in your board – or even just watch the waves from afar – the Gold Coast is undeniably the place do it.
Be sure to leave enough time for a trip into the subtropical hinterland, where rainforest walks and tumbling waterfalls await.
WHERE TO STAY
Boasting stunning views of the Gold Coast skyline and the surrounding Queensland hinterland, RACV Royal Pines Resort is hard to beat. Book in, bliss out and switch off. Let the holiday vibes commence.
Bliss out on a spa weekend in Daylesford
Just an hour from Melbourne sits Victoria’s famous spa region, Daylesford – an oasis of calm set amongst acres of whimsical rural landscapes. A place of pure beauty, where lavish spa retreats and quaint boutique cottages sit side by side, and fields of lavender sway gently in the breeze.
In this charming country town, relaxation abounds. Daylesford is a place where you can soak away all your troubles in warm, mineral-rich waters and devour some of regional Victoria's most delectable fare. A sanctuary that ignites the senses, recharges the mind and cleanses the soul.
THINGS TO DO
If the daily grind is slowly grinding you down, there’s nothing better than a quiet weekend in the country to relax, recharge and reboot. And in our opinion, Daylesford’s deliciously pretty backdrop is the perfect place to do it.
The stunning surrounds are a joy to discover. From the crashing tides of Trentham Falls to the gentle ripples of Lake Daylesford, a stroll and a riverside picnic (weather permitting) does wonders for the soul. Not to mention your relationship.
A romantic waterfall moment is hard to beat. Continue the outdoor adventure at Lavandula Swiss Italian Farm – the charming lavender-filled grounds are simply breathtaking. And they do a mean bottle of bubbly too.
The food in Daylesford is second-to-none. If you’re not sampling the two-chef hatted fare at Lake House Daylesford, then you’ll be scoping out Sault in all its rustic, lavender-specked glory. Dubbed one of – if not the best – restaurants in Daylesford, Sault showcases the fresh and regional produce of the local area. An unforgettable culinary experience, this is fine dining in its most exquisite form.
But of course, a weekend in Daylesford wouldn’t be complete without a rejuvenating spa session. And in Victoria’s famous spa region, you really are spoilt for choice. Head to the historic Hepburn Bathhouse for a dip in the steaming mineral springs or bliss out with a full body massage. Either way you’ll leave perfectly pampered and totally relaxed.
Or for a little extravagance, The Spa at Lakehouse comes wrapped in luxury. Treat yourself to a couple’s massage or soak in one of their hot mineral tubs perched in a treehouse, for that added wow factor.
WHERE TO STAY
Perfectly positioned in amongst Daylesford’s steaming mineral springs, RACV Goldfields Resort is a golden nugget in the heart of Victoria. Just 30 minutes from Daylesford, nestled in the quaint town of Creswick, this luxurious hideaway promises endless respite and relaxation. Immerse yourselves in nature and drift away in the wonder of Daylesford’s magical landscapes.
A stylish foodie escape to Noosa
Australia’s version of the Hamptons, this east coast jewel is a mecca for world-class food and luxurious boutique shopping, all set against a beautiful coastal backdrop. With balmy temperatures all year round, it’s no surprise tourists flock from near and far for a taste of Noosa’s chic seaside living.
THINGS TO DO
One of Australia’s most popular beachside destinations, this Sunshine Coast favourite is the go-to for respite and retail therapy. Hastings Street is a hub of designer boutiques – from fashion to art to homewares, this shopping strip more than has you covered. And with plenty of slick eateries and cocktail bars to wind down in post-shopping splurge, your appetites and thirst are well and truly catered for.
Calm crystalline waters sparkle in the distance, and the soft golden sands of Noosa’s Main Beach provide the perfect excuse to settle down with a book, or just your good self, and soak up the scenic beachfront vistas.
But it’s Noosa’s trendy bar and restaurant scene that keeps the urban elite coming back for more. Vibrant, multi-faceted and brimming with style, in Noosa, you can go from beach to bar quicker than you can shake a martini.
Sunset cocktails at Bistro C are a must, the beachside views (and their breakfasts) are to-die-for, and don’t go past Locale – one of the best bar/restaurants in Noosa, pop in for an aperitif and work your way through their moreish Italian menu.
And for nature, head to Noosa National Park, where you’ll discover lush wildlife walks, secluded swimming spots and if you’re lucky, even a few wild dolphins and whales gliding elegantly through the crystal waters.
WHERE TO STAY
With hotel and apartment options, RACV Noosa Resort offers five-star luxury on a purse-friendly budget. While not in the hub of Hastings St, the resort has a shuttle down to Noosa Main Beach and there’s a large pool, and plenty of dining options on site.