Where to go for a long weekend

Need a break from your hometown? These destinations are the perfect driving distance from capital cities yet feel worlds away from the big smoke.

Boaz Vaadia by Haziel and Ma'aseyahu, 2011 at Pt Leo Estate

Anson Smart

Need a break from your hometown? These destinations are the perfect driving distance from capital cities yet feel worlds away from the big smoke. Visit wineries, beaches and national parks by day, then make a beeline for stellar hotels and award-winning restaurants. Feeling relaxed yet?

Orange, NSW

Forego the coastal crowds and head west from Sydney, where the fruit-growing town of Orange is making a name for itself with a new crop of producers, particularly winemakers who are producing cool-climate chardonnay, pinot noir and shiraz. Make your way there via the Blue Mountains and stop for a mid-morning pick-me-up at Kickaboom (Shop 1, 6 Ross St, Glenbrook), where Seven Seeds coffee, bowls of bibimbap and baskets of fried chicken lure travellers and locals alike.

You should arrive in Orange by early afternoon, leaving enough time to wander the Orange Regional Gallery (149 Byng St, Orange) before nabbing a seat at Percy’s Bar & Kitchen (120 Summer St, Orange) for a glass of something from the proudly local wine list. Spend Sunday checking out the autumn leaves in Cook Park (24-46 Summer St, Orange) or visiting one of the many local cellar doors – Philip Shaw (100 Shiralee Rd, Orange), Rowlee (19 Lake Canobolas Rd, Orange) and De Salis (125 Mount Lofty Rd, Nashdale) are our picks. Alternatively, Ferment, the Orange Wine Centre (87 Hill St, Orange), brings the juice to you, showcasing wines from 18 small wineries in the Central Ranges region in a stylish wine-bar setting in the centre of town. There’s a growing number of quality restaurants both in town and the ranges to check out but Sister’s Rock Restaurant at Borrodell estate (298 Lake Canobolas Rd, Canobolas) is the spot to head to if you’re after views to go with your lunch. Feel the need to get moving? Wander through Spring Glade walking track, a relatively flat route that takes you to Mount Canobolas and spectacular views over the region.

Sister’s Rock Restaurant, Orange (photo by Seth Buchanan)

Mornington Peninsula, Vic

While the Mornington Peninsula has always been an irresistible package of beaches, vineyards and views, there’s a new crop of entrepreneurs, hoteliers and chefs who are making their mark on the region. First it was Jackalope (166 Balnarring Road, Merricks North), the high-concept hotel nestled amongst vineyards in Merricks North, which opened in April 2017 and made a strong statement with its blend of sleek architecture, art objects and destination dining. Now, Pt Leo Estate (3649 Frankston-Flinders Rd, Merricks) has arrived with two restaurants, a cellar door and an even sharper focus on contemporary art. Take in the estate’s 50-plus sculptures along one of two paths through the sculpture garden (the short one is 30 minutes; the longer route will take you an hour) then choose between the relaxed bistro Pt Leo or fine-diner Laura for lunch. Other cellar doors worth a stop include Port Phillip Estate (263 Red Hill Rd, Red Hill South), where wine and food enjoy an equal footing, and Foxeys Hangout (795 White Hill Rd, Red Hill ) for its stunning views of the vines that can be enjoyed glass-in-hand from the back deck. Looking for a change of speed? Bass & Flinders Distillery (232 Red Hill Rd, Red Hill) specialise in gin but also make vodka, grappa and aged brandy. While you’re there you can make your very own bottle of gin at one of the distillery’s masterclasses.

Jackalope, Mornington Peninsula (photo by Julian Kingma)

Noosa, Qld

While there’s plenty of relaxing to be done in Noosa, both poolside and on the sand, this is no sleepy seaside town. Full-to-bursting cafés, bars and restaurants – from heavy-hitters such as Wasabi to casual spots that still deliver quality – are proof that beachside getaways don’t have to mean a pause in your dining rituals. Hit Belmondos Organic Market when you arrive and stock up on Tanglewood sourdough or fruit loaf, premium cuts from Eumundi Meats and coffee by local roaster Clandestino. There’s also an organic grocer, Bio Shop, in the marketplace-style setting, while on Sundays the Noosa Farmers Market brings producers from the hinterland and wider region to town. If your idea of a holiday means a break from the kitchen, there’s plenty of help at hand, whether it’s handmade pasta at Locale or seafood at beachside Rickys River Bar & Restaurant. Take it down a notch with fish and chips at Noosa Boathouse, Asian street food at Sum Yung Guys and standout breakfast at Noosa Hot Bread Shop. Cool off at one of the many breweries dotted throughout the region: Land & Sea and Copperhead are particularly good. And if all that towel-time is giving you itchy feet, there are plenty of impressive views to reward those who tackle one of the walking tracks that criss-cross Noosa National Park.

Wasabi, Noosa

Adelaide Hills, SA

While its distance from Adelaide might not have you feeling like you’re on a road trip, the Adelaide Hills region certainly feels like worlds away from the city, starting with the views from the car window as you wind your way up the Mount Lofty Ranges. Head southeast from Adelaide and enter the region via Crafers to get the best experience. Stop in at the newly refurbished Crafers Hotel (8 Main St, Crafers), built in 1839 and run today by couple Ed and Julie Peter, who have kept the fit-out true to the pub’s roots while updating the menu with French bistro classics alongside more familiar pub fare. There are seven rooms upstairs if you’re looking for a place to stop for the night but, for now, it’s onwards to Hahndorf and its many cellar doors. The Lane Vineyard (5 Ravenswood Ln, Hahndorf) has impressive views with food to match, while at Hahndorf Hill (38 Pain Rd, Hahndorf) you can try Austrian varieties like grüner veltliner alongside more familiar pinot grigio and rosé. Spend the afternoon perusing the town’s antique shops and German-leaning providores or head back towards Mount Lofty and the Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens (16 Lampert Rd, Crafers), where several large-scale abstract sculptures by Greg Johns are dotted among the gardens and walking trails. Don’t leave the Hills without a visit to Lost in a Forest (1203 Greenhill Rd, Uraidla), where several of the region’s smaller producers have their wines on show in a former church that’s been transformed into a cosy wine bar. Up the road at The Summertown Aristologist (1097 Greenhill Rd, Summertown), an afternoon of share plates and bottles from Lucy Margaux, Jauma and other local winemakers will fly by far too quickly. Luckily, it’s close enough to the city to come back next weekend.

Crafers Hotel, SA

Swan Valley, WA

The Swan Valley’s abundance of wineries has long made the region an attractive daytrip from Perth, but there are plenty of breweries, artists and makers to occupy a whole weekend . At Brookleigh estate – a collection of apartments and a guest cottage with a country-estate feel – bikes for hire make getting from A to B a little more fun. Cellar doors to add to your itinerary include big-name estates such as Sandalford, Houghton and Lamont’s as well as newer additions to the region: Faber (233 Haddrill Road, Baskerville), Upper Reach (77 Memorial Ave, Baskerville) and Mandoon Estate (10 Harris Rd, Caversham) being some of them. Meanwhile, at Oakover Grounds (14 Yukich Cl, Middle Swan), the cellar door is complemented by the roasting operations of Fiori Coffee, while for those who are more enthusiastic about beer, the Swan Valley Cider and Ale Trail covers nine locations including Funk Cider (55 Benara Rd, Caversham), Feral Brewing Co. (152 Haddrill Rd, Baskerville) and Ironbark Brewery (55 Benara Rd, Caversham) where head brewer Graeme White experiments with over 45 styles. Time for a pit-stop? Little Lamont’s (7/660 Great Northern Hwy, Herne Hill) is your one-stop shop for coffee, cakes and slices plus gourmet pantry items to take home, but if it’s retail therapy you’re after, head to historic Guildford, where antique shops are in strong supply. All that cycling and tasting is bound to work up an appetite: the cheeseboards at Cheese Barrel (920 Great Northern Hwy, Millendon) draw on a selection of more than 80 Australian and international cheeses while at The Guildford Hotel (159 James St, Guildford) Texas-style barbecue from three smokers in the beer garden consistently pulls a crowd.

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