February 17, 2023
6 mins Read
All hail the long weekend. To be enjoyed this year on Monday 3 October, Labour Day celebrates the eight-hour working day, a feat achieved in the mid-19th century. One might argue the eight-hour working day has been subject to inflation over the years, but unpaid overtime won’t stop too many people making the most of a three-day weekend.
Here, some of the best destinations to consider when planning your precious long weekend. Since the public holiday only applies in New South Wales, South Australia and the ACT (other states observe theirs in autumn), we’ve limited the list accordingly. But hey, would taking Monday off be so bad?
Huskisson is a popular launch pad for all things Jervis Bay, the marine paradise that extends from Culburra in the north to Sussex Inlet in the south and east to Point Perpendicular. Home to Booderee National Park, Jervis Bay National Park and Jervis Bay Marine Park, the region is a highlight reel of natural wonders, but Huskisson alone could keep you well and truly happy over a long weekend. Owen Street, Huskisson’s main drag, is packed with cafes, restaurants and retail stores and the ‘Husky Pub’ has Sunday Sesh written all over it. And those beaches – perfection.
There is much to love about South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula, but in October there’s a particular highlight worth seeking out. Southern right whales continue to splash about in the region’s waters until the end of the month with Victor Harbor the suggested vantage point.
The lure of Fleurieu stretches beyond spotting these majestic cetaceans. Sip world-class wines throughout the McLaren Vale region, explore spectacular coastline at Second Valley, enjoy the natural wonders of Rapid Bay, and return home with at least another long weekend’s worth of fun you didn’t get time for.
Just an hour north of Sydney, the Central Coast has always been a popular destination thanks to its generous coastline, and the reasons to visit just keep growing. The Boathouse Hotel Patonga is one such reason. The hotel opened late last year following a $5 million revamp and has since expanded to offer accommodation, making it an attractive one-stop-shop if checking in and staying put is your weekender style. If not, there are plenty of beaches, cafes and restaurants to check out, cool gallery spaces to roam and the creative charm of Long Jetty to explore.
While Canberrans themselves might be looking to get out of town for a long-weekend escape, the nation’s capital cuts an attractive figure for non-residents in search of a quick getaway. Far removed from the dull offering of bygone primary school excursions, Canberra is an on-trend amalgam of cultural delights, intriguing design and fantastic dining. Plus, until 14 October, Canberra shows off its spring credentials with Australia’s premier floral display, Floriade. Take Floriade, add moonlight and twinkling fairy lights, and you’ve got NightFest, the festival’s after dark offering, which runs from 3 to 6 October.
A little further afield, but certainly worth the additional travel time, Hayman Island has recently reopened and is even dreamier than its luxurious predecessor. A $135 million overhaul, spurred by the damage caused during Cyclone Debbie in 2017, has upped the luxe factor while those world-famous views of the Whitsundays are hard to beat. Now operating as Hayman Island by InterContinental, the 166-room property puts everything at guests’ fingertips, meaning all you have to worry about is which of the resort’s five restaurants and bars to choose from. It’s a hard-knock life.
Keen on those island vibes, but not so keen on going the distance? Lord Howe Island has got your back. The UNESCO World Heritage site, sitting pretty in the Tasman Sea about 600 kilometres off Port Macquarie, is a spectacular vision with pristine waters and lush rainforest just the beginning. Only 400 visitors are allowed on the island at any given time, there are no power lines or high-rise buildings and the island-wide speed limit is 25 kilometres per hour – this is a step back in time, in the best possible way. Direct flights to paradise are available from Sydney and Port Macquarie.
Travelling along the state’s south-eastern coast from Coorong National Park to the Victorian border, the Limestone Coast is jam-packed with enough natural wonders to keep you occupied for a long weekend and then some. There’s the rugged coastline, of course. And then there’s the Coonawarra region, where terra rossa soils give rise to world renowned cabernet sauvignons. But, while you’re here, be sure to discover what lies beneath, too. The region sits on a subterranean labyrinth of caves and tunnels, which have been uncovered over the years, creating incredible attractions such as sinkholes, sunken gardens and fossil preservation sites.
About three-and-a-half hours west of Sydney, Mudgee offers a slower pace than many holiday hotspots, but not at the expense of long-weekend necessities: great food, great coffee, great vibes. Add wide tree-lined streets, beautiful colonial buildings and that fresh country air, and you’ll return home rejuvenated and ready for the four-day week. And perhaps a little smug. Take the smug factor up a notch by bedding down in Australia’s first bubble tent, overlooking the vast Capertee Valley.
Victorians might not be blessed with the October public holiday, but the state’s glorious Mornington Peninsula boasts strong long weekend appeal for interstate travellers. Less than 90 minutes’ drive from Melbourne Airport (Tullamarine), the Mornington Peninsula combines seaside charm with gastronomic delights and inviting cellar doors, making it a wonderful place to spend a few indulgent days.
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