If you're looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of your capital city, consider these locations close to Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Melbourne respectively. There's plenty to do, from taking a Blue Mountains tour to visiting the penguins of Phillip Island.
Just two hours away from the Sydney CBD and an hour’s drive from the foot of the Blue Mountains at Katoomba are the Three Sisters, an epic rock formation that towers above the picturesque Jamison Valley. Meehni, Wimlah and Gunedoo, as they’ve been named, stand at 922m, 918m and 906m respectively. Aboriginal legend has it that the three sisters were members of the Katoomba tribe and had fallen in love with members of a tribe to which they did not belong, and thus they were forbidden to marry. A tribal battle ensued, and in order to protect the sisters, a witchdoctor from the Katoomba tribe turned them into stone. When the witchdoctor was killed, no one was left to reverse the spell, and the three sisters were left in their rock formation forever.
Located on the Sunshine coast about 45 minutes north of Brisbane along Steve Irwin Way, Australia Zoo is home to a wide variety of unique Australian wildlife. Famous as the home of Terri and Bindi Irwin and, before his untimely passing, Australia’s iconic ‘Croc Hunter’, Steve Irwin, the zoo offers visitors the ability to cuddle a koala, as well as featuring other creatures such as saltwater crocodiles, tasmanian devils and a large range of snakes. Australia Zoo also features incredible non-Australian animals, including the Bengal Tiger and Asian elephant.
Sitting 60km northeast of Adelaide, the Barossa Valley is formed by the North Para River, linking the towns of Nurioopta, Tanunda, Rowland Flat and Lyndoch. It is best known as the wine capital of Australia -- in fact, it’s home to over 50 per cent of Australia’s wine production, with over 500 grape-growing families operating in the area. While wine tours are obviously the most popular activity in the Barossa Valley, it’s often underestimated for the beauty of its countryside, with high mountains, flat valleys and grapes growing on the hillside.
It might be called Rottnest Island, but there’s nothing rotten about it. Just a 25-minute ferry-ride from Fremantle in Perth, the island is home to over 60 pristine beaches that are ripe for exploration. One of the most popular things to do is to explore the island via bicycle, which can be hired upon arrival. Due to its location on the west coast, sunsets in Western Australia are sensational, and there is no better place to experience one than Rottnest Island. There are also plenty of places to swim, snorkel and surf, and a range of fascinating flora and fauna to discover.
Situated 90 minutes south of Melbourne is Phillip Island, home of the world famous Penguin Parade. Every evening, just after the sun sets, the island’s colony of fairy penguins make their way up the beach, returning to their burrows. It’s one of the only areas in the world where this particular species of penguin can be seen, and people travel from all over the world to take a Phillip Island tour for this reason. However, while Phillip Island is mostly known for its Penguin Parade, it has several lesser-known attractions that can prove equally rewarding. About 1km from the coastline is Seal Rock, an outcrop where the world’s largest colony of Australian Fur Seals congregate. There is also an abundance of kangaroos, possums and unique bird life.