21 March 2022

Easter Long Weekend Escapes

Leave the everyday behind and discover incredible First Nations experiences on a long weekend getaway.  Easter is the perfect time for a long weekend getaway, grab friends or family and discover new landscapes, cultural experiences and perspectives all just a short drive from home. We’ve put together our top short breaks for each state; places where you can satisfy your wanderlust, experience First Nations cultures and come away from your long weekend excited and invigorated.

New South Wales  –  Yuin Country Weekend Escape

A picturesque five hour drive down the South Coast from Sydney you will find the charming seaside town of Narooma on Yuin Country. The New South Wales South Coast Road Trip is full of spectacular sights and natural delights, so take your time and enjoy the journey down the coast. Jump out of the car and see popular beach holiday spots, tiny little-known villages, spectacular coastal landscapes and rural country charm. Discover the spectacular Seacliff Bridge or the turquoise waters of Minnamurra River, see kangaroos on a white sand beach at Murramarang National Park and bottle feed calves at Bodalla. And who could forget the Kiama BlowHole and the famous Kiama Blowhole Pies!

Narooma offers a variety of accommodation options from charming seaside motels perfect for couples to bright and busy Holiday Parks for the camping and caravan crowd. As it is a small town, we do recommend booking in advance.  Narooma and the Tilba Region is also home to rich soils, lush pastures and warm days turning into cool nights. As a result, it is a rich farming and dairy region as well as producing excellent wines. Explore the many cellar doors and farm gates, tasting delights fresh off the vine or still warm from the sun and enjoy the freshest of seafood from the pristine south waters.

This part of the South Coast is Yuin Country. The region has many culturally significant sites in and around Narooma, Bega Valley and Bermagui, including Gulaga (Mount Dromedary) which is central to Yuin culture, Dreaming and people. There are a variety of cultural experiences available in Narooma to include in your Easter weekend escape. Reconnect with nature as you leisurely pedal e-bikes on a self-guided tour around the picturesque Narooma region and stop to join a respected Yuin Nation knowledge holder. Take in coastal views of Gulaga and Baranguba as you listen to the rich culture and heritage of Yuin Country.Spend a day amidst the Bingi Dreaming Track with a local Yuin Nation guide and experience a traditional smoking ceremony, hear about the local bush tucker and learn from ancient sustainability practices. Later, wander to the beautiful coastal village of Tuross Head to enjoy incredible views and taste delicious, locally sourced ingredients at one of the region’s best eateries, the Pickled Octopus Restaurant.Or, go on a transformative and spiritual exploration through Yuin Nation countryside as you learn the Dreaming of the region and the sacred significance of Gulaga (the mother mountain). Listen to the mining history of the region on a guided historical walking tour of Central Tilba before enjoying a lunch and then finish the day with a wine and cheese tasting at the Tilba Valley Winery.

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Queensland – Butchulla Country Weekend Escape

Butchulla Country in the Sunshine Coast region of Queensland includes Hervey Bay, the Great Sandy Strait and magnificent Fraser Island. Hervey Bay and the Fraser Coast are an easy three and half hour drive from Brisbane, making a great choice for an Easter weekend escape. Home to some of the country’s best beaches, relaxed coastal towns and a vibrant regional dining scene, the Sunshine Coast has beauty and substance. Heading north out of the city, the road trip from Brisbane to Hervey Bay is peppered with natural wonders. Marvel as you wind your way through the Glasshouse Mountains, and stop to experience Rainbow Beach. Once connected to Fraser Island, the beautiful curved bay is nestled between the Glasshouse Mountains and Wide Bay Bar.

Hervey Bay is the jumping off point for the Fraser Coast and with the region’s world famous status, there are numerous accommodation options ranging from 5-star luxury hotels and resorts to simple wilderness campgrounds. Dotted along the esplanade, which runs parallel to the beach, are numerous dining options ranging from French to Brazilian back to Surf and Turf and Modern Australian. There are so many delicious options catering to all tastes and budgets.  The Great Sandy Biosphere on the Fraser Coast is one of the world’s most significant ecological and cultural sites in the world. Right on Brisbane’s doorstep, it is a must see for all Queenslanders and Australians alike.  The Biosphere includes K’gari (Fraser Island) and the Great Sandy Strait and was highlighted by UNESCO in 2009 in the same class as the Galapagos Islands, the Central Amazon and Uluru. And who better to show you the spectacular and complex environment of the marine park than the region’s Traditional Owners, the Butchulla people who have known and understood this landscape for time immemorial. Choose between walking or cruising this unique place. Follow your local Butchulla guide to discover the incredible wonders it holds. Visit beaches, coral reefs, see turtles, dolphins, sea bird colonies, reef sharks and dugongs. Absorb the local Butchulla culture of the region. Discover the Butchulla names and meanings of local landmarks, visit culturally significant sites and hear Butchulla creation stories. Including a private Didgeridoo performance on the beach!

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South Australia – Kangaroo Island Weekend Escape

Four hours from Adelaide by car and ferry you will find Kangaroo Island, a wildlife paradise! Kangaroo Island is nature’s playground, with its magnificent rugged coastline, exquisitely clear waters, multiple nature reserves and historic cultural sites. Located 13 kilometres off the coast of South Australia in the Great Australian Bight, Kangaroo Island is Australia’s third-largest island. Kangaroo Island offers more than just nature and wildlife; its rich and bountiful farmland produces mouth-watering food and wine. Local delicacies include creamy sheep’s milk cheese, freshwater marron, premium olive oil and boutique wines. The island’s many art galleries showcase the woodworking, glass-blowing and furniture-making talents of local craftsmen. Kangaroo Island boasts ultra-luxury accommodation worth of international stars, mid-range hotels, family friendly motels and insta-worthy campsites.  There are just as many restaurants to choose from with fresh five-star farm to plate options, wineries with lavish cheese and charcuterie boards, homestyle Italian and cheerful and cheap Thai.

The Aboriginal population that once occupied the island are sometimes referred to as the Kartan people, disappeared from the archaeological record when the land became an island following rising sea levels. Although Kangaroo Island has had a mixed history of inhabitancy, it is an interesting and important place in local Aboriginal culture. Home to a rich and intricate Aboriginal history the island has many significant sites featured in Dreamtime Stories and Songlines connecting Country, people and culture in the region.

The island is one of the best places in Australia to see wild native animals like koalas, kangaroos, sea lions, seals and penguins. Have a once in a lifetime wildlife experience with Kangaroo Island Ocean Safari! Swim with wild dolphins or cheeky long nosed seals and snorkel some of Kangaroo Island’s stunning coastline. Spot the cheeky seals lounging on the rocks or playing in the water, then dive in with them! These curious seals can be quite interactive and playful and are super fun to snorkel with. Spot dolphin pods that live in the coastal waters. If they’re feeling playful, you’ll also be able to swim alongside them in the wild. Or, enjoy a personalised 75 minute ocean safari tour, let the knowledgeable guides know what you are interested in seeing at Kangaroo Island and they will create a unique tour just for you!

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Western Australia – Wadandi Country Weekend Escape

Pile into the car and cruise an easy three hours south from Perth along Western Australia’s world famous coast to reach Wadandi Country’s magnificent Cape Naturaliste. This stunning location is the northernmost point of the Leeuwin-Naturaliste Ridge, separating beautiful Geographe Bay from the southern Indian Ocean and giving rise to incredible panoramic views.

Cape Naturaliste is nestled amidst the Margaret River region, offering a wealth of incredible things to see and do over your weekend getaway. Dive into one of 50 gorgeous sandy beaches, take your pick of exceptional dining at 100 restaurants and cafes or taste your way through some of the region’s 150 wineries and breweries.  The pristine natural environments to mindfully explore are unparalleled, from gorgeous coastlines to beautiful forests that make this region truly spectacular. Choose from an abundance of accommodation options in Naturaliste and Dunsborough to stay close to Cape Naturaliste, or drive a further 50 minutes to stay in the town of Margaret River after your day of exploration. The best way to make the most of your weekend getaway is to experience Wadandi Country with a Traditional Custodian. Tourism award winning Koomal Dreaming is owned and operated by Wandandi man Josh Whiteland. Josh grew up surrounded by family, culture and a deep understanding of connection to Country. Through a variety of Koomal Dreaming experiences, Josh charismatically shares his passion for culture and education, giving visitors a unique opportunity to deepen their understanding and appreciation of Wadandi Country. Learn significant aspects of Wadandi Country’s interconnected landscape, natural resources and cultural practices. Whether you want to explore the natural environment, flora and fauna of Cape Naturaliste, see and taste traditional bush foods, roam deep into Ngilgi Caves to witness a unique didgeridoo performance or learn about the role of the six Noongar seasons, Koomal Dreaming is an essential aspect of any getaway to the Margaret River region.

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Victoria – Geelong Weekend Escape

Venture just an hour from Melbourne CBD and enjoy a relaxing city escape to beautiful Geelong in the Kulin Nation. Despite being Victoria’s second biggest city, Geelong has the charm and tranquillity of a small town. Spend your morning soaking in the beauty of the beach’s shimmering blue waters, wander quiet city streets as you gaze at gorgeous public art or enjoy an afternoon sipping your new favourite beverage at one of the region’s many wineries and craft breweries. You’ll be spoilt for choice of accommodation, with ample options for every budget available throughout the city.

The Narana Aboriginal Cultural Centre is an essential place to visit during your weekend escape to learn and engage with First Nations cultures of the Kulin Nation in a relaxed environment. Truly escape from the hustle and bustle of Melbourne amidst Narana’s gorgeous surrounds, dotted with native trees, walkways and gardens as you wander to the centre. Begin your guided tour with a Welcome to Narana before taking time to gaze at spectacular art and artefacts as your guide shares their cultural significance. Afterwards, indulge in a tasting platter of choice, featuring delicious scones starring native ingredients, or bush foods such as kangaroo with damper. Continue your guided walk through the tranquil native garden, stopping along the way to feed the friendly native wildlife or try your hand at boomerang throwing before enjoying free time to roam the stunning art gallery or sit back in Café Narana.

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Tasmania – palawa Country Weekend

We often forget to explore our home towns, but being a tourist in your own city is a great opportunity to take time to experience and explore activities which get lost in the everyday of living. Being a tourist in your hometown has the added advantage of no travel and accommodation costs, making it an inexpensive and easy long weekend option.

One aspect of Hobart many locals may not have had the opportunity to experience is the rich Aboriginal history and vibrant palawa culture. There are several First Nations cultural experiences to explore in Hobart. You can visit the two impressive permanent Aboriginal exhibitions at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. ningina tunapri means ‘to give knowledge and understanding’. “The exhibition explores the journey of Tasmanian Aboriginal people and is a celebration of all Tasmanian Aboriginal generations.” *  parrawa, parrawa! Go away! “tells the story of Aboriginal people and colonists following the invasion of lutruwita, now called Tasmania, focusing on the Black War. Go on an immersive journey through this dark period of history, with objects, contemporary historical accounts and specially commissioned films all helping to bring the story to life.” **

For a truly unique cultural experience join palawa/warlpiri woman Nunami Sculthorpe-Green on takara nipaluna, Walking Hobart, a transformative 90 minute walking tour of the city. takara nipaluna gives voice to the palawa perspective of Tasmanian history and continued cultural presence within this modern city and exposes the layers of history beneath the asphalt. Nunami delivers an informative, provocative, and entertaining experience. It will lead you to a richer understanding of this place and of the palawa experience here. A revelatory, truth-telling performance that will resonate with you long after the walk ends.

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Northern Territory – Jawoyn Country Weekend Escape

Escape the city this Easter long weekend and explore beautiful Katherine and stunning Nitmiluk Gorge on Jawoyn Country. Enjoy a leisurely 3 hours and 15 minute drive from Darwin to Katherine, slowing along the way  to peer out your window at the beautiful changing landscape. Katherine is best known for its stunning surroundings, with a wealth of opportunities to explore a spectacular diversity of natural environments. Lace up your hiking boots and embark on pristine bush walks, go underground at Australia’s only tropical limestone cave systems, relax and recharge amidst gorgeous natural hot springs or indulge in delicious meals at some of Katherine’s many unique bars, cafes and restaurants. Take your pick from over 20 accommodation options available in the heart of the town.

Just 30 minutes out of Katherine is the world famous Nitmiluk National Park, best known for it’s 13 incredible gorges. The only way to truly experience this magnificent landscape is in the company of First Nations cultural guides, whose wealth of knowledge about the culture, plants, animals and Dreaming of this region will deepen your appreciation of Jawoyn Country. Climb aboard Nitmiluk’s NitNit Dreaming Cruise and begin your journey across the first gorge, gazing at  the limestone escarpment that surrounds you before spotting the impressive boulders, rock pools and sandy banks that separate the next gorge. Learn about why the entrance to the first gorge is known as Nitmiluk and the meaning behind the second gorge’s name, the “Blue Winged Kookaburra”. Note the changing landscape as you cruise along the waters, with the second gorge’s lush hanging gardens boasting a rainforest-like environment. This is an unmissable opportunity to be immersed in the beauty of Nitmiluk National Park’s two largest gorges as you deepen your understanding of Jawoyn Country and culture.

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This is just a selection of the many half day cultural experiences available at Welcome to Country, the perfect additions to any weekend getaway. Now that the borders are open, the opportunities to travel and create meaningful memories are limitless! Explore short experiences that will have a long term impact on your understandings and First Nations businesses.

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* Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, https://www.tmag.tas.gov.au/whats_on/exhibitions/longterm/ningina_tunapri

** Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, https://www.tmag.tas.gov.au/whats_on/exhibitions/longterm/our_land_parrawa,_parrawa!_go_away!