Your Next Road Trip: Bushfire and COVID-19 Affected Communities to Support in Every State
With all that is going on in the world right now, Australia’s devastating bushfire season feels more like years, than months, behind us. Looking for ways to help back in February, we immediately banded together with Tulloch Wines and First Creek wines to support small scale Hunter Valley winegrowers whose vintages were wiped out by smoke-taint.
With the resulting Hunter Valley Shiraz Spirit now sold out, and international travel off the cards for the foreseeable future, we wanted to turn our attention back to supporting small communities hit twice by the 2019-2020 bushfires and COVID-19. It’s all in the simple act of exploring (and spending money in) one’s own backyard. As we wait for borders to open—or if in your state, local travel is on the cards—here’s a shortlist of our top spots to start that planning!
Image Credit: Unyoked
Thinking of heading to the Hunter? Why not stop by one of the many wine growers who supplied grapes for our smoke-tainted eau de vie. They’re a friendly bunch, and would be more than happy to pour you a back vintage—you can find them all on Spirit Data, but we’ve also listed them below. Tumbarumba is a slightly lesser-known, but no less mighty wine region, whose vintages were also hit hard. Intel from our team says it’s well worth a visit. Unyoked is the nature cabin of choice for those wanting to go off the grid, with secret hideouts on the Central Coast and in the Southern Highlands. Other top picks include the ski season in the Snowy Mountains (drop in to see the team at Coffee Beats Drinks in Jindabyne for excellent coffee or a G&T), a Blue Mountains hike (post-hike pizza and drinks at Station Bar), or whale watching on the Shoalhaven Coast.
Hunter Valley Spirit Wine Growers:
Image Credit: Clement Meadmore, Virginia, 1970, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, purchased 1973 © Meadmore Sculptures, LLC. VAGA/Copyright Agency
A weekend in Canberra is the ideal destination for those in NSW and Victoria, offering the best of both worlds: city and bush. During the devastating bushfire season, the nation’s capital was shrouded in heavy smoke from Namadgi National Park. It’s still closed to hikers, but it is well worth driving through to see the blackened landscape coming alive again with young green shoots. Afterwards, head to the recently-reopened National Gallery of Australia before winding down at Ovolo Nishi with dinner and drinks at Zaab in Braddon.
Image credit: Visit East Gippsland
Mallacoota was one of the worst-hit towns in Australia. You may have watched on the news nightly as thousands of holidaymakers and residents fled down to the beach. Economically, it was hit hard too. So if you’re into the idea of winter by the sea, pack an empty esky, book one of these cosy homes on Airbnb, shop at their local stores and explore the nearby Cape Howe Marine National Park. Further inland, you’ll find those beautiful Unyoked cabins again tucked away in Gippsland, the Pyrenees Mountain and Kyneton, the latter of which is home to the esteemed Royal George Hotel; a comfortably eclectic old-world haven serving delicious small plates and inspiring libations.
Image credit: MONA
So much of Tasmania’s economy relies on interstate and international travellers, which means it’s been hit particularly hard by COVID-19. While the open borders date is yet unclear, consider booking flexi flights well in advance. Tourists tend to stick to the east coast which offers a thriving arts community, exceptional food, vineyards, oyster lets and scenic views in equal measure. The usual itinerary includes MONA Museum, The Agrarian Kitchen for true farm-to-table fare, Tom McHugos for an honest pub meal and Eaglehawk Neck, Bruny Island or Freycinet National Park for an outdoor adventure. Should you crave feeling like you’re really at the end of the earth, brave a road trip to the wild West Coast.
Image Credit: Authentic Kangaroo Island
A hike and a picnic through Flinders Range National Park is always unbeatable. But after the tragic loss of unique native fauna and their habitats, Kangaroo Island is eager to welcome tourists back for hiking, kayaking and fishing in locations that are as beautiful as ever. Like the Hunter Valley, the Adelaide Hills were badly affected both in property and vintage, but winter is still very much on the cards. Think romantic morning mists, lazy evenings by the fireplace and rich, warming reds and amazing dinners at The Summertown Aristologist.
Image Credit: Ngurrangga Tours
Discover one of the most majestic landscapes in the country, the Pilbara, with guides from the oldest surviving culture on earth. Closer to Perth, you’ve got Stirling Range National Park with more scenic views than you can poke a hiking stick at. For lovers of food-and-wine-themed road trips, there’s always the drive from Perth to the Margaret River vine trail, stopping at Yallingup, Rockingham and Mandurah along the way.
Image Credit: Visit Kakadu
From Uluru to Kakadu and East Arnhem Land, the Northern Territory conjures images of an idyllic and ancient Australia—all red soils, crocodiles and luscious outback oases. In August, you’ve also got the upcoming Darwin Festival. There, we’ll be serving up an exclusive Tailored Gin with strawberry gum, river mint, lemon-scented gum, and Valencia orange peel. Let’s not forget the resilient First Nations communities, from the Arrernte to the Yolngu and Tiwi, whose world-famous arts and cultural tourism industries have been hit hardest not by bushfires but by a rapid decline in interstate travelers in the wake of COVID-19. There are a few ways you can support—from pre-booking a holiday for later in the year to buying art online.
Image Credit: Destination Daintree
Queensland has got it all, from subtropical rainforests to coral reefs and pristine beaches. For outdoor explorers, trekking the Daintree Rainforest and snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef is on every tourist’s bucket list. Slightly off the beaten track, you’ll find Peregian Beach, a sleepy coastal town tucked away from the peak season bustle of Noosa. There are, of course, endless coastal sanctuaries to choose from all along the Sunshine Coast, with special mentions going to Coolum, Currumbin, Yeppoon and Fraser Island.
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