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Idyllic locations for a mini break

When Newcastle businessman Nathan Cruickshank went to renew the weekly Airbnb booking he and his family had held for the majority of the COVID-19 lockdown last week, he was shocked to learn it was unavailable.

With New South Wales still under tight self-quarantine measures, he had anticipated that with his own home renovation project on hold that most people would remain at their current address until restrictions had eased.

Yet it appears this is not the case.

While there is hope that life may soon return to some level of normality in most states, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been consistent in his approach that overseas travel will be off the menu for quite some time.

But after numerous weeks stuck mostly at home it seems some Australians are already preparing for the chance to head away for a well-earned mini break. And school holidays are coming up.

The good news is Australia is slowly re-opening. The Australian Government has outlined a national three step plan to relax the restrictions currently in place to contain COVID-19.

Social distancing and travel restrictions won’t be lifted immediately in all states and territories, that will be done at a pace that best suits each state. Below is a guide as to what borders have been opened, so you can plan your getaway.

State border status

Australian Capital Territory – Open
Northern Territory – Closed to non-essential travel
New South Wales – Open
Queensland – Closed to non-essential travel
South Australia – Closed to non-essential travel
Tasmania – Closed to non-essential travel
Victoria – Open
Western Australia – Closed to non-essential travel

Debate continues to rage between state premiers over when their borders will open for interstate travel. But in the meantime, there are many options for residents looking for a getaway where they can explore their own backyards.

To help tempt you, we’ve come up with our favourite open nature spaces to remind you of the vastness of life that exists beyond your four walls.

Undara Volcanic National Park, Queensland

An Aboriginal word meaning ‘long way’, Undara Park protects one of the longest lava tube cave systems in the world.

Carved out around 190,000 years ago when a large volcano erupted violently spewing molten lava over the surrounding landscape, this geological tunnel of global significance extends under a ribbon of remnant dry rainforest.

The lava flowed rapidly down a dry riverbed. The top, outer-layer cooled and formed a crust, while the molten lava below drained outwards, leaving behind a series of hollow tubes.

Within a 3.5 hour drive from Cairns, it is the perfect place to enjoy lava tubes, dormant volcanic craters and waterfalls while spotting rock wallabies, insectivorous bat colonies and owls.

Umpherston Sinkhole, South Australia

Also known as The Sunken Garden, Umpherston Sinkhole was once a cave formed through dissolution of the limestone.

Located on the Jubilee Highway East in Mount Gambier, the sinkhole was created when the top of the chamber collapsed downwards many years ago but now the topsoil down on the floor forms the perfect environment for the sunken garden.

Originally beautified by James Umpherston around 1886, it is best to appreciate its vastness from the viewing platforms at the top of the sinkhole, before walking down into the sinkhole, along the terraces and behind the hanging vines.

A large undercover shelter with group seating and free barbecue is provided and there is even an onsite kiosk offering coffee and snacks.

 

Crystal Shower Falls, Dorrigo National Park, NSW

Located just an hour outside of Coffs Harbour, Crystal Shower Falls in the World Heritage listed Dorrigo National Park is an exercise in contradictions.

While the walk to the shower falls itself is one of the lowest maintenance waterfall walks you are likely to encounter, it is also one of the most breathtaking as it takes you behind the waterfall itself.

Lush rainforest towers above you on the walk to the falls while a suspension bridge leads to a short side track that takes you behind the waterfall to a rocky cavern.

Kooyoora State Park, VIC

A stunning pocket in the Loddon Valley, Kooyoora State Park lies only two hours from Melbourne and is home to some of north-central Victoria’s outstanding natural features.

Spread over multiple sites across a large area around Kingower-Rheola and offering a rich variety of plants and wildlife, the park is ideal for many outdoor recreation activities from picnics to sightseeing, rock climbing, orienteering and bird watching.

Be sure to include a visit to the Melville Caves, huge granite boulders thought to have been once used as a hideout for the bushranger ‘Captain Melville’.

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