Published: 18 May 2016 by: Alison Plummer, edited by Emily Russ

Discover Mudgee's wine region in a thrilling hot-air balloon ride

There is nothing like a winter chill to get the sparks flying, so with winter well and truly on its way we wanted to inspire you with some great romantic weekend getaway locations in the cooler weather.

Mudgee – Love The Lifestyle!

More than a scenic setting, Mudgee is a place where the locals enjoy the area’s lifestyle, art, wine and produce as much as visitors – and they are only too happy to share it all with you.

Surrounded by hills and historic gold mining towns such as Gulgong and Sofala, Mudgee has wide, inviting streets, cafes, shops and historic buildings, many dating from the 1850s.

Out and about there are over 35 cellar doors in the Mudgee Wine Region and farm walks, a Food and Wine Lovers Trail and farmer’s markets are all ways to familiarise yourselves with the wine, local honey, designer mustards, olives, saffron and much more.

The only problem with eating out is the choice! Head for Alley Cats Coffee House, Butcher’s Shop Café, Elton’s Brasserie and Roth’s Wine Bar, check out hotel dining and inviting cellar door restaurants such as the Blue Wren, complete with a cosy log fire in winter.

The region is famous for its ceramics and pottery as kaolin clay is found in the Gulgong region. Visit Fairview ArtSpace and Mandurah Studio in the beautiful old Mudgee Railway Station building to check out local ceramics, pottery and other artworks.

Like the sound of a romantic weekend in Mudgee? Find out what makes it a fantastic place to vist here.

The iconic Blue Mountains

Magic In The Mountains

Elevate yourselves to another world where fresh mountain air, magical bushland and dramatic scenery are just some reasons why you’ll be thrilled you chose the area as a romantic winter destination.

Here, beautiful old houses and gardens lend their signatures to the ambience of the mountain villages, inviting streets hold the promise of shopping for antiques and local produce and cafes are the place to sit with a warming coffee or hot chocolate after an invigorating walk or bike ride.

The Blue Mountains World Heritage area is many destinations in one with its string of townships along the Great Western Highway to Blackheath and beyond. The deep valleys plunge away in breathtaking fashion making it a place to take the words ‘Scenic Lookout’ seriously. Be sure to stop the car to follow the signs to view dramatic cliffs and the blue-tinged bushland stretching far into the distance.

To get the blood pumping, follow a bushwalking trail, go horse riding, biking, rock climbing or abseiling. For something a little more laid-back, dine out café, bistro or restaurant-style at one of the many charming options in town. Explore a different side of the stunning region when you visit Jenolan Caves and Oberon, or treat yourselves to winter truffle hunts at Lowes Mount Truffiere, with produce including truffled honey for sale.

Want to visit this sceneic region? Find your dream NSW accommodation here.

Launceston Town Hall and Post Office Clock - Photo by Tourism Tasmania & Andrew Harris

In Love With Launceston

Perfectly placed for discovering the distinctive cool climate wines of Tasmania’s Tamar Valley, Launceston also has a vibrant culture where history meets a contemporary urban edge.

Foodies discovered Launceston long ago – great food goes hand in hand with the vineyards and the city boasts providores, a French patisserie and signature restaurants such as Stillwater at Ritchie’s Mill. You’ll definitely dine well as Tasmanian lamb, beef, venison, oysters from east coast leases, ocean trout, cheeses, nuts, vegetables, fruit, herbs and even locally grown wasabi are all available for chefs to work their magic.

Among Launceston’s features are the regenerated Launceston Seaport and Cataract Gorge, a 15-minute walk away, with the world’s longest single span chairlift, walking and hiking trails, rock climbing and stunning views.

Backing the city, don’t miss the Queen Victoria Museum highlighting many aspects of life in Tasmania and with a beautiful collection of Aboriginal shell necklaces. Drop in to 1842 Gallery to see Tasmanian glass, art and furniture hand-crafted from Tasmanian timbers. 1842 is also the starting point for Launceston Historic Walks. Out and about in the area, visit fascinating Seahorse World, Boags Brewery and check out the Tamar Valley Touring Route from Launceston to Bass Strait. Or for a trip you won't soon forget get up close and personal with the amazing wildlife at Tasmania Zoo.

Inspired to see Launceston for yourself? Check out this related story here.

The Sunshine Coast Hinterland's breathtaking views of rolling green hills

Sunshine Coast Winterland

Where do Queenslanders head for in winter? The hills, of course and especially the charming villages of Maleny, Montville and their neighbours in the beautiful Blackall Range behind the Sunshine Coast.

Here the welcome is always friendly with true country hospitality, the air is fresh and the views are splendid looking east across the coastal plain and south to the incredible forms of the Glass House Mountains.

Montville is a real treasure with as mixed a heritage as you could find with Queenslander homes, mountain chalets, stone cottages and even a water mill to add to the country village feel.

Here’s a place to browse for antiques and crafts such as local pottery interspersed with time out at the wide choice of cafes, tea rooms and great restaurants.

Maleny is predominantly dairy country with rainforests adding to its beauty and a great tradition of arts and crafts with many galleries. The whole area is a veritable food bowl with award-winning speciality cheeses and yoghurts, locally-grown avocados and macadamias, vineyards and cellar doors.

What to do when you’re not relaxing, eating or shopping? Follow walking trails through the rainforest from short to full hikes through beautiful forest reserves and national parks.

The beautiful Margaret River - Photo by: Tourism WA

Make Time For Margaret River

Wine and surf don’t often come together in one package but Margaret River is an exception, Perth’s much-loved weekend getaway destination that just keeps on stunning those who visit.

It’s a three-hour drive from Perth to the Margaret River Wine Region stopping to view the sweeping bays with white sand and dramatic cliffs, visiting Bunbury and the Dolphin Discovery Centre.

The vineyards meet the sea at Dunsborough and at Yallingup surfers catch the waves at Surfer’s Point. In wine country there’s fabulous food and local produce to complement the wine trail. The region is responsible for over 15 per cent of the country’s premium wine and the cellar doors and restaurants echo the quality.

Margaret River sits on a granite peninsula between Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin with a maritime climate that produces some of Australia’s finest Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz with tastings at cellar doors including Howard Park with its famous Madfish label, Cape Mentelle, Vasse Felix and Xanadu.

While great food and wine are the top drawcards, your weekend in the Margaret River region can be as varied as you please with activities including surfing, kayaking, whale-watching, 4-WD tours, caving, abseiling, scenic flights and rewarding Aboriginal experiences.

Explore North East Victoria's brilliant wineries

North East Victoria – Stay & Play

Winter snow-seekers rarely linger in this gourmet paradise along the Great Alpine Road, but for weekenders looking for cosy restaurants, food and wine trails and plenty of things to do, it really doesn’t come any better than this.

Wangaratta is the main town of the area, famous for its Jazz Festival and with places to eat such as Rinaldo’s Casa Cucina. The King and Ovens Valleys are famous wine growing areas nearby and the home of the famous Brown Bros and Miranda Wines, both with inviting cellar doors and restaurants.

Dal Zotto at Whitfield were the first to make Prosecco in Australia and the Dal Zotto Trattoria is a wonderful choice for a lingering weekend lunch of mouth-watering antipasto, handmade pasta, gnocchi dishes and specials. Milawa has a gourmet food trail featuring olives, honey, nuts and the must-see Milawa Cheese Company in an old butter factory.

To the north are the historic towns of Beechworth and Yackandandah. Beechworth is a gold-mining town with many buildings listed by the National Trust including a gaol cell where Ned Kelly was imprisoned.

Antiques, crafts and curio shops beckon and there’s a famous bakery and some very fine restaurants such as Provenance.

Looking for a quick getaway? Check out our guide to where to stay here.

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