Well friends, it seems the future of travel is all about exploring the wonders of our own backyard.
Who knew? Well, I’m sure many of you have known for yonks, but now at least everyone agrees, because all forms of travel anywhere else are, officially, redundant. The argument, for now, is over. Done and dusted. See Australia or sit at home and go slowly insane watching interminable dramas on Netflix? If, like me, you’re well and truly over talking about what’s good on Netflix, it’s a no-brainer. The Sopranos? The Wire? Breaking Bad? Game of Thrones? Who cares?
So, yes, dreams of international travel seem kiboshed for some time to come. But is this a bad thing?
Many of us have wanted to spend time traversing the breadth of Australia and now, with an international travel clampdown in place, this put-off ambition has an opportunity to blossom like never before.
Camper recently spent time finding out what the rest of the year could look like travelling, camping and hanging-out in regional Australia.
It doesn’t matter what you call it: a big lap, or a no-name gap-year east-coast backpacker-style fruit-picking second-hand-car-full-of-mates rambling odyssey from Melbourne to Cairns. A trip through regional Australia will undoubtedly become an experience never forgotten.
There was a time not too long ago, airline tickets were expensive and international tourism not as well set-up or as slickly marketed as now, when domestic travel was booming. Bali? Thailand? Bah, humbug. Let’s hit the road and see Australia, mate.
Towns all along the east coast were packed to the gunnels with roadtrippers. I can remember blowing five glorious months between Melbourne and Cooktown. Petrol was cheap and so was good food and board. The fun, however, was on tap at a level beyond what money can buy. I’m sure many can recall similar experiences. On that particular trip, my first epic Australian adventure, we stopped for longer than anticipated in Newcastle and the glorious Hunter Valley region, chilled-out and dithered, basking in beautiful weather, around the secluded beaches and coastline of Stanwell Park. Hung out with some gloriously weird locals in Tully, went to an old-skool rave set up in a crop-circle like depression in the middle of a remote sugar cane field somewhere north of Cairns and hitched a ride on a small boat to Cedar Bay. None of it was planned. It just happened. This, I think, crystallises the advantage of travelling within your own backyard. For Australians travelling within Australia, there’s an automatic familiarity that serves to confer confidence and self-assurance to unanticipated side adventures, should they come about. And, really, it’s the unanticipated side adventures that, in my experience, become the unforgettable moments of any trip. Unanticipated side adventures are what it’s all about. You could call our current coronavirus moment an unanticipated side adventure, but that’s a philosophical rambling for another day.
THE TIME IS RIPE FOR 4WD ACTION
In a vehicle, with time in abundance, you are free to set your own agenda, make it up as you go along, change your plans on a whim and deviate course without hesitation. Now, with coronavirus dictating what we all can and can’t do like Mussolini on steroids, vehicle-based adventures to beautiful spots are, once again, where it’s at. Bellisima!
And it’s next-level fun we should all look forward to during the next few months as we set our sights down under.
Here are a selection of regions we think are perfect for post-lockdown exploration.
The South coast and Shoalhaven is top of many Sydney and Canberrans' lists for camping. With bushfires and now the ramifications of COVID, we still have a lot of closures on free camping, so focussing on Caravan Parks is the way to go. As always keep an eye on announcements and changing circumstances. Local and state government websites are the best way to stay abreast of developments.
For the beachside camping your best bet is always an amazing holiday park.
The Shoalhaven shire has created a blog with specific up-to-the-moment details. Check it out if you fancy spending some time on the beautiful NSW south east coast.
NEW ENGLAND HIGH COUNTRY
With our wide open spaces, magnificent gorges, waterfalls and national parks to explore, the New England High Country provides for the perfect social distancing environment.
Think open fires, frosty mornings, quaint bed and breakfasts or gather together friends and family — within regulation size, of course — and avail yourself of one of many fabulous guesthouses. Pretty much all are open for business.
The towns within New England are justifiably famous for their art galleries, museums, boutique distilleries, wineries and breweries. All are waiting to be discovered.
So why not leave the crowds behind; discover something new and fabulous in your own backyard and come on up to the New England High Country?
Comprising Darwin, Kakadu, Arnhem Land, Katharine, Uluru, Tennant Creek and Alice Springs, the Red Centre is as vast as it is diverse.
As always, check in at their website for up-to-the-minute advice and information. Central Australia and the Top End are home to many communities especially vulnerable to COVID.
Undoubtedly, a family adventure to this region is always a special highlight. Dare we say, a ‘must do’? If you haven’t packed up the rugrats and experienced life and culture in this unique part of Australia, then perhaps now is the best time to make plans to do so. The middle of the year is always the best time to be in the Centre. The weather isn’t oppressive and the flies are tolerable. An adventure to the Alice or the Top End is a decision you will not regret
Whether you take to the tracks on foot, by bike, or in a watercraft, an unparalleled adventure awaits you in East Gippsland.
It’s when you leave your transport behind and hit the track in earnest, with the reassuring weight of a hiking pack on your shoulders and the crunch of rocks under your tread, the first wave of euphoria really hits.
Until then, it’s just been anticipation. You’ve known you’re getting away from it all — the stresses of home, whatever form they may take — but until you’re actually immersed in the fullness of the place you’ve been dreaming of and planning for, your attention is still somewhat divided.
It’s in this moment, as you step out, that you become fully present. Now it’s just you and some mates or your partner, heading out into pure nature. That’s how I felt, recently, as I strolled out of the Angusvale campgrounds and towards Den of Nargun, 18km distant, along the Mitchell River Walking Track.
For an adventure-packed trip away with a difference — once restrictions are amenable, of course — hit the road for Gippsland!
We asked the fine folk at Tamworth tourism what eager Australians can look forward to by visiting Tamworth.
“We are so lucky in Australia to have incredible landscapes and exciting tourism offerings at our fingertips, and a silver lining to the pandemic is that the local tourism industry has the undivided attention of Australians who are ready to get out and about to discover their own backyard.
“The easing of domestic travel restrictions in NSW was a welcome announcement, and we can’t wait to show travellers what the Tamworth region has to offer visitors looking for a great experience,” they said.
We queried them about some of the special local spots and experiences that people, who usually look overseas for their recreation, should look forward to visiting and experiencing.
“Our region is a destination of beautiful contrasts; with rich heritage, access to wide open spaces, beautiful scenic drives, award-winning restaurants and cultural treasures.
Plus, we’re Australia’s Country Music Capital! There are too many unique experiences to single out, but since we’re only a five-hour road trip from Sydney, there should be plenty of time for visitors to fit lots in and, of course, no long haul flights,” they said