Chances are high that for most of us, a visit to a foreign country will stay off the agenda for the rest of the year.
Where does that leave us? In Australia, of course.
Luckily, Australia is one of the most varied landscapes on earth. It’s got a whole range of stunning, idiosyncratic scenes, from the snow-capped peaks of the Australian Alps to wildlife-rich coral reefs, biodiverse tropical rainforests and dust-filled deserts.
This means it’s likely you can still capture the essence of foreign exploration without leaving our shores.
Often, people look at Australia as a homogenous place with the same culture all over. However, in the same way there are vast differences between New York and a tiny town in Idaho, you’ll find many variations between a Sydney suburb and a regional town.
Here are a few destinations we can use to recreate the overseas experience right here at home.
Get a dose of Aboriginal culture on the Tiwi Islands
Take a trip across the water from Darwin to find a unique haven where almost 90 per cent of local residents are directly descended from the Aboriginal Australians who’ve lived there for the past 7000 years.
You’ll need to arrange a tour with a local guide before arriving but once there you’ll find a thriving Aboriginal art culture.
Read more: Australia’s best regional galleries revealed
Hang out at the world’s largest surf festival
If you reside further inland, the Noosa surf festival might be the perfect excuse to have a holiday by the sea. Feel the sea breeze, watch the surfers and enjoy all the Sunshine Coast has to offer.
Typically, the festival attracts over 800 international entrants; this year the festival has 327 competitors signed up, competing across 11 age divisions, six open divisions, the team challenge, family challenge and the infamous dog surfing championships.
Adventure in the outback
Take a ‘unique ute tour to Uluru’ from Alice Springs. You’ll be guided through the red desert to Central Australia’s iconic Uluru to catch a majestic sunset.
The next day, you’ll head out on a bushwalk through the domes of Kata Tjuta overlooking Kings Canyon, then cook dinner over a campfire before falling asleep under the stars.
If that’s not a million miles away from the 9-5, then I don’t know what is.
Read more: Travel Vision: A day in the life at Uluru
Experience village life in Richmond
Richmond is a picture-perfect town in the heart of the Coal River Valley wine region that tells the story of an early Australian colonial village. This is the perfect place to learn about Tasmania’s past, which can be as easy as a wander down the pretty 19th-century streets.
You’ll feel as though you’ve strolled into a simpler time as you take in the elegant Georgian architecture, with beautiful heritage buildings dating back as early as the 1820s now housing galleries, tea shops, craft boutiques and museums.
Get up close and personal with the Great Barrier Reef
A visit to this natural wonder can be experienced in many forms, from snorkelling and scuba diving to sleeping under the sea.
If you’re lucky enough to stay in one of the Reefsuites at the Reefworld pontoon, you’ll be able to catch the night action of the reef while you’re tucked up in bed.
The glass-fronted, air-conditioned suite is four metres below the main deck and offers a 24-hour floor to ceiling view of the underwater world, plus a glass panel in the floor.
Be pampered in Daylesford
As one of Australia’s few spa towns, Daylesford is a notable wellness destination; it has a thriving industry focused on physical and spiritual wellness including spa treatments, massages and acupuncture.
While Daylesford’s initial growth dates back to the thousands of workers looking for gold, the town is much more famous for the bubbling mineral waters that flow from its many springs.
Coupled with its beautiful mountain scenery, forests, gardens and lakes, Daylesford and neighbouring Hepburn Springs have become major tourist destinations.
What else can you do here on our own shores to recreate the thrill of exploring another country? How do you take the things you love about being in a foreign place and experience them here instead?
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