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Can’t get away for a ‘big’ holiday these school holidays? No fear. Grab your map and compass because we’re heading off in all directions in search of the best weekend destinations to recharge the family batteries.

North

It may only be a couple of hours away, but there’s so much to do and see at the Sunshine Coast that you really do need to spend the weekend there. Whether you’re meeting animals on land at Australia Zoo, or undersea at Sea Life, enjoying some retail therapy at the Eumundi Markets or along Noosa’s Hastings Street, or wining and dining at the dozens of restaurants and cafes up and down the coast, the Sunshine Coast region has you covered. Hikers will love exploring the Glass House Mountains and Noosa National Park, while those seeking some R’n’R might prefer to find a spot in the shade of a pandanus and practice their people-watching. Whatever you’re after, you’ll find it at the Sunshine Coast.

MUST DO: Enjoy a beachside lunch (and maybe even a cocktail) at Bistro C.

 

South

It’s our largest city and home to some of Australia’s most iconic landmarks, and stunning Sydney is just an hour’s flight away. Fly there Saturday morning and spend the morning wandering around the CBD and Botanical Gardens, or one of the many markets, then head to Luna Park in the afternoon. Spend some time at the beach – whether you hang around Bondi or Manly depends on which side of the harbour you prefer – visit one of the art galleries or museums or catch a show at the Sydney Opera House. Then, on Sunday evening, fly home again feeling well-acquainted with Sydney and all that it has to offer – oh, but not before saying hello to the giant pig, Kevin Bacon, at the Grounds of Alexandria, of course.

MUST DO: Walk Bondi to Coogee, stopping for lawn bowls at Clovelly on the way.

 

East

North Stradbroke Island (known to locals as Straddie) truly does have to be seen to be believed. From the rocky headlands and sprawling beaches to the inland sand dunes and lakes, Straddie can be best described as a little slice of paradise – and the perfect destination for a relaxing weekend away. Surf the breaks or doze on the beach, then treat yourself to some fish and chips or gelato for your efforts. You’re sure to leave Straddie feeling relaxed and replenished, but beware of PSD (post-Straddie depression) – an infliction most commonly experienced as your barge or water taxi glides away from the Dunwich jetty and you watch the island shrink into the horizon.

MUST DO: Dolphin watch near the Gorge Walk’s northern entrance, gelati in hand.

 

West

Between the tree-lined streets, rich history and more parks than you can count on two hands, our western neighbour sure has a lot going for her. If you’re after a country respite, Toowoomba is the place to go. Around two-hours away from the Gold Coast, Toowoomba’s abundance of green and explosions of brightly coloured flowers couldn’t be more different from the blue and cream-coloured coastline. And this becomes even more apparent when the Carnival of Flowers hits Toowoomba from September 21-30, overtaking the city with rainbow floral arrangements, food and wine displays and plenty of family activities.

MUST DO: Picnic with a view at Picnic

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haven is all about family, life and style in Brisbane's inner city suburbs, the Gold Coast, south to Byron Bay. We have been keeping parents in the know for over eight years, with fun, fresh and helpful stories that they can take tips from or treasure in their own library.