Visits to popular European holiday destinations like London, Berlin or Amsterdam might have been removed from the list of getaways due to Covid-19 preventing overseas travel.
However those Australians who feared their annual holiday might now be reduced to a weekend in a damp tent and cheap pies at deserted petrol stations can think again.
There are many venues around Australia which do a very passable imitation of pricey European alternatives, and the travel experts at Toyota have put together a list of domestic road trips that prove it.
Here are 11 local experiences that will make you forget your overseas travel woes – at least for a moment.
Star Gazing in Capertee, NSW = The Northern Lights in Iceland
For those who want to reconnect with nature and escape the hustle and bustle of city life, there is a truly wondrous destination two hours outside of Sydney.
Staying in luxurious bubble tents, named after zodiac signs like Leo and Virgo, visitors can gaze at the star-lit skies, in panoramic views while sipping on a vino.
1. BUBBLE TENTING: Located in Capertee NSW, holidaymakers can sleep under breathtaking views of the star-lit sky in luxe bubble tents
1. BUBBLE TENTING: The see-through domes (pictured) are nestled in the Central Tablelands, two and a half hours drive from Sydney, and offer panoramic views of the valley
The domes are similar to the glass igloos of Finland where tourists swarm to sleep under the Aurora Borealis, the spectacular astronomical phenomenon also known as the Northern Lights for its sensational curtains of coloured sky.
But with Finland temperatures hovering between 0C to -40C during the best viewing months, you are guaranteed a much more comfortable experience watching the stars from the Central Tablelands.
European equivalent: Stargazing is a tourist drawcard in Finland where tourists swarm to sleep under the spectacular astronomical phenomenon the Northern Lights
Hometown café in Lithgow =
Stop for a break at funky Hometown café, in small town Lithgow, for a Melbourne-style smashed avocado, an artsy-looking milkshake or a freshly ground coffee. You can enjoy all the tastes of a Melbourne laneway without the accompanying airfare and glares of judgemental hipsters. They have Oatly, so what else do you need?
Rest stop: Drop into the Hometown Cafe in Lithgow for a Melbourne-style smashed avocado, an artsy-looking milkshake or a freshly ground coffee
Artsy Hub in Bangalow, NSW= Amsterdam
For those craving some style and cool culture but have had enough of Melbourne (and think Byron Bay is too commercial), then Bangalow may be the solution.
Like Amsterdam, this tiny town a short drive inland from Byron boasts artistic shops, organic markets, cute cafes, and boutique hotels.
2. BANGALOW: Located in northern NSW, this tiny town is brimming with artistic shops and organic markets and boutique cafes
2. BANGALOW: the vibe is ideal for those craving craving cities that drizzle of style and cool culture like Amsterdam in the Netherlands
All-organic farmers market, Coomera = Provence, France
Swing by Hinterland Farmers market in Upper Coomera, north Gold Coast, and you will find all organic market in a rustic ‘shack’, that serves fresh food and home-brewed coffee. They even personalise your coffee for you if you ask nicely.
Rest Stop: The Hinterland Farmers market in Upper Coomera, North Gold Coast, is an all organic market in a rustic ‘shack’ that serves fresh food and homebrewed coffee
Greenhouse the Bathhouse
Turkish Bathhouse in Queensland = An Hamman in Antalya
Many of those who had planned a trip to Turkey were looking forward to a visit to a Hamman (Turkish bathhouse) to freshen up after the 20+ hours flight.
However Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast has an alternative much closer to home: Greenhouse the Bathhouse – a mix of a Swedish sauna and a Hamman.
The Turkish Hamman is a type of steam bath that hails from the bathing traditions from the Roman and Ottoman empires.
Traditionally, bathing rooms are separated by gender and contain three chambers: a hot room to steam, a warm room to scrub, and a cooler room to relax.
3. GREENHOUSE THE BATHHOUSE: This bathhouse on the Gold Coast is perfect for those seeking a Turkish bathhouse experience
3. GREENHOUSE THE BATHHOUSE: But the Greenhouse the Bathhouse is a much trendier option, providing a stylish mix of a Swedish sauna and a Hamman
European equivalent: The Turkish Hamman is a type of steam bath that hails from the bathing traditions from the Roman and Ottoman empires and contains three chambers: a hot room to steam, a warm room to scrub, and a cooler room to relax
The original Yatala Pie Shop, Yatala = a London pie and mash
Those headed to the Gold Coast can indulge in a fair dinkum Australian experience (by way of British heritage) in the meat pie.
The Yatala Pie Shop, in Gold Coast’s northern suburbs, has been around for 130 years and withstood the onslaught of more fashionable foreign foods, so visitors seeking a true original must try Yatala.
Rest stop: Enjoy a pie at the original Yatala Pie Shop which has been a landmark in the Gold Coast for around 130 years
Underground rum bar in Springfield, WA = Berghain in Berlin
For those whose holiday is not complete without a drink or three, the Illegal Tender Rum Co is a grungy craft rum distillery in who are ‘on a mission to make Australian rum famous’.
The distillery is off the beaten track in WA, but does provide ample opportunity for a good drink in the same manner as the Berghain, a nightclub in Berlin famed for its techno music, round-the-clock debauchery, notoriously long lines, and selective entry.
Photos are strictly prohibited inside the exclusive club and guests who get caught taking a picture risk being kicked out.
4. THE ILLEGAL TENDER RUM CO: Check out this underground rum bar in Springfield WA to quench your craving for a taste of Berlin
4. THE ILLEGAL TENDER RUM CO: A grungy craft rum distillery who are ‘on a mission to make Australian rum famous’
European equivalent: The Berghain (pictured) is a nightclub in Berlin famed for its techno music, round-the-clock debauchery, notoriously long lines, and selective entry
Rest Stop? Get artsy at Sea Spray Art, Jurien Bay
Jurien Bay has something quite unique for the artsy pants. In the small coastal town, there is an ocean art gallery, but it is not just any art gallery – all their paintings glow in the dark, using mixed digital media. At times it almost feels like you are right at Rainbow Serpent.
Rest stop: Get artsy at Sea Spray Art, Jurien Bay by stopping into the ocean art gallery to see their collection of glow in the dark paintings
Organic Retreat on the Gold Coast = Yoga retreat on Santorini
If you had plans to detox from the modern world at a yoga retreat on a Greek island this year, there is an even better Aussie version in ‘Gwinganna’ on the Gold Coast hinterland.
This organic lifestyle retreat is loved by celebs and apparently even Hugh Jackman has recharged his batteries here.
5. GWINGANA: Detox at Australia’s version of a Greek yoga retreat on the island of Santorini at Gwingana in the Gold Coast hinterland
5. GWINGANA: The organic lifestyle retreat is loved by celebrities, with Hugh Jackman making the list of high profile visitors
European equivalent: Yoga retreats are a must-do item from travellers visiting the picturesque Greek island, Santorini
Pink Lake on the Coral Coast, WA = Pink Lake of Torrevieja, in Spain
If you are looking for a weekend trip away and you live in Perth, you simply must check out the Hutt Lagoon on the Coral Coast.
The water changes colour between bright bubble-gum pink, lilac, and occasionally even red, it is basically like the latest Instagram AR filter, only it’s real. It is simply too cool to not visit.
The dreamlike hues are caused by the caroteinoid-producing algae, dunaliella salina, which is beta-carotene; a food-colouring agent and a great source of Vitamin A.
The stunning salt lake is a five and a half hour drive north of Perth, a stone throw compared to the 20 hour flight it would take to reach Spain’s Pink lake in Natural Park de Las Lagunas de La Mata e Torrevieja.
6. HUTT LAGOON: This lake on Western Australia’s Coral Coast is an alternative to visiting the Pink Lake of Torrevieja in Spain
6. HUTT LAGOON: The water changes colour between bright bubble-gum pink, lilac, and occasionally even red, creating the perfect
6. HUTT LAGOON: The stunning salt lake is a five and a half hour drive north of Perth and neighbours the picturesque Port Gregory, a town renowned for its fishing
European equivalent: The strawberry milk coloured Pink Lake of Torrevieja in Spain is located in the Natural Park de Las Lagunas de La Mata
Beer Brewery in Bundaberg, Queensland = Oktoberfest, in Munich
If the famed Oktoberfest was on your schedule this year, then a viable alternative can be found in Queensland, which has a smorgasbord of grungy and modern breweries.
Bundaberg may be famed for its eponymous rum but the town’s Bargara Brewery, or the ‘Brewhouse’, is determined to show the region’s beer is also world class.
7. BARGARA BREWERY: This Queensland-based brewery is perfect for those dreaming of being at Germany’s Oktoberfest
7. BARGARA BREWERY: A smorgasboard of grungy and modern breweries have popped up across the state and this one is definitely worth a weekend visit
European equivalent: Oktoberfest celebrations inside the Loewenbraeu-Festhalle tent in Munich for the world’s largeest beer festival
Vespa Espresso ‘Bar’, Gympie = Sopranos country in New Jersey
Get your daily dose of caffeine at Vespa, an Italian mobile coffee bar that makes you feel like you are right in Little Italy in New Jersey.
They sling up top notch coffee, Italian hot chocolate, gluten-free pork belly taco and a notorious double tap burger for everyone who wants a touch of expatriate Italian culture.
Rest stop: Dine at the Vespa Espresso bar in Gympie to get a daily dose of caffeine and devour delicious Italian cuisine
Hippy Town, Nimbin, New South Wales = Christiania, in Copenhagen
Or you can head to neighbouring hippie town Nimbin. This alternative culture gem suits those who had a trip booked to Amsterdam or the Christiania commune in Copenhagen.
The district boasts the same artistic, hyper-creative atmosphere as the European alternatives.
8. NIMBIN: This hippy town in northern NSW emanates the same hyper-creative atmosphere as the Dutch capital
European equivalent: Nimbin is reminiscent of the intentional hippie community Christiania in Copenhagen Denmark
Glam Cave Living
Glam Cave in Blue Mountains, New South Wales = Melissani Cave in Greece
The enchanted cave, by Love Cabins in Blue Mountains, takes travellers back to the basics, with accommodation in an up-market, funky cave, with a spa.
So, if you have embraced the simple life this year, this is for you.
9. GLAM CAVE LIVING: The enchanted cave, by Love Cabins in Blue Mountains, takes travellers back to the basic, quite literally, by letting you stay in an up-market, funky cave, with a spa
9. GLAM CAVE LIVING: The private cabin has a primitive vibe with wall paintings and a faux fur blanket to take guests back to stone-age times
European equivalent: The famous Melissani Cave on Kefalonia island, in Greece, is a popular tourist attraction with a beautiful lake inside and forests surrounding it
Scenic river tour, Glenbrook, NSW = Venice, Italy.
Just underneath the Blue Mountains is ‘township’ Glenbrook, and they offer scenic river tours for those who wish they could be on a gondola in Venice.
You can also order some gourmet pastries and if you close your eyes, it feels just like in Italy.
Rest stop: The Scenic river tour in Glenbrook, just underneath the Blue Mountains, will remind you of being on a gondola in Italy
Rest stop: The paddleboat ride will take you through the Wilderness areas of the Blue Mountains National Park and the Nepean Gorge while you dine on delicious pastries
Margaret River, Western Australia = Champagne region, in France
If you were planning to sip on copious amounts of wine in Rome or Paris this year, then a trip to Margaret River in Western Australia could provide a substitute.
Not only does the region produce some of the world’s best wine, venues like Aravina Estate complement that with impressive menus.
Aravaina’s new Asian fusion style Spring menu will please any foodie’s tastebuds – think scallops, paired with miso and fennel.
11. ARAVINA ESTATE: Fansē winery at Margaret River is an ideal travel destination for wine fanatics wishing to indulge at vineyards in Rome or Paris
11. ARAVINA ESTATE: Their new Asian-Fusion style Spring menu will please any foodie’s tastebuds, think scallops, paired with miso and fennel
European equivalent: Aravina Estate will quench the taste buds of those yearning to be in the Champagne Region near Vernezay at France
Rest Stop? – Relish in Oysters, Mandurah
Why not start your gourmet holiday early and stop by coast town Mandurah’s Oyster Bar? Apparently, they have the finest, freshest oysters in Australia, and they can toss up a range of oysters’ dishes – from grilled to chilled.
Rest stop: Stop in at the Oyster Bar in the coast town Mandurah to indulge in some of freshest, finest oysters in Australia