The weather is warming up and spring is almost upon us - time to stop dreaming and start travelling, writes Melinda Healy.
As the warmer weather approaches - yes, it's really just a few weeks from spring - and with some of the country's COVID-19 restrictions slowly being lifted, now is an ideal time to start planning how we'll welcome in a new season.
Typically, September brings balmy temperatures, colourful blooms and a surge in outdoor events. So with this in mind, we've put together a list of some of the best springtime activities worth considering this season.
Canberra always impresses with its annual Floriade flower festival. For a month from September 12, the nation's capital will come alive with colourful, vibrant floral displays. This year, instead of being focussed on Commonwealth Park, the blooms will be displayed citywide.
Have a Wild Night Out at Tidbinbilla between September 25 and October 10. An hour's drive from Canberra, the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve is the ideal spot to enjoy an ultimate family sleepover with the animals.
Spend the first weekend in October at the Murrumbateman Moving Feast, just outside Canberra. Visitors can rove the food and wine region and each venue will offer a $25 small tasting plate, accompanied by a complimentary glass of wine.
Check out Grafton's Jacaranda Festival. If you appreciate seasonal blooms, then this northern NSW river city is the place to be from October 30 to November 8. The purple jacarandas, local hospitality, live music and garden displays are sure to delight.
Head into the Capertree Valley and admire the beauty of the landscape. Bubbletent Australia offers a unique camping experience featuring starry skies and bleating goats. You can hike and cook by the fire at this incredibly isolated location, 135 kilometres from Sydney.
The Kangaroo Valley Folk Music Festival is ideal for those who enjoy good tunes. On October 17, the small village in the Shoalhaven district will welcome music enthusiasts eager to indulge in music, dancing and poetry in an open-air environment.
Make your way to the small beach enclave of Old Bar - near Taree, about 300 kilometres north of Sydney - and check into the Boogie Woogie Beach House for a night or two. All rooms are inspired by the owners' love of design and music. And the beach is just 100 metres from the doorstep.
Combine a beachside clifftop stroll with Sculpture by the Sea at Bondi. Between October 22 and November 8, the two-kilometre seaside stretch between Bondi and Tamarama will host more than 100 sculptures by artists from Australia and overseas.
Camp at Cockatoo Island and enjoy some of the best views of Sydney Harbour. Take advantage of the basic camping set-up on the former penal colony site or enjoy a deluxe overnight camping package. Prices start from $45 per night for BYO tent and from $130 for deluxe.
Drink in the warmer weather at the Hunter Valley's First Release Wine Week, held from September 23-27. Several Pokolbin vineyards in the Around Hermitage area will release a range of premium wines. Be the first to taste the new drops and meet the makers.
Bag a bargain at the Bangalow Market. Held in the township just outside of Byron Bay, the market is on the fourth Sunday of each month. You'll be spoilt for choice when it comes to food, clothing and collectables. Soak up the live music and alternative vibe.
Indulge yourself with a night at Luxury Lodges of Australia's Longitude 131° at Uluru-Kata Tjuta. Warm days and cool nights make for incredible sightseeing and stargazing. In October, join travel photographer Richard I'Anson on an Outback photo safari.
See the majestic MacDonnell Ranges, near Alice Springs, as they are lit up for Parrtjima - A Festival in Light. The 10-night event starts September 11 and combines music and light installations with Aboriginal art.
Lace up the hiking boots and venture along the Larapinta Trail from Alice Springs. There are fewer people on the trails during spring and the wildflowers are a beautiful bonus. Walks can be guided or you can head out on your own.
Enjoy a romantic picnic at The Soul Nook Collective in Marburg, near Ipswich. Hire one of the luxury bell tents, "naked" tepees or book a pop-up picnic and spend an afternoon indulging yourselves in the old church grounds.
Spend an afternoon at Howard Smith Wharves on the Brisbane River. Sip on an ale at Felons Brewing Company or pull up a seat on the steps by the grassy knoll and enjoy a Brissie sunset with a glass of vino.
Admire the 170,000 blooms that spring to life during the 10-day Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers, starting on September 18. A highlight is the heritage diesel-train ride to Spring Bluff station to see its gardens.
The Field Good Festival is a fun option for the first weekend in October. With a focus on arts, music, and camping, this event is held in the Inman Valley on the Fleurieu Peninsula and celebrates nature and spring vibes.
Head to Gemtree Wines in the McLaren Vale region and taste some top drops crafted from their organic, biodynamic grapes. Afterwards, why not head along the one-kilometre Gemtree Ecotrail.
Be one of the first to stay at Rottnest Island's luxe resort, Samphire Rottnest, which opens in October. Sit back and relax on Thomson Bay, watching the ocean, after a day out exploring the island that is home to the cute quokka.
Head to Broome for the Shinju Matsuri Festival. Also known as the Festival of the Pearl, the event is a nod to the city's rich pearling history and will this year welcome guest appearances by Masterchef Australia favourites Derek Lau and Brendan Pang.
Venture along the recently opened Kalbarri Skywalk for spectacular views of Kalbarri National Park. The two jutting walkways are 100 metres above the Murchison River and the purpose-built corridor is the Coral Coast's newest attraction.
The Esperance Wildflower Festival celebrates the region's flora - and the state's wildflower season is at its best at this time of year. The four-day event (September 22-26) is a seasonal highlight.
The city of Melbourne comes alive during the Melbourne Fringe Festival (November 12-29). With over 400 events, the festival celebrates the weird, the strange, the different, the misfits and the freaks. The organisers are hosting Virtual Common Rooms this weekend that include art workshops, comedy sets and sing-a-longs.
Nestled in Victoria's High Country, the King Valley is a renowned food and wine region. Some of Australia's first Italian migrant families established their wineries here, making some of Australia's best prosecco, sangiovese and pinot grigio. Drop in to San Marino Winery for a tasting board and continue on down the Prosecco Road sampling Italian sparkling paired with rustic Italian food.
The sprawling lush lawns, towering gums and manicured gardens of Bendigo's Rosalind Park have long attracted locals and visitors. Take the dogs, bring a picnic basket or spend the afternoon reading in the sunshine. During spring, the park bursts into colour with an impressive tulip garden planted by local horticulturalists.
Enjoy some incredible views over the Huon River from the Tahune Airwalk's stunning perch, 30 metres above the forest floor. Follow it up with a ride on the Eagle Hang Glider. It's the ideal activity for the family on a warm spring day.
The first green shoots of lavender are sprouting already and will be in full bloom by December at Bridestowe Lavender Farm. Drop in to the cafe to sample a lavender-infused ice cream and stock up on all things lavender from the gift shop.
Head off on a multi-day hike along the Three Capes Track. This three-day, four-night trek on the Tasman Peninsula follows a trail lined with local blooms along its 48 kilometres of cliff-hugging wilderness.
Join the Great Eastern Wine Weekend from September 4 to 6 where East Coast Tasmania's vineyards, winemakers, tourism operators and eateries all come together to share the hidden delights of the region. Freycinet Lodge is the main venue for the weekend and will host signature wine events, including two Wine and Dine dinners.
* Please check with operators prior to travel as operating times and capacity may be limited due to COVID-19. Border restrictions may apply depending on your home state and planned destination.
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