8 best value Easter destinations in Australia
If you’re after a last minute holiday destination for the Easter break, check out these top 8 budget friendly travel options from guest blogger and avid traveller Dr Niall Campbell.
Clare Valley: South Australia
If imbibing quality grog and artisanal produce in beautiful rustic settings is your idea of a good time, then the Clare Valley is the place for you. The region boasts 40 plus wineries spread throughout numerous small villages, and is only an hour and a half from Adelaide, making it a very accessible getaway.
Best value attractions
The region is best explored by car, so download a map of the different wineries and culinary produce shops and hit the road! You will be greeted with warm welcomes at all the cellar doors, and as long as you have a designated driver you are all good!
If you would prefer the zero carbon and zero cost approach, the Riesling Trail offers an option for a decent cycle or walk, which you may want to split up over the course of the weekend.
If all that booze hasn’t made your head spin, then you should be in good shape to head out on the Easter bunny hunt in the Mintaro hedge maze. The event promises great fun for the entire family, and the entry fee of $12 for adults and $8 for kids is pretty reasonable.
Recommended budget hotels in Clare Valley
Here is a top travel tip - the standard of motels in wine regions is dramatically better than in suburban settings.
- The Clare Valley Motel is a great example of good quality motels. The picturesque premises are located a few minutes from the Clare Township. Rooms are very affordable, with rates starting from less than a $100 a night.
- Another style of accommodation shaking off its stuffy image is the good old fashioned BnB, which offers clear benefits in terms of value when you factor in how much it normally costs to eat out for breakfast every morning when you are on your holidays!
- Artwine cottages in Sevenhill are located in the grounds of the winery of the same name, and offer really reasonable cottage accommodation with fresh breakfast provisions every morning and a complimentary bottle of wine on arrival.
- The Rising Sun Hotel in Auburn offers great value rooms in a heritage listed building, starting from as little as $90 a night. Your fair dinkum room rate also includes a continental breakfast, and with recent industry awards for excellence under its belt, this place is another stand out choice for value in the valley!
Fremantle: Western Australia
Fremantle, or ‘Freo’ as the locals call it, is nearby Perth’s bohemian little brother. This port city has it all; colonial charm, postcard beaches, and arguably the best arts scene in all of Western Australia. Come and see for yourself why Lonely Planet named Fremantle one of the top ten holiday destinations of 2016.
Best value attractions
Fremantle walking tours offer free walking tours. The tours are bespoke, and can cover everything from Fremantle’s shady convict history to its incredible culture of music and world class street art. If you prefer two wheels to two legs, then Fremantle council offers free retro bikes for hire from the visitors centre. Supplies are limited so get in quick!
The West Australian maritime museum is a fantastic way to delve into Fremantle’s rich nautical heritage. Be a submariner for the afternoon and take an interactive tour aboard the cold war era submarine HMAS ovens. Joint entry to the museum and the submarine is only $16 for adult, $5 for children and $8 for concession cardholders.
Recommended budget hotels in Fremantle
Western Australia isn’t exactly notorious for cheap places to bed down for the night, but if you know where to look you can still find good value amidst the architectural jewels that compose the city’s West-end.
- Fremantle Hostel Backpackers is a standout choice, with private rooms from less than $80 per night.
- Fothergills of Fremantle is an excellent boutique Bed and Breakfast option. With quirky artwork and sculptures dotted throughout, as well as being only a stone’s throw from historic
- Fremantle Prison, this place is quintessentially Freo. If quality homestays or hostels aren’t your thing, the Norfolk hotel offers a more conventional option. Avoid the overpriced chain hotels in the West end and instead check out this historic hotel minutes from the bars, restaurants and coffee shops of the famous ‘cappuccino strip’. Rooms range from about $90 to $160 a night.
Mt Buller: Victoria
Mt Buller is considered primarily as a winter destination, but this beautiful region shines all year round. It’s easy accessibility from Melbourne makes it a top pick for an Easter getaway. Whilst ski resorts aren’t always synonymous with good value, you can live the champagne life on a shoestring if you are willing to forego the ‘white stuff’ and travel outside of the winter season.
Best value attractions
You can download free hiking maps here, which will give you all the info you need to guide you on stunning nature walks to the summit of various mountains in the region. And with no pesky snow to get in your way, you don’t need to shell out for ski passes!
Whilst hiking up the hill can be good fun, hurtling down on a mountain bike isn’t a bad option either! The Mount Buller village plaza has a dedicated bike rental shop where you can pick up a front suspension mountain bike (which is often enough for most day-trippers) for $50 per day.
After all your mountainside exertions, discover the history of this fascinating ski resort at the National Alpine Museum. Entry is by gold coin donation.
Recommended budget hotels in Mt Buller
- Spoil your significant other without breaking the bank by taking advantage of a couple’s retreat package at the Arlberg Hotel. They are offering a balcony kitchenette room, with WiFi, rooftop deck access and a bottle of wine on arrival for $139 per person.
- If that is still a bit out of your price range and you don’t mind dorm style rooms, the University of Melbourne has a heavily subsidised ski chalet in the centre of town, complete with stone fireplace and magnificent views.
Sydney: New South Wales
Sydney, quite simply put, is a world-class city. It is one of the few places on Earth where you can be amidst achingly beautiful wilderness one moment and deep in the heart of a bustling metropolis the next. Its perennial popularity can make it expensive, but deals can still be had if you look hard enough, and it’s totally worth the search!
Best value attractions
Slow down the fast pace of this city by taking a stroll through the Rocks, the site of the first European settlement. I’m free tours offers guided walking tours from 6 pm every evening. You pay how much you think it was worth at the end.
After your tour you will be moments away from the subtle yet chic foyer bar of the Harbour Rocks Hotel. They offer surprisingly affordable beer and cocktail happy hour options. Grabbing a boutique hotel beverage at bottle shop prices makes it taste even better!
You don’t need to be a giraffe to get a good view of Sydney from Taronga Zoo. Australia's premier zoological garden occupies a commanding position overlooking the CBD and is a must for families. The best value way to get there is to buy a Taronga zoo and ferry pass. You will get return trips to Darling Harbour or Circular Quay plus Zoo entry and access to the sky cable for approximately $50.
Recommended budget hotels in Sydney
- The Travelodge Wynyard offers a no nonsense hotel option right next to Wynyard train station, and rooms are from $160 per night. If you plan on using public transport to visit the city’s attractions (and also the northern beaches) then this is your best bet.
- The Ibis Sydney on King Street Wharf offers fairly compact rooms at a very reasonable rate. Darling Harbour, with its plethora of places to eat and drink, is just a short walk away.
- The Great Southern Hotel is a fantastic option for those who like their holiday accommodation steeped in history. This heritage-listed building finds itself slap-bang in the middle of Chinatown, so you won’t exactly struggle to find delicious cheap eats in the vicinity!
Uluru: Northern Territory
Rising out of the Central Australian Desert is that most ethereal of national icons - Uluru. If you have always thought about going, but just haven’t got around to it, then the more temperate climate of Easter makes it a perfect time to visit!
Best value attractions
Bruce Munro is bringing his world acclaimed light art installation to Uluru from the beginning of April 2016 till the end of March 2017. See over 50 thousand frosted solar lights illuminate the spiritual heartland of Australia. If you are hanging around ‘the Rock’ after Easter you can be one of the first to see this breathtaking feast for the eyes and soul from as little as $35 for a tour.
Whilst it is forbidden to climb on Uluru, a trip to the national park wouldn’t be complete without hiking around the base of this behemoth. This 10km loop allows you to get up close and personal with the rock formations and other incredible plant and animal wildlife of the region. It is of course totally free.
Seeing the sun set over this incredible formation is on many travellers’ bucket list for a reason. Download the free app prior to entering the park and it will guide you to the best vantage points.
Affordable dining options in the national park are limited. The Uluru cultural centre offers free gas barbecues and picnics areas, so your best bet for cheap eats is to purchase groceries outside the national park at the Ayers rock resort and cook up a storm when you get there.
Whilst not exactly cheap at $195 per head, the ‘Sounds of Silence’ tour is still a valuable experience. You will enjoy canapés, free flow chilled white wine and after a sumptuous meal with Uluru in the background, you can stargaze under the pristine night sky. Bookings are a must for this one.
Recommended budget hotels around Uluru
Because this destination is a remote national park, accommodation is limited and therefore is a bit more pricey than usual.
- The Outback Pioneer Hotel offers clean, fresh affordable accommodation for your Uluru experience.
- The Emu Walk Apartments are self-catering and offer free breakfast if you stay for 3 nights or more.
Canberra: Australian Capital Territory
Canberra is often written off by holidaymakers as purely a stomping ground for political folk and kids on school trips, but its wealth of museums, galleries and sweeping architectural projects make our nation’s capital well worth a look.
Best value attractions
While in town check out the Ultimate Museum Experience. The $35 ticket includes a guided tour of the National Museum of Australia and a meal with glass of wine at the stunning waterside cafe.
If you are a tennis fan, why not check out the international clay court tournament at the Canberra tennis centre over the Easter weekend? Entry is free, and with its typically long rallies, clay court tennis is often more exciting to watch than its grassy compatriot!
A trip to the nation’s capital would not be complete without a trip to its seat of power. Free guided tours depart around Parliament house at 10am, 1pm and 3pm.
Recommended budget hotels in Canberra
- The Ibis budget hotel does exactly what it says on the tin. If you want cheap, clean and centrally located family rooms, this is your best option in the ACT. Their all you can eat breakfast is a solid option too.
- University house offers a quirky alternative to the normal budget hotel fare at unbeatable value. Nestled amongst the leafy University gardens yet just minutes from the local attractions, these 1950 University suites have been meticulously brought up to scratch, and offer unbeatable value. Plus you don’t even need to be a tweed-wearing intellectual to stay there!
This compact little city has been finding its feet both culturally and architecturally of late. It has always been ringed by the pristine Tassie wilderness, but it now boasts an increasingly hip downtown area superimposed on its stunning colonial buildings. Come and see what the fuss is all about.
Best value attractions
As well as being the title of Craig McLachlan’s only hit, MONA is the acronym for the Museum of Old and New Art, which is Australia’s largest privately owned collection, and a must on your Hobart to-do list. This dynamic and incredibly eclectic collection is described by its owner as a ’subversive adult Disneyland’. The complex has heaps to offer including a cinema, brewery and winery! Adult tickets are $25, concession tickets are $20 and Tassie residents get in for nothing!
Hobart isn’t only a little jewel of a place in its own right, it also acts as a launch pad to the Tasmanian wilderness. A very accessible way to see this is on a full day kayak tour with roaring 40s kayak company. They offer a great value day packages where you can leisurely explore the cliffs, beaches and caves around the city of the tinderbox reserve (with a break for lunch of course!)
The Salamanca Saturday market is always a hive of activity and a great place to soak up the unique produce and culture of the region. Bargains are there to be haggled for at many of the 300 plus stalls!
Recommended budget hotels in Hobart
- Although it charges rock-bottom prices, the Welcome Stranger Hotel has got a million dollar name! The hospitality isn’t just skin deep though, as you will find rooms with free WiFi and flat screen TVs right in the CBD, and less than a 5-minute stroll from the aforementioned Salamanca square.
- The Alabama hotel in downtown Hobart has absolutely nailed the ‘boutique budget’ niche, with bespoke rooms in a fantastically re-appointed art deco style building. A standard queen is roughly 80 bucks, which leaves you loads of extra money to spend in their amazing little cocktail bar.
To enjoy yourself in Noosa, like any other high-end beach resort, requires a boatload of cash, right? The answer is, ‘not necessarily’. There’s plenty that the destination has to offer on a budget.
Best value attractions
The national parks and the ocean are the jewel in the crown here, and last time we checked, they were free to explore, so make the most of them! One of the most affordable ways to get out on the water is to buy a ticket for the Noosa ferry sunset cruise. It’s BYO so you bring the booze, let them take care of the glassware and ice, and nature will do the rest. Tickets are $22.50 for adults, $20 concession and $10 for kids.
The Noosa Farmers’ Market lets you sample excellent local produce, and is great for a cheap breakfast. There are also talented buskers all over the place, which provides a very affordable soundtrack to your meal!
Noosa is famous for its surfing culture. If you know what you are doing then either bring your own kit or hire from the guys at Merricks Surf School. If you need a bit of beginner tuition then the most affordable way is to joins a 2-hour group session with them for 66 bucks.
Recommended budget hotels in Noosa
Noosa has some eye wateringly expensive resorts and some cheap and cheerful hostels, but bisecting these two extremes are some good value mid-range hotels which are well worth the cash.
- The Mantra Hotel on Hastings Street has a great pool and is handy for the beach as well.
- The Glen Eden beach resort is slightly out of town, but you get more bang for your buck in terms of room space, and is still a great option.
|Dr Niall Campbell is a dental surgeon, psychotherapist and director of primehypnosis.com. An avid traveller and freelance writer, he also enjoys organising bespoke group walking tours around his beloved home of Fremantle for fellow globetrotters who want to see the more authentic side of the city.