There’s no denying it – Australians love to travel.
From outback escapes, road trips along the coastline to stopping in at far-flung destinations that have names impossible to pronounce.
We love to camp, dine in luxury, swim until sunset and drink at bars right around the world.
But 2020 has changed our backbone. The industry, creating one in 13 jobs across the country, has faced one of the biggest challenges of the century.
The travel industry has been one of the hardest hit sectors amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But as domestic restrictions begin to ease, with some states across the country planning to allow recreational travel in the latter half of the year, Australians are eager to get back on the road and visit some of their favourites or check out something new.
Last year there were more than 8 million overseas trips made by Australians but this year, travel is set to look a little different.
As NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced the state will be lifting travel restrictions from today, experts predict it will only be a matter of time before the rest of Australia follows suit and we can even cross borders once again.
It’s a big taste of normality we have gone months without, and a nod to Australians for giving up the luxury of travel in a bid to save lives and slow the spread.
International travel will be off the table for the foreseeable future, meaning Australia’s holiday scene will be heating up – especially as we venture into the chills of winter.
Speaking to news.com.au, Tourism Australia managing director Phillipa Harrison said that travel within Australia will be crucial to the overall economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, and expects lesser known regions to be popular with travellers this year.
“Australians may not be able to travel across our wide brown land at present, but those who can should definitely be dreaming and planning to tick off some bucket list items when it’s safe do so,” she said.
“Our insights suggest there’s an appetite for Aussies to explore lesser known regional area.
“People will want to jump in their car and explore some of our incredible regional areas like the Kimberleys, parts of Northern Queensland and regional Western Australia. I think it’s no coincidence these are big wide open spaces, which is what people are really craving.”
But our backyard is broad. From the coast to the country, we are a land of extremes. So deciding on your next family adventure, a romantic escape or perhaps some alone time – the options can be a little overwhelming.
To find out where you might like to visit when borders allow, news.com.au spoke to some of our favourite faces about their top holiday destinations – and where they hope to tick off their bucket list in 2020.
RYAN ‘FITZY’ FITZGERALD – RADIO HOST, NOVA 969:
The Fleurieu Peninsula south of Adelaide is so picturesque. As I get older I appreciate home so much more. Beautiful beaches and the McLaren Vale wine region.
Would love to explore the Kimberley Region more up north. Learn more about the indigenous culture with the family.
MICHAEL ‘WIPPA’ WIPFLI – RADIO HOST, NOVA 969:
I love the Top End. I have done three fishing trips to Darwin and there’s nothing else like it. It is such a contrast to anywhere else in Australia and it can sometimes be hard to believe you’re in the same country. There’s no greater outdoor experience than Kakadu National Park.
When restrictions lift, I’ll want to visit Nan’s house. But besides that, we’ll look to head to up to Queensland. We did the Gold Cost a few years ago, and hoping to visit Noosa when the world reopens.
SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE – HOST, SUNRISE
My favourite spot is Hyams Beach on the NSW south coast. It’s quiet and beautiful with the whitest sand and the bluest ocean. It’s definitely my happy place.
I’d love to go to the Kimberley. I’ve never been and can’t wait to get up there for a bit of adventure.
DAVE HUGHES – RADIO HOST, HIT NETWORK’S HUGHESY & ED
My favourite place is Warrnambool, Victoria. The home of Odd Ball, the dog that looks after the penguins, made famous by the hit movie.
Warrnambool is just past the end of the Great Ocean Road. Picturesque coastline, beautiful beaches, brilliant restaurants, a great golf course and very friendly people.
I’m very keen to visit the Kimberly region of WA this year. My wife Holly has a road trip dream involving tents and endless sky. The serenity would be remarkable.
FIFI BOX – RADIO HOST, THE FOX’S FIFI, FEV & BYRON
My go to for travel in Australia is usually Queensland. Every holiday is a bit different and I love all aspects of the sunshine state. From the theme parks on the Gold Coast, the coastline of Port Douglas or the rainforests up at Cape Tribulation, as a Melbourne girl I am drawn to the tropics any chance I get to thaw out in winter.
I would love to spend more time in Western Australia. I’ve never been to the Margaret River region and everyone raves about it, I’m also a fan of anywhere that has great cheese. And speaking of cheese and great food I think I would love to drive the car and the kids around Tasmania. I love how rich the history is and there are pockets of beauty all over the island.
JONESY AND AMANDA – RADIO HOSTS, WSFM 101.7
AMANDA: Without hesitation, Cable Beach in Broome! I took the kids there five years ago and can’t wait to get back as soon as we’re allowed to get travelling.
JONESY: I like Karratha in Western Australia.
AMANDA: You just stole my side of the country, pick a new spot!
JONESY: That’s where I started my radio career, it’s beautiful, let’s go together!
Both Jonesy and Amanda are keen to venture out to Uluru when able to do so.
KARL STEFANOVIC – HOST, TODAY SHOW
I love Port Douglas and the Sunshine Coast. Both areas have the best beaches, best restaurants and best people in Australia; they’re just fantastic places.
I have visited a lot of Australia, but I’d like to see more of Yarra Valley. It is so close to Melbourne and with all those amazing wineries, I could see myself settling in for a weekend of showing support to every winery in the region!
ALLY LANGDON – HOST, TODAY SHOW
South West Rocks and Crescent Head on the NSW Mid-North Coast is near my home town of Port Macquarie, and it seriously has the best beaches you’ll go to in Australia. It’s also close to my family.
The Kimberley in the Outback is one of the most magical places in the world. I have been there a couple of times for work, but have always wanted to take (husband) Mike and the kids, especially to Mitchell Plateau. There is nowhere else in the world like it; it is so remote and beautiful.
KATE RITCHIE – RADIO HOST, NOVA’S KATE, TIM & MARTY DRIVE SHOW
I have had the most wonderful travel experiences in Western Australia over the years. From sampling the culinary delights and fine wines of the Margaret River region, to swimming with Whale Sharks in the Ningaloo Reef and travelling to the northernmost tip of the Dampier Peninsula for one of my most memorable and heavenly swimming experiences of all time at Cape Leveque. I always thought Western Australia would be rugged and spectacularly untouched but it proved to be far more aesthetically beautiful than I ever imagined.
I have never had the opportunity to explore Victoria properly or wind down the Great Ocean Road so that continues to be on my “to do” list. But what I would absolutely love to do is sail the Whitsundays (well, have someone do that for me) while I eat fresh seafood in my bathers.
LINCOLN LEWIS – ACTOR
Western Australia (is my favourite spot). This was hard because WA and my home state of Queensland share so many stunning gems I absolutely love but in the end, the ultimate experience for any traveller goes to our country’s west. From the bright blue clear waters of Esperance, wine region and epic surf spots of Margaret River to the absolute gem that is Exmouth – a haven for all marine life where I travel to every year to swim with Whale Sharks during their migration.
One final place I’ll mention is the iconic Kimberley Region – a place that’s beauty can only be seen to be truly appreciated. From the vast open landscapes, incredible gourmet foods every region you go and strong connection to aboriginal culture, WA has it all. Not to mention unlimited places to have a secluded holiday, which is becoming harder and harder to find anywhere else.
I’d like to visit Tasmania. I’ve never been but has always been on both mine and my family’s bucket lists. I can’t wait to walk the epic trails and see all the incredible picturesque sights I’ve seen online and on travellers’ Instagram. Wineglass bay and Cradle Mountain are top of my list.
Much like WA I am drawn to its natural beauty and with my guts I know I’m going to demolish the local cuisine! But my ideal day there would be exploring my top spots then finish the day outside in the crisp air by the fire with a solid feed and wine while looking up at the stars without the light pollution and pollution you’d have in the more built up places.
On top of everything it’s a place well known to have the cleanest air and purest water in the world. Those are the kinds of things that draw me in.
CATRIONA ROWNTREE – TELEVISION PRESENTER
Our regional towns always make my heart sing. Kicking up my heels in Cobargo, shopping along the Main Street of Young, getting a tan in winter in Broome. We are spoiled for choice. Great shopping, world class food and good-looking locals, what more could you want?
I keep googling Lady Elliot Island, in fact I’ve signed up for their newsletter. For years my cameraman has told me this World Heritage-listed coral cay, has the world’s best snorkelling and I’d like to throw my children in the water here and see if he’s right.
CURTIS STONE – CELEBRITY CHEF
Melbourne will always be home. My parents are there, and my brother and his family. Plus, all my mates. We launched the Australian arm of Curtis Stone Events this year in Melbourne as well. I’m hoping that once everything is right-side up again, it will be give me another reason to visit more often.
I was back in South Australia last October filming my series, Field Trip with Curtis Stone. We were short on time and I didn’t make it to Kangaroo Island. I know the area was hard hit by the wildfires earlier this year. I would love to visit with my wife Linds and the boys – to see the wildlife, the Remarkable Rocks, and show my support for this beautiful region.
LISA WILKINSON – HOST, THE PROJECT
Going by the number of times I’ve holidayed there over the years, I do love me some Queensland coastline – anywhere from the Whitsundays on down to Noosa and the Sunshine Coast.
I’m really keen to get to Wineglass Bay in Tassie. The pictures I’ve seen are stunning, and everyone I know who has gone raves about it. It’s also Princess Mary’s favourite travel destination in the world, so that’s a pretty good recommendation right there.
MATT PRESTON – CELEBRITY CHEF
Places I love to visit are the Mitchell Plateau, Magnetic Island, the Sapphire Coast and the Bellarine. All are beautiful and unspoilt in their own ways.
I’ve always wanted to visit Ningaloo Reef. I’d love to take my kids up there to learn to dive. It’s one of my favourite pastimes – I learnt up at Cape Tribulation so I know that Australia is a brilliant, safe place to get qualified.