Whether you’re religiously observant, secularly obsessed with chocolate bunnies, or just crave a long weekend with the kids once the weather cools off, who wouldn’t want to travel over the Easter holidays? Here are five destinations to suit any fancy.
Join in the Festivities in Sydney
Sydney’s annual Easter Parade and Family Day has been attracting Christians from across the country for more than 20 years—and with good reason. The rollicking celebration spans the entire day with live bands, kids’ rides, face painting, and DJs. The highlight is the parade itself, in which pastel banners are carried alongside trombone-playing musicians. Colorfully dressed men and women wear stilts as they march through the city streets. The weekend’s fireworks display in Sydney is often touted as the most spectacular in the country. The festival is open to celebrants of all denominations.
Take a Spin on Rottnest Island
Cooler temps make this extended weekend particularly appealing for outdoor enthusiasts. Few places are more appealing for bicycle lovers than Rottnest Island, located just 19 kilometres offshore from Fremantle. Closed to cars, this island is a cyclist's dream, with a 28-kilometre bike path around the island and more than 63 beaches for lounging in between laps. Keep your eyes open for quokkas, the island’s only native land mammal. For some time in the water, the reefs at Stark Bay and the snorkeling at Little Salmon Bay are especially stunning.
Watch Dragons on Parade in Bendigo
Just 150 kilometres north of Melbourne, Bendigo is an easy weekend destination with big appeal during Easter weekend. It’s home to Australia’s oldest community Easter festival, the Bendigo Easter Festival, which was launched in the early 1870s. Festivities span from Good Friday through Easter Monday and are spread throughout the city. During the torchlight procession, emergency services workers with brass torches lead a march to Lake Weeroona, where revelers can enjoy fireworks, live music and food. More than 100 floats from all city corners and communities participate in the Easter procession. One guest of honor not to be missed: the Sun Loong dragon—the longest imperial dragon in the world—dances through the streets. Who said rabbits were the only animals involved in Easter?
Seek Thrills on the Gold Coast
Pint-sized thrill seekers (and their parents) flock to the Gold Coast’s famous theme parks and water parks, and a long weekend only give families more reason to make the trek. Parks include Dreamworld, WhiteWater World, Sea World, Warner Bros. Movie World, and Wet’n’Wild. Further south, the less-flashy Broadwater Parklands offers free thrills like monorail pedal bikes and saltwater rock pools. If manmade rides eventually lose their thrill, take the family to the water. The Gold Coast is considered one of the best spots for learning to swim in the country, with fantastic waves at Burleigh Heads and Kirra.
Time Travel in Hahndorf
Australia’s oldest surviving settlement is the ideal place to unplug from modern life and soak up some history over a long weekend. Settled in 1839 by 50 Lutheran families fleeing religious persecution in Prussia, Hahndorf has embraced its past in a bright way. There are more than 100 heritage buildings located in the bustling main street alone. The Teutonic sandstone architecture remains intact and residents are quick to boast about the town’s history. In addition to the established wineries that surround the town, there’s been a recent uptick in the number of notable restaurants offering both scenic views and sophisticated menus.