To stay or to go? The June long weekend always creeps up and by the time it registers around, say, mid-week, there’s not a lot of choice left. It’s three days of Netflix and takeaway at home while the holidaymakers post smug selfies of winery tours and spa baths.
Well, why should the organised ones have all the fun? This Queen’s birthday week, be a tourist in your own town. Go and see that exhibition before it closes, try that not-so-new restaurant you read raves about months ago, or take a day-trip out of town. If you’re not going anywhere this long weekend (we’re sorry Queensland and Western Australia, we really are!), we challenge you to a staycation. And we’ve found some long-weekend activities just for those who stay.
Björk Digital, Carriageworks
This is probably the closest you’ll get to actually being inside Icelandic musician Björk’s head (both figuratively and literally). On June 3, the pop auteur, 50, premiered Björk Digital, a multimedia exhibition with a five-hour DJ hinged around her 2015 album Vulnicura. Visitors can don virtual reality headsets and travel to such unexpected places as an icy windswept plain, or the inside of Björk’s mouth. Until June 18, 10.30am-5pm daily. 245 Wilson St, Eveleigh.
Photograph by Andrew Thomas Huang.
Leura Cascades, Blue Mountains
It’s tempting come winter to abandon fitness regimens and settle in for a season of comfort food consumed in near hibernation. However, the cooler weather is actually much better for lots of physical activities, such as bushwalking. About an hour-and-a-half’s drive from Sydney is Leura Cascades near Leura town centre. Choose from hikes of varying difficulty levels and spend a few hours on your feet, hiking through the lush forest and an improbable number of waterfalls. Head to Leura afterwards to explore the local vintage shops and enjoy a well-deserved lunch. Leura Cascades picnic area, Cliff Drive, Leura.
Sweet Addiction: the Botanic Story of Chocolate, The Royal Botanic Garden
Think you know your cocoa from your Kit Kats? Sweet Addiction, the first exhibition to be staged at The Royal Botanic Garden’s new indoor/outdoor exhibition centre The Calyx, is all about chocolate. You can learn about its ancient Aztec history, how the cocoa plant grows and chocolate’s modern-day production. It’s a self-guided tour that takes about 45 minutes. The best part? It’s interactive (read: you get to eat chocolate). For kids, there’s the Chocolate Garden where children aged six to 12 learn, taste and make. Open 10am-4pm. Until April 17, 2017. The Calyx, Mrs Macquaries Rd, Sydney.
Image via ThinkStock.
Heathcote on Show
An hour-and-a-half north of Melbourne is the historic town of Heathcote. Each year over the Queen’s birthday weekend is Heathcote on Show – a chance for Heathcote’s food producers and vignerons to show off their wares. Expect wine-tastings (the region is famous for its shiraz), long lunches at local wineries, musical performances and museum specials. June 11-13. Wineries around Heathcote. Shuttle buses will be provided to transport guests between wineries.
Matilda the Musical
This glorious combination of Roald Dahl’s story and Tim Minchin’s music has been a hit all over the world. It’s a total joy to watch whether you’re a kid or a fully-grown adult with a well-thumbed copy of Matilda still in your bookshelf. We’re not sure how they did it, but Trunchbull swinging poor Amanda Thripp around by her braids has to be one of the finest moments in musical theatre – ever. Matilda the Musical will be moving on in a few months, so now's the time for Melbournites to see it. Until November. Princess Theatre, 163 Spring St, Melbourne.
Photograph by James Morgan.
The Batman Night Market
Head up to Coburg for the Batman Night Market, a veritable feast for the eyes, ears, nostrils and, of course, tastebuds. The music, food, design and art market is held right next to the Batman train station on Saturday nights. You can grab a beverage while you browse locally made wares, then sit down for a feast – the food trucks change weekly but you’re likely to find anything from Afghan cuisine to currywurst. From 4–9pm Saturdays. 14-22 Gaffney Street, Coburg.
Happy Birthday Play School
Happy birthday, Play School! With 50 years under its belt, it’s now the longest-running Australian kids TV show ever, which means multiple generations get nostalgic for all things Big Ted, Humpty and odd-shaped windows. Everyone’s got a favourite presenter (Benita was the best. End of), and the opening strains of the theme song are comfortingly familiar. The ABC has lent the National Museum of Australia many items from the Play School set including Big Ted, Little Ted, Humpty and Jemima for Happy Birthday Play School. Until July 24, 9am-5pm. Lawson Crescent, Acton Peninsula, Canberra.
Photograph by Jason McCarthy, National Museum of Australia.
Did you know truffles grow in Australia? The harvest of the black winter truffle that grows in the Canberra region occurs for 12 weeks between June and August. The Truffle Festival is a celebration of the fungus that look like a clod of dirt but tastes like heaven. It’s important that the truffles are dug up during this time – once they’re mature, they only stay fresh in the ground for 12 days. There are more than 250 events around the region during winter – join a truffle hunt to watch truffle-sniffing dogs doing their work and then try the goods at one of the many participating cafés and restaurants. June to August. Canberra region.
Image via Truffle Festival - Canberra Region.
The Handmade Canberra market has grown from a tiny affair with 35 stalls in 2008 to a massive event catering to 15,000 shoppers eager for bespoke and handmade wares. There are 220 stalls plus music, food and wine to sustain you throughout the day. June 11 and 12, 10am-4pm. Coorong and Budawang Buildings EPIC, Exhibition Park, Mitchell, Canberra.
Image via Handmade.
Adelaide Cabaret Festival
Adelaide’s annual cabaret extravaganza commences on Friday June 10 with a Variety Gala Performance featuring joint artistic directors Eddie Perfect and Ali McGregor. Over two weeks there will be acts such as Adelaide Cabaret Festival headliner burlesque superstar Dita von Teese, musical comedy favourites Die Roten Punkte, former festival directors Kate Ceberano and Paul Grabowsky, as well as film screenings, workshops and free events. June 10-25. Various venues.
The McLaren Vale Sea & Vines Festival
Daytrip it to McLaren Vale for the Sea & Vines Festival, now in its 24th year. From Friday to Monday, events will be held across the region, from degustation luncheons to wine masterclasses. Try a Sunday Experience, a kind of choose-your-own adventure winery tour in which guests pick from among nine different wineries and 11 different catering options. On Monday things get very kid-friendly at venues around the Vale – expect petting zoos and bouncing castles among the vines. June 10-13. Various venues.
Take a self-guided walk through the City of Churches with the help of Adelaide City Council. Choose from walks such as The Village in the City, a one-and-a-half-hour walk through the south-eastern corner of the city exploring the mansions and workers cottages that sprung up in the late 19th century. There’s also the West and East End Theatres tour that takes in the history of the city’s cinemas and theatres, and the Marvellous Mansions, Cottages and Castles walk in North Adelaide. The north of the city is where the wealthy inhabitants built their villas and mansions during the boom years of the 1880s. Download a Historic Walks map and listen to the guided tour from the Adelaide City Council website.
Historic mansion Carclew in Adelaide's north.
Mindil Beach Sunset Market
Grab a picnic rug and head to Mindil Beach Sunset Market on Sunday night. Choose from delicious exotic foods, such as crocodile fillets, Sri Lankan dishes and fresh oysters and then settle in to eat as the sun dips towards the Arafura Sea. After dinner, wander the stalls selling handmade clothes, jewellery, beauty products and art. April to October. Sundays 4-9pm. Mindil Beach, Darwin.
Litchfield National Park
About an hour-and-a-half’s drive south from Darwin is the stunning Litchfield National Park. The park is lush with waterfalls and swimming holes, verdant monsoon rainforests provide shade and curious magnetic termite mounds dot the landscape. Challenge yourself with a hike along the Tabletop Track, go four-wheel driving or check out the Blyth Homestead, built by the tin-mining Sargent family in 1929. Afterwards, take a dip in a waterhole and keep an eye out for native birds and wildlife. Litchfield Park Road, Litchfield Park.
Top Half Folk Festival
At Mary River Park over the long weekend, the Top Half Folk Festival returns for the 46th time. The program includes performances by folk musicians, campfire storytelling and informal jam sessions. There will also be a restaurant and bar and, for kids, T-shirt painting and ukulele lessons. June 10-12. Mary River Park, Humpty Doo.