Andrea Bell uncovers the quintessential Easter experiences to put on your next holiday itinerary - wherever in Australia that may be.
It's time to get cracking on your Easter holiday plans. Whether it's just a few days away or you aim to extend the extra-long weekend to a 10-day getaway by taking just four days' annual leave, it's time to take off on a chocolate-fuelled adventure. The campgrounds and hotels always fill up fast, plus there's blues festivals, bilby hunts and barramundi fishing luring us further afield.
Easter is a time for food, fun, family and friends, so whether it's a holiday with the kids, a romantic getaway, a foodie escape, or a fun trip with mates, be inspired by our destination and event picks further afield or close to home.
Let's be honest, we all over indulge in chocolate at Easter. Don't fight it, just own it - and add some of these chocolate tours to your Easter holiday plans, wherever in Australia you're holidaying.
In Tasmania the locals are privileged to be in permanent close proximity with the producer of that most celebrated of Australian Easter egg traditions, the Cadbury Crème Egg. The Cadbury factory in Claremont is the largest chocolate factory in the Southern Hemisphere. The factory is still in operation and is not open to the public, but there are plenty of other chocolate experiences in Tasmania. Artisan chocolate-maker Nutpatch has stores in Hobart and Kettering, where you can buy handmade treats and a selection of pralines with over 280 different flavours.
Continue a Tasmanian tour for your sweet tooth at Federation Artisan Chocolates. Here, the handcrafted full-bean chocolates come in vegan-friendly, gluten-free and specialty chocolate varieties. Outlets are in Hobart, Port Arthur and Salamanca Market, with chocolate masterclasses set to resume in Hobart in early 2021.
If truffles and fudge are more to your taste, then House of Anvers in Latrobe should feature in your Easter chocolate hunt. With Anvers café open for breakfast and lunch, when else but Easter will you have a better excuse to eat chocolate for breakfast? On the Bass Highway between Davenport and Launceston, the cafe is situated to best capture "food lovers on the move" travelling to and from Tasmania's two main ferries and Devonport Airport.
In the Daintree in Far North Queensland, have a plantation-to-plate chocolate experience with Sweet Farm Tours at Daintree Estates' plantation. One of the first cocoa farms in Australia, and also the first to accept visitors, the chocolate maker has complete control over the entire process from bean to sweet squares, and it shows in the final tasting.
Charley's Chocolate, three hours' drive south in Mission Beach, promises a 'cocoa tree to chocolate bar' tour. Visit the tree nursery, see a cocoa pod being opened and take part in the chocolate-making process - but the highlight is always the chocolate tasting. A nice touch is the Aussie farm lunch included in your tour.
In New South Wales, the sweetest place on the Central Coast, The Factory in Gosford, makes nougat and chocolate, as well as running tours and workshops for budding children chocolatiers.
In Victoria, experience the heart of Melbourne's laneways and arcades through the lens of a practising chocoholic. There's no need to feel guilty about the calories consumed on a walk with Chocoholic Tours, as you step it all off over an organised two-hour period visiting four couverture-specialist chocolatiers and cafes.
Easter conjures up images of fluffy chicks and bouncing bunnies, and kids love to snuggle and pet these cute and furry critters. On a farmstay you can meet the animals while enjoying country hospitality and exploring Australia's many agricultural pursuits, from vineyards to orchards to flower farms. Pick an area that may have had it tough through the drought and bushfires and show your support.
Book the family or a group of friends into a campsites, cabin or homestead for the Easter holiday period and take your time exploring a patch of countryside.
Explore more: farmstaycampingaustralia.com.au
The Blues and Roots Festival in northern NSW's Byron Bay is scheduled to go ahead from April 1-5. This year's line-up includes Jimmy Barnes, Dami Im, Kasey Chambers and John Williamson.
You can camp at the festival or head to Ballina or Brunswick Heads, where the beaches and vibe are just as good as Byron Bay without the crowds. Try Flat Rock Tent Park in East Ballina or Massy Greene Holiday Park in Brunswick Heads.
The Melbourne International Comedy Festival also coincides with the Easter break - and we're all in need of a good laugh in 2021.
Packing up the family for a road trip has become an Easter tradition for many Australians and the Gippsland region in Victoria is a favourite destination. The region extends from Melbourne's eastern outskirts to the NSW border and its diverse natural beauty ranges from mountains and forests to spectacular coastlines and lakes. Border regions have been hit particularly hard by COVID closures, so Easter is a good opportunity to help inject some tourism dollars back into these areas.
The Gippsland Lakes form the largest inland waterway system in Australia and its parks and inlets teem with native flora and fauna, small towns and great local produce. If lazy lakes are to your liking, choose from Lake Wellington, Lake Victoria or Lake King where there is a range of water activities, including cruises, kayaking, fishing, boating and sailing.
One of the best things to come out of COVID is on display at the historic town of Yarram in southeast Gippsland. Street and silo artist Heesco Khosnaran took the opportunity during heightened restrictions to paint large-scale murals across the town and they are now helping put Yarram on the map. With a huge choice of camping sites at various vantage points throughout the region, including Thurra River, Toorongo Falls Campground and Marlay Point, you're sure to find an ideal place to pitch your tent.
Explore more: visitgippsland.com.au
Australia's alternative to the Easter bunny, the Easter bilby, is an endangered burrowing marsupial which is increasingly harder to find in its natural habitat. The bilby prefers Australia's more remote habitats: grasslands, stony downs country, desert sandplains and dunefield deserts.
In South Australia, head for Yookamurra Wildlife Sanctuary and in New South Wales try Scotia Wildlife Sanctuary in the Murray-Darling basin or the Pilliga in the New England region. Keen outback campers might spot an elusive bilby, but there are easier ways to see one. In Queensland, tours of the Save the Bilby breeding program at the Charleville Bilby Experience are temporarily on hold but are expected to restart or you can visit the bilbies at David Fleay Wildlife Park on the Gold Coast.
Fish and seafood often feature prominently in Australian Easter celebrations. For fishing enthusiasts who enjoy the thrill of reeling in their own feast, Western Australia is an ideal place to catch barramundi, snapper, salmon and southern reef fish. The state's many remote spots for throwing in a line make it a fisherman's holiday paradise.
Often referred to as the Seafood Capital of Australia, South Australia has many ocean-to-plate experiences. The Eyre Peninsula has built a reputation for quality seafood with Coffin Bay renowned for its oysters - best freshly harvested and shucked and served with Adelaide Hills sparkling.
Australia's largest ticketed event, the Sydney Royal Easter Show, is scheduled to go ahead for 2021 at Sydney Showground starting on April 1. Since 1823 the country has joined the city in a celebration of rural traditions.
The show takes over Sydney Olympic Park at Homebush for 12 days of immersive and educational experiences. It is always a great fun day out for all ages. And proceeds are funnelled back into rural communities as the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW invests in agricultural programs, education and youth in regional NSW.
This year's events are yet to be announced, but regular show highlights include the carnival sideshow (pictured far left), ring events such as wood chopping, equestrian competitions and the Grand Parade. It all culminates with a fireworks display every evening.
There are usually at least seven pavilions to visit, including the Showbag Hall, the Woolworths Fresh Food Dome - where you'll find amazing fruit and vegetable displays and such delicacies as the cheeseburger pie - and the fashion and home pavilions.
Arts and crafts vie for honours in Australia's biggest competition (it attracts about 5000 entries in close to 300 classes). Get up close and cuddly with a furry Easter friend at the Rabbit Competition and animal-petting farm, always a must-see with the kids, or stop by the cat and dog judging competitions.
Explore more: eastershow.com.au
* As always, check before you book and keep an eye on local health alerts.
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