From the beach to the mountains and the churches in between
Easter in Australia is festive, regardless of religious affiliation, because Good Friday and Easter Monday are public holidays and for most, it means a long weekend. Here are some of the best things you can do this Easter:
Spend the Easter long weekend at Port Stephens, a popular destination less than 3 hours' drive from Sydney.
Long Weekend Getaway Spend the long weekend with your family, friends, or special someone out of town. Head on to a mountain retreat, a beach cottage, or an outback homestead. Better yet, check out Port Stephens, a perfect getaway two-and-a-half hours' drive away north of Sydney. If you wish to cut driving time by half, head instead to The Entrance, which has its own charms. Otherwise, head south to the Guinness World Record-holder as the beach with the whitest sand, Hyams Beach in Nowra, where you also get the chance to enjoy the unique Shoalhaven Zoo experience. If the beach is not for you this Easter, go find peace and commune with nature at the Blue Mountains.
The Blue Mountains is a perfect retreat on a long weekend.
Embark on a Visita Iglesia
Visita Iglesia is Spanish which literally means church visit. It is an ancient practice which probably originated in Rome, and in the Christian tradition, visita iglesia is done on Maundy Thursday. There is, however, room to improvise yet keep this tradition alive, and Easter is probably the best season to do it. Visit old churches, such as St. Mary's Cathedral, known as the mother church or the seat of the Catholic faith in Sydney. It is an architectural wonder and is definitely an Australian icon centrally located next to Hyde Park. There is also St. Patrick's at the Rocks, known as the oldest Catholic church in Sydney. If you don't mind a short drive of one-and-a-half hours, you may want to visit St. Francis Xavier's church at Berrima. Your reward will be a heritage-listed building which is one of only two of its kind in the world today, and the beautiful and quiet historic town of Berrima. Improvise and be creative, you do not need to visit seven churches in strict adherence to the visita iglesia tradition, and you do not need to stick with the Catholic churches either. You will find that historic Christian churches all around Sydney and NSW possess architectural beauties of their own.
St. Mary's Cathedral, showcasing English gothic architecture, is the mother church of the Catholics in Sydney
Fun at Easter Shows Now, if for one reason or another, going out of town will not be possible, you can still enjoy the Easter long weekend with an array of activities, foremost of which could be a visit to the Sydney Royal Easter Show at the Sydney Olympic Park or the Sydney Family Show in Moore Park. You shouldn't miss as well the Sydney Easter Parade and Family Day, which is expected to draw Christians from different denominations, churches, and sects, to a day of fun celebrating the resurrection of Christ, which is actually what Easter is all about.
The Nora Head Lighthouse near The Entrance affords you the best view of the Tasman Sea
Easter is also a good reason for going on a pilgrimage. Historically, a pilgrimage is a journey of faith, usually travelling to a place of religious significance, in search for a moral or religious enlightenment. A pilgrimage is a religious experience that nurtures the faith. In NSW, Penrose Park has become the destination of pilgrims. The multi-cultural demographics of pilgrims to the Our Lady of Mercy Shrine in Penrose Park is reflected in its 43 international chapels, featuring architectures unique to the people who built them, from Asia to Europe. Click here for details.
The Sydney Royal Easter Show attracts more than 900,000 people each year.