The Queen's birthday is actually on April 21st, but its close proximity to Easter and ANZAC Day made it more sensible to move the celebrations to a later date. Therefore, in Australia, the Queen's birthday is celebrated on the second Monday of June. This year, it will be on June 10th. Yes, it will be a 3-day long weekend, which for those of us who are working, could be made a longer weekend by taking a day off on the Friday before, or Tuesday after, or both.
With a long weekend on hand, it will be nice to escape the city and enjoy some peace and quiet (or not). Here are the Top 3 destinations which I am pretty sure you (and yes, the kids) can enjoy:
1. Canberra 2. Blue Mountains 3. Port Stephens
Visit the nation's capital. It is just about 4 hour's drive from Sydney. Canberra is full of interesting places to go. Of course, the first stop is the Parliament House, where our leaders meet to decide on the directions to the future of this country. There are regular free guided tours, but feel free to wander around. From the Parliament House, go down to the Old Parliament House and explore the gardens. If you're lucky, the remnants of summer bloom may have not yet gone with the Fall. If you are after a political statement, take a photo with the Aboriginal Embassy, a makeshift shelter by the Old Parliament House.
Then stroll over to the National Gallery of Australia. Drop by the National Library as well. Do not forget, however, to bring the kids to Questacon, the Australian National Science and Technology Centre. There are heaps of interesting wonders there that my little daughter stayed until closing time. If you are a member of a museum, such as Sydney's Powerhouse Museum, check. You may have reciprocal membership rights, i.e. free entrance to Questacon! From the city centre, the Australian National University is a short stroll. From there, you can visit the National Museum of Australia. The Black Mountain (and the Black Mountain Tower) is a short drive too. You'll have great views of Canberra and beyond. There's also a chance to check out the Australian National Botanic Gardens. Further up north, you can visit the famous Cockington Greens, home to miniatures of some of the world's iconic structures. Across the road from Cockington Greens is the National Dinosaur Museum.
The Blue Mountains is always full of wonder. The scenic Three Sisters is a must, at least for tourists. You can bring your bikes for real mountain biking, or hike and trek between falls and lookouts. If you are there just for a day's visit, going by train and the red explorer bus is probably the best way. Otherwise, drive by all means and find a hideaway bed and breakfast. Wake up to a tranquil and scenic backyard which extends as far as the eyes can see. In Leura, there is a Toy Museum with a very nice garden. If you went by the Bells Line of Road, you shouldn't miss the Mount Tomah Botanic Gardens in the north. If you are into spelunking, the Jenolan Caves is about 85 kilometres to the west. Remember that the Blue Mountains is a very big region.
Perhaps the weather is getting colder and the beach is not an option anymore, at least for bathing. The beaches of Port Stephens are quite charming, and you can enjoy the sand and the sun, maybe with a book in hand, or you can play ball with the kids. Food is great at the marina. You can also try the sand dunes at Anna Bay. A cooler weather means you don't risk getting scorched. There are regular tours in 4WD vehicles including quad bikes. As an alternative, you can rent or bring your own ATV, but note that you need to get a permit to drive through the beach.
One of the lovely beaches of Port Stephens in NSW Australia