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Staycation rules and ideas in Australia

We know that travel is especially difficult right now. But alongside the latest COVID-19 travel advice and updates, we want to continue to inspire you with new travel content so that when the world opens its doors again, you'll be ready.

As lockdowns ease around the country and with the holidays right around the corner, now’s the time to start planning your ultimate Aussie staycation. We might not be jet setting to Europe this year, but plenty of would-be international travellers are using this time to explore their own backyard.

With beaches, national parks, the Outback, and much more, Australia has us covered when it comes to discovering staycation ideas. Here’s what you need to know about travelling safely within Australia, broken down by state and territory.  

This article was updated on 12 November 2020. To our knowledge, the information on this page was correct at the time of publication. Please check the World Health Organization (WHO) and Health.gov.au for the latest COVID-19 rules, restrictions and updates in Australia.

General rules for staycations in Australia

Aussie businesses have taken a real hit with the COVID-19 pandemic, and the hospitality and tourism sectors have been the most affected. Now that local hotels, cafes and restaurants are open for business, it’s the perfect time to get out and support Australian businesses.   

If you are travelling interstate, you may need to quarantine when you cross a border, depending on your state or territory’s rules. Check with the relevant state website for specific advice.

New South Wales and Victoria still have specific restrictions in place to help reduce the spread of coronavirus in these states. Travelling within the rest of Australia is a lot easier, you’ll just need to comply with travel restrictions and keep an eye out for limitations on specific activities.

Staycations ideas: Australia

Staycation ideas in New South Wales

From sleepy coastal towns to the bushy Blue Mountains, New South Wales has plenty of picture-perfect places to visit these summer holidays. Consider a day trip to Jervis Bay or pitching a tent at a campsite at one of the many spots tucked inside of Myall Lakes National Park.

For the latest advice on COVID-19, visit the NSW Government website.

Staycation ideas: Blue Mountains, NSW

Travel restrictions in NSW

Excluding Victorians, there are no restrictions in place for visitors from other states and territories on crossing the NSW border.

The NSW Government has announced that the border between NSW and Victoria will reopen on 23 November, pending low COVID case numbers.

You can travel freely within NSW, although there are a few hotspots in Sydney so it is best to avoid those areas.

Public transport

Public transport is still available in NSW, and more measures have been put in place to help you travel safely. Face masks are strongly recommended on public transport, and you can check what public transport options have capacity online at TransportNSW.info before your departure.

Accommodation

Most hotels and accommodation facilities have introduced elevated hygiene measures including contactless check-in, social distancing, enhanced cleaning procedures and providing guests with sanitiser. Businesses in NSW can register as COVID Safe, which means they have completed and follow a COVID-19 safety plan that involves the above actions.

Eating out

You can grab a bite to eat at any of your favourite restaurants, cafes and pubs. Keep in mind, there is currently a maximum of 30 people for a group booking.

Entertainment venues and attractions

Most tourist attractions have to comply with the one visitor per four square metre rule or operate at 50% capacity, whichever one is less. When planning to visit tourist attractions, you will probably have to book a specific date and time, so check their website or call ahead before you go.

Staycation ideas in Victoria

The best bet is to go regional when planning a staycation in Victoria. Metropolitan Melbourne is still facing lockdowns, but travel is a lot freer in regional Victoria. With gorgeous wineries, waterfalls, coastal villages, peninsulas and alpine towns, regional Victoria has plenty to offer. It might be worth discovering why the Great Ocean Road tops the charts when it comes to the best road trips in Australia.

Please remember that wearing a fitted facemask is mandatory in Victoria, unless you have a lawful reason for not wearing one.

For the latest advice on COVID-19, visit the Victorian Government website

Staycation ideas: Yarra Valley, Vic

Travel restrictions in VIC

At the time of writing, there are restrictions for travelling to/from metropolitan Melbourne. You can only travel to/from Melbourne for permitted reasons including work, medical care, caregiving, to visit an intimate partner, or to buy necessary goods and services if Melbourne is the closet location to your house.

No permit or approval is required to enter Victoria from another state, however most states require anyone that has travelled in Victoria to quarantine for 14 days when they return.

Public transport

Most public transport services are running to the regular timetable. Plan your trip ahead online and check any delays in services before your departure.

Accommodation

Melbourne is off-limits for accommodation, so if you’re eyeing one of those luxurious penthouse suites, make sure to plan well in advance and ensure it has a flexible booking policy.

Hotels and accommodation facilities in regional Victoria are operating, but they have limited bookings. Plan ahead to get a good deal. 

Eating out

Your favourite restaurants and coffee shops are now open again in Melbourne and regional Victoria. Cafes and restaurants are open for seated service only, and there can be no more than 10 guests per booking (excluding children under 1 year old).

In metropolitan Melbourne, there is a limit of 50 guests outside and 20 inside each venue. In regional Victoria, 70 guests are allowed outside and 40 inside.

Entertainment venues and attractions

Indoor venues such as cinemas, museums, galleries remain closed throughout Victoria. However, outdoor attractions like zoos and Sovereign Hill are open, although they will have restrictions on the number of people who can attend. Book online and check their website for the latest updates before you go.

Staycation ideas in Tasmania

Being an island, Tasmania has kept the COVID-19 outbreak relatively under control, making it the perfect place for a safe getaway. Tassie is famous for its lush greenery, walking trails, snowy mountains and cascading waterfalls. What more can you want for a relaxing holiday?

For the latest advice on COVID-19, visit the Tasmanian Government website.

Staycation ideas: Freycinet, Tas

Travel restrictions in TAS

If you’re travelling from NSW, Victoria or overseas (excluding NZ), you’ll be required to quarantine for 14 days when you enter Tasmania. The NSW border opened on Friday 6 November, making travel a lot easier.

Travellers from all other states and territories can freely travel to Tasmania, though they may be required to quarantine when they return.

Limitations

Most Tassie businesses are open and can have a maximum of 250 people indoors or 1000 people outdoors. All cafes, restaurants and pubs will need to adhere to the 1 person per 2 square metre rule.

Staycation ideas in the Australian Capital Territory

Discover Australia’s rich history with a visit to the ACT. Canberra has plenty of cultural and historical sites to visit, including Parliament House, Australian War Memorial, National Museum and National Gallery. And don’t forget Questacon for the kids!

For the latest advice on COVID-19, visit the ACT Government website.

Staycation ideas: Canberra, ACT

Travel restrictions in ACT

The ACT have relaxed their travel restrictions. Currently, Victorian residents will be denied entry to the ACT, unless they are granted exemptions. Anyone from other COVID-19 affected areas are asked to reconsider travelling, but those coming from regions with low to no cases are welcome to enter.

Limitations

Most businesses in the ACT are back open, but they still have to comply with the one person per four square metre rule.

Patrons are required to remain seated at the bar or table in pubs or clubs. You are not allowed to dance. Even though it’s a bit of a killjoy, government officials state this is a crucial step to help ensure physical distancing.

Theatres, cinemas and sporting arenas are open, but only operating at 50% capacity. If you’re going to an event, make sure you buy a ticket ASAP to secure your seat.

Staycation ideas in Queensland

Sunny beaches, tropical paradises, national parks, theme parks, hustling cities, Queensland is in the cards for travellers who want a bit of everything when it comes to their Australian staycation.

For the latest advice on COVID-19 visit the Queensland Government website

Staycation ideas: Daintree, QLD

Travel restrictions in QLD

If you’ve been in a COVID-19 hotspot within the last 14 days, you’ll be refused entry at the Queensland border. Currently, all of Victoria and specific parts of NSW are declared as hotspots.

If you’re a Queensland resident and have been to a COVID-19 hotspot, you can return home. However, you’ll be required to quarantine for 14 days.  

Limitations

All public venues can have one person per four square metres indoors or one person per two square metres outdoors.

If theme parks are on your list, don’t worry, they’ve reopened! There are limits on capacity, so you’ll need to book in for a specific date and time. You can download the Theme Park App to eliminate the need for paper tickets.

Staycation ideas in the Northern Territory

Go visit the Outback and get in touch with nature. There’s plenty to discover in the red centre when it comes to culture, wildlife, and wide open spaces. Plus, we’re about to enter wildflower season–when the scenery is sure to look spectacular.

The NT has also done a really good job of containing coronavirus cases, and most restrictions have eased completely. For the latest advice on COVID-19, visit the NT Government website.

Staycation ideas: Kakadu, NT

Travel restrictions in NT

If you’re travelling to the Northern Territory from a COVID-19 hotspot, you are advised to cancel your plans. At the time of writing, metropolitan Melbourne is the only declared hotspot.

Limitations

Most businesses in the Northern Territory are operating without restrictions, but remember to maintain a 1.5m gap between groups to help the NT community remain on track.

Staycation ideas in South Australia

Our sometimes-forgotten southern state is the perfect place for a staycation this year. Soak up the natural beauty of Kangaroo Island and the Flinders Ranges, sip some of Australia’s finest wine in the Barossa and Clare Valley or stay in the heart of trendy Adelaide. A road trip across the Nullarbor Plain is the epitome of social distancing.

For the latest advice on COVID-19, visit the South Australian Government website.  

Staycation ideas: Barossa Valley, SA

Travel restrictions in SA

South Australia’s borders are open to travellers from ACT, New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia.

If you’re from Victoria, you can only travel to South Australia for specific purposes. Check out the government website for the latest advice.

Limitations

South Australia also has the one person per two square metres rule in place. Everyone is encouraged to adhere to social distancing principles, staying at least 1.5 metres away from other members of the public at all times.

Staycation ideas in Western Australia

Visit the stunning pink lakes, swim with whalesharks along Ningaloo Reef, gaze in awe of the impressively barren desert and national parks or take a selfie with some quokkas on Rottnest Island. One of the least populated places in the world, Western Australia is where you’ll find a bit of outdoor space all to yourself.

For the latest advice on COVID-19, visit the Western Australian Government website

Staycation ideas: Lake Hillier, WA

Travel restrictions in WA

Currently, travellers from Tasmania, Queensland, South Australia, ACT and Northern Territory can travel to Western Australia freely. If you’re from New South Wales or Victoria, you will have to self-quarantine for 14 days and get a COVID-19 test on Day 11.

There is also restricted access to remote Aboriginal communities.

The Western Australian Government has announced new changes to border arrangements, potentially coming into effect from 14 November. Keep an eye out on the WA government website for more information.

Limitations

Most businesses in Western Australia are open and the one person to two square metre rule applies. Although, if you’re venturing into the wilderness you won’t need to worry about that!

WA’s major sporting venues are open and operating with capacity limits.

How to plan for COVID-safe travel and keep up-to-date with changing rules

When you’re travelling, keep these things in mind to protect yourself, your family and the communities you’re visiting:

  • Don’t travel if you’re feeling sick
  • Get tested immediately if you develop COVID-19 symptoms while you’re travelling, or when you return, and follow self-isolation requirements
  • Avoid COVID-19 hotspots
  • Be vigilant with hygiene
  • Maintain physical distancing

When you get home from your travels, monitor the website of the state or territory you visited to see if they had any new cases for two weeks after your return. Follow advice about testing and self-isolation.

The best way to keep updated on the go is to regularly check the Australian Government Department of Health website for the latest advice and recommendations.

Discover where you can go

Making plans to get back out there? Find out whose borders are open with our interactive global map, and sign up to receive email updates when your top destinations reopen.

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