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Rebecca Ellwood, Staff Writer

In this new normal’, it’s hard to imagine going back to the days of commuting into an office from Monday to Friday.   

For some of us, in a short space of time, our working lives have been revolutionised; we’ve become more adaptable and connected than ever before. While there are many perks to working from home, after weeks of being stuck inside the same four walls, we’re counting down the days until we can have a holiday, or at the very least a change of scenery.

With social distancing remaining in place for the foreseeable future, a business-as-usual return to workplaces isn’t an immediate prospect and this remote way of working could become a very real part of our ongoing professional landscape. Restrictions are gradually easing and so the temptation to swap our virtual Zoom background for a real beachfront is increasingly becoming a possibility.

They say change is as good as a holiday and we tend to agree, so here’s how to live our best lives on our laptops, state by state.

Jump to the best places to escape to in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania 

Queensland

The coastal lifestyle in Queensland is world-revered – and no matter where you are in the state, a good beach is never too far away.

Brisbane city dwellers can reach the stunning beaches of the Gold Coast in under an hour, offering the perfect change of scenery for those needing to get out of the city. If you ask us, the dreamy stretches of white sand in Burleigh Heads provide the ideal setting for your morning exercise. After a swim or jog, swing via the cafés of Mermaid for your morning coffee fix, best enjoyed with a stroll around the canals.

If you want to leave the beach behind, head to the Gold Coast Hinterland: the perfect place to reconnect with nature, surrounded by nothing but the lush rainforest and bountiful wildlife. Here, the combination of country air, hiking and delicious local produce is sure to revive your spirit. On your lunch break, head out to Tamborine National Park or Lamington National Park to admire the waterfalls on the Toolona Creek Circuit.

Leave the stress of the past few weeks behind as you slip into the laidback lifestyle of beachside Noosa, just one and a half hours north of Brisbane. With a number of buzzing cafes on Hastings Street, you’ll quickly find fuel for the day ahead. Join the fitness crowd on your lunch break for a fast-paced walk (or run) through the National Park – and remember to look up, where the ultimate advocates for a slower pace of life, koalas, laze amid the eucalyptus branches over Tea Tree Bay.

New South Wales

The crowds around Australia’s most famous beach, Bondi, may not be heaving as they did once before, but there’s a certain joy to be found in this newfound serenity: and as one of the New South Wales’ hottest dining spots, you’ll surely be well-fed before, during and after work in this sought-after suburb. The local clifftop walks are nature’s antidote to all that delicious food. Soak in the famous views of the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk with its Bondi Icebergs ocean pool or take the Federation Cliff Walk to Watson‘s Bay, where you’ll pass Australia’s oldest lighthouse and be in one of Sydney’s prime spots for whale-watching.

Want to swap the ocean for the mountains? Just a 90-minute drive yet a world away from Sydney, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains is the ultimate post-lockdown playground with countless bushwalks, biking trails and artisanal local food. Be enveloped by the sheer majesty of the landscape, best admired from lookouts such as Govetts Leap or Wentworth Falls, where you can follow the Charles Darwin Walk with its waterfalls and birdlife before picking up a delicious pastry and coffee.

Relationships have either strengthened or buckled under lockdown, but a flame that surely burns more brightly than ever after weeks at home is Australia’s love affair with wine. Pay homage to the veritable saviour of lockdown with a visit to New South Wales’ wine mecca, the Hunter Valley — three and a half hours north of Sydney. Local businesses need our support more than ever, so pop down to local cellar doors for your semillon or shiraz before retiring to the fireside at 5pm with a glass in hand.

Victoria

If you’re a food and coffee connoisseur in Victoria, in need of a change, the Melburnian suburb of South Yarra will provide the goods: along with some fabulous leafy walks along the Yarra River and the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria.

Check out the bistro-style eateries along the fringe of the gardens – within perfect proximity to pick up a hot coffee for your autumnal pre-work stroll. And with food delivery services at your fingertips, bringing you the finest food from across Australia’s gastronomic capital, you’ll be truly spoilt for choice when it comes to a post-work feed.

For those in need of country air, the spa town of Daylesford – a 1.5-hour drive northwest of Melbourne – offers the perfect escape from the city in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range. During your lunch break, take a stroll around the town with its Gold Rush-era convent and quaint main strip, where you can grab coffee and food to takeaway. Head to the nearby Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens or Lake Daylesford Gardens to enjoy a spur-of-the-moment picnic: perfect little pockets of green on the doorstep where you can reset for the afternoon.

Also north of the city is the Goldfields and Nagambie, where a tranquil 170-hectare lake provides an idyllic lunchtime walk. Better still, pack up a picnic to take with you to Jacobsons Lookout. Pause to admire Black Caviar, the world-famous mare now immortalised in bronze at the edge of the lake. When work has wrapped up for the day, a bottle of cool-climate wine from a local vineyard is the perfect sundowner.

Western Australia

Two more words for the wine lovers: Margaret River. This region of Western Australia needs no introduction as one of the finest wine regions in Australia, and with no fewer than 120 wineries to work your way around – including Voyager Estate and Leeuwin – you’ll be spoilt for choice at the end of the day.

But the region has plenty to offers besides vineyards for the remote worker. The surf breaks here are world-renowned, or you can stretch your legs on the Cape to Cape Track, where spectacular coastal scenery dotted with wildflowers unfurls before you. At 123km, this likely won’t be completed in one lunch hour, so it’s well worth tagging a weekend onto your stay so you can dedicate some time to exploring its hidden limestone caves and rock formations.

South Australia

Less than an hour north of South Australia’s capital is the Barossa Valley, whose verdant countryside is home to 80+ wineries producing world-class drops.

If you’re staying for the weekend, head to the Barossa Farmers Market on a Saturday to stock up on fresh local produce of cheeses, fruits and smoked meats before hopping between some cellar doors for takeaway wine. Lunch for the week ahead is already looking a lot more promising than the toast-on-toast of the past couple of months (and who’s to know if you crack a bottle pre-5pm?)

Be sure to pack your hiking boots and a bike as the great outdoors calls before and after work. Watch the colours of the landscape change with this new season as the locals have for centuries gone by. Take your pick of national parks and trails, from Sandy Creek Conservation Park, where kangaroos graze between the pines and pink gums, to Kaiserstuhl Conservation Park, with its diverse terrain and breathtaking views over the Barossa Valley.

Tasmania

Tasmania happens to have some of the finest, freshest produce in Australia thanks to its optimum conditions – and wherever good food is to be found, we will surely follow. Its capital, Hobart, is an ideal working base as it offers the perfect marriage of city amenities with breathtaking countryside right on the doorstep.

A stroll around the city itself offers rewards at every turn: from the picturesque waterfront to the historic houses of Battery Point and Salamanca Place, not to mention the Royal Tasmanian Botanic Gardens, this city is a feast for the eyes, even when in lockdown.

If you’re looking for a peaceful pocket, try the suburb of Howden, a 15-minute drive south on the shore of North West Bay. With views of Bruny Island to one side and Mount Wellington to the other, this is the perfect spot to enjoy the breathtaking natural beauty of Tasmania with all the benefits of the city on your doorstep.

Take a lunchtime walk around the coastline or head to the Peter Murrell Conservation Area, home to a diverse range of birdlife. When the weekend comes around, pack your hiking boots and take a drive up to Wellington Park, where you can lose yourself in 18,000 hectares of wilderness.

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