OPINION | In search of holiday heaven

You’ve got a few days away and like most of Australia, you’ve loaded up the car or the caravan and taken off for a bit of serenity.

But where to go? Obviously, you wouldn’t have left it this late to pick a spot, but every time you rent a house/tent site/room in a town, you’ll have one of two reactions: either “Let’s come back here next year,” or “Never again.”

So what makes a great summer holiday destination? You’ll have your own criteria, but here are five of mine.

  1. Must have a beach. Non-negotiable. Sorry inland towns, but this is just how it goes. Rivers and waterholes might do at other times of the year, but not in those crucial few weeks after Christmas. It’s hot: we want gentle ocean zephyrs and crashing waves.
  2. Since the rest of Australia is pretty much agreed on point no.1, traffic jams that stretch as far as the eye can see are part of the deal. The ideal holiday town is somewhere the madding crowd has yet to discover or overlooks, so that access roads don’t turn into car parks.
  3. Decent coffee. Unless you want to lug your benchtop espresso machine in the car with you, the means to make or buy a real coffee can make or break a destination. The proliferation of great cafes in most Australian towns tells me I’m not alone in this thinking, so make sure you don’t end up in one of the rare ones selling Nescafe with frothed milk.
  4. A place to put a hammock. It’s not really a holiday if you’re sitting on a chair.
  5. A bit of shoosh. Let’s be honest: campsites crowded with crying babies, kids on scooters at sunrise and drunk people listening to loud music at midnight are hell on earth. It was okay when I had my own crying babies or kids who got up before 11am, and was friends with the drunks. But now I just want everyone to shut up. The perfect holiday town is definitely not one with a caravan park the size of a UN refugee camp.

Wherever you are, even if you’re the chump stuck at the office, all the best for the New Year.