How to hack your public holidays in 2020 and get 47 days off

That period between December and January is many things, but for some, it’s holiday planning season. That wonderful time of the year where you devise how to spend more than a month of the next 12 travelling; but to make this happen, you’ll need to hack your public holidays in 2020.

The maths is simple. You take 20 days of annual leave, carry the good times, add the life-changing experiences and turn it into 47 glorious days off. 

Better yet, they’re spread throughout the year to hit all the top Queensland destinations, with a new mini-break rolling around almost every three months. Let the holiday planning season begin. 

2020 Public Holidays

January – chasing waterfalls

Public Holidays: 1 January – New Year’s Day | 27 January – Australia Day.

Days to take annual leave: Take off Friday 24 January to extend the long weekend public holiday. Total length: four days.

Where to go: Gold Coast Hinterland.

After a feverish December, start 2020 surrounded by ancient rainforest in the Gold Coast Hinterland. Head to Springbrook National Park for a physical challenge and waterfall watching, then wash off the hard work with some DIY salt therapy at Burleigh Heads.

From Japanese-inspired retreats, to cellar doors and hiking trails like these four, the Hinterland is the perfect place to take a deep breath and ensure your decade starts off with you in control.

Wondering where to lay your head in the hinterland? This accommodation guide will help you decide.

March – Island time with a side of city


Photo by @mrcourtneyatkinson

Public Holidays: 9 March – Labour Day (VIC)

Days to take annual leave: Take off Thursday 5 and Friday 6 March (if you’re based in Victoria). Total length: 5 days.

Where to go: Brisbane and Moreton Island

Live like a local in Brisbane for a day after you land. Dine with river views, enjoy evening drinks as the sun goes down at Howard Smith Wharves and spend your days exploring the distinct inner-city precincts like West End and Paddington.

The next day it’s time to head east to explore the world’s second largest sand island, Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island), where the Nunukul, Nughi and Goenpul clans of the Quandamooka people welcome you to explore their island paradise.

Rich in Indigenous culture, you can join up with the crew at Straddie Adventures for kayaking, sand boarding and learning how to use a spear, or visit the Salt Water Murris Quandamooka Art Gallery (closed Mondays and Tuesdays).

Elsewhere on the island there is what feels like an endless array of perfect beaches (including Main, Frenchman’s and Adder Rock), fresh seafood straight off the trawler available form the Prawn Shack and walking trails littered with kangaroos (the Gorge Walk in particular) and Koalas (around the Yacht Club near Dunwich).

For the divers, the aptly named Manta Lodge run tours just offshore to a range of significant dive sites. In the warmer months the waters have an abundance of manta rays (around, you guessed it, manta bommie) and in winter the Grey nurse sharks visit for a must-do dive for all underwater lovers.

Check out this guide for everything else you can do in 48 hours on Minjerribah.

April – the road trip

Carnarvon National Park-Carnarvon Gorge

Public Holidays: 10-13 April – Easter | 25 April – Anzac Day.

Days to take annual leave: Some years Easter and Anzac Day line up perfectly for a big break. 2020 is not one of those years. The best approach to extending your Easter break is by taking 8 and 9 April off and then 14-17 to give yourself a whopping 13 for the price of 6.

Where to go: Carnarvon Gorge section of Carnarvon National Park

Pack up the car and head west covering the rural charm of Roma and surrounds before reaching your end destination of Carnarvon National Park.

Picture an oasis in Queensland’s Central Highlands punctuated by towering sandstone cliffs, prehistoric cycads, more than 2,000 indigenous artworks, and a biosphere home to some 200 species of birds, 60 different mammals, 22 kinds of frogs and 90 types of reptiles.

This is Carnarvon Gorge within the Carnarvon National Park, a culturally and ecologically significant area littered with walking trails and a range of accommodation options to share stories after a day hiking. You can check out our complete guide here.

May/June – Escape winter

Frankland Islands_Great Barrier Reef

Public Holidays: 4 May – Labour Day (QLD), 8 June – Queen’s Birthday (VIC and NSW)

Days to take annual leave: For the extra Monday public holiday in May and June (depending on where you work), take the Friday before and the Tuesday and Wednesday after off to give you six days of winter-escapism.

Where to go: Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef

Not today, winter. Head north and get set for days that average in the mid 20s with your exploration options including the Great Barrier Reef to one side, the World’s oldest living rainforest to the other and a bumper range of new accommodation options in between.

There is so much to see and do so, we’ve set you up with a quick reading list:

  • Start with this post that covers everything you need to know from accommodation to tours
  • If you’re a first-timer, head here for the unmissable experiences such as the Great Barrier Reef
  • Unsure where to stay – here’s our comprehensive guide
  • And finally, you’re in the tropics, so you’ll want a few days on a tropical island. That’s where this post can help

August – You’re the skipper

Family bareboating the Whitsundays

Photo by @sunsail_whitsundays

Public Holidays: 12 August – Exhibition Holiday (Brisbane)

Days to take annual leave: Brisbane, this may be the best holiday of them all. Yes it’s only one day, but a Wednesday placement feels perfect for a long extension. Take 7, 10, 11, 13 and 14 August off (yep, that’s a big five days) and you’ll have 10 days away. For VIC and NSW, your June or August holidays could also work for this trip (you’ll still take five off and end up with 10 days away).

Where to go: The Whitsundays

From Airlie Beach, set sail around the 74 islands of the Whitsundays. Kick back with a skipper and crew or DIY with a bareboating experience.

If bareboating, you are your own master and commander. Think that secluded bay looks good? Head over there for the day. Want to tackle some of the island walking trails like Border Island or Whitsunday Peak? Absolutely.

Bareboating is absolute freedom, and you don’t need any licence or experience. The tour company will give you a half-day session when you arrive and then the Whitsundays are your oyster.

October – Explore a coral cay

Public Holiday: 5 October – Queen’s Birthday (QLD) and Labour Day (NSW)

Days to take annual leave: Take off Friday 2 and Tuesday 6 October (for QLD & NSW residents) to make five days of leave.

Where to go: Lady Elliot, Wilson, Lady Musgrave or Heron Island in the Southern Great Barrier Reef.

October is the perfect time to leave reality, switch off the phone and connect with nature and loved ones. And there is nowhere better to do this than on a tiny coral cay where your days are spent snorkelling coral lagoons and your evenings marvelling at the stars.

October also happens to be peak whale season, with humpback whales frequent visitors past all four of the islands in the southern region.

Which island you chose is up to you. Opened in late 2019, Wilson island offers an eco-tent experience, Lady Elliot has pristine reef conditions, Heron Island is great for families thanks to a range of inclusive activities, and by October 2020, the Lady Musgrave Pontoon, fit with accommodation under the waterline will be open. We’ve summed up all of these SGBR islands and even more in one handy article here.

December – Get off the grid and into the wilderness

Rainbow Beach - Public Holidays 2019

Photo by @laurenepbath

Public Holidays: 25 December – Christmas Day | 26 December – Boxing Day | 1 January – New Years Day

Days to take annual leave: Don’t let your coworkers get the Christmas allocation this year. Jump on holiday sleigh and take 28, 29, 30 and 31 December off to have a final stretch of 10 days off.

Where to go: Cooloola Wilderness Trail, Sunshine Coast

Spend the Christmas to New Year’s break beachside at Rainbow Beach. Get your 4WD tyres sandy and take on the Great Beach Drive or work off the excess and do it the hard way on two legs across the Cooloola Wilderness Trail.