Blog & Insights
Winter Holiday fun in Australia
Winter has firmly arrived in Australia, the holidays are almost here and there’s plenty of fun to be had around the country. That endless sunshine might be taking a bit of a breather, but it doesn’t mean you have to hit the couch and prepare to hibernate. With cooler climes upon us it’s the perfect time to ditch the sun hat, grab a hoodie and step into the world outside. From festivals and footy to wildlife and wineries, winter is the season that just keeps on giving.
A changing season is no real reason to part Aussies and their sport. Whether you prefer to take part or just spectate, there will be no avoiding those boots and balls. The State of Origin sees NSW and Queensland take each other on across three nail-biting grudge matches, and the AFL season marches relentlessly on through the cold towards the much-anticipated September Grand Final. For something entirely different, why not try The Camel Cup in Alice Springs? An event you certainly won’t find anywhere else – as well as an opportunity to explore the Red Centre and escape the winter blues – this spectacle features nine camel races across one day. Starring such independent-minded creatures that don’t always play by the rules, this is one race meet that is definitely not short on entertainment value.
Australia is renowned for offering an array of fantastic wildlife viewing opportunities, and winter is no exception. Sydneysiders can keep a look out for one of 20,000 humpback whales that migrate along the NSW coastline each year. Heading up to warmer waters to give birth, the whales return back along the coastline at the end of the season with their adorable calves in tow. A popular resting spot to see these wondrous creatures feed and play are the beautiful waters of Moreton Bay Marine Park, Queensland, as well as delivering the perfect antidote to winter weather. Take a few steps further north and tick off the breathtaking world heritage listed Great Barrier Reef. Winter is the perfect time to visit as it coincides neatly with the dry season – meaning plenty of warming sunshine and no nasty stingers lurking in the water.
If you like to get the blood pumping around your body, there is no better time of year to inhale that fresh air, ward off the winter germs and keep the seasonal affectation disorder at bay. Just a short train ride from Sydney you can enjoy a bush walk in the beautiful Blue Mountains and take in the stunning views of the Three Sisters and the eucalyptus forests. Hang around and ride the steepest passenger train in the world, or discover some of the oldest surviving limestone formations at Jenolan Caves. Runners will love Sydney’s annual City2Surf that takes you from Sydney CBD to Bondi Beach in time for breakfast, or try the Bridge to Brisbane and be part of Queensland’s largest fun run that takes you past some of the iconic local landmarks. Grab a wetsuit and take advantage of the excellent winter surf, or for something entirely different strap on your ice-skates and head to Sydney’s St Mary’s Cathedral – home to a pop-up ice-skating rink that magically appears every year for the Sydney Winter Festival.
Take full advantage of Australian winter to explore the Northern Territories dry season, as this means you will have access to ordinarily off-limit experiences – as well as enjoying warmer days and cooler nights. Encompassing a huge area, the NT offers endless choices from Uluru and The Olgas, through to Darwin and Kakadu National Park. For those who like to embrace the winter chill, there is no better opportunity to visit the local wine regions and cosy up by an open fire with a glass of Australia’s finest. The Yarra Valley was Victoria’s first wine growing district and is today recognised as one of Australia’s finest cool-climate wine producing regions. Specialising in sparkling wines, chardonnay, pinot noir and heavier reds, it is now home to over 80 wineries. So if the weather is forcing you inside, you certainly won’t leave disappointed.
It’s not just summertime that gets the best of the fests. Winter has proven an emerging market with plenty of festivals old and new to check out across the country. Try The Curated Plate in Brisbane for a 4-day foodie extravaganza. Sourcing from both ocean and land, chefs fly in to [participate from around the world as the festival takes over some of the best local eateries. Factor in a pop-up beachsider as festival HQ and some winter sunshine – and you may just never leave. Try The Blue Mountains’ Yulefest for a taste of Christmas in the middle of winter. Get your full turkey dinner and a mince pie to the sweet sound of carolling and jingling bells, and if you’ve been really good, Santa may even arrive to surprise you. Melbourne’s popular White Night festival (Aug 22-24) takes place across Carlton Gardens, Birrarung Marr and The National Gallery of Victoria as part of a 3-day event featuring music, design, film, food, performance and street events. Hitch a ride to Apollo Bay and celebrate ‘visions and ecstasies’ at the after-dark Winterwild Festival (Aug 16 -Sept 1) where each evening begins with a warming ceremonial bonfire.
Make the most of the winter holidays, embrace the changing seasons and enjoy everything Australia has to offer!
Photo by Ben Warren on Unsplash