It’s one of those weird quirks of the globe: when summer rolls into Europe and North America, it’s now winter in the south with our antipodean friends. That’s not to say they’re walking around in Santa suits and parkas – it isn’t that cold – but Australia specifically has some fantastic things that go on during winter. Here are some ideas that will have you ready to book that ticket down under.
It turns into Christmas from June until August in the Blue Mountains, a wonderful national park area just an hour outside of Sydney. Think fireplaces, sing-a-longs, dusting of snow on the tallest hills, and huge Christmas feasts! All of the hotels and restaurants get in on the act, and more joined along after every year from when the event started in 1980 that now it’s definitely a must-see. Hike in the hills during the day, and then fill your belly with Christmas cheer in the evenings. And its easy to combine with a trip to the capital city.
Did you know that Australia is home to more than 12,000 species of wildflowers? And the Aussie winter is the perfect time to see them, particularly in Western Australia – trips from Kalbarri National Park, Kings Park, or the Pilbara are just a handful of the best places to explore. You can just go on a road trip, maybe bring a picnic with you, or park and do some hiking into the hills – there are many day trips (and you can even hire a guide). June through September are the best times to catch the blooms.
Queensland captured our attention a couple of years ago with their Perfect Job promotion – and after seeing some of the incredible scenery that one can find here in Queensland, a part of Australia that could easily rival the snazziest Caribbean beach resort. Cairns has some great places to stay and makes a great base for exploring the Great Barrier Reef. You could also take some of Queensland’s extensive diving opportunities. Or how about those famous Whitsunday Islands – they’re so peaceful, even in winter. And don’t forget some of the national parks and rainforests where you can adventure – fishing, hiking, and wildlife spotting.
What about a desert road trip? Much of Australia is exactly that – desert – and there’s an opportunity for you to both go on and off road, as long as you’re well prepared for the driving (and of course with your emergency kit). I’ve never done any of the more well known desert drives, like Simpson Desert in South Australia, but would love to. If you don’t feel like going off-road by yourself you can get a driver guide to take you for a reasonable price, leaving you free to watch the flat world go by.
Last but not least is the city of Darwin, who unabashedly gets their groove on when winter comes. Just a sampling of the festivals and events on during Aussie winter:
I’m sure you’ll find another smaller event or attraction that suits your fancy. That’s the thing about Australia – you never know what little gem you might uncover on your trip, winter or summer, rain or shine.
Posted : Thursday, May 12th, 2011 at 11:00
Andy Hayes is a travel journalist currently based in Seattle, Washington. When not soaking up the Pacific Northwest lifestyle or enjoying life on the road, he is spending time hanging out on his own travel lifestyle magazine, Sharing Travel Experiences.