Things to do in Australia this winter

‘I love a sunburnt country’, even in winter!

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It’s no exaggeration to say that Australia isn’t exactly known for its winters. 90% of the population lives less than an hour from the coast, the temperature barely dips below T-shirt weather, and our most storied poem begins with the line, ‘I love a sunburnt country’. Because of this, there is no reason to hibernate during those chillier months, and if you wish to explore, you’ll see Australia has loads going on during winter. We’ve collected a few options for you to mark in your calendar. Enjoy!

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Vivid Live

Sydney lights up during each winter, with an expertly curated festival of arts, culture, lights, music, food, and everything else you need to prove that this is one of the most unique, exciting cities in the world.

This year Vivid Live runs from 25th May to 16th June with one of the best musical lineups in the world, featuring the likes of Cat Power, Ice Cube, Solange (aka Beyonce’s little sis), and dream pop legends Mazzy Star. You don’t even need to go to any of the hundreds of events happening around the city to get caught up in the magic of Vivid, as numerous buildings (including the pointiest of them all: the Opera House) are awash with world-class light displays most evenings, turning the city into a psychedelic playground. Walk around, explore, and don’t be afraid to experiment. There are loads of free events too, so you can schedule a month of amazing activities for the price of an Opal transport ticket.

A whale of a time

Winter is migration season for whales in our hemisphere, meaning they travel in packs up the Eastern coast in a bid to breed – which makes this the perfect time to go on a whale watching tour. There are a number of tours available up and down the NSW coast — this handy app will keep you in the loop, depending on when and where you wish to catch the majestic beasts — or if you are feeling even more adventurous you could (much like the whales) head further north to the stunning Great Barrier Reef and dive right in and swim alongside the Minke Whales. As with most natural patterns, the time of year will depend, but it’s usually a handful of weeks in July or early August when these beasts slowly pass through the area. Guided snorkelling tours are available, many of which include other treats such as scuba diving lessons, island tours, and dinner packages.

Splendour in the Grass

The country’s best musical festival boasts a massive lineup for 2018, with Kendrick Lamar, Lorde, and Vampire Weekend just three of the dozens of big-name acts you can catch over three jam-packed days this July (21-23) at the North Byron Parklands.

Image credit: Splendour in the Grass

There are a variety of options available, from camping to nearby hotels, but for that authentic festival experience, we recommend booking camping tickets, packing the car with supplies (and sleeping bags and a tent) and partying like it isn’t completely freezing. Which most of the time, it isn’t! It can be an expensive venture, but as far as value-for-money goes, it’s second to none. Plus, camping festivals are an experience akin to nothing else on earth. Pack gumboots though; the grounds get quite muddy if it happens to rain.

Let it snow

Australia may be known as a sunny paradise, but we are also fortunate enough to get a little snow action in as well. Perisher is one of our premier ski fields, nestled in the Snowy Mountains.

It’s the largest in the Southern Hemisphere, and is comprised of four separate villages and ski fields, each with their own distinct charm. As noted earlier, Australia is a sunny country, but even if it isn’t bucketing snow, there are artificial snow canons which blast frosty goodness onto the mountains, making sure that your visit to the mountains isn’t weather-dependent. Technology, huh?!

Go north

It may seem counter-intuitive to those used to freezing climates, but winter is the perfect season to take a roadtrip through the Australian outback, as you’ll avoid the searing, deadly heat, and the monsoonal rains that can hit during what the Aboriginal people call the Wet Season — those summer months where the weather is unpredictable and wild. Obviously it depends on where you are coming from, but if you want to skip a lot of the heavy travel and simply marvel at the untouched outback, fly into Darwin, rent a vehicle (a car if you wanna do it rough, a camper van if comfort is your jam) and do the trek from Darwin to Alice Springs. It’s one of the most beautiful drives in the world — although be smart and stock up on supplies, spare tires and medical kits, as it is quite a remote region — and one of the many benefits of during this trek during winter is you can avoid the horrible mosquitoes that come out in the warmer months.

The Southern Lights in Tassie

Many celestial fans make the pilgrimage to Norway to take in the breathtaking Northern Lights, but Down Under we have our own majestic, heavenly display in the aptly-named Southern Lights. They are brightest and best nearest to the Equinox (September) but are clearly visible all throughout the colder months, and often well into spring too.

The best place to view them is away from mountain-ranges, buildings, or anywhere with pollution: so you may wish to get an hour or so out of the city, organise a camping trip and take in the wonders of the world. Many recommend South Arm Peninsula, which is a mere half an hour south east of Hobart – and who are we to argue? You could even stay in Hobart, and take a romantic evening drive out there.

Ten days in Noosa

A ten-day festival might seem like a huge undertaking, and this is very true. But even if you only have a long weekend to spend away from home, you could do a lot worse than hitting the Noosa Long Weekend Festival, which runs from July 20-29 (despite the name).

Image credit: NOOSA alive!

The main drawcard of the festivities is the NOOSA alive! program, which crams visual arts, film, food, cabaret, musical performances, literature, and everything in-between into what is fast becoming one of the best cultural destinations on the Australian arts calendar. The highlights are spread all across Noosa, so it will double as a tour of this beautiful region.

Posted by Nathan Jolly | Unless otherwise credited, images sourced from ShutterStock