The best sunny winter escapes – in Australia
You don't have to go far to find beautifully warm days, even in the middle of winter.
In preparing this article, we acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of these beautiful lands around Australia, and the Elders, past and present, who continue to inspire the younger generation with knowledge and reverence for the lands and creatures that inhabit them.
No need to bring out the passport, nor the Bintang singlet to enjoy some warm-weather escapades. Here are five stunning Aussie destinations to thaw you from the winter blues.
The Kimberley region (North-west of Western Australia)
The diversity of terrain is what truly sets the Kimberley region apart from the rest. From the spectacular display of nature’s force at Horizontal Falls, the surreal calm of Lake Argyle, to the monolithic awe of the Bungle Bungles and Cathedral Gorge, The Kimberleys has something for both seafarers and landlubbers. Being the dry season, winter is the best time to visit – some would say the only time – with many roads flooded during summer.
Hot tip: Broome is the perfect starting point for any Kimberleys tour, with many people opting for a one-way route that ends in Darwin, or vice versa. Either way, don’t miss the sunset on Cable Beach!
Port Douglas (North Queensland)
If you’re more of a coastie, then tropical Northern Queensland will reunite you with summery breezes and crystal-clear waters. Along with the perfect-weather beaches, Port Douglas is an ideal gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, an absolute must that can be enjoyed a myriad of ways (snorkel, diving, glass-bottom boat!) As a well-established tourist destination, you won’t be short of creature comforts or amazing food, here.
Hot tip: Let’s not forget Port Douglas is just a short drive away from Daintree National Park. The dense canopies and lush green foliage provides a stark yet welcome contrast to the sandy white beaches of the coast. The Rainforest Aerial Walkway is great, if you can handle heights!
Ningaloo Reef (Western Australia)
WA comes good yet again with a coastal oasis teeming with migratory sea life. Gaining World Heritage status in 2011, Ningaloo Reef is best known for the humongous whale sharks that use its rich waters as a ‘drive-thru’ for yummy plankton. If you’re lucky, you may find yourself swimming alongside these docile, curious giants. Super lucky ones may even see Mantas, dugongs, dolphins and humpback whales.
Hot tip: To swim with the Whale Sharks, your best bet is between May and July. Fly into Perth, with a short connecting flight to Learmonth Airport. From there it’s an hour’s drive to Ningaloo Reef. If you have more time, you can rent a car and head out to Monkey Mia and hang out with the super-friendly dolphins.
Uluru (Northern Territory)
It’s unmistakeably Australian, a distinct silhouette known throughout the world. When you first see Uluru, an eerie calm envelopes you. It feels more like a pilgrimage than a tourist destination. You have arrived.
As it’s sacred to the Yankunytjatjara and Pitjantjatjara people, we advise visitors to respect the many thousands of years of Aboriginal history and tradition, and refrain from climbing Uluru. If you really must climb something, why not the back of a camel? Uluru is famous for them! The nearby Olgas, King Canyon and the MacDonnell Ranges are amazing landmarks worthy of spending more time in the region.
Hot tip: Winter’s a great time to visit Uluru, but don’t let the warm sun fool you – it can get downright chilly at night, even reaching below zero! Pack your thermal jammies!
Kakadu National Park (Northern Territory)
Featuring one of the world’s most famous wetlands, Kakadu is the largest national park in Australia. A wetlands boat tour will get you up close and personal to the icy-cool crocs that glide along the waters, as well as the 50 different bird species that like to holiday there too.
It’s also historically significant, having sustained Aboriginal life for over 50,000 years. Make sure to stop by Ubirr for some of the famous examples of Aboriginal ‘x-ray- paintings’. And stick around for the glorious sunset from the top of Ubirr Rock. It’s bucket list stuff.
Hot tip: When the sun goes down, it’s happy hour for local mozzies. Take insect repellent or long sleeves – trust us. It also gets very dark all of a sudden, so take a torch so you can take your time to enjoy the scenery without having to Parkour your way down to the car park.
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