When we think of winter in Australia, you may wonder if its freezing cold like some countries in the northern hemisphere, or that it could be quite mild, like countries around the Mediterranean. Well Australia is quite diverse, with plenty of opportunity to have a memorable winter holiday.
You could go skiing in the mountains of the south, or head to the northern regions for a warm beach getaway.
Embark on a journey with these unique winter destinations in Australia.
Among the top winter destinations in Australia is the Snowy Mountains, yes that’s right, there is snow in Australia atop the Snowy Mountains. The ideal location for hikers, skiers or snowboarders, whether you’re a beginner or pro.
If you would prefer to get away from the cold climates and head somewhere warmer, then Queensland is one of my favourite places to visit. Not only did I live in the state of Queensland, well to be precise, on the outskirts of Brisbane. But I would often visit the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast for relaxation on a golden sandy beach.
A beach getaway during winter in Australia is perfect, as the conditions are far cooler than the hot summer season, when temperatures can soar.
From the snow-capped peaks to the sun-kissed shores, Australia’s winter holiday destinations offer a diverse array of experiences to suit every traveller’s taste. So, grab your winter gear, embrace the cooler vibes, and join us as we uncover the enchantment that awaits in Australia’s winter wonderland.
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Table of Contents
Winter holiday destinations in Australia
Visit some of the famous sights in Australia or get off the beaten path with these winter holiday destinations in Australia.
Australia is the perfect holiday destination whatever the season.
Rottnest Island, off the coast of Western Australia, is a beach-lovers paradise that is accessible by air or by ferry.
Aside from the beautiful vistas, the island is known for its resident quokkas. These cute little mammals are native to Rottnest Island and can be found almost everywhere on the island.
Visiting Rottnest Island in winter is ideal because there are less crowds and the air is cooler. It may be a bit too chilly to swim, but instead, you can cycle the entire island and walk some of the hiking trails without overheating.
One of the simplest ways to organize your bike is to book it with your ferry ticket so you can collect the bike as you disembark the boat.
Cycling the entire island takes anywhere from 2 to 5 hours, depending on how many stops you make.
A great route to take is to head first to “The Basin” in Longreach Bay, then to Parakeet Bay, around Lake Baghdad and the Pink Lake, and back. This loop is a leisurely route that brings you by the island’s most picturesque spots.
For hiking, take the Gabbi Karniny Bidi trail, a 9.7km loop that brings you past the island’s lakes and bays.
After a day of cycling and hiking, head back to Thompson Bay Settlement, where the ferry port is and to grab a meal at one of the island’s many restaurants.
If you’d like to stay overnight, book a hotel in Thompson Bay Settlement.
Contributed by Erin from Pina Travels
For me, the best winter destinations in Australia are places that get chilly so you can wrap up warm and enjoy log fires, red wine and roast dinners! Tamborine Mountain is the perfect place for this.
Just an hour’s drive south of Brisbane, and nestled in the Gold Coast hinterland, Tamborine Mountain is a lush and scenic retreat from city life. It’s located 550-metres above sea level and delivers spectacular views.
Tamborine offers a real mix of activities. If you enjoy the great outdoors, there’s hiking, waterfalls, nature and gardens. You’ll find plenty to entertain you here.
If shopping, eating and drinking are more your thing, you’ll be well catered for too.
We love visiting Tamborine Mountain as a family. Our favourite place to stay and have fun is Thunderbird Park.
Their Cedar Creek Lodges are tucked in amongst the trees by the lake. These cosy and comfortable cabins have log fires making them the perfect place to snuggle up and unwind after a long day out exploring.
Thunderbird Park itself offers so many activities from horse riding, mini-golf, treetop challenges, thunderegg fossicking and more, so it would be very easy to spend a whole weekend there without needing to leave. The resort also has a great restaurant and café on-site too.
It would be a shame to miss out on the other activities in the area thoug the Gallery Walk is a quaint shopping street including delights such as the German Cuckoo Clock Nest and Castle Glen Mountain Cellars. Plus it’s the place to find plenty of cafes and delicious eating options.
The Skywalk is a great attraction for all ages (it’s even buggy and wheelchair accessible) and takes you up into the treetops to see the magical rainforest canopies.
And the Botanic Gardens is a fun free activity (you can leave a donation).
For me, the perfect winter retreat includes good food and wine, cosy accommodation, crisp fresh air, an abundance of nature and wildlife, and plenty of outdoor activities to choose from. Tamborine offers all of this and so much more!
Contributed by Karen from Smart Steps to Australia
Basking in the magnificence of Uluru is a gift at any time of year, but it is much more comfortable in pleasant winter temperatures.
Officially known as Uluru / Ayers Rock, the giant monolith is perhaps Australia’s most recognizable natural landmark. Like an iceberg rising from the desert, Uluru reaches an imposing height of 348 metres above ground but the bulk of its mass extends 2.5 kilometres below ground.
The circumference of the base is 9.4 kilometres.
One of the best ways to appreciate the natural splendour of Uluru and its cultural significance to the Anangu people is to hike or cycle around the base.
The track is flat and relatively compact. This, and a 15-kilometre ride to and from the cultural centre make cycling around Uluru a manageable experience for anyone who has ever ridden a bicycle.
Side trails take visitors to rock carvings, green belts, rock shelters, and pools of surface water. Information boards help tell the story of the Anangu who have lived in the area for thousands of years.
Uluru is approximately 450 kilometres from Alice Springs. It’s possible to fly into Ayers Rock Airport (also known as Connellan Airport). Alternatively, take a a tour around the Northern Territory that will include, Uluru and Alice Springs.
A variety of accommodation is available at Ayers Rock Resort at Yulara, 18 kilometres from Uluru.
Bikes can be booked online and collected from the mobile shop beside the cultural centre.
Contributed by Anne from Packing Light Travel
I did a similar tour to this one, on my visit to the Northern Territory. In which I started in Alice Springs and took a group bus tour around Uluru, I slept under the stars and watched the sunset and sunrise the following morning. Before being taken to other sights such as the Kings Canyon, Kata Tjuta, before heading north to Darwin.
While Aussies love our summer Christmas, the idea of having a second Christmas celebration and enjoying a hot Christmas dinner, the sort described in Christmas carols and Hallmark films, has become a winter tradition across the country.
The best place to enjoy Christmas in July is in the Blue Mountains 90 minutes west of Sydney at the annual Yule fest event. The cold mountain temperatures are perfect for transporting you to a fairytale Christmas setting.
Heritage hotels across the mountains from Wentworth Falls to Blackheath light their fireplaces, hang decorations and put up the Christmas tree. Mulled wine and generous servings of hot roast dinner are on the menu and a mood of festivity takes over the villages.
Although it is said to have started in the mountains in the 1970s, the tradition of celebrating Christmas in July really took off in Australia in the mid-1980s when expats and immigrants from the northern hemisphere arranged celebrations to remind them of home.
In recent years the Blue Mountains Christmas in July festival has become so popular you need to book your weekend accommodation well in advance if you hope to stay the night and really celebrate.
It’s not just about eating, though there are plenty of other activities, including horse riding, walking tours, shopping and visiting local wineries. There are also lots of events happening throughout the month, such as live music concerts, craft markets, art exhibitions and even fireworks!
If you get extra lucky, you might get snow, there are on average five snow days a year in the Blue Mountains.
For a special Christmas treat book a stay at the Fairmont Resort, The Carrington Hotel or the Hydro Majestic. All three hotels do amazing Christmas dinners.
Contributed by Paula from Australia Your way
For some travellers, winter is a chance to hunker down in front of a log fire or head to the snow. But for many, winter is when you look for a warmer destination and there is no better place than Northern Australia.
Our go to winter destination in Australia is Coral Bay in the heart of the Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia.
Sunny days in the mid-20s, blue skies, lighter winds, cool comfortable nights; Coral Bay winter weather is beautiful. And it is not only the climate that makes winter the perfect time to visit Coral Bay. It is also when whale sharks make their annual migration to the area and winter is the only time you can go on a tour to swim with them.
Coral Bay is one of the best access points for snorkelling on the spectacular Ningaloo Reef. Ningaloo features dense gardens of massive corals, hundreds of different types of colourful fish, turtles, rays and reef sharks. Best of all, you can get to the reef straight from Paradise Beach or Bills Bay in Coral Bay.
The area is also a fantastic spot or kayaking, fishing, 4WDing and doing nature tours that get you up close to manta rays and dugongs.
The milder weather means you can spend hours in the water without worrying about getting burnt to a crisp. Even if you feel the cold in the water, a shortie wetsuit will keep you comfortable for your snorkelling adventures.
Coral Bay is a holiday town. Accommodation is primarily supplied by two Coral Bay Caravan Parks. The Peoples Park, Ningaloo Bayview and the Ningaloo Reef Resort. Otherwise the township has a few tour companies, a couple of cafes and a small shopping centre.
Fins and the Reef Café are both great informal dining spots and there is a fantastic bakery in the shopping area too.
Contributed by Natalie from Curious Campers
If you would like to go swimming with whale sharks, then check out this Nigaloo swim with whale sharks excursion.
The winter in Perth lasts from June until the end of August where the temperatures range between 8°C and 20°C. There is lots to do and see in and outside of Perth.
The beach is always a nice place to watch the sunset even if the water temperature is a little too cold for swimming.
You should definitely pay a visit to the small seaside neighbourhood Fremantle where you can visit an old prison which dates back to the 18th century.
One of the best restaurants in Fremantle is definitely the Sail and Anchor with its beautiful deck on the 2nd level. Fremantle is also the gateway to Rottnest island where you can rent a bike, discover the islands and with some luck see some wild quokkas.
Perth itself is an awesome city with lots of restaurants, shopping centers and pubs. The nightlife has something to offer for everyone.
Head to Northbridge for some of the best bars and restaurants in town and affordable prices.
A great afternoon activity is a trip to Heirisson Island. This is a great spot to come on a warm day in winter to watch wild kangaroos and enjoy stunning views of the river.
Contributed by Victoria from Guide your travel
Book your ferry and bike to Rottnest Island here.
Sunshine Coast, Queensland
The Sunshine Coast in Queensland is the perfect winter destination with temperatures ranging between 7 to 22 degrees Celsius during the winter months of June to August. Embrace the beautiful fresh days with clear blue skies and crisp nights.
This region is known for its endless beaches and the beautiful Sunshine Coast Hinterland, and as a result, there are a huge range of things to do on the Sunshine Coast to entertain and rejuvenate both couples and families alike.
One of the most popular activities at this time of year is watching for humpback whales as they make their annual migration along the east coast.
Book a tour or pack a picnic and keep an eye out from one of the many vantage points along the coast i.e. Noosa National Park, Alexandra Headland, Point Cartwright at Kawana, and Moffat Headland at Moffat Beach.
If you are looking for a little more adventure, winter is the perfect time to hit the hiking trails. If you are looking for spectacular scenery, then head to Noosa National Park, Mount Coolum, Mount Tibrogargan, Mount Ngungun, or Buderim Forest Park. You will find a hiking trail to suit any level of fitness.
If wine tasting and long, lazy lunches are more your idea of the best way to spend a winter day, head inland and take your pick from numerous vineyards.
Some of the better known cellar doors to try are Ocean View Estate, Dingo Creek Vineyard and Flame Hill Vineyard which all offer beautiful views and onsite restaurants serving amazing local produce.
If you are planning to stay overnight or for a couple of days, Secrets on the Lake in the Sunshine Coast hinterland provides cosy treehouse accommodation nestled amongst dense rainforest on the shores of Lake Barron.
Each room is complete with a fireplace and your own private balcony with lake views. Dining on the Deck is their signature restaurant and offers a menu crafted from locally sourced produce.
Contributed by Peta and Jonas of Exit45 Travels
Stanthorpe, located in the Granite Belt in southeast Queensland, is a wonderful winter destination and one of the few parts of the ‘sunshine state’ that truly experiences winter.
One of the main reasons to visit Stanthorpe and the Granite Belt in winter or otherwise is wine.
While Queensland’s wine region may not be one of Australia’s most notable wine producing regions, the viticulturists are working tirelessly to change this reputation.
Taking up the mantle to provide Aussies with unique wine varietals (dubbed Strange Bird Wines), the wineries in Stanthorpe have steered away (slightly) from the chardonnays and shirazes that dominate the Australian wine scene.
To be classified as a Strange Bird varietal, the grape variety must account for less than 1% of the total bearing vines in Australia.
Follow the Strange Bird throughout the Granite Belt for a fun getaway. Stop in at Boireann Winery for tantalizing tannats perfect to enjoy by a warm log fire. Or perhaps pick up a refreshingly crisp Fiano, a white varietal hailing originally from southern Italy from Symphony Hill Wines.
And if one of these doesn’t sound delicious you are in luck! There are more than 26 Strange Bird wine varieties from 26 different wineries in the Granite Belt so there are a range of interesting wines to choose from.
But the Granite Belt is not only known for its delicious wine. Continue your weekend getaway with a delicious three-course dinner at the small, intimate Essen.
A family-owned restaurant providing a unique dining experience in Stanthorpe. Plus, it is BYO Wine so you can bring a couple of bottles that you pick up along the way!
Stanthorpe is also one of the largest apple producing regions in Queensland, so make sure to stop in at Sutton’s Juice Factory Cidery & Cafe before heading back to Brisbane.
There are plenty of things to keep yourself occupied in Stanthorpe during the winter season.
Only a few hours from Brisbane, I bet you can already picture yourself here cozied up by the fire with a nice glass of wine and perhaps even get a bit of snow!
Contributed by Kelli from The Vanabond Tales
Head of the Bight
Driving across the Nullarbor can be a long and boring drive, but in winter, there is one place you absolutely must stop, and that is Head of the Bight.
Just a little off the main highway, Head of the Bight is arguably the best place in Australia for whale watching.
Visitors can stand on the clifftops and gaze out into the Great Australian Bight and watch dozens of whales playing right below you in the waves.
It’s possible to spend hours here being continuously entertained by these marine giants.
Most of the whales will be mother/baby pairs of Southern Right Whales that come to the relatively warn waters in this area in June for breeding before returning to Antarctica with their young around September.
Head of the Bight is also the beginning of the stunning Bunda Cliffs that run for around 100km towards the west.
Access to the cliffs is limited as the surrounding areas are an Aboriginal reserve, so this is a great opportunity to admire these towering walls dropping into the sea.
Contributed by Rosie from Exploring South Australia
If you’re wanting to escape the winter blues, then a great place to explore during the cooler months in Australia is Cape York.
No need to pack the winter woolies for this adventure of a lifetime, instead be sure to bring your swimmers, singlets and your very best thongs!
Cape York is a remote location, situated some 300km north of Cairns. The entire Cape area is one of Australia’s largest unspoilt wilderness regions and is just perfect for those that enjoy getting off the beaten track.
In fact, most of the roads here are unsealed and in some areas, can be in very poor condition, so a 4WD and recovery equipment is a must to ensure you reach your destination safely.
Being the most norther point of Australia, it can get extremely hot here during the Summer months. Gosh even in the winter months it’s hot! But the main reason you need to come during winter, is the roads are mostly closed during summer due to the wet season.
The rains are big here in the wet season and roads can quickly become flooded.
Most people who visit Cape York camp along the way. There are some brilliant roadhouses along the route to the top, as well as some great caravan parks.
But if you’re not the camping type, all good because each of these places also provide basic motel rooms. Although accommodation is limited in each area, with usually just the one place to stay, so if you’re not camping you may want to book well in advance.
There is a huge list of wonderful things to do see and do in Cape York, and you won’t see it all in one trip unless of course, you have a few months to explore.
There is ancient old Aboriginal rock art in Laura, amazing remote beaches such as Mutee Heads and Chili Beach, the Overland Telegraph Track for the die hard 4WD enthusiasts, stunning waterfalls and rock pools for swimming such as Eliot Falls and Fruit Bat Falls, WWII sites were you’ll find plane wrecks and heaps more.
A winter road trip to Cape York certainly takes a bit of preparation and planning. However, if you’re up for the challenge, a road trip through Cape York is an adventure of a lifetime, that you will never forget.
Contributed by Melissa from Queensland Camping.
“Wait, there is snow in Australia?”
This was probably the first thing that popped into my mind when I heard about the Snowy Mountains, or as the Aussies call it, The Snowies.
But yes, The Snowy Mountains actually get natural snow during the winter (and sometimes even fall, spring or summer) months. They are located in New South Wales and include the five highest peaks of Australia, the highest one being Mount Kosciuszko.
So of course hiking up to Mount Kosciuszko, the highest peak of Australia, is one of the best things to do at the Snowy Mountains.
And you can’t visit the Snowies in winter without checking out one of the ski resorts. This brings me to the number one thing to do there, go skiing or snowboard!
There are four ski resorts; Thredbo, Perisher, Charlotte Pass, or Selwyn Snowfields (though Selwyn has been destroyed by the bushfires in 2020, so make sure you check whether they’ve reopened yet).
And if you need to warm up during winter, check out the Yarrangobilly Caves Thermal Pool. With its 27 degrees natural pool, it’s a popular spot in the Kosciuszko National Park in the Snowy Mountains.
As the Snowy Mountains cover an enormous area, there is not just one place I’d recommend you to stay and eat. There are plenty of great options at each of the ski resorts.
Contributed by Lara from The Best Travel Gifts
As we wrap up our journey through Australia’s winter holiday destinations, it’s clear that the land of down under, has more to offer even in the colder climates.
Head into the mountains of Tamborine Mountain, Blue Mountains or the Snowy Mountains. Wrap up warm, sit in front of a log fire and enjoy the charming villages and wealth of outdoor adventures the cold regions have on offer.
If your anything like me and prefer the warmer climates, then head to Queensland or the northern regions of Western Australia and the Northern Territory, for beautiful beach locations with less crowds.
So, whether you’re seeking the thrill of snowy slopes or the tranquillity of coastal bliss, Australia’s winter holiday destinations are ready to welcome you with open arms. Embrace the cooler vibes, pack your winter essentials, and embark on an extraordinary journey through this incredible winter wonderland.
Continue your travel planning in Australia, with these useful posts
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- Best tourist spots in Australia
- Best day trips from Melbourne
- Travel guide to Australia
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- Best day hikes in Australia
- Best beaches in Australia
- How to apply for a visa to Australia
- First-timers guide to driving in Australia