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Best things to see and do in Australia's Winter
There aren’t many places in the world where winter is synonymous with sunshine, ocean swims and warm weather, but Australia is pretty special in that way. There’s tonnes to do when you visit Australia in winter, from chasing the sunshine in northern states or heading to the tropical sunshine coast. It’s the perfect time to visit Australia, even those heading south can look forward to a great trip with a glass (or three) of local wine and whale watching. Planning a trip between June and September? Here are some of the best things to see and do in Australia’s winter.
Why winter is a great time to visit Australia
You can avoid the crowds
Aussies have their main holiday season in the summer months over the Christmas and New Year Season and tend to head to the coast or flock to popular destinations. Planning your trip in Australia’s winter means you’ll be able to avoid the crowds at popular attractions and camp site options will be plentiful. Because Australian tourists tend to be summer-centric, many places are noticeably less crowded in winter.
Travel in more comfortable temperatures
Seasons in Australia are the opposite of those in the northern hemisphere, with summer lasting from December through to February and winter from June through August. While southern states feel the chill, many find winter a more comfortable time to travel. Heading into the outback or up to the northern states is popular during winter as these hot spots can get unbearably toasty during the dry summer months. In the north the winter is also “the dry season” and as this implies you don’t get as much humidity or rain as in the summer months of “the wet”. On the northern Queensland coast, temperatures are such that it’s business as usual but with less extreme heat and cooler nights. What’s not to like about that?
See different attractions
Autumn in Australia brings with it a range of autumnal hues, while winter in Australia offers an opportunity to see sights that are difficult to see during other seasons. Winter is the peak whale watching season in Victoria and South Australia. Winter also brings a dusting of snow in some destinations, with a chance to ski the slopes or even go dog sledding and tobogganing.
Have an encounter with Australia's wildlife
Australia is a feast for wildlife lovers and once you get away from the main centres there’s a lot to see. Dawn and dusk are the best times to see most wildlife as many nocturnal animals are still active in the early morning and many animals come to water at dusk. Keep your eyes peeled during the day to spot kangaroos, emu’s, koalas and cockatoos.
Most kangaroos you will see are grey kangaroos however in northern and interior areas you will see red kangaroos. These are the largest kangaroo species, can be up to 1.9m tall, weigh up to 90kg, and cover up to 10m in each leap! It’s best practice to avoid driving at dusk, dawn or night in rural Australia as they come out to feed. Notable Kangaroo celebrities include Roger the big red in the Kangaroo Sanctuary at Alice Springs who can crush a steel bucket with his arms.
Emus are the second largest bird in height terms after their close relative the ostrich, look more like the roadrunner in the TV cartoon and can sometimes be seen by the roadside. Sulphur-crested cockatoos live in huge flocks and make a magnificent sight, pristine white against the deep red, brown and green of the bush and the clear blue of the sky.
Some of the best wildlife encounters in Australia include:
- See Koalas in their natural habitat along the Great Ocean Road, VIC. Stop in at the Koala Cove Cafe and enjoy your coffee while checking out these cuddly creatures.
- Head to Kangaroo Island to spot sealions, Kangaroos, Wallabies and more.
- Swim with a whale shark along the Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia
- Spot native tree kangaroos in Queensland’s Daintree Rainforest
- Walk the plank above a group of saltwater crocodiles at the Wildlife Habitat in Port Douglas, Queensland.
Head to the red centre, Uluru and Alice Springs
Formed 600 million years ago, Uluru is powerfully sacred to traditional owners and one of the most iconic Australian landmarks. While it is best known for its brilliant red colour caused by the oxidisation of iron in its sandstone structure, Uluru goes through a tremendous range of colours as the light changes throughout the day. At the base of the rock, you’ll find many sites that are important in aboriginal “dreaming,” a mixture of traditional knowledge and sacred practice that form a living entity that needs to be maintained.
Whether you take a guided tour with one of the traditional owners, a bike ride or a camel tour around the base, Uluru carries with it a powerful sense of place that will stay with you long after you leave.
Other things to do in Alice Springs
- Experience rich Aboriginal culture of the Western Arrernte people
- Ride camels across the outback at sunset
- Take a dip in Ellery Creek Big Hole
- Get up close and personal with over 100 reptiles at Alice Springs Reptile Centre
Visit wine country in South Australia
Australia is a wine lovers paradise and you can find great wineries in some of the most beautiful and interesting locations in the southern states of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. Swill your tipple of choice from wineries and cellar doors from the Hunter Valley, located north of Sydney, down to southernmost state Tasmania.
Become a connoisseur in no time as you drink your way around the region. With faster ripening fruit in warmer climates comes full, rich flavours in local shiraz varieties, while cooler temps and slow ripening fruits create a refined and balanced pinot. Love wine? You’ll love our Winery Haven overnight experience where you can park up for the night at select wineries and enjoy a gourmet hamper or wine flight for two. Bliss!
While winding your way between wineries you can experience wild coastlines, discover hidden valleys, see brumbies in the high country and experience a slower pace in charming country towns.
Some of our favourite wineries in Australia include:
- Jacob's Creek, Barossa Valley, South Australia
- Wirra Wirra Vineyards, McLaren Vale, South Australia
- De Bortoli Yarra Valley Estate, Victoria
- Macquariedale Organic Wines, New South Wales
- Devil's Corner Cellar Door, Tasmania
Head north for an endless summer
As winter rolls around in Australia, many sun-seeking Aussies head to the winterless north to avoid the frosty temperatures down south.
While these hotspots can rise to unbearably high and dry temperatures during the peak of summer, they provide balmy warm havens for chilly travellers. The northernmost part of Australia can get a little wild, and some locations will require a 4 wheel drive to get to, but there’s plenty to see and do in these destinations
Visit Broome, Western Australia
Known as Rubibi to the Aboriginal Yawauri people, Broome is a holiday destination like no other. Visit the iconic Cable Beach and park your campervan to take a Camel ‘Caravan’ along the beach. Take a paddle around the stunning coastline and keep your eyes peeled for the rare snub fish dolphin! For Aussies that want a Mediterranian fix closer to home this year, Broome is the perfect place to marvel at impressive cliffs, splash in crystal clear waters and enjoy iconic tangerine sunsets. Bliss!
Head to The Top End, Northern Territory
When the chill starts to set in, head north for the winter. All the way north, at the top of the Northern Territory is where you’ll find The Top End (It’s all in the name really!).
The Top End is blessed with warm weather year-round, but April to September is the dry season making for the perfect weather and temperature for road trips! You’ll have plenty of sunshine to bask in, as well as natural wonders to marvel at. Check out the Nitmiluk National Park to swim under stunning waterfalls, visit world heritage listed Kakadu National Park and the 280 species of birds that call it home. Eat your way around Darwin city or immerse yourself in Indigenous art, music and storytelling at the annual Barunga Festival, The Top End will leave you hungry for more. Pick up your Maui camper from our Darwin location and get on the road.
Sun yourself in Tropical North Queensland
Winter in Tropical North Queensland looks like hanging out on white-sand beaches, swimming in pristine waters and taking a wander through ancient rainforests. If you ask us, that’s how to winter right! Winter is the best time to visit, with comfortable temperatures and flourishing wildlife. Low humidity means clearer nights, so you’ll be able to fall asleep under the stars in Burketown. Fancy a spot of fishing? Hook yourself a Barramundi for dinner while you’re there! Take a spectacular coastal journey from Cairns to Cooktown to see all the sights. Check out our Great Tropical Drive itinerary for recommended stops departing from our Cairns branch.
Splash around the Great Barrier Reef
As the largest coral reef system in the world, this natural wonder is a lovely spot to visit during Australia’s winter months when you can swim, snorkel, dive, sail or just relax without the crowds.
The best way to experience the Great Barrier Reef is to get in the water of course! The best part is that you don’t need to be a professional diver to explore this underwater wonderland. A dive mask and snorkel is all the gear you need, however for those keen to venture further to outer reefs there are scuba courses on offer and gear to hire for more experienced divers. You won’t need to dive very deep either, as crystal clear waters of the reef mean you can see stunning sea life in less than 10m of water. Spot turtles, tropical fish, sea critters and marvel at intricate coral structures as you snorkel in temperate waters.
Snorkelling isn’t the only way to get wet in the Great Barrier Reef. Take a chartered boat, join a tour to Green Island, try your hand at jet-skiing or take a canoe tour on the rivers of the nearby Daintree Rainforest. Whether you’re wanting an adventurous winter break or something more relaxing, there’s something for every kind of traveller.
Getting there is a breeze! Check out our Queensland itineraries to get inspired.