Winter in Australia can be anything you want, from the fresh powdery snow of the ski resorts to the warm soothing ocean of the tropical north. We have the best recommendations for the 5 top places to go during the winter months in Australia. If you want to consider heading overseas, check out these winter travel ideas.
The tropical climate of Australia’s largest rainforest, the World Heritage-listed Daintree, brings ideal winter temperatures of 26°C at the height of the day and cool refreshing evenings.
(Coopers Creek, Daintree Rainforest. Credit Tourism Port Douglas and Daintree)
At Cape Tribulation, between the rainforest and the sea, water temperatures average 24C, perfect for swimming off the shimmering sandy beach. In the winter months, there are no box jellyfish around, and far fewer mosquitoes, thanks to the drier climate.
From here you can head out to the Great Barrier Reef, which is at its best between June and October. Because rainfall is rare in these months, divers and snorkellers enjoy better visibility. Winter is the time to see the Minke Whales and Humpbacks too.
If you’re travelling with children, don’t miss the Wildlife Habitat experience in Port Douglas, at the southern end of the Daintree, where you can get up close to native animals in their natural environments.
Winter in Australia is a popular time of year to visit the Daintree and Great Barrier Reef, so talk to your ATAS travel agent to find the ideal time to go and the best Daintree spa resort or wilderness lodge.
Winter Food & Wine
While some seek out hotter weather during winter in Australia, others relish the cooler southern regions. In the South West and South Australian wine regions, hearty food, red wine, crackling fireplaces and brisk walks are among the most popular winter getaways from Perth or Adelaide.
(Jacobs Creek, SA. Credit Tourism Australia)
There are several food-and-wine related events taking place during the winter months in Western and South Australia.
The southern forests region of Western Australia is the largest producer of black truffles in the Southern Hemisphere due to ideal growing conditions. From May to mid August, visitors can join the highly trained truffle dogs on a hunt through the orchards, and in June the Truffle Kerfuffle is held in Manjimup, Western Australia – a weekend dedicated to celebrating Australia’s truffle season.
In South Australia, wine lovers may want to organise their holiday around Winter Reds Weekend in the Adelaide Hills held in the cooler months of July, or make a weekend trip for the Sea and Vines Festival in McLaren Vale, typically held in June. If you’re travelling late in the winter, look out for the Barossa Gourmet Weekend, which normally occurs on the first weekend of spring.
Winter is also the best time to go hot air ballooning over the Barossa at dawn, since the balloons need a cold ambient temperature in order to rise.
Ask your ATAS travel planner to help you find the best deals on winter escapes out of Perth or Adelaide. Choose from a long list of winter lodges and resorts – but make sure there’s an open fireplace or woodburner, and plenty of blankets for rugging up with a glass of red.
Darwinians don’t need to seek out a winter escape because this is the best time to stay home! Darwin averages a maximum temperature of 29°C during the dry season, which includes the winter months in Australia.
(Mindil Beach Market, Darwin. Credit Tourism Australia)
Throughout the season, the Mindil Beach Market is one of the most famous and fabulous places to browse, taste local and international cuisine, and linger over the sunset. Balmy winter nights under star-filled skies are also ideal for enjoying a movie at the outdoor Deckchair Cinema.
Set aside one sunset for a trip of the harbour aboard a historic pearling lugger. The harbour isn’t the place to swim, but if you want to cool off without the risk of becoming lunch, Darwin’s Wave Lagoon is a crocodile- and stinger-free wave and swimming lagoon on the waterfront.
Darwin is famously associated with crocodiles of course, and these magnificent creatures are more visible during the winter months when they spend more time basking in the sun. There are safe ways to experience them – an absolute must for your bucket list. In Darwin, brave souls enter the Cage of Death at Crocosaurus Cove – a glass tank lowered into the water, bringing you face to face with a five-metre croc!
The best way to see crocs in their natural habitat is to visit Kakadu National Park and board a cruise of the Yellow Water Wetlands or join a tour that includes the Cahills Crossing viewing platform.
Kakadu, 2.5 hours drive from Darwin, is worth a day trip, or longer, especially in the early winter months when the waterfalls are still flowing strongly. Jim Jim Falls and Twin Falls are the iconic spots to visit, and there’s some fascinating Aboriginal rock art to be seen.
Winter also marks the breeding season for turtles, and visitors love watching female turtles laying their eggs and the tiny hatchlings scurrying down the to the water. You can witness this special event on a tour to Bynoe Harbour.
As winter is the middle of high season in Darwin, accommodation costs are at their peak, so ask your ATAS travel agent to help you find the best deals.
From the tropics to the snow – this year’s ski season in New South Wales launches the second weekend of June.
(Snowboarding, Perisher. Credit Tourism Australia)
Overseas travellers commonly don’t associate skiing with winter in Australia, yet ski resorts are a favourite for Sydney winter weekend getaways and longer breaks.
There are two popular ski resorts in the Kosciuszko National Park area of the aptly named Snowy Mountains: Perisher and Thredbo. Both cater to everyone – beginners to advanced, kids to adults – with a range of lessons in both skiing and snowboarding.
Perisher, six hours drive from Sydney, has a snow holiday style for every kind of visitor. It’s the largest alpine ski resort in the Southern Hemisphere and has Australia’s most expansive ski fields at over 3000 acres, divided into four areas: Perisher Valley, Smiggin Holes, Blue Cow and Guthega.
The ski season launches at Perisher with the Peak Music Festival in June. Ask your ATAS travel advisor about the wide choice of accommodation options, including hotels, inns, bed and breakfasts, and chalets. There’s also a great après ski scene here with plenty of bars and restaurants.
Thredbo is a ski village nestled in the foothills, and known for having the five longest runs in Australia. The village has everything you need within a short walking distance, including offering a great range of lodges, bars, restaurants, cafes and shops.
A special experience in Thredbo is the very Saturday tradition of night skiers and snowboarders lighting up the Supertrail with flaming flares. Read more in our Get to know Australia’s Ski Fields blog article.
Shark Bay to Ningaloo
Those who prefer to flee to warmer climes for their winter getaways out of Perth should consider heading to the World Heritage regions of Shark Bay and the Ningaloo Coast in Western Australia. These areas are a mecca for marine experiences, many of which are at their best in winter, when maximum temperatures average 25°C and rarely drop below 10°C at night.
The ideal time to look out for humpback whales is in August or September, as they make their way along the coast from their winter breeding grounds to spend the summer feeding in the Antarctic. Visitors are often treated to the sight of a cow and calf playing together in the protected waters of Shark Bay.
At Monkey Mia, the famous bottlenose dolphins visit the beach each day to the delight of holiday makers. There are several adventure cruises from the Monkey Mia wharf for more sightings of marine wildlife, including the wonderful dugongs.
the calmer winter months are ideal for kayaking and paddle-boarding. There’s little swell to contend with in the protected waters, so you can relax and enjoy the scenery from your kayak or just have fun paddling.
(Ningaloo Marine Park. Credit Tourism Australia)
Further north, along the Ningaloo Coast, autumn and winter are the time to swim with the gentle giants of the ocean, whale sharks, and you can spot manta rays right through the winter.
Base yourself in Exmouth for this, a fabulous spot from which to explore the Ningaloo Reef – one of the world’s longest fringing reefs and home to hundreds of coral and fish species. From Exmouth or Coral Bay, you can take a catamaran or boat cruise out to the Reef for spectacular diving and snorkelling.
Winter in Australia is when wildflower season begins, and the blooms appear first in the west between Shark Bay and Exmouth. Shark Bay enjoys an enormous range of wildflower varieties and the longest wildflower season of any part of WA.
There’s a range of accommodation in Exmouth and some good options in Shark Bay at Denham and Monkey Mia. Ask your ATAS travel agent for advice.
Australia has every kind of destination for holiday makers in any season. Whether you choose to escape to warmer weather by heading north for the Dry Season this year, or embrace the winter chill in the snow or wine regions, your local ATAS travel agent can find the best location and accommodation to give you the experience you want.