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Traveling to Australia is a huge bucket-list item for most, and experiencing summer Down Under is many a travelers dream. Though what the rest of the world doesn’t realize is that Australia’s winter is a fabulous time of year.

With temperatures which are warm, though not excessively hot, and with far fewer crowds, though still packed with things to do, Australia’s winter is this summer’s best kept secret…and your wallet will thank you for it too!

Not only will choosing the coldest time of year save you cash on your airfare, but better deals on tours, rentals, day trips and bucket list activities too. Beaches and roads are less crowded, flies and mosquitoes aren’t out in full force, and June – August is when you’ll stumble into some of the most happening Aussie festivals of the year.

Here are a few destinations to include if you’re willing to consider winter in Australia over the Northern Hemisphere’s summer.

The Best Places to Visit in Australia During Winter

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Sydney for VIVID Live

Sydney is a fantastic choice of destination all throughout the year. Traveling during winter means access to a huge number of sports, festivals and art attractions, as well as adventure, shopping and a fantastic culinary scene, and with “dazzling light shows, sparkling winter nights and mild sunny days, Sydney’s winter time becomes play-time for everyone.”

The city is the beautiful backdrop to the much-loved winter festival of lights, music and ideas, Vivid Sydney, staged at various venues across the city. This is the largest party of lights, music and ideas in the Southern Hemisphere.

Usually scheduled for May/early June each year, VIVID features free nightly light shows and incredible art installations, LED-bejeweled boats cruising the harbor, live music, creative conferences, and the sails of the legendary Sydney Opera House illuminated with mesmerizing 3D projections.

Book in to climb the Sydney Harbor Bridge during VIVID Live – not only is the climb incredibly adventurous and will keep your adrenalin pumping, but you’re greeted with spectacular views over Sydney once at the top.

NSW Coast for Whale Watching

Southern Hemisphere whales migrate north for the winter, meaning NSW in May holds fantastic opportunities for whale watching allowing tourists to catch a sight of them breach and splash.

Whales can be spotted along the coastline from the headlands, or via whale watching tours by boat or air. The whales pass very near many parts of Australia during their quest to breed.

There is a free smartphone app to get the latest whale sightings, record your own, and learn more about these amazing mammals.

Just practice caution if planning on jumping in after them – more than whales that occupy Australian waters!

The Outback Road Trip

No trip to Australia is complete without a road trip, and there is nothing really like exploring the Land Down Under by driving yourself. Connecting tropical Darwin to the desert city of Alice Springs, the Stuart Highway cuts straight through the Outback of the Northern Territory, and passes by Australia’s most iconic natural attraction, Uluru (Ayers Rock).

The winter weather is much more suitable for Outback road-trips; during summer you will literally find yourself steaming in 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and the flies and mosquitoes come out in full force. This is the driest time of the year too; with a tropical climate the Northern Territory really only has two distinct seasons, the ‘Wet’ and the ‘Dry’. Traveling during winter from May – August means avoiding increased humidity as well as monsoonal rains and storms.

Renting a camper van will start from around $100 AUD per day. This is one of the most beautiful and iconic parts of the country, and the closest you will come to driving through Mars or the moon while still on earth.

Arnhem Land

As true an Australian experience as you can get, Arnhem Land is unspoiled and incredibly remote – 91,000 square kilometres of tropical wilderness in Outback Australia.

The oldest living culture in the world originates here (dating back 50,000+ years), and the small population of Aboriginal Australians who do continue to live off the land have kept their traditional culture largely intact. Access to Arnhem Land is so restricted that only selected tour operators who have earned the trust of traditional landowners may bring visitors in.

The region boasts incredible barramundi fishing, crystal clear coastal waters for amazing snorkeling and scuba diving, and of course the intimidating yet majestic saltwater crocodiles that will make you feel as though you were in Crocodile Dundee.

Come August, Aboriginal culture gets its due with the Amhem Land’s Garma Festival.

Margaret River, WA

If food and wine is the focus of your travels, then Margaret River is for you. Located 300 km south west of Perth, the Margaret River region is nestled on the most south westerly point of Western Australia. It stretches for about 100km between Busselton and Augusta, covering a pristine, varied landscapes from water shaped rugged cliffs and coastal heathland to gentle hills of the inland to the fascinating Boranup Forest with the giant Karri Trees.

This area is not only famous for premium wines and excellent organic food, it offers a variety of great events and outdoor activities throughout the year which is very hard to beat. Known as Western Australia’s adventure destination, crowds all but disappear once winter hits, offering almost private access to mountain bike trails and great coastal walks like the Cape to Cape Track.

The winter swells on the world-class surf set-ups are some of the best.

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Perisher for Winter Sports

Australia’s most popular snow holiday destination, Perisher is the largest ski resort in the Southern Hemisphere, set amidst the picturesque Kosciusko National Park Australia’s famous Snowy Mountains. With four resort parks and 47 lifts, the terrain at Perisher attracts the world’s best skiers and snowboarders as well as local enthusiasts who travel to enjoy the snow.

The main skiing period is in July and August, with the official season running from the second weekend in June to the first weekend of October. The run difficulties are graded 22% beginner, 60% intermediate and 18% advanced.

The WhitSundays

There’s no better way to spend winter than on an island where it’s almost always summer! 74 Island wonders which line the beautiful tropical coast of Queensland, the WhitSundays are smack bang in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef, and the “stunning natural landscapes of coast and islands are dotted with secluded beaches and friendly towns.”

Laze out on the beautiful beaches to enjoy the clear skies and crystal clear water, go snorkeling to explore the diversity of marine life underneath the surface of the sparkling sea, or cruise through the islands and drop anchor for a scuba dive. Head on over to the Daintree for a rugged and World Heritage listed getaway, or spend the day splashing in the clear shallow waters of world famous Whitehaven Beach.

“Whether you choose to base yourself on the coast or on the islands, there’s so much to do, you’ll have to work out how to fit it all in!”

Tasmania for the Southern Lights

The Northern Lights get all the press, though Australia has a natural light show which is just as spectacular. The Southern Lights are elusive, and as such a sighting is incredibly rare, though one of the world’s most impressive spectacles where brilliant luminescent light dances across the night sky, it’s definitely worth attempting to time your visit to Tasmania to align with the Southern Lights.

Theoretically speaking September is usually the best time for viewing the Southern Lights, though they made appearances this year all throughout the winter season. And you can track them on smart phone applications like Star Walk (an interactive astronomy guide), by watching real-time maps via Aurora Forecast or by joining the Aurora Australis Tasmania Facebook group which has postings of real-time alerts.

Though for those heading to NZ instead of Aus, there are some great reasons to wander around New Zealand during winter instead.

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Megan is an Australian Journalist who has been travelling and blogging since 2007, with the main aim of inspiring others to embark on their own worldwide adventure. Her husband Mike is an American travel photographer, and together they have made the world their home.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

Follow their journey on Facebook, TwitterYouTube, Pinterest and Instagram.

Photo Credits: Featured by Kevin Wong. Pinterest photos by Trysil & Crouchy69. Vivid Sydney Opera House by Sacha Fernandez & Jason James. Whales by Percita & Ryan Buterbaugh. Arnhem Land by Mark Roy. Perisher by Franklin Samir Dattein & Fran Tapia. WhitSundays by ilaria. Margaret River by National Film and Sound.

    38 Comments

  1. Didn’t know that there is Southern Lights! :)

    • We keep the best parts of the country a secret to enjoy all to ourselves lol :D

  2. I’ve done Vivid and whale watching and am heading to Perisher in two weeks! Really eager to get to the Whitsundays and especially to see the Southern Lights in Tasmania.

    • So glad to hear you’ll be taking advantage of the slopes Kirstie! And how good is Vivid Live!! It’s a seriously good time of year to do the harbor bridge climb because I swear you’ll never find another city skyline view as colorful anywhere else in the world!

      Hope you manage a trip to Tassie and QLD for the WhitSundays at some point soon – I’m always so super eager to get out and see the rest of the world, but in reality there’s so much to see and do in my own country first!

      Happy travels!

    • Ooooh enjoy Tassie!! Make sure you join the Facebook group and watch the maps for a chance at the lights :)

  3. Lots of cool options here, but it’s the Southern Lights that really excite me. I had no idea. We have talked about visiting Tasmania but always in the summer.

    • Tasmania is a fantastic location really at any time of the year, yes, it does get fairly cold in the winter, which is why so many choose to head down in the summer, though if you do manage to catch the Southern Light’s it’s well worth the trip!!

      Hope you manage a trip to Tassie soon!

  4. Such gorgeous pictures and colors. I have yet to go to Australia, but it is certainly a place I am looking to travel to. Not sure when, but if it is during their winter this is a list I will have to keep for future reference.

    • Glad to hear Australia is on your list Holly! The best advice I would give to choosing a time of year to come would be to sit down and figure out which destinations you want to take in on your trip. Because some are better during summer v winter, and some the other way round. Shoulder season is always a mix of the best of both worlds with less crowds but starting to get into really nice warm weather :)

      Hope you manage a trip here soon!

  5. Wow, such great options!! I would venture to guess that if we ever have the opportunity to visit it will be during your winter time since it’s our summer vacation! Looks like we will have more than enough to keep us busy! Beautiful photos!

    • Glad to hear that Karilyn! You won’t be disappointed in swapping Summer for Winter I promise! As you said, lots to see and do :) Glad you enjoyed the post! Let us know if you have any Q’s or are after itinerary advice when you do plan your trip :)

  6. I’d go for the wine country, followed by Northern Lights. Hmm… maybe I should actually consider a trip to Australia?

    • You absolutely should for sure! Spectacular country no matter what the time of year :) Let us know if you’re looking for help with your itinerary – massively proud of my home country here :D!

  7. a road trip in the outback is on my bucket list! Great tips on where to go, I loved all the different ideas! And the southern lights are awesome!

    • So glad to hear Joe! You’ll love the Outback – we took a road trip a few years ago now and can’t wait to get back for some more exploring!! So much to see and do, it’s such a large country!

  8. I don’t like extreme heat. An Australian winter would be perfect for me. I didn’t know about Southern Lights either.

    • Australia during winter would definitely be the time of year to come then – Southern Lights in particular are amazing, Tasmania is often the coldest point of Aus during winter, so be sure to pack warm clothes, but it’s the perfect way to experience Aus without that ridiculous summer sun!

  9. The best thing about travelling in winter in Melbourne is that you will be here during footy season! Nothing more amazing than going to the Melbourne Cricket Ground to catch a game of Australian Rules Football. The atmosphere is insane and unlike most sporting events around the world, it is actually not too expensive (general admission tickets are no more than $25).

    • That’s very true!! I’m a big Collingwood fan, so I would highly recommend hitting up a game and barracking for the Pies :D

  10. An Aussie Outback road trip is an absolute must during the winter months – we did one all the way from Adelaide to Darwin last year and loved it! So much to see and do! The Mataranka Hot Springs are a treat and Coober Pedy is pretty interesting too!

    • Oooh Adelaide to Darwin sounds like such a fab adventure!! So glad to hear you did this Steph! Haven’t actually been to Mataranka Hot Springs, so will have to add this to my list, but totally agree with Coober Pedy, we loved our stop there…we did a drive from Canberra to Alice. So now the next trip will be the remaining portion of the drive up towards Darwin :) Can’t wait!

      Happy travels!

  11. Whale watching in Hervey Bay is pretty awesome too!

    • Thanks Ashlee! I’ll have to make sure we get there at some point this year!

  12. Hello,
    I really love your photo of Opera house vivid Sydney. it is so attractive. Can i get your credit so that it is used on my social media Sina Weibo?

    • Hi Carol – glad you like the Opera House Shots :)

      The photos from Vivid Live were taken by other photographers from the event. Depending on which one you’re after, the Opera House shots are by Sacha Fernandez & Jason James. Links to their Flickr pages are in the photo credits at the bottom of the post.

      Hope that helps!

  13. Bondi, Bell’s Beach, Melbourne Fed square, NGV Melbiurne, Blue Mountains, Sydney: Taranga Zoo, Museums & Victorian malls

    • All great ideas! The beaches during winter maybe not so much for swimming, but we’ve enjoyed walking Bondi for the views, especially as winter means there are no crowds so we virtually have the place to ourselves :)

  14. Something you might be interested in if your travelling Australia in Winter. Travelling always gives huge enjoyment for all. I cover all over the world but nothing is compare to what I have seen at Australia in winter.but Great review thanks for sharing

    • Glad you’re a fan of winter here in Aus too :)

  15. I’m looking at booking a 1 way flight in April and seeing how long I last. Where would you recommend as a good starting point?

    • Hi Tom, I would recommend starting in one of the cities, you’ll either fly into Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane, so start there, check out the main tourist sites, and then you can start branching out into more regional areas from there. Figure out which state you want to explore the most out of Qld, NSW and Victoria, obviously you can get domestic flights between all cities, but can explore regional areas from a city base.

      If you head north into northern QLD and Darwin they don’t operate off 4 seasons (wet and dry as opposed to summer, spring etc), so it’ll be much warmer there.

      Hope that helps!

  16. In my favorite list, Queensland is the best place of Australia in winter. Bunya Mountains is the beautiful place of Queensland.

    • Queensland is a fabulous choice for winter – I haven’t made it to Bunya Mountains National Park yet, so will have to include it on our next trip. Thanks for the tip!

  17. Loved the pics ! Where can I find snow on 1st of July ? My kids want to experience snow. Plus swill we be able to expert experience vineyards in winters ?

    • Hi Asma, if you’re looking for snow in Australia, Perisher Blue is the country’s snow / ski resort, though you can drive around the Kosciusko / Snowy Mountains region and find snow too. This is around a 5 hour drive from Sydney, or 2 and a half hour drive from Canberra.

      If you’re looking for a vineyard experience, there are many vineyards around the Canberra region, so this could be a convenient base for combining both snow and wineries into the same trip. The Canberra District wine region is home to 140 vineyards and more than 30 cellar doors.

      Hope that helps! Have a wonderful trip :)

  18. Hi! I dream about Australia but my summer holidays are your winters (and I live in a very cold place.. Finland) so I am debating myself about the trip because it’s winter precisely. How cold is it for example if you want to try the Great Barrier or couple of days in a nice beach? I’m interested in famous local wildlife (wombats.. how cute!!!) and beautiful landscapes basically.. oh and attend one event in SYDNEY opera house of course 😄

    • Hi Nataly, thanks for your comment :)

      Australia is a lot warmer than Finland during winter (I traveled to Finland in February one year – so beautiful but so cold :D!). During winter on the Great Barrier Reef you’re probably looking at between 14 to 26 degrees celcius, so still quite warm, because it’s largely a tropical location.

      As you come further south towards places like Sydney, Melbourne, and maybe even Tasmania, you’re looking at temperatures between 3 and 11 degrees Celsius.

      For local wildlife in Sydney, because it’s a big city you mainly have zoos and sanctuaries – Taronga Zoo and Featherdale Wildlife Park are the big ones.

      If you head somewhere like Tasmania you’ll have a better opportunity of seeing animals in the wild, for instance Cradle Mountain has a huge population of wild wombats, as does Maria Island on the East Coast of the island. And Tasmania is beautiful for landscapes.

      Depending on how much time you have you could probably fly into Brisbane (has an international airport) and spend a couple of days in QLD, going north towards Cairns for the Great Barrier Reef, fly to Sydney to see the big city and main tourist attractions like the opera house, and then fly to Tasmania for a bit of a wildlife and natural landscapes road trip.

      Hope that helps! Have an amazing time in Australia :)

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