The word Australia comes from the Latin phrase Terra Australis, or great southern land. If you have ever been fortunate enough to spend some time in the lucky country, you will probably agree that it is, well, great. The island continent has an enviable reputation for being an adventure traveller’s paradise. Australia is home to some of the world’s best beaches; beautiful, yet potentially deadly wildlife, and some unique ecological phenomena, such as the Great Barrier Reef and Uluru. Each year, around 2 million people holiday in Australia during the summer months, many attracted by the promise of warm weather and high spirits. However, considering Australia’s generally temperate climate – a visit during the winter is arguably your best bet for maximising bang for your buck. We recently gave you 5 reasons to love winter in New Zealand – but we couldn’t possibly close the book without giving you our top 5 things to love about Australian winter.
1. Vivid Sydney
The Sydney-based annual festival of light, music, and ideas is the jewel in the crown of New South Wales during winter. The 3-week festival (running from late May to mid-June) attracts over 1 million people to Sydney, creating an intimate setting for some of the most spectacular lights, music, and performance art anywhere in the world. The images projected into the night skies across the City are awesome, and there are a number of brilliant cultural activities to immerse yourself in. Most of the events take place at night, so you’ll need a warm jacket, a hat and some gloves (yes, even in Sydney) – but you will not want to miss this amazing spectacle of organised light and magic!
2. Bronte Splashers Swimming Club
If you are already in Sydney, and you’re looking to try something new, and perhaps a little intrepid – how about a bit of winter swimming? The Bronte Splashers Swimming Club is Australia’s oldest winter swimming club. The Splashers swim at beautiful Bronte Beach in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, and they’ll immediately impress you with their skill, courage, and defiant attitude toward quite chilly conditions. If you want to join the fun and frolics, membership will cost you just AU$10 and buys you the opportunity test yourself against the elements, whilst wearing very little in company. Don't forget your towels.
3. Blue Mountains Yulefest
As a nod to those Northern Hemisphere types who lament the distinctly southern phenomenon of the warm weather Christmas – The Blue Mountains Yulefest celebrates Christmas in July. The annual Yulefest takes place in the town of Katoomba, headquartered at the delightfully grandiose Carrington Hotel and Guesthouse. The festival typically greets thousands of visitors who gather to enjoy log-fires, Christmas carols, sumptuous festive feasts and the famous Blue Mountain hospitality. Speaking of the mountains, it is common to get a bit of snow in July and August - so dress warmly and do not forget your down jacket.
4. The Australian Alps/Mount Kosciuszko
At 2,228 metres, Mount Kosciuszko is the highest peak in Australia. Perfect for a climb then, you say? Well, there’s plenty to do across the Snowy Mountains region of Southern NSW. The region comes alive during the winter months, with a range of events to mark the seasonal openings at the Perisher and Thredbo resorts. Skiing and snowboarding are popular pastimes around these parts, and this is simply the best place in Australia to indulge your alpine impulses. You will need a good bag to transport all your gear, keeping it dry and protected. If you don’t fancy taming the Kosciuszko beast, you can catch the Kosciuszko express chairlift, which takes you 6km from the top of the mountain. From here, it is a short hike to the summit and the promise of some truly incredible views.
5. Splendour in the Grass Festival
Billed as the largest winter music festival in Australia, Splendour has been an annual fixture on the Aussie gig calendar since 2001. Based in Byron Bay – which has a temperate summer climate all year round, the festival is well known for its diverse line-ups, ethereal vibes and camping. That’s right, even in winter – there are still opportunities to sleep under the stars, and there are few places better for camping than Byron Bay. Just so happens we have a great range of camping essentials that are tailor made for Byron, so if you’re up for a summer-like adventure in the middle of Aussie winter, Splendour is spot on!