With states around the country starting to finally open their boarders (with the exception of Victoria) there has never been a better time to get out there and explore everything Australia has to offer.
And while you may think winter isn’t the best time for a holiday, we’re here to prove you wrong and have rounded up some gorgeous destinations to suit every taste - from mountains escapes, to outback exploring, wine regions, and beach trips.
According to PayPal Australia’s latest ‘Travel and Tourism Trends Report’ beach holidays are the top domestic getaway choice for Australians (36%) currently, with Gen Z and Gen X particularly eager to hit the surf and sand.
For older Australians, however, a holiday or country town seems most inviting with 33 per cent of Baby Boomers saying they want to escape to a country town for their first domestic getaway.
New South Wales
Booking.com has also seen a huge spike in searches for winter hub destinations in just the past few weeks indicating that Aussie families are still eager and willing to make short-term plans.
“Outside of skiing, in NSW destinations such as Mudgee, Orange and Pokolbin are also popular searches over the past week which shows us that Aussies are keen to get out and support local wine regions impacted by an already difficult vintage following the bushfires, exacerbated by travel restrictions,” a spokesperson said.
The top 5 trending winter destinations for June, based on Booking.com search data, in NSW are Jindabyne, Katoomba in the Blue Mountains, Thredbo, Falls Creek and Mount Buller.
Home to some of Australia’s longest ski runs and thrilling terrain parks, Thredbo is a beautiful vibrant village at the base of the NSW Snowy Mountains, located within the Kosciuszko National Park. A six-hour drive from Sydney, it’s perfect for a romantic winter getaway or a trip with the girls. Thredbo has a range of restaurants, bars and cafes to entertain both on and off the mountain.
With Australia’s highest peaks creating a beautiful backdrop, the lakes, rivers and water catchments are great fishing spots for recreational anglers and there are plenty of operators around that offer a range of boat and land fishing experiences.
Go platypus spotting in the pools located at Bombala Platypus Reserve near Bombala in the Snowy Mountains. Known as Platypus Country, this quiet and peaceful spot is the perfect place to while away a day picnicking and spotting the unique mammals who tend to pop up in the early mornings and late afternoons.
Get off the grid in a rustic eco hut in the spectacular Snowy Valleys. Kestrel Nest EcoHut will take you off-grid and off-line, but without sacrificing on the luxuries. Marvel at the clear night sky at night and collect eggs from the hen house in the morning.
Central West NSW
Treat yourself to a Zoofari at Taronga Western Plains, Dubbo. It is an unforgettable safari experience where you’ll spend the night in an Animal View Lodge, situated on the edge of a vast savannah taking in the giraffes, zebras and rhinos as they roam. Hire bikes and enjoy the native bushlands of this incredible region.
Then discover another world and take a step back in time at Old Dubbo Gaol. The State Heritage listed site, which remains intact and restored, comes to life during School Holidays, with characters in costume roaming the grounds. Be berated by one of the strict wardens, or pick-pocketed by their cunning prisoners!
For a slice of Japanese culture and a memorial to the fallen, the Japanese Gardens and Cultural Centre in Cowra, was created by Ken Nakajima to symbolise the Japanese landscape and as a symbol of reconciliation and peace. The largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, you’ll want to take in its beauty before you take in the wine culture of the area. Cowra and Canowindra in the Central West are home to some great wineries. Cowra is a thriving hub with an up-and-coming wine region, while Canowindra is renowned for its organic wines.
Don’t leave this region without a visit to the CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope in Parkes. Affectionately known as “The Dish” after the popular 2000 film of the same name, 64 metre diameter radio telescope makes for spectacular stargazing and is well worth the drive out. For an even more brilliant stargazing adventure, explore Australia’s first Dark Sky Park in the Warrumbungles.
The streets of Bathurst Town Square are filled with the tales of the nation, from the colonial Bathurst Courthouse to the gardens of Kings Parade, which are home to the Boer War Memorial and the War Memorial Carillon. Download the Bathurst – Step Beyond app to enjoy a tour of the Town Square narrated by Australian television celebrity and local, Grant Denyer. There is also Bathurst Regional Art Gallery (BRAG) is one of the oldest regional galleries in NSW with amazing collections of work by both local and international artists, including from well-known Australian artists such as John Olsen and Fred Williams.
Explore nature at one of NSW’s newly formed National Parks, Yanga National Park, taking in 170km of the Murrumbidgee River. Or spot koalas in the natural habitat at Narrandera Nature Reserve (referred to as Koala Reserve to locals).
Test your nerves at Australia’s Most Haunted House, Monte Cristo, which is an 1884-built homestead in Junee before you sweeten the experience with a visit to the Junee Liquorice Factory to pick up the best liquorice you’ll ever have.
One of the newest additions to this region, the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk on the Wagirra Trail near Albury features sculptures accompanied by interpretative panels and videos via smartphone. The unique and impressive pieces of art tell the story of Aboriginal history and the cultural significance of the Murray River.
Winter is the ultimate season for a visit to Outback NSW. Enjoy daily temperatures of 20 degrees celsius and try your luck at finding Lightning Ridge’s elusive black opal in the historical mining town.
You won’t want to miss out on taking a dip in the Lightning Ridge Bore Baths, which are almost two million years old and maintain a very inviting temperature between 40 and 50 degrees celsius.
For the ultimate outback driving experience follow the course of the Darling from Walgett to Wentworth, a journey covering nearly 950km of spectacular landscape, rich with indigenous history and the memories of Australia’s pioneering days.
Stand in three states in NSW Corner Country. At Cameron Corner, 145km northwest of Tibooburra, you can actually stand at the intersection of NSW, South Australia and Queensland.
Stay above water with The Paddle Vessel (PV) Jandra, which offers cruises on the Darling River from Bourke’s Kidman’s Camp seven days per week during winter. Learn about the region’s rich river boat history. Or head to Australia’s oldest commercial opal field, White Cliffs. Almost everything is located under the surface, including the White Cliffs Underground Motel, dug into Poor Man’s Hill in the early 1900s.
Discover the Southern Highlands
Just 90 minutes from Sydney and under two hours from Canberra, NSW’s Southern Highlands are close to the big cities, but thanks to its rich tapestry of boutique wineries, heritage buildings, picture-perfect towns and green rolling hills, feel worlds apart.
With all the ingredients for a memorable short break - cosy fires, great wine, plenty of nostalgia and good food - here’s our pick of what to check out on your next visit to the Southern Highlands.
There’s a great cool climate wine scene in the Southern Highlands, with more than 60 vineyards. You can curate your own wine tour at cellar doors including Centennial Vineyards, Artemis Wines, Tertini Wines, Joadja Estate, Eling Forest Winery, Southern Highland Winery and St Maur Wines.
Shane Warne’s baggy green will be permanently on display here from August, so it’s time to explore The Bradman Museum & International Cricket Hall of Fame – full of fascinating memorabilia and absorbing stories from cricketing greats. It’s all set in the beautiful surrounds of Bradman Oval, and includes the Bradman Café and gift store.
One of the most spectacular waterfalls anywhere in Australia, the 81m high Fitzroy Falls drops dramatically into the untouched bushland of Morton National Park. At the Fitzroy Falls Visitor Centre, you’ll find a cafe, souvenir shop and information on fascinating local Aboriginal history and wildlife in the park.
Take a twilight camel ride along the sands of Birubi Beach, with Oakfield Ranch, in Port Stephens or Lighthouse Beach with Port Macquarie Camels. There are 20-minute day trips or hour-long evening experiences so you can take in the stunning coast on board the animals known as the “ships of the desert.”
If camels aren’t your thing, Port Stephens is Australia’s dolphin capital. Swim in the open ocean with dolphins with Dolphin Swim Australia or stay dry on one of the many dolphin-watching boat tours.
From new guided walks on Fraser Island and glamping tents in the Outback to a cultural tour of the Ngaro Sea Trail and tea blending workshops, there's a myriad of new and revamped tourism experiences waiting to be explored in Queensland.
Many people flock to Fraser Island for 4WD adventures but now you can join a small group guided tour with Fraser Island Hiking to discover parts of the 90km Fraser Island Great Walk that passes by iconic landscapes such as Lake McKenzie, Central Station and Pile Valley. Fraser Island Hiking offers three hiking packages across 2-, 3- and 4-day itineraries. The packages cater for a range of abilities and include a self-guided camping, ‘pack free’ and luxury option.
Island hopping in the Whitsundays
Explore the Whitsundays’ rich cultural history along the Ngaro Sea Trail with Whitsunday Paradise Explorer’s new eco-certified Cultural Tours. Join experienced Skipper John Henderson and principle Indigenous guide Peter Pryor, who is a direct descendant of the Ngaro people, on a small group tour to visit culturally significant sites at South Molle, Whitsunday and Hook Island where a cave with ancient Aboriginal rock art paints a picture of the life of the Ngaro People who have walked this land for over 9,000 years. The tour allows you to learn more about the history of the Ngaro People, their customs and how they source traditional bush tucker that is plentiful in this region.
Sail on the Sunshine Coast
Saltwater Eco Tours is the brainchild of Young Indigenous Tourism Leader and descendant from the Torres Strait, Simon Thornalley, who created this new educational experience to share his Indigenous culture and passion for the ocean with others. Operating out of Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast and launching on July 4, the sailing experience will give you a deeper understanding of the connection between Indigenous culture and the ocean though stories of the local Kabi Kabi people, musical performances and local bush tucker tastings - all aboard a traditional sailing vessel dating back to 1908.
Even when it is sunny outside you can get a spectacular view of the night sky thanks to the new Astrodome Planetarium at the Charleville Cosmos Centre where you can sit back and enjoy a 360-degree experience across three different daily cinematic shows. In the evening join fellow stargazers around the Universal Dreaming firepit which has been designed to reflect the night sky and listen to tales that our ancestors have told over time. And with the help of a new state-of the-art 30-inch telescope you can now see the night sky clearer and closer than ever before.
Explore the underground wonders of the Capricorn Caves to even greater depths with two new cave tours launched to celebrate their re-opening. Head off on a Capricorn Explorer Tour to learn about the incredible geological forces that formed the caves, and for those with a thirst for adventure, try your hand at the Capricorn Adventurer Tour that will take you on a challenging but spectacular journey through some of the most remote sections of the caves.
Enchanted Forest Walk
Wrap up and explore Tasmania on foot. Tasmania’s Enchanted Forest Walk is a 1.6km hike located in Cradle Mountain, Lake St Clair National Park. Some of the highlights from this beautiful walk include cascading rivers, wombat burrows and old-growth rainforest. If you’re not a seasoned hiker, don’t worry, this walk is suitable for everyone.
Winter and camping don’t normally go together, but trust us on this one. Head to a secluded campsite perched above South Australia’s largest mountain range Flinders Ranges and take in its rugged beauty.
Featuring some of Australia’s most breathtaking bushland, this trip will be one to remember. Top tip: make sure you stop and appreciate the stunning sunset and gaze at the milky way in the clear winter sky.
Margaret River Region
Margaret River in the south-west region of Perth comes alive in winter and is a must-do if you're living in Australia’s biggest state, WA.
Although famous for its wine, this hot spot is also a go-to for music lovers and foodies, with its iconic truffle season. Of course, if you’re brave enough to get wet, it’s the perfect location to catch a wave.