The temperature has cooled. Coats have come out of storage. Bed is a struggle to leave in the mornings. Winter has officially arrived in the Southern Hemisphere.
While some Australians embrace the cold and seek out snow (try these luxury alpine getaways), others crave escape. Your best bet for soaking up winter sun is to make the pilgrimage north, where dry season is in full swing and balmy weather awaits.
Fortunately, the country is blessed with many excellent places to visit when the mercury drops. Below we’ve assembled some of the best Australian winter travel destinations. Share your favourites in the comments.
Whitsunday Islands | Queensland
The Whitsundays top many sun-seekers’ lists come cool weather. To call the islands “picturesque” almost downplays their beauty. Their iconic turquoise waters, white sand beaches, and lush rainforests are the stuff travel guide dreams are made of. Head to Hamilton Island for resorts, Long Island for exotic walking tracks, and Whitsunday Island for a photograph on stunning Whitehaven Beach.
Explorers Highway | South Australia & Northern Territory
Pack the snacks and prep the playlist. It’s road trip time. Trace the trail of pioneer John McDouall Stuart as you bisect the continent from Adelaide to Darwin on the Explorers Highway. The route not only takes you towards warmth, it also passes many of Australia’s notable sights. The Barossa Valley, the Flinders Ranges, Alice Springs, Uluru, Kings Canyon, and the Devils Marbles are a few options for your itinerary.
Darwin | Northern Territory
Darwin is a perfect Aussie winter stop, whether or not you take the Explorers Highway to get there. The tropical capital boasts museums, bars, restaurants, galleries, and Crocosaurus Cove – where you can take a dip with one of the scaly carnivores in the Cage of Death, if you dare. Don’t forget to explore Darwin’s backyard during your visit. Kakadu National Park is home to hundreds of types of mammals, reptiles, birds, and freshwater fish, many of which only occur in the area.
Port Douglas | Queensland
Palm-lined beaches and close proximity to the Great Barrier Reef make Port Douglas a firm favourite for winter travel. In addition to diving, visitors enjoy pristine Four Mile Beach, kitesurfing, five-star resorts, boating, the Reef Marina, and Mossman Gorge. If you’re up for a drive, ride the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway and explore Kuranda. Port Douglas offers a superb mix of natural beauty and man-made luxury.
Daintree Rainforest | Queensland
The world’s oldest rainforest could be a stop on your Port Douglas trip, but it deserves an entry all its own. The Daintree is the largest continuous area of tropical rainforest on the Australian continent, clocking in at around 1,200 square kilometres. Both the landscape and the creatures that inhabit it are strikingly diverse. A stop at Cape Tribulation, one of the only places in the world where the rainforest meets the ocean, is a must.
Gibb River Road | Western Australia
Tackle one of the country’s greatest four-wheel-drive adventures in Western Australia. The Gibb River Road is a 660-km odyssey through the wild heart of the Kimberley. Along the way you can bushwalk in Bell Gorge, take a scenic flight over Mitchell Falls, fish for barramundi at Jack’s Waterhole, and see freshwater crocodiles in the Windjana Gorge National Park. There’s no better way to experience the remote and dramatic scenery the region is famous for.