Australia is a land celebrated for its summers, but not so much for its winters. For those who find themselves there from June to August, know there are plenty of ways for the cold not to get you down.

From spots to satisfy snow bunnies, to others that provide a little more heat up north, Australia is not to be underestimated regarding what it has to offer travellers in wintertime. We explore some of the best trip ideas down under, below.

Ningaloo Lighthouse pictured during twilight; it sits atop a brush-covered hill, with the beach-lined coast curving away into the distance below
The Ningaloo Coast is home to world-class diving and wonderful beach-side campsites © terrababy / Getty Images

Exploring the Western Australia’s Ningaloo Reef

The Ningaloo Reef makes up 300km of underwater wonder, classified as one of Earth’s longest fringing coral reefs. Biologically abundant, vibrant and full of colours, it is home to an impressive 500 plus species of fish and over 250 species of coral.

The Unesco World Heritage-listed area draws travellers to the crystalline, turquoise waters of Western Australia, where turtles, manta rays roam and clever dolphins roam. Thrill-seeking travellers may seize the opportunity to swim within respectful distance of the reef’s whale sharks who migrate through this area between March and August. Those hoping for a tamer holiday may choose to retreat to luxury beachside campsite, following a day exploring the sea.

A hiker stands at the end of Honeymoon Bridge at base of the Three Sisters, a rock formation in the Blue Mountains National Park, New South Wales, Australia
The Blue Mountains are a wonderland for walkers © Simon McGill / Getty Images

Finding magic in the Blue Mountains

A horizon of blue eucalyptus trees gifts the Blue Mountains its name. A large horizon, that is – about a million hectares’ worth makes up the protected area. Both enchanting and mysterious, the Blue Mountains is one of Australia’s most unique natural offerings, full of opportunities for adventure and rejuvenation. And with cooler days the winter is prime time to hit the trails.

The walking trails weave through grand forests, passing by canyons, underground caves, raging waterfalls and dramatic sandstone cliffs. The mountains cater to a wide audience – those travelling solo, groups of friends, and those seeking a romantic weekend away. If you visit, be sure to listen in to Dreaming stories told by local Aboriginal guides and admire the work of resident artists.

Australia winter sunset at the highest Australian mountain, Kosciuszko National Park, New South Wales
Australia boasts a strong ski scene – much to the surprise of some visitors © Viktor Posnov / Getty Images

Skiing down the Snowy Mountains

Snow buffs ought to consider visiting Australia’s tallest mountain, Kosciuszko. Full of easy runs and others as challenging as its name, Kosciuszko is home to two major skiing villages – Perisher and Thredbo. Some visitors are surprised to discover that Australia, too, has a decent ski scene up its sleeve. It’s thanks to spots like the Snowy Mountains that prove preconceptions wrong.

Kosciusko’s charming villages are somewhat reminiscent of Austrian, French or Swiss ski towns, made up of beautifully constructed lodges, stores and restaurants, some of which host live music during ski season. The Snowy Mountains are also quite family friendly, with four-year-olds zipping down runs, speeding past adult beginners who are only starting to find their feet.

Sunrise at Uluru, in the heart of Australia's Outback. A plain of grass in the foreground stretches away towards the horizon and great limestone mass that is Uluru
Visiting Uluru in winter means less crowds and more comfortable temperatures © simonbradfield / Getty Images

Exploring Australia's desert core, Uluru

A natural construct of alluring slopes, deep grooves and warm hues of arkose – sacred Uluru is such an iconic image, many Australians probably feel like they’ve visited (even if they’ve never been close). At 348m tall and about 10km to walk around, the impressive monolith is a proud symbol of the country and its history.

Readers who overheat easily, this one's for you. In summer, the area surrounding Uluru can soar up to 40°C. But when winter comes around, the mercury comes down to low to mid 20s. Note that night temperatures drop quite a bit in the desert, so you’ll still have to bring warm clothes while exploring this special part of the country.

The Nobbies Boadwalk curls away into the distance over a section of hilly green and copper grassland
Phillip Island makes for a great rural getaway from Melbourne © Christopher Chan / Getty Images

Making petite friends at Phillip Island

Phillip Island makes for a great succinct getaway from Melbourne, where one can enjoy a bit of beach, bush and adrenaline all in one. One of its main events? The anticipated arrival of fairy penguins, which are incredibly well acquainted with the island.

A pair of little penguins poking from a nest
Fairy penguins, or little penguins, are the world's smallest penguin species © NILS KAHLE - 4FR PHOTOGRAPHY / Getty Images

The penguins reliably arrive on the western tip of Phillip Island at sunset, every night of the year. Transforming from a raft in the water to a waddle on sand, the penguins comically make their way further inland in pursuit of finding warmth among shrubs and plants. Whether you’re a big kid or small, this one pulls on the heartstrings.

Fire dancers showcase their skills at Dark Mofo – one of Tasmania's biggest festivals
Tasmania roars into life during its winter festival season © TerminalCrazy / 500px

Tasmania, for its mid-winter festivals

As the years progress, Tasmania is making a sounder name for itself. The speckle at the bottom of Australia, often offensively forgotten on maps, strives to make itself more memorable. The cultural scene in the state is strengthening; winter a great time to uncover its varied festivals.

Esteemed gallery MONA throws one of the island’s biggest parties – art and music come together at solstice festival Dark Mofo, which runs for almost three weeks in mid-June. The Festival of Voices is another major music event, with live performances and singalongs running over two weeks in late June and early July.

If it’s food festivals you’re craving, look towards the south’s Huon Valley for its Mid-Winter Fest where visitors feast on the region’s culinary delights while washing down some local cider. Northern Tasmania’s Chocolate Winterfest kicks off in August. Here, attendees learn about cocoa and indulge what translates to as ‘the food of the gods’ in the forms of chocolate tarts, decadent hot chocolates, and more exotic chilli chocolate sundaes.

A Southern Right Whale breaching
Spot Southern Right Whales off the coast of southern Australia © rm / Shutterstock

Whale watching at Victor Harbor

South Australia is graced with southern right whales migrating to its unspoiled beaches every winter. As early as mid-May do the whales come close to shore – Victor Harbor is one of the best places in the country to see them.

Onlookers gather atop nearby cliffs of Victor Harbor, a town sitting a mere 30 minutes’ drive from Adelaide’s town centre. They hope to catch a glimpse of the wondrous mammals during their annual migration. If you’d like to get a little closer and learn a little more about earth’s largest beings, book a boat tour.

Scenic spot at Darwin Waterfront Wharf with a footbridge over water running from the foreground to the background where it meets a number of modern buildings and skyscrapers
Darwin is one of Australia's lesser-visited cities © Daniela Constantinescu / Shutterstock

Heading north, to Darwin and surrounds

The scenes of Darwin and its surroundings reflect many conceptions of what Australia is – home to big crocodiles, red raw sunsets and unspoiled, vast outback. Darwin itself is one of Australia’s more underrated cities, though its cultural and food scenes continue to flourish.

In winter, the 29°C is the average maximum temperature, at a humidity far less than the summer months’. It may be wise getting to know the city for a few days before turning eyes towards the region’s sensational national parks – including Litchfield and Kakadu, both rich with wild swimming holes and waterfalls.

An aerial view of the Great Ocean Road, with a strip of tarmac running alongside the turquoise sea
Gain a different perspective of the Great Ocean Road with a visit during the winter © Judah Grubb / Shutterstock

Beating the crowds down the Great Ocean Road

A drive down the Great Ocean Road makes for a top trip any time of the year. It’s typically considered for a summer getaway, with notable surf towns and family-geared accommodation in Anglesea or Lorne. The winter brings a cool and refreshing charm.

The cold months are when the Great Otway National Park’s rainforests come alive, when art, culture, theatre and music are celebrated at the much-loved Apollo Bay WinterWild Festival. Plus, there are greater chances to spot some whales, so consider accommodation with a view.

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