When it comes to a getaway during the cooler months, there's something for everyone. Take your pick from the 10 best winter destinations in Australia.
So, you’re in need of a vitamin D boost during the winter months? Or perhaps you’re from the north and wouldn’t mind embracing a little of the romantic woolly chill? Well then here are the top 10 winter getaway destinations Australia has to offer, and there’s something for everyone!
For the ultimate winter vitamin D boost, head to:
1. Lord Howe Island, NSW
Lord Howe Island sits directly offshore from Port Macquarie on the mid north coast of NSW. And it’s mind-blowing. Not just in beauty but also in its land formations, rare species and the world’s highest volcanic structure jutting out of the ocean, with its own cloud forest and plant species at the top.
Stay: At Capella Lodge (or anywhere your budget can stretch)
2. Lizard Island, far north QLD
Lizard has recently reopened to the public following a devastating cyclone and the re-launch is something to behold. Geographically, this island nestled perfectly within the Great Barrier Reef (Do I need to say anything more?) is pristine. But the accommodation is also spectacular. It’s the 'Spoil-Yourself' destination of the moment. And the best part is, they’re offering a fantastic discount to get things underway.
Stay: There’s only one place to stay: Lizard Island Resort
Top Tip: You’ll only need a light cardigan for the evenings and a camera for the sunsets. No shoes required, the sand is white, chalky and warm.
3. Margaret River, WA
The trip to the west coast of the country is no longer such an effort or an expense, and the upside is so worth the journey. Margaret River is the newest destination for relaxed chic holidaying, with an abundance of beachy accommodation options, cutting edge dining destinations, world class wineries and locals who bend over backwards to make you feel right at home. The water temp may drop a little in winter here, but the extraordinary stretches of coastline will make for sensational romantic beach walks and fantastic family adventures.
Stay: Cape Lodge is a 5 star luxury retreat in Margaret River. You won’t be disappointed
4. House boats of the Murray River, Mildura, NSW
The fish don’t know it’s winter. So, if you’re up for a spot of fishing and sunning yourself on the top deck of your own river boat then head to the secretly cool town of Mildura on the Murray River and climb aboard. Built to cater for almost any sized group, these river boats can be as modern or as rustic as you like. Pass the old paddle steamers still in operation and cruise past the historic towns along the riverbank that meets up with South Australia. If you want to take your wetsuit you can try some water skiing, otherwise, stop in to a few fabulous wineries and restaurants along the river, read some fantastic books and get back to basics with some old-school board games with the family in the evenings.
Top Tip: Dine at Stefano’s on the riverbank in Mildura, as in the TV chef Stefano Di Pieri
For embracing the wintry chill in style, check out:
5. Leura, NSW
This place has a personal soft spot for me, having stayed here numerous times and never being disappointed. Of course you’re right on the doorstep of The Three Sisters and Jurassic Rainforests that will impress anyone with a pulse. But it’s the towns, the small hotels and bnb’s and the cafes and restaurants with so much pride in their work that will make this winter escape a winner for everyone.
Stay: The Old Leura Dairy has been winning awards for its quirky use of an old dairy (as the name suggests) and you can’t go wrong with the Milking Shed, the Buttercup Barn or Moo Manor for small groups!
Top Tip: Pack a picnic and head to any one of the local lookouts for some bliss and inspiration. Or for thrill-seekers, you can ride the Cable Cars at Scenic World to get a true aerial view of the Blue Mountains.
6. Port Fairy, The Great Ocean Road, VIC
For a super pretty escape, filled with seaside towns and friendly locals, this can’t be missed. For a very special experience rent out a private house called The Pole House. If that’s booked, try Warrnambool as a go-to destination for the best whale watching in the country. The Great Ocean Road itself boasts the world famous Twelve Apostles which should be on every Aussie’s bucket list.
Stay: The Cumberland Lorne Resort
Top Tip: If you’re a thrill seeker you can do a heli-tour of the coastline that will leave you breathless
7. The Southern Highlands, NSW
This is where the winter spirit truly comes alive. You’ll be transported to an English-feeling experience with lush green meadows and quaint little country pubs. Think log fires, games of Who-Dunnit and melt-in-your-mouth Sunday roasts with friends. The drive there itself is a brilliant way to unwind, watching the scenery and the hills roll by.
Top Tip: Anything with the word cottage in its name is a good indication. And don’t bother heading out, do a big grocery shop and enjoy some family home-cooking with the fire roaring and a glass of regional red in hand.
8. Freycinet Bay, TAS
With bays called Wineglass and Sapphire, you know this is going to be special. And it is. Tasmania has so much to offer and you only have to drive through the local townships along the country’s east coast roads to see it first hand.
Stay: Saffire Lodge is luxury at its highest level. The spas and the degustation experiences are among the best in the world.
Top Tip: For something truly unforgettable, try a four day hike that takes you to a luxury eco lodge with timber floors and panoramic glass windows to help you appreciate the view over a degustation that will stay with you for life. The Freycinet Experience takes you through the pink granite Hazard Mountains and rich coastal forests, and the purest of white-sand beaches including the world-renowned Wineglass Bay.
You will travel in the footsteps of the Oyster Bay Tribe, walking the same ancient bush tracks trodden some 30,000 years ago. And you end up at the end of each day at the award winning barefoot luxury Friendly Beaches Eco Lodge. Visit www.greatwalksofaustralia.com.au
9. Kangaroo Island, SA
Not everyone gets to Kangaroo Island and believe it or not, it’s the seals, not the kangaroos that everyone comes to see! The coastline is ruggedly beautiful. The produce there is breaking boundaries around the globe with everything from gin distilleries and foraged goods. There are also a stack of small privately owned holiday houses and villas.
Stay: Pure luxury… The Southern Ocean Luxury Lodge. It floats atop a rugged cliff with peerless views and is a sanctuary for the soul.
Top Tip: Except for a camera, leave all technology at home. And be sure to make a trip to the Kangaroo Island Spirits Cellar Door to sample this wild gin that’s wowing the world.
10. Daylesford, VIC
This is the new 'Spa Capital' of the country and in my book, winter begs for a hot tub! There are so many health retreats and luxury lodges in the area you’ll be spoilt for choice. Take your togs, and be prepared to be pampered, primped and rolling pinned back into fighting fit perfection.
Stay: Lake House for upper end or a small Italian style villa renovated into a smashing hotel with stunning gardens called Italian Hill.
Dine: Lake House has two chefs hats. Otherwise local café Frangos and Frangos has won awards for its use of fresh local produce.
Top Tip: Take a little day trip to Hepburn Springs nearby for something different and check out Peppers for a relaxed lunch. And if you’re staying at Lake House, try out their cooking school experience.
Rose Jacobs is a Travel Journalist and Television Presenter and writes her own travel blog at poopypropeller.blogspot.com.au. Rose is also known as The Digital Traveller, capturing the best global travel destinations for Australian Travel Companies. Fbook: @RoseJacobs, Twitter: @JacobsRosie, Insta: @RoseJacobs1