Winter Activities

by Trisha Mee

Australia is famous for its beautiful beaches and endless summers, but there’s a lot to love about winter too. There's skiing and tobogganing in the Alpine region, whale-watching tours, beautiful wineries and food, winter festivals and idyllic mountain escapes. So grab your beanie and your scarf and prepare to discover the wonders of winter in Australia. 

1. Head to the ski fields

Australia isn't known for its snow, but there are a few prime spots in the country where you can hit the slopes between June - September. In New South Wales, there's Perisher and Thredbo. Perisher is the largest resort in the Southern Hemisphere and is made up of four different resorts (Perisher Valley, Blue Cow, Smiggin Holes and Guthega). It caters to beginners through to advanced skiers and is popular with families with lots of entertaining activities including night skiing and free fireworks displays.Thredbo has the longest ski run in Australia and the steepest terrain than the other ski resorts.

Mt Buller, Mt Hotham and Falls Creek are the closest ski resorts to Melbourne with Mt Buller being only a three hour drive away. If you want guaranteed snow, then Mount Hotham dubbed ‘The powder capital of Australia’ is the place to be. It’s Australia’s second largest ski resort renowned for its steep verticals and challenging terrain, and for non-skiers there’s snowshoeing, dog sledding and tobogganing. But if it’s a quaint alpine village experience you’re after, then you can’t go past Falls Creek with its many restaurants, cafes and bars.

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2. Go whale-watching

Over half of the world’s total number of whales travel through Australian waters each year and winter is prime whale-watching season as humpbacks and southern right whales make their annual migration from the icy temperatures of Antarctica to our warm coastal waters. Whales often get as close as a few hundred metres from the shore making it possible to catch a glimpse of these majestic creatures of the sea from land and lookout points in various locations across the country. However a whale-watching tour is your best chance of seeing them up close and maybe even some playful dolphins and seals too.

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3. Visit the many wine regions

While the grape vines may be bare in winter, the benefits of heading to one of Australia's 65 wine regions in the low season, (besides sipping award-winning wines) are the great deals on offer for tours and accommodation. There are usually less people and possibly more time to spend with the winemakers themselves. There are wine regions all across Australia from Sydney’s Hunter Valley the country’s oldest wine-making region, South Australia has McLaren Vale or Barossa Valley, which is famous for it’s intense, distinctive and full-bodied Shiraz, or there's the Yarra Valley in Victoria. If you’re after an escape that offers a bit of everything, Western Australia’s Margaret River region is where vineyards meet the ocean and forest so you can go wine tasting one day and surfing the next, plus many, many more. And if award-winning wines isn’t enough, the wine regions are also famous for fresh, local produce, fine food and their picturesque locales which you can view from train, horseback, canoe, trike or up above from a hot air balloon or helicopter flight.

Discover all there is to see and do at the various wineries:

4. Head to the mountains

There’s so much to take in when visiting the mountains in winter from the crisp fresh air to the richly coloured landscapes and there’s also plenty to do. For adventurers, take your pick of abseiling, rock climbing, hiking, or canyoning, or for a more relaxing mountain getaway book a country resort escape or massage. And when it comes to how you’d like to take in your mountain surroundings your options are by foot, horse, trolley, mountain bike and even by segway! Come night time, all that’s left to do is huddle up in front of a roaring fire with a mug of hot chocolate in hand.

Discover things to do in the mountains:

5. Enjoy the delights and activities of The Winter Festival.

This month long free festival returns for another year to celebrate winter with captivating entertainment on and off the ice!

Be enchanted by the delights, fun and magic of The Winter Festival! Australia’s largest winter event will be held in Sydney, Fremantle, Brisbane and Canberra with open-air ice-skating, tobogganing, exhilarating rides, culinary delights, music and entertainment for young and old.

When: Thursday 30 June - Sunday 17 July
Where: St Mary’s Cathedral on St. Mary’s Road, adjacent to Hyde Park from the College Street entrance.
Additional attractions: Mountainous inflatable slide, Powder Pit, Tube Dudes

When: Friday 24 June - Sunday 17 July
Where: Esplanade Park
Additional attractions: Mountainous inflatable slide, Tube Dudes

When: Friday 17 June - Sunday 10 July
Where: King George Square, located off Ann Street in the heart of Brisbane. Entrances can be found on Ann Street and Adelaide Street.
Additional attractions: Powder Pit

When: Thursday 23 June - Sunday 17 July
Where: Garema Place, located off City Walk in the centre of Canberra
Additional attractions: Mountainous inflatable slide

The Winter Festival is free to enter, although tickets must be purchased for ice-skating and activities.

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