Australia's hottest winter destinations

As the wind howls through your door frames and the rain lashes at your window, it’s comforting to imagine escaping to a warmer place for a while. Lucky for us here in Australia, we don’t even need to leave the country to find better weather for a week or two (or more!). So as the chill hits the southern states, it’s the perfect time to stage a ‘wintervention’ and head north.

If the howling gales outside aren’t enough, here are some ideas to inspire you to holiday in warmer climes, all in our very own backyard.

Cairns, Queensland

Cairns, Queensland

When we imagine our ‘tropical north’, Cairns in Far North Queensland epitomises that fantasy. Palm trees by the beach, white sands, diving on the Great Barrier reef or wandering through the lush Daintree Rainforest, Cairns really does have it all. Balmy temperatures and low humidity make the winter months the perfect time to visit.

Spend a day in the mountains, gazing at waterfalls and beautiful scenery from the Kuranda Cableway and Railway, or visit the islands off the coast, like Fitzroy Island. You can while away a day or two at Green Island, exploring one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World.

See the reef while snorkelling, diving, by glass-bottomed or underwater boat. Markets, regular cultural events and the not-to-be-missed Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures will keep you entertained during your stay in Cairns.

To enjoy your trip in affordable comfort, book a few nights at ibis Styles Cairns, just a short walk from many popular Cairns entertainment spots.

If you want to indulge by spending a little more on 5-star accommodation, you need look no further than Pullman Cairns International. Boasting saunas and a gym, it’s conveniently located in the heart of the CBD, near departure points for trips to many of Cairns’ most spectacular natural attractions.

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Darwin, NT

Darwin, Northern Territory

Winter in Darwin is the perfect place to be as it gets cold “down south” (which is how the locals refer to the rest of Australia). The Trailer Boat Club is the perfect place to chill out, grab a cold drink and a hot meal while watching the sun set over the Timor Sea.

For adventures by day, you can get up close to the local wildlife at Crocosaurus Cove in the heart of Darwin’s CBD. For the more daring, take a swim with a 5-metre-long crocodile, feed the whip rays and archerfish, and get a photo cuddling a baby croc. Spend a day learning more about Australia’s Culture at the Indigenous Museum and visit the magnificent Litchfield National Park. When you need to cool off, have fun splashing around the Wave Lagoon.

Darwin’s dining is a well-kept secret, but the locals know it’s a city full of amazing and culturally diverse foods. Fanny Bay sees some of the tastiest ice-cream at this local institution and makes for a perfect dessert after sampling the fresh seafood served at any number of the great restaurants dotted The Wharf and Cullen Bay.

The Novotel Darwin CBD hotel offers convenient, central accommodation in affordable style, a short walk from the Mindil Markets, Deckchair Cinema and other local attractions.

Kakadu, Northern Territory

Kakadu, Northern Territory

Give yourself a wintervention of sorts, outside of the hustle and bustle of the city and experience nature at its most raw.

A quick tip – it’s best to visit early in winter to avoid crowds. This is also prime time to see the waterfalls in full flow, fresh from the rainy season. You’ll also be able to kayak in the gorges, just before the peak of the drier winter seasons.

The Mercure Crocodile Hotel, located in Jabiru feels like an oasis within the National Park’s wilderness. It combines a touch of luxury, and open enough for you to enjoy nature right out by the balcony. Why is it called the Crocodile Hotel I hear you ask? It’s because this hotel was built to resemble a full saltwater crocodile!

Sunshine Coast, Queensland

Sunshine Coast, Queensland

If you’re seeking winter sunshine, few can go past Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. Novotel, Twin Waters is a fabulous destination in itself, with its own private lagoon to enjoy kayaking, sailing or for the more adventurous, there’s an inflatable (and quite challenging!) obstacle course. A spa, several swimming pools and mini golf are also on offer, amongst the cocktail bars and several casual dining options.

If you do decide to venture further afield, the Sunshine Coast has so much to offer. Winter walks along the ocean can be bracing and there are always a few locals who take to the waters all year round. Underwater World Sea Life in Mooloolaba is fascinating for both small kids and adults alike, with their Seal Show not to be missed. Or for an experience you’ll always remember, dive with the sharks in the aquarium.

The world famous Eumundi markets are held every Wednesday and Saturday. And explore the surrounding hinterland of the Sunshine Coast with its beautiful, quaint towns scattered throughout. Notably, Buderim has a lot to offer lovers of ginger or chocolate. The only café in the tiny town of Kin Kin serves French food worthy of the best patisseries in Paris and the Kin Kin traditional country pub has a great lunch.