Oh, summer, our fleeting lover, how we adored thee. You were sweet but, as usual, all too short. From here, autumn makes the nights getting darker earlier and jackets are pulled from the back of cupboards once more.
While we’re saying goodbye to balmy nights on the beach and annual leave–enabled holiday jaunts, we’re also looking for reasons that summer ending doesn’t totally suck. And we’ve found some.
In fact, travel-wise, you might even discover a few seasonal gems as the cooler months of autumn and winter arrive: fight those winter blues and don’t let the dreariness curb your wanderlust one little bit. Here are eight pretty great things about the change of season.
#1 Warm yourself up with good food and wine
Picture this: crunching around vineyards through autumn leaves, then heading inside for a hearty meal, otherworldly wine and a cheese platter to end all cheese platters. So great. So Instagrammable. Sure, wineries are nice in the blazing sun, but come autumn and the colder months of winter, there’s a charm to them that is well worth a rugged-up road trip.
Try the Yarra Valley in Victoria, South Australia’s Barossa Valley, Margaret River in WA or NSW’s Hunter Valley. Or why not head out to one of many food and wine festivals around the country to partake in the ultimate cold-weather indulgence?
#2 It’s the perfect time to head to the big red
The Northern Territory really only has two seasons: wet and dry. While the wet season is known for its humidity, tropical cyclones and flash flooding, it’s far more conducive to a successful holiday to head to the Top End in the dry season – conveniently in the middle of winter everywhere else.
Mid-year is a perfect time to road trip around places like Arnhem Land, Kakadu National Park and Katherine as well as up to Darwin – access on off-road terrain won’t be restricted, humidity sits at a bearable 60 to 65 percent and it’s an ideal excuse to escape the chill that hits most other capital cities. I’ll take 32° in June any day, thanks.[related_articles]24060[/related_articles]
#3 The winter festivals
As sad as it is that the summer festival period is ending, Australia’s multi-day music and culture events certainly don’t end when daylight savings does.
#4 It’s prime time for forest hikes
While you might be tempted to sit on a heater and never leave your house between the months of April and September, getting the blood flowing and warming yourself up in nature during autumn and winter is probably a good idea. There are plenty of great little hiking destinations through misty forests within arm’s reach of Australian capital cities.
Sydney’s hidden secret Blue Gum Walk starts in suburbia but ends in idyllic forest bliss after a 12 kilometre trek; in Brisbane you can try the Boombana Rainforest Walk just a short drive from the city; and Melbourne’s Dandenong Ranges have no shortage of great day treks from beginner to expert walking levels. Don’t forget to finish off with a well-deserved hot chocolate or mulled wine.
#5 You can still take a dip
I mean, we’re hardly talking Sydney’s Icebergs pool here – that’s certainly not for the faint-hearted during winter – but autumn and winter make the perfect opportunity to explore some of Australia’s fancy spa and hot spring destinations. How’s that for a winter romantic getaway or treat yo’self weekend with friends?
Peninsula Hot Springs just out of Melbourne are a notorious favourite, as are Zebedee Thermal Springs in the Kimberley and Mataranka Hot Springs up in the Northern Territory – not that you’d be particularly cold there, but who needs an excuse for a spa, really?
#6 You can embrace the ice
If you’re a wee bit chilly, why not give into that cold by pretending you’re in some sort of European winter wonderland and hitting the ice rink? It’s a cute way to spend a wintry day and the fact that it’s exercise justifies a particularly hearty meal straight after, right?[related_articles]71056,71957[/related_articles]
From the O’Brien Group Arena in Melbourne’s Docklands to Macquarie Ice Rink, Phillip Swimming and Ice Skating Centre in Canberra, IceArenA in Adelaide, and Perth’s three ice skating rinks, there are plenty of places to try your hand at not face-planting on a freezing cold, rock-solid surface. It’s fun… promise.
#7 It’s a great time to be indoors and get arty
Being inside during summer feels like a waste, but what better way to beat the dreary, rainy weather of autumn and winter than take refuge indoors at art galleries? You can literally spend all day in one – most of Australia’s top galleries more art than you can ever hope to get through in one go, as well as restaurants and activities to pass the time.
You can’t possibly go past the famous MONA in Tasmania (read our story on the mysterious gallery here), both branches of the beautiful NGV in Melbourne, the Queensland’s GOMA, White Rabbit Gallery in Sydney (they serve dumplings, guys) or the enlightening and fascinating Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. You might as well just spend all winter just doing a gallery-hop of the country; there is just too much brilliant stuff to see.
#8 You can always escape to somewhere warmer
If all else fails and you just can’t take the cooling ‘Strayan weather, you might as well just give up and head to greener pastures, so to speak. There’s a whole hemisphere of warmer weather just waiting to be explored.[related_articles]71949,59481[/related_articles]
Normally, we’d humbly suggest a midyear Mediterranean jaunt. Winter is the perfect time to tick off Greece, Italy, Spain, Turkey and the south of France, leave a trail of envy-inducing social snaps, then come back to Australia looking like the sunkissed, shampoo-ad-haired travel deity that you are.
(Lead image: Patrick O’Neill)
Matilda is a British-Australian-French freelance writer. She has flat-packed IKEA furniture in London and Melbourne, and no idea what's coming next. She’s written for The Guardian, FasterLouder, mX and Grazia, and really likes hot chocolate.