Blue Mountain’s Yulefest
In the Blue Mountains you don’t have to wait until December for Christmas cheer. Every year from June to August, thousands of people flock here for Yulefest – roaring fires, roast dinners, sing-alongs and the occasional snowfall. Enjoy a sumptuous Christmas feast at the grand old Katoomba guesthouse where Yulefest began. Sing carols around the piano in Leura, meet Santa in front of a roaring fire in Mount Victoria or have a romantic candlelit dinner in Blackheath.
It all started in 1980, when a group of Irish guests saw snowflakes and got nostalgic about a cold Christmas with all the trimmings. Their one-off dinner spawned a winter tradition that has been warmly embraced by guesthouses, hotels, resorts and restaurants across the region.
Sit down to five-course feasts, complete with stuffed turkey and ham, cranberry sauce, mince pies, mulled wine and steaming plum pudding. Then put on your party hat and embrace the silly season entertainment. Play detective at a murder mystery evening and cheer for a comedic revue in Katoomba. Or enjoy the chaos served up by a Leura Faulty Towers crew. In Mount Victoria you can challenge Santa to karaoke or raise your glass at a courtly Victorian-era banquet. At the foot of the mountains you can swap Christmas cracker gags as you ho-ho-ho down the Nepean River on a historic paddlesteamer.
During June, Blue Mountains locals join the celebration with the annual Winter Magic Festival. On the Saturday closest to the Winter Solstice, Katoomba’s streets come alive with a vibrant parade of jugglers, gymnasts, musicians, dancers, choirs, troubadours, buskers, storytellers and poets. There are also markets and unique Blue Mountains experiences, including a Christmas feast aboard the puffing Zig Zag Railway.
Cosy up to a crackling fire in the Blue Mountains and enjoy a bit of Christmas in July – accommodation options here.
Tasmania’s Winter Wonderland
The air may be crisp, but in Tasmania, winter definitely doesn’t put a freeze on activities. Celebrate the solstice in Hobart or ski in Ben Lomond National Park. Trek the snow-coated highlands of Cradle Mountain or snuggle fireside in a lodge in Wineglass Bay. Whatever you do, don’t miss this special window on Tasmania’s rugged natural beauty.
Of course, spring will be the last thing on your mind if you’re an avid skier. You’ll be high-fiving winter when careering down or across the powdered slopes of Legges Tor in Ben Lomond National Park. Its regal, rocky peaks are just an hour’s drive from Launceston in the state’s north. Further south, it’s a scenic 90 minutes’ drive from Hobart to Mount Mawson. Sitting in Mount Field National Park, this small, friendly ski area has slopes for all levels of experience, and some of the steepest runs in the country.
If you’d rather stroll than ski, head to the Narnia-white wilderness of Cradle Mountain- Lake St Clair National Park. The famous Overland Track can be treacherous in winter, but many shorter walks wind you safely through the scenery. Follow the Enchanted Walk through rainforest bejeweled with frost. Or take an hour or two to wander around shimmering Dove Lake beneath the black spires of Cradle Mountain. On the southern side of the park, you can do the 18km circuit around icy Lake St Clair – Tasmania’s deepest natural freshwater lake.
Winter in Freycinet National Park is another well-kept secret. The brisk days are perfect for bushwalking the picturesque coastline. Climb across the jagged pink Hazards, past sea birds, Tasmanian wildflowers and detailed rock pools. From the top, look out over the vivid blue-green curves of Wineglass Bay. At night, huddle next to a roaring fire or beneath a blanket and a sky ablaze with stars.
To put together a stunning Tasmanian Drive-Stay tour view your accommodation options here.
Canberra by the Fire
Warm your heart and fill your stomach next to a roaring fire this winter. That’s the seductive call of the Fireside Festival, held each August in Canberra and neighbouring villages such as Yass, Hall, Murrumbateman and Gundaroo. Their month-long program of food, wine and entertainment is guaranteed to lift your spirits alongside some chill-combating flames.
Foodies will love this cozy celebration of the region’s famous produce and cool-climate wines. Start your day with roasted marshmallows and a cup of hot chocolate at a fireside brunch in Hall, just 25 minutes from Canberra. In the gourmet village of Gundaroo, you can sit down to wood-fired pizza in the old stables or a degustation dinner, where fire twirlers dance light across each course.
Afterwards, tour the Lake George vineyards or sip muscat in a candle-lit Murrumbateman cellar. Local winemakers will tell you about the region’s diverse styles – from sangiovese to riesling, chardonnay, pinot noir and shiraz – and the different microclimates that produce them.
Test out Canberra’s reputation for first-class food with a café lunch next to a crackling log fire. You’ll soon learn the city’s secret is staying faithful to local, farm-fresh produce. The connection between culinary pleasure and sustainability is central to the Slow Food movement taking off across the region. Find out more during the festival with a slow food cooking class in an organic kitchen.
For an affordable Canberra getaway head here.
North QLD’s Winter Sun
Want to make your friends jealous this winter? Tell them you’re going to North Queensland, and casually mention the balmy weather, palm trees and swimmable seas. Snorkel or dive the Great Barrier Reef, set sail in the Whitsundays and trek back in time in the primeval Daintree Rainforest. Drive the Savannah Way to the remote Gulf Savannah. This tropical paradise is truly at its best from June to September, when the temperature averages 25 degrees Celsius and the turquoise waters are stinger free.
From sunny Cairns, you’ll find a range of mid-winter digs. Get golden beach frontage in tranquil Mission Beach, soak up the low-key tropical glamour of Port Douglas or indulge in true resort luxury at Palm Cove. Along with Cairns and the backpacker haven of Cape Tribulation, these are all great bases for exploring North Queensland’s most famous attraction – the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef.
Further south, try sailing the 74 idyllic, mostly uninhabited islands of the Whitsundays. Relax in a resort at Airlie Beach and catch a lift on a beautiful catamaran out to the islands. Bushwalk through rainforest on South Molle or Long Islands, fly over spectacular Heart Reef and write your name in the famous white sand of Whitehaven Beach.
Check out your fabulous Tropical North Queensland Accommodation options here.
Winter is one of the best times of the year to get away, the resorts are less crowded and you’re far more likely to pick up a fantastic deal. For more information on our fabulous Winter deals or to book your getaway simply call our friendly reservations team on 1300 468 268 or email firstname.lastname@example.org today!