blockFor Aussies – and for those visiting Australia – the Australian summer season means some combination of chats around BBQ’s, battling hot and possibly humid days, fighting the crowds (or looking to escape them) while travelling and winding down.
blockTravel during the Australian holiday period takes many forms; for some, it’s the desire to relax and feel the sand underfoot, the waves lapping at the feet, while for others escaping to cooler climates and enjoying some quality scenery and food will be at the top of the list.
blockQuestion is where are the best overall spots to visit during the Australian summer? Here are 10 great destinations to visit in summer;
10. Albany, WA
blockWhere is it?: The Southern coast of WA, approx. 5 hour drive from Perth
blockWhat it offers: Excellent coastline and beaches; quality wines; varied and beautiful landscapes; historical attractions
blockThis little gem that sits right on the Southern Ocean on WA’s south coast boasts a remarkable coastline that contrasts significantly with the topographic landscape shifting inland, where tall trees soon give way to open paddocks.
blockThis variance combines to make for a flexible spot for enjoying a range of aspects of the natural spectrum scenery-wise, however, most will likely gravitate towards the excellent beaches to which Albany plays host. It’s an interesting blend of terrains that brings to mind verdant parts of England except with the added benefit of beautiful stretches of sand – embodied by the clean shores of Emu, Little and Middleton (with its lovely scenic boardwalk trail) beaches – added in for good measure.
blockLong one of Australia’s best whale watching destinations, the off-season for the giants’ migratory period still brings along with it many of the benefits of the south WA coast. The summers here are typically more pleasantly cool than capital Perth, and there’s relatively little rainfall to worry about from January through March. The summers here are typically more pleasantly cool than capital Perth, and there’s relatively little rainfall to worry about from January through March.
blockThis is a good thing, as Albany is all about enjoying the Great Outdoors, and many of its main activities and attractions will have you exploring, drinking and dining in the open air.
blockPart of the Great Southern Wine Region of WA, wine plays a large role here – largely due to the comfortable Mediterranean climate – and as such there are a range of quality cellar doors (including Singlefile, Castle Rock Estate, Wignalls and others) that those wanting to indulge the palate can visit.
blockThose looking for something more upbeat can instead strike out and explore the beauty of the Stirling Range National Park either via 4WD or on foot for some dramatic views – including that provided by Bluff Knoll, the tallest peak of the bunch that offers a wonderful 360° panorama.
blockAdd in a dose of history of both the maritime (highlighted by the Discovery Bay Whale Centre) and military (National ANZAC Centre) varieties, and you’ve got a great all-rounder destination that can be reached via a 1-hour flight or around 5 hour drive from Perth.
9. Mornington Peninsula, VIC
blockWhere is it?: Approx. 2 hours drive from Melbourne CBD
blockWhat it offers: Great range of activities for all ages; idyllic blend of scenery and food; excellent water exploration; a number of unique attractions
blockSituated roughly a 90-kilometre drive from Victorian capital Melbourne, the Mornington Peninsula is one of the state’s favourite getaway spots for a reason. Famed for its delightful waterfront areas and stretches of pristine beach, the peninsula combines lovely bay views, a host of delectable local produce, and a myriad of other unique attractions that make it a go-to getaway destination.
blockWhile it’s a popular spot in summer – particularly during the holiday season – there are enough options for accommodation and exploration to go around here for everyone.
blockSunny, scenic, versatile yet still escapist, the Mornington Peninsula mixes together seaside environments with local arts and crafts, boutique wineries, outdoor activities such as horse riding and watersports, and a number of great family-oriented attractions for those travelling with kids. Sunny, scenic, versatile yet still escapist, the Mornington Peninsula mixes together seaside environments with local arts and crafts, boutique wineries, and outdoor activities.
blockMore of a region than a singular destination, it’s a part of Victoria that’s still remarkably navigable while being basically split into two major sections – the Port Phillip and Westernport sides – in which visitors can choose to base themselves out of.
blockOf course, the coastal aspect will be the star of the show for many visitors and is a major calling card, and the peninsula offers over 260km of coastline in which to find your own slice of coastal paradise; as a result, visitors can take part in the likes of surfing, snorkelling, scuba diving and various other aquatic pursuits to get up close with marine life.
blockThe Peninsula is home to two notable sea species – dolphins and the unusual Weedy Sea Dragons – that make exploring its waters an enjoyable adventure.
blockOn land, meanwhile, the Mornington Peninsula is renowned for its culinary experiences with a range of high quality restaurants, distilleries and wineries at which to sample quality local produce. Those wanting to soak in some sunshine, meanwhile, can relax and take a stroll on Frankston Beach, or explore the lovely scenery of the Point Nepean National Park which blends greenery and natural outlooks with military history due to its role in shaping Victoria’s early settlement.
blockAside from the purely natural, there are a number of excellent attractions and activities here you won’t find anywhere else in the state as well; adults will appreciate the spectacle of Cranbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens and the relaxation of the Peninsula Hot Springs, while kids can enjoy fun at the likes of the Enchanted Adventure Garden and Moonlit Sanctuary.
blockIf you can last until the tail end of the school holiday period when bookings settle down, there are few better spots for a summertime trip in Australia’s southern half. Recommendation: base yourself out of Sorrento due to it offering a less crowded alternative to the likes of Mornington proper.
block8. Robe, SA
blockWhere is it?: 350km (roughly 4 hour drive) from Adelaide, SA
blockWhat it offers: Delicious seafood; distinctive architecture; great walking trails; wonderful seaside
blockSouth Australia’s ostensible “Limestone Coast” is renowned for many things that make it an appealing travel spot, blending together beaches, cliffs, caves and all-around natural beauty, but the little seaside resort of Robe stands out for a number of reasons – chief of which is its seafood.
blockCrayfish/lobsters are a famous regional standout, and as a result one of its most iconic experiences is simply purchasing them outright, grabbing some lemon, then indulging in a relaxed picnic overlooking the wonderful shoreline. Alternatively, those looking to take an enjoyable shortcut can dine in at one of the town’s standout seafood restaurants and have the ocean’s bounty expertly prepared instead.
blockOf course, making a 350km drive from Adelaide just to enjoy a quality meal would not be a reasonable return on time invested, so it’s a good thing Robe and its surrounds have plenty more to offer the aspiring visitor as well. It’s a charming part of the state that intermingles some lovely architecture with a dash of history and some quirky boutique shopping, all of which is capped off by a wonderful beach setting.
blockIt’s a charming part of the state that intermingles some lovely architecture with a dash of history and some quirky boutique shopping, all of which is capped off by a wonderful beach setting and is a place where taking things easy comes naturally. Long Beach – which lives up to its name with an impressive 17km length – is its idyllic local stretch of sand, and the beach can be driven along for those with a 4WD vehicle, or simply sprawled upon for relaxation-seekers.
blockSwimming here is largely enjoyable too, as the beach offers safe conditions for families as well as some decent surf breaks for enthusiasts. Those sticking to the shore can find enough distinctive features to fill out the itinerary as well, and the town itself serves as a veritable attraction largely in part to its buildings which reflect its status as one of the state’s oldest settlements, with many having been beautifully restored.
blockThe town’s Visitor Information Centre provides a handbook that highlights a course to walk and take in the history along with some additional background on the architecture. Perhaps the most famed of these is the striped obelisk on Cape Dombey which has sat precariously perched on its cliffside location since 1852.
blockSimply walking the Robe region is the easiest way to reveal its charms, and there are a number of excellent walking trails to soak in views of its offerings – particularly the Long-Beach-to-town clifftop walk which sums up the area’s beauty in a single trip.
blockRobe’s mild climate also makes walking during summer far more bearable, and those who are particularly heat-adverse will find conditions pleasant here. While visitor numbers do tend to swell the population during holiday season, this does not detract from Robe’s inherent beauty as a travel spot.
block7. 1770, QLD
blockWhere is it?: 120km from Bundaberg, QLD
blockWhat is offers: Laidback beachfront environment; beautiful sunsets; lovely national parks; easy access to Lady Musgrave Island for snorkelling, diving, etc.
block1770, a seaside village that makes up for its tiny size with a number of lovely beaches and accommodation that ranges from caravan parks all the way up to resort-style accommodation, serves as a great little base from which to enjoy both lush national park and some gorgeous island destinations easily reachable offshore.
blockAs with many other destinations on this list, the area’s offerings are almost entirely natural, beginning with the wilderness of the national parks which surround it, and which offer quality escapist opportunities for those looking to get away from the crowds.
blockCharacterised by sandy beaches lightly dusted with vegetation intermingled with eucalypt woodlands and pristine creeks, the nature here remains largely untouched, and echoes with the calls of various species of native birdlife that populate it – making for a wonderful compliment to its inherent beauty.
blockWalkers and hikers will be in their element here, as there are numerous tracks and trails that encompass everything from beach to boardwalks, and during the summer season you may even spot a rare Loggerhead Turtle on the beach. Walkers and hikers will be in their element here, as there are numerous tracks and trails that encompass everything from beach to boardwalks.
blockThose turning their eyes toward some reef adventures will likewise be able to take advantage of one of the state’s top snorkeling spots off the coast – Lady Musgrave Island, a pristine coral cay that comes complete as the Great Barrier Reef's only island/lagoon hybrid that can be sailed directly into and then explored.
blockThe water here offers some excellent levels of visibility and makes for some truly fantastic diving and snorkelling for encountering the likes of sea urchins, clams and vibrant coral – not to mention innumerable fish species – up close.
blockIts sheltered aspect makes for a consistent and reliable spot to explore the waters outside of periods of inclement weather, and can be reached via transfers and tours from 1770 itself. Accommodation is camping-style and facilities are basic, but the wonderful blend of reef and national park style surrounds make Lady Musgrave a must-visit and worth the roughly 75 minute journey when staying in 1770.
blockCapping off the list of highlights of 1770 is another simple pleasure: its famously gorgeous sunsets, that can be best enjoyed accompanied by a wine on the beach.
blockIf you’re the type that doesn’t require outlandish shopping centres or an endless cavalcade of family attractions to enjoy a holiday while looking for a laid-back dose of water and wilderness – and don’t mind dealing with a warmer climate – than 1770 should be near the top of your list.
block6. Kangaroo Valley, NSW
blockWhere is it?: 2 hours south of Sydney, NSW
blockWhat it offers: Beautiful field-and-mountain surrounds; relaxed, slower pace; historic and quaint architecture; exceedingly friendly locals; delicious local produce; great hiking and views
blockThis verdant slice of scenic countryside offers everything one could ask for in a relaxing summer getaway.
blockIt’s relatively underrated and lacks excessive crowding, it’s renowned for delectable produce for visitors to relax and enjoy, it’s got a mild and comfortable climate, and, perhaps most importantly, it’s strikingly beautiful.
blockA visit to Kangaroo Valley is akin to stepping back in time for all the right reasons, and as a result it’s a great place in NSW to simply unplug and enjoy the finer things in life, as this is a land of vineyards, rolling fields fringed by rugged mountains, culturally significant buildings and quaint cottages in the Southern Highlands.
blockIt’s a historic part of NSW that often goes overlooked, which is something of a shame as the Valley has a more-than-justified National Trust listing that is more than backed up by its natural beauty – there are some breathtaking panoramas on offer here that intermingle both temperate and eucalypt rainforests which are home to the likes of platypus, kookaburras and various other Australian animal icons. It’s a historic part of NSW that often goes overlooked, which is something of a shame as the Valley has a more-than-justified National Trust listing that is more than backed up by its natural beauty.
blockBush walks are thus immensely rewarding in Kangaroo Valley and result in a number of sensational viewpoints such as the Three Trails Walk overlooking tranquil Lake Yurrunga.
blockCulinary aficionados will likewise enjoy their time here, as local producers of wines, olives, cheeses, fudge and chocolates have perfected their craft, and visitors can enjoy tastings of each on a popular foodie trail.
blockThose looking to dine in can take advantage of a number of subdued and delightful offerings, including cafes, bakeries, pubs and tea rooms that come replete with an extremely down-to-earth service representative of the region’s inhabitants as a whole.
blockActivity-wise, the focus here is largely leisurely as well, with canoeing, horse riding and mountain biking amongst Kangaroo Valley’s most popular pastimes.
blockAs with many other escapist destinations, it’s the utter lack of development and commercialism that make Kangaroo Valley special – the main town itself is home to a mere population of around 350 – yet it still remains within easy reach of capital Sydney, with only a 2 hour drive to the south required to access its many gifts.
block5. Fraser Coast, QLD
blockWhere is it?: 250km north of Brisbane, QLD
blockWhat it offers: Wonderful alternative to more commercialised coastal spots; excellent balance between development and nature; beautiful beaches; wide array of marine life; Fraser Island just off shore is a marvel.
blockProviding all the relaxation and aquatic-focused benefits of some of the country’s bigger-name destinations without nearly as much of the excess crowds, Queensland’s Fraser Coast features some truly spectacular stretches of coastline teeming with marine life and a relaxed atmosphere.
blockIt’s an ideal getaway destination for those who love the combination of water, sunshine and peace and quiet on their holidays, with plenty of opportunity to get out on the water for some fun here.
blockWhile whale watching is an obvious calling card throughout most of the year, in the summer season there’s still ample opportunity for the likes of scenic cruises, waterskiing, kayaking, surfing, swimming and more to help cool off in the summer sun.
blockHervey Bay is the central hub of the Fraser Coast, and most visitors to the region will base themselves either out of here or sister city Maryborough.
blockThe city is pleasant to spend time in and boasts an excellent esplanade area where visitors can soak in views of the coast and browse a range of shops, enjoy a beer or a bite to eat as the glow of the region’s renowned sunsets add an additional layer of charm to the proceedings. There are also plenty of great restaurants in Hervey Bay owing to both the talents of their chefs and the incorporation of fresh local produce ranging from seafood, to nuts, to excellent wines. Hervey Bay provides all the relaxation and aquatic-focused benefits of some of the country’s bigger-name destinations without nearly as many of the excess crowds.
blockOff shore, exploration opportunities open up even further as the natural wonderland of Fraser Island awaits, requiring a relatively easy 50 minute journey from the mainland’s River Heads to the south of Hervey Bay. Renowned for its blend of wondrous natural features that have helped contribute to its status as a World Heritage-protected national icon, Queensland’s Fraser Island has enough unique characteristics to help separate itself from the many other islands which encircle the Australian continent.
blockWhile its sheer size is an obvious calling card – it’s the world’s largest sand island, after all – Fraser is not merely your standard forest-covered clump of sand; mangrove forest, over 40 crystal-clear freshwater lakes, rolling dunes and more all form part of Fraser Island’s distinct makeup.
blockFraser’s lakes are headlined by the spectacular Lake Mackenzie which many Fraser visitors often cite as one of the main highlights, and there’s plenty more to explore on-island as well. Expect to see native wildlife, shipwrecks, multi-coloured sands and various other phenomena that make a multi-day on-island stay here a fulfilling experience.
blockAlternatively, if you’re short on time, day tours can make the exploration process over 1 or 2 days easier. Just be sure to bring plenty of insect repellent, as flies – both large green and sand varieties – can be an annoyance during the summer season.
blockThose looking to keep the family entertained will find plenty of things to do to keep the little ones occupied as well – get up close with marine life at Reef World Aquarium, try your hand at some high-speed thrills at the Hervey Bay Go Kart Track, cool off with some splash-tacular fun at the excellent WetSide Water Education Park, or simply enjoy nature with a picnic in the wonderful Hinterland.
blockScenic yet appropriately developed, the Fraser Coast is an excellent blend of the urban and the natural with warm temperatures that typically max out at 30°C.
block4. Aireys Inlet, VIC
blockWhere is it?: 80 minutes south-west of Melbourne, VIC
blockWhat it offers: Great cliff and waterfront scenery; iconic lighthouse; calm, quiet, boutique destination; ideal location between other Great Ocean Road highlights; excellent nature provided by Great Otway National Park.
blockOne of the key stops on Victoria’s epic Great Ocean Road adventure, Aireys Inlet that’s perhaps best known for its iconic lighthouse of Round the Twist TV series fame is an excellent little town that blends together some dramatic scenery with peace and quiet.
blockThis is a charming, boutique spot that serves as an ideal alternative to the bigger Lorne and Torquay which it is sandwiched between, and is a perfect base for exploring the surrounding highlights while still being able to retire back to in the evenings.
blockThe cliffs of the Great Ocean Road are on full display here, and the oceanside scenery is quite dramatic; visitors can not only visit the 34m-tall Split Point Lighthouse itself but walk around the clifftop tracks for a combined reef, rockpool and cove panorama that’s visually impressive. This is a charming, boutique spot that serves as an ideal alternative to the bigger Lorne and Torquay which it is sandwiched between.
blockThe town itself is small, quaint and charming, with two commercial centres – one in the north and another to the east – and has all the basic essentials including general store, several restaurants, and other smallgoods outlets to provide for a holiday.
blockMost time spent here will be utilised enjoying the areas outside the town, however, with a range of secluded and sandy beaches interspersed among the rocky coastline that offer some quality swimming; main beach Fairhaven a few kilometres to the west, however, is more conducive to surfing than swimming but still makes for some enjoyable on-foot strolling.
blockThose with an extra level of energy and fitness can even walk all the way to adjacent Angelsea!
blockGreenery in the area is supplied in the form of the expansive and lush Great Otway National Park which lies just inland from Aireys Inlet and offers ample opportunity for walking and riding; there are plenty of spectacular trails that make their way through this display of some of Australia’s best rainforest scenery. This is a land of towering trees, massive ferns and cascading waterfalls, and is an excellent way to escape from some of the heat of hot summer days with plenty of natural shading.
blockPerhaps the key highlight of the Otways is the Maits Rest rainforest walk, which spans an easily-navigable 800m boardwalk that winds its way through the giant Mountain Ash trees and showcases bubbling streams and a diversity of native wildlife. Those wanting to kick things up a notch can take part in the Otway Fly Treetop Adventures attraction that provides both a scenic treetop walk high above the ground and a zip-line experience to traverse from one tree station to the next.
blockOther activities such as fishing, mountain biking, canoeing and even beach horse riding round out Aireys Inlet’s offerings, and when combined with this gorgeous coastal hamlet’s inherent charms, contributes to its status as one of the Victorian coast’s underrated gems.
block3. Jervis Bay, NSW
blockWhere is it?: 3 hours south of Sydney, NSW
blockWhat it offers: Extensive marine life and Dolphin Watching; the world’s whitest sand beach; beautiful walking routes; good range of amenities and accommodation.
blockAre you a Sydneysider who is looking to get away from the city this summer and unsure whether to make the drive either north or south? While both directions have their merits, the south’s Jervis Bay wins out in our book not only because of its beautiful beachfront areas and marine life, but the fact that the journey is almost as enjoyable as the destination.
blockHead off the freeway and divert to the wonderful Grand Pacific Drive for the trip, and you’ll be rewarded with a route that makes its way alongside both dramatic rocky coast and stretches of the verdant national park. While this drive stretches all the way down to Nowra, Jervis Bay’s blend of pristine beach, marine life and heathland make for the perfect departure point.
blockJervis Bay is another destination on this list that scores high points for its aquatic leanings, and is perhaps Australia’s top spot for dolphin watching adventures – there are numerous chances to get out on the water and see these intelligent and playful creatures up close. Jervis Bay is another destination on this list that scores high points for its aquatic leanings, and is perhaps Australia’s top spot for dolphin watching adventures.
blockThe waters of the Jervis Bay Marine Park are exceptionally clear and makee for some beautiful photo opportunities, especially when coupled with the by the bay’s famed Hyams Beach – which has been scientifically proven to have the world’s whitest sand (seriously: NASA confirmed this via satellite data from space).
blockAs a result, the powdery sand here is stunning, and while it’s exceedingly popular during the summer months it’s still more than worth a visit for a spot of relaxation, swimming or paddle boarding. It’s also an exceptionally safe spot due to its sheltered conditions, meaning those with kids can rest assured.
blockThe “White Sands Walk” from Greenfield Beach to Hyams Beach is one of the best ways to soak in the bay’s nature, offering a journey past a number of beautiful bays and beaches over the course of its hour-long expanse.
blockBeach fishing enthusiasts will also be in their element here, as Jervis Bay is widely regarded as an excellent spot for land-based game fishing. Further natural highlights can be found upon additional exploration of the Booderee National Park, which blends great bush camping with surprisingly well-equipped amenities and provides a number of great walking tracks brimming with native animals. It’s also rich in Aboriginal heritage and offers a wonderful lookout point from which to take in the surrounding panorama.
blockHuskisson is Jervis Bay’s main hub, and while the region is still naturally beautiful as a whole, it’s become gradually more developed over the years resulting in a range of restaurants, cafes, pubs and accommodation to choose from. Each of these run the gamut of budget options, so those with tighter wallets should be able to find something suitable – assuming accommodation is booked sufficiently in advance.
blockAdd in an ever-advancing local culinary scene utilising local produce such as seafood, cheeses and wines from local vineyards, and it’s easy to see why Jervis Bay is considered one of the jewels of the NSW South Coast.
block2. Bicheno, TAS
blockWhere is it?: 2.5 hours north-east of Hobart, TAS
blockWhat it offers: Charming Little Penguins; convenient location; lovely beaches; gateway to the incredible Freycinet National Park
blockTasmania, in general, provides somewhat of a welcome summer respite from the heat of many of mainland Australia’s northern states, and as a result, there are many spots that could land on this list. Our choice is the East Coast of Tassie’s seaside holiday town of Bicheno, both due to the convenience of the town’s offerings and the natural wonders that await just nearby.
blockWhile some may opt for Coles Bay as their base in the region, Bicheno’s larger size and a wider array of both amenities and accommodation provide more flexibility for an overnight stay for those travelling from afar. Wildlife viewing, wonderful coastline and two gorgeous national parks top the list of attractions in this part of Tasmania, with its signature animal experience coming in the form of Little Penguins.
blockThe town’s ocean frontage is shared with these incredibly cute sea birds, and tours are available that provide an up-close look at their dusk-time passage up the shoreline without disturbing them or impacting their natural environment.
blockThe foreshore around Bicheno can also be easily explored via a walking track that provides the chance to see numerous other varieties of bird life as well, including endangered species. The walk culminates in Bicheno’s Blowhole, which can be seen shooting spouts of water up to 20m in the air on days of high swell! Wildlife viewing, wonderful coastline and two gorgeous national parks top the list of attractions in this part of Tasmania.
blockWhile the town itself has its various charms and attractions, it’s the proximity to the Douglas Apsley and – more promin