australia's best summer holiday destinationssurf, sun and summer
Keen to get out and experience our stunning sunburnt country? Explore the natural wonders, pristine beaches, amazing marine life and fascinating history.
We searched high and low for the most breathtaking Australian Summer holiday destinations spanning across all of Oz. Start curating those playlists, pack the car (don't forget the snacks) and hit the road. Explore the stunning coastline and revel in the natural beauty of your own backyard.
Where are these epic Australian Summer destination spots?
Let's start in the centre.
Darwin is the keeper of some of Australia’s most treasured natural wonders and national parks. Witness the cascading waterfalls and four-metre-high termite cathedrals of Litchfield National Park, and the wetlands (and saltwater crocodiles) of Mary River National Park.
Most iconic, though, is the World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park, a three-hour drive east of Darwin. Kakadu is a place full of picture-postcard sites. Visit Twin Falls gorge or the Gunlom “infinity” pool which is best known for its precious Ubirr rock art galleries.
Head to Nadab lookout, with incredible views of the floodplains, this is the perfect spot to catch a sunset.
Alice Springs - Outback stargazing at Earth Sanctuary
Located 15 minutes south of Alice Springs, Earth Sanctuary is the place to gain incredible insight into the Australian night sky. Guides use laser pointers and telescopes to help you explore the Milky Way which, away from any major light pollution, is a rich, white band that stretches out across the sky above you. Located in one of the darkest regions on the planet, celestial objects are naturally brighter and clearer to the naked eye. Star-gazing can be enjoyed all year round and Earth Sanctuary have specially crafted astronomical programs and tours that coincide with cosmic events throughout the year.
Check out the Enormous Crater at Tnorala (Gosse Bluff)
The site of an ancient comet strike, Gosse Bluff – or Tnorala, as it’s known by local Western Arrernte people – was once an enormous crater, 20 kilometres across. A drive into its centre reveals a breathtaking geological formation. The bluff has two walks, the longer of which provides some nice views of the crater – just remember this is a sacred site for traditional owners, so be respectful and adhere to the no access signs.
Heading back to Alice, on the way, stop for a swim at Ellery Creek Big Hole, a spectacular waterhole that’s also a terrific picnic spot, and make time to check out Standley Chasm Angkerle Atwatye, a dramatic 80-metre-deep, nine-metre-wide cut in the earth formed by millions of years of floods and erosion.
New South Wales
Forget about Byron Bay with its heaving frappacino sipping crowds. Visit Yamba this Summer season instead. Yamba, remains relatively undiscovered, which means you can usually find a vacay rental, it’s easy to get around town and the algorithm hasn’t quite caught on. This is old Byron Bay, the perfect spot for your next beach holiday – brilliant surfing, unfussy locals and not a faux hippy in sight.
Soak up the sunny weather and white sandy beaches for a few days. Explore Spooky Beach – or Spookies as it’s often called – one of northern New South Wales' best-known surf spots. It’s a stunning narrow patch of sand with a break that’s strong enough for intermediate surfers, but not so hectic that an advanced beginner can jump in and challenge themselves. If you wanna hang ten, this is where to do it.
If surfing’s not your vibe, head south of the beach to Angourie’s Blue and Green Pools. These were once quarry sites that were mined in the 19th century (to supply the rock for Yamba’s break wall) until workers hit a spring and managed to fill them with fresh water. A fun local hangout.
Hike Iluka Nature Reserve
Forty minutes out of Yamba, but totally worth the drive is Iluka Nature Reserve. The strip of Gondwana Rainforest has more than 180 unique species of plants and is the largest remaining seaside rainforest in NSW. Looking for walking trails? An easy 2.6km lush rainforest track will have you immersed in this stunning ecosystem as 144 species of birds flit around you. Pack a picnic and enjoy the view at Iluka Buff lookout.
With its beautiful wide beaches and luscious rainforests of its national parks, Sunshine Coast is sure to bring a smile to your face, there is almost no better place to spend your Summer holidays. T
Blackall Range and Glass House Mountains
Sunshine Coast conjures up the ultimate beach destination vibes, but, it would be a disservice to your wanderlust plans to only explore the East coast. For an epic day trip, head west and you’ll find some dramatic mountain escapes, including the Glass House Mountains and the Blackall Range.
The Glass House Mountains get all the glory – and it’s easy to see why. These enormous volcanic plugs tower over the surrounding state forests like out of this world giants, an outstanding presence on an otherwise flat coastal plain. Spend the day discovering the area’s numerous walking tracks. The most dramatic is a climb up the almighty Mount Tibrogargan – it’s hard work but the reward at the 364-metre summit is spectacular views up and down the coast.
Great Sandy National Park
Not many visitors get north of Noosa to Great Sandy National Park, but this undiscovered treasure is well worth a 45-minute zoom up the beach. The park features untouched beaches, large sand dunes, heathlands, rainforests, swamps, creeks, freshwater lakes and mangrove forests.
Great Sandy National Park is divided into two sections. The Cooloola Recreation Area section is situated on the coast between Noosa Heads in the south and Rainbow Beach in the north. The Cooloola section contains the Cooloola Great Walk, a five-day hiking trail. Boat tours and canoeing along the Noosa River are popular visitor activities.
Whale watching, fishing, four-wheel driving, and bushwalking are also popular.
Stretching from Cervantes, two hours outside of Perth, to Exmouth, another 1100 kilometres north, Western Australia’s Coral Coast is basically another world to east coast folk. Boasting a brilliant sea and then some, WA is arguably Australia's best coastal destination for your Summer holidays.
Explore Ningaloo Reef
Ningaloo Reef is perhaps best known as a hotspot for whale shark watching. But this 260-kilometre-long reef is teeming with all sorts of sea life, from sea turtles and tropical fish to manta rays and humpback whales. You might find yourself swimming alongside a whale shark!
Experience Hutt Lagoon
An hour north of Geraldton is this extraordinary body of water, which changes colour – from lilac to bubblegum pink, to a deep red – depending on both the season and the time of day. Locals will tell you it’s best to visit Hutt Lagoon either mid-morning or close to sunset.
Of course, a trip to Western Australia isn't complete without a trip down to Margaret River. Savour excellent Australian fine wine in the world-class grape region, enjoy local produce, fresh seafood and swim in the turquoise sea as it laps white sand beaches. Watch whales splash past coastal beach villages, a little luxury getaway is good for the soul.
Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens
Set on 97 hectares and home to thousands of cool-climate plants, sprawling gullies and a tranquil lake are the draw at Mount Lofty Botanic Garden. Over summer, seek refuge from the sun in the dense Fern Gully – one of the richest fern collections in the country. According to locals, the best time of year to visit is early autumn, when the leaves turn all shades of crimson, gold and russet.
South Australia is home to Henley Beach is 15 minutes from the city and is one of the best places to revel in the sunshine and watch the sunset. Surrounded by a range of restaurants and centring around the bustling grassed Henley Square, Henley Beach is the perfect day trips must-visit destination whether you’re after dinner with a view, a swim, or a glass of great wine by the beach.
Need some travel inspiration? Wind your way down leafy lanes, stopping at villages dappled in light. Brimming with wildlife encounters and cultural discoveries, the Hills are home to some of the best food, award-winning wines and scenery that South Australia has to offer.
Inconvenient, but important to note. You might want to start planning your summer road trips ahead of time. From Boxing Day 2021 and throughout most of the summer, Melbourne road users can expect significant delays and interruptions as the Department of Transport’s Big Build ramps up.
Delays on four critical roadways – the West Gate Bridge and Freeway, the Monash (M1) and the M80 ring road – will all be affected. Public transport disruptions should be expected too, as major works will also be underway on 10 rail lines and seven tram routes. Just so you know!
King Valley and Bright
On the roughly three-and-a-half-hour drive from Melbourne, you’ll pass through King Valley, which is Victoria’s little version of Tuscany. Here, a wave of Italian migrants set up post during the 1930s, noting an ideal climate for winemaking.
Driving through the valley is stunning regardless of what time of year you visit, but it’s worth making a few pit stops, enjoying a drop at Brown Brothers Vineyard and grabbing yourself a picnic pack from Milawa Cheese company. Further east sits the humble town of Bright. Food and festivals, waterfalls, national Parks, fresh produce markets, breweries, galleries and even a museum, Bright is bursting with culture, cuisine and natural beauty.
Otway National Park
Immerse yourself in some forest bathing at the Otway National Park. Tall trees, ancient plant life, and lush ferns are just some of the stunning scenery you'll see. Walk among giant tree ferns at Maits Rest, see the effervescent glow worms at Melba Gully and enjoy the starscape of the evening sky.
Discover a honeycomb of spectacular limestone formations carved by an underground river almost 400 million years ago at Buchan Caves. Tour the largest cave system in Victoria, enjoy a picnic in the scenic heritage-listed landscape or camp a night under the twinkling night sky.
Part of the Freycinet Peninsula, think pink granite mountains that are rising straight from the sea nestled within one of the top ten beaches in the world. Yes, my friend, you've arrived at Wineglass Bay. With pristine beaches and roughly 2.5 hours North of Hobart, this is a certain bucket list destination. Boasting an incredibly rich and diverse landscape, flora and fauna, Wineglass Bay is not to be missed!
Giant tree expeditions
The world’s tallest known flowering plant and the tallest tree in the Southern Hemisphere is a Eucalyptus regnans growing in Southern Tasmania. For the ultimate forest bathing experience, enjoy a day trip with Gian Tree expeditions. Meet the tallest and largest flowering trees as you embark on an adventure in the wild ancient forest. Every tree has a story and you'll meet some incredible trees with incredible history.
Must-have travel companion for skin lovers
The last thing you want to be during summer is a red rock lobster or a shrivelled prune. Get Summer ready with our top 4 Summer must-haves for smooth, healthy and radiant skin!
SPF is important
Use sunscreens with at least an SPF 30.
Check the ingredients.
Look for UV filters that have protection against UVA and UVB like titanium dioxide.
Apply sunscreen correctly.
Apply graciously on sun-exposed areas 15-30 minutes before UV exposure and re-apply it every 2 hours if with continuous sun exposure. Prevent direct sun exposure or excessive sun exposure by using wide-brim hats, umbrellas, and sun-protective clothing.
2. Hydrate skin
The Summer sun can cause extreme skin dryness no matter how much we hydrate, use a handy repair balm to help soothe any dry spot on your body (especially those elbows and knees!), face or lips. It's small and compact, making it your perfect travel buddy.
3. Exfoliate after a day of adventure
Exploring is serious business. Did you get a bit dirty after your giant tree expeditions, or perhaps after exploring the Great Sandy National Park? Clean yourself up with a gentle body scrub to help ditch that dirt.
4. Soothe skin
After a day outdoors in the sun and surf, your skin might need a little TLC. A soothing body oil post-shower will have you feeling like an absolute goddess.
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