When the clouds come rolling over Staffordshire, dumping their wintery cold rain and sleet over the county, we can sometimes look out our windows and wish we were a world away, setting off for adventures in warmer locations around the world. Although we’re in the midst of winter in the UK, the opposite is true in the Southern Hemisphere, with Australia enjoying the peak of their summer months with temperatures of 25 to 30 degrees Celsius, sunshine and clear blue skies. Despite the long journey to get there (a minimum of 17 hours on a non-stop flight), stepping off the plane and being greeted with a much warmer climate makes it a popular and worthwhile destination. Let’s take a look at some of the favourite destinations that travellers can enjoy in Australia, as they forget the cold they’ve left behind, enjoying the warmth and variety of fabulous locations and exciting events, during months when they’d be typically battening down the winter hatches back in Britain.
Approximately 41 miles from the Queensland state capital of Brisbane, lies the sun-kissed city of Gold Coast and the glorious sandy beaches which lent the locale its name. Whether it’s catching the crest of a breaking wave at the world-famous Surfers Paradise, or simply soaking up the sunshine and working on a healthy tan in the relaxed village vibe of Burleigh Heads; there’s no shortage of stunning coastal locations to enjoy. Wandering away from the coastline, there’s also much more to discover, such as delving deep into the Gondwana Rainforests of Lamington National Park, or breathtakingly beautiful views from the crown of Mount Tamborine, enjoying natural wonders that are a joy to behold. As for the cosmopolitan and ultra-modern city itself, there’s the Australian Ballet visiting in January to perform Sleeping Beauty, plus the Magic Millions Carnival – a 10-day extravaganza of horse racing and equestrian activity. Later in the year, Gold Coast is also hosting the 2018 Commonwealth Games in April.
Boasting all the fantastic facilities of a modern cosmopolitan city, Melbourne is also regarded as the cultural and sporting capital of Australia, home to great museums and a renowned hub of the arts, fabulously fusing its rich colonial history together with 21st century living. From exploring the narrow and quaint Laneways, enjoying the café culture and street art, to fine-dining along the Yarra riverside and then dancing the night away; the atmosphere and ambience is a great attraction for visitors. Melbourne has also quickly become one of the most popular casino gambling destinations in the world, thanks to the expansive Crown Casino resort complex, boasting three luxury hotels and a wealth of entertainment in the swanky Southbank area of town. Poker enthusiasts and professionals from around the world flock for the Aussie Millions Poker Championship in January, joining tourists trying their hand at roulette, blackjack, or the ker-ching of the slots. Aussies are also fiercely proud of their great sporting traditions, and since 1905, Melbourne has been home to the Australian Open, the first major tennis Grand Slam tournament of the year every January. If you happen to be heading to the city over the Christmas period, there’s also the traditional and legendary Boxing Day Test at the MCG, which is unmissable for cricket fans.
Although many of the most popular tourist destinations are concentrated along the more populated eastern and southern coasts of Australia, the more adventurous traveller will perhaps find heading to the Northern Territory city of Darwin more appealing; named after Charles Robert Darwin, who the region fascinated and inspired in his seminal work, On the Origin of Species. Culinary culture is very much a part of the Darwin lifestyle, influenced by Asian cuisine amidst the many excellent restaurants and eateries, or one could simply stroll through the colourful Mindil Beach Sunset Market, experiencing the magical sights, sounds, and smells. The aromas of herbs and spices linger in the air as you walk the waterfronts or browse through local arts and crafts. Darwin also provides a great base if you’re venturing inland, whether it’s as far south as the iconic Ayers Rock, or closer at hand, to the fabulous Kakadu National Park or the alluring Litchfield National Park, or the stunningly beautiful Tiwi Islands, a relatively short boat trip away from the city.
So if you can’t wait to escape the winter gloom of the UK and aren’t afraid of a long-haul flight, now you know where to head!
Publishers of Staffordshire Living Magazine