It gets a bit fresh in winter to say the least. It’s fair enough that not many people want to go out in the freezing cold weather.
Not many people travelling to Australia think of the country as a wintertime destination. With all the countless Tourism Australia ads that emphasise our warm beach weather and vast Outback desert, who could blame them?
But Australia hasn’t shut shop just because it’s gotten below ten degrees. Aussies are always up for a good time, and that includes when we have to face the cold weather. (Compared to so many other places in the world, it doesn’t get that cold.)
There are many great events happening around the country that you should check out if you’re travelling through the area. So put on your skivvies and windcheater and have a cracker of a time.
The Australian capital becomes the country’s truffle capital between June and August. The locals celebrate the area’s Black Perigord Truffle season with a festival based all around these truffles.
The festival holds many cooking classes, wineries, breweries, cafes, restaurants, and markets, all of course revolving around truffles. Here you can try out all sorts of delicious truffle options.
But what might be the most fun and certainly the most outdoorsy activity are the truffle hunts throughout each day of the festival. Some trained dogs will seek out some black truffles hidden underneath the ground. They have been taught not to dig, but they paw at the dirt or somehow point at a spot where they can smell some truffle. These furry hunters are given a treat to eat after finding truffle as a reward.
Before commencing these hunts, a local priest blesses the dogs on the first Saturday of the festival to hopefully increase the chances of these lovely doggies finding truffles and for the festival’s overall success. It’s a nice, light-hearted ceremony that everyone gets to watch before they start the hunt for the day.
Saturday 15 June – Saturday 31 August
Sovereign Hill in Ballarat, is an open-air museum representing the town and its inhabitants as they were in the 1800s. Ballarat played a big part in the Victorian gold rush, producing tonnes of golden nuggets that made a fortune for many people. The modern Sovereign Hill staff have made their own golden nugget with their Christmas in July Winter Wonderlands festival, getting both locals and visitors flocking here.
Most Christmas movies are set in America with a snowy white Christmas where everyone’s getting cosy and keeping warm. We’re a little more used to trying to stay cool during the festive season, with Chrissy smack-bang in the middle of Summer, so we’re generally not accustomed to building snowmen or chucking snowballs. However, you can live out your own “White Christmas” fantasy right here in Australia!
The old style buildings are lit up at night with Christmas themed colours and patterns on them. There are also fairy-lit laneways to explore, fake snow to muck around with, and a European street market. Best of all, you won’t have to spend a fortune on Christmas presents!
Saturday 29 June – Sunday 21 July
Naturally many people wear beanies to keep warm during winter. While not many people will think of Alice Springs when they think of cold places, it does indeed get chilly in the Red Centre. It’s highly recommended to wear a beanie when outdoors during cold nights in the Alice.
The Alice Springs Beanie Festival started in 1997 as a way for Indigenous women from remote communities to develop their talents for beanie making and share their designs with the community. This is a huge gathering that is as much about the community’s social fabric as well as the knitting fabric.
There are literately thousands of different beanies on offer. All of these beanies have their own unique colours, textures, and styles, and are decorated with various types of seeds, fibres, and embellishments to suit a wide range of tastes.
It doesn’t stop at merely buying beanies though. Visitors can get involved with the workshops where you can knit some beanies yourself. It’s a great way to have a yarn with the locals. Not only will you have made your very own beanie from scratch, but you’ve made yourself a souvenir to help you remember your time in the Alice as well.
Thursday 27 June – Monday 1 July
The Blue Mountains are one of New South Wales’ biggest tourist attractions, and it’s scenic beauty makes it obvious why that is. It also gets freezing cold here, and even snowy, but that’s to be expected in a mountainous area like this.
Many venues in the Blue Mountains have made the best of this with Yulefest, a winter celebration in July where this resort becomes an extravagant winter wonderland. There will be traditional Christmas styled feasts served to guests, giving you something different to eat during “Australian Christmas” instead of yet another summer barbie.
The natural cold winds and snowfall to watch while snuggling up around log fires really add to the illusion that you’re experiencing a white Christmas like something out of a movie. Everyone can start singing some Christmas carols and have a giggle at the fact that it’s the wrong time of year to do so.
Saturday 5 July – Sunday July 13 (weekends only)
You should consider heading over to Margaret River this July to attend the Cabin Fever winter food and wine festival.
There’s a variety of events happening over 10 days across 35 venues around the Margaret River and Busselton region. This includes bonfires, live music, rich wines at local vineyards and bars, winter feasts, and other astounding places the Margaret River region is known for.
Cabin Fever is known for being a real treat for food and wine lovers. Dinner events such as Night of Noir and Fire Food, and Sunday Yum Cha and even a cheese toastie battle, will certainly wake up the tastebuds. There will also be plenty of chances to do some wine tasting to try out various wines from the local vineyards.
Friday 19 July – Sunday 28 July
The Orange Winter Fire Festival happens around Orange and Millthorpe during the first weekend in August each year, and it’s a great way to spend to kick off the last month of winter.
The festival starts on Friday in Millthorpe that’s decorated as a winter wonderland with live country music playing while people check out the food and wine market stalls, and also some bonfires. At the same time in Orange, Ross Hill Wines will have a fireside feast with plenty of mulled wines and slow-cooked meats to enjoy.
On Saturday, there will be live music at the Nashdale Lane Vineyard, eat some barbeque and hot cocktails at a campfire singalong at The Oriana, or go to The Old Convent for some classic winter soup and slow-cooked meat.
The festival will give visitors many opportunities to try out the local wine, as Orange has a reputation for its leading vineyards. Besides their delicious wine, the festival showcases a lot of succulent food, including chargrilled feasts and Sunday lunches at the local restaurants, pubs, and cafes.
Friday 2 August – Sunday 4 August
There’s more to camels than mere guiding you through the desert or being the logo of Thirsty Camel bottle-os. In Alice Springs in July, camels have been the life of the town since 1970 after two mates, Noel Fullerton and Keith Mooney-Smith, made a bet to race their camels against each other to sort out a disagreement they had. The race got so much attention that the race became part of the Alice Springs Centenary Year Celebrations, and it has been recurring annually ever since.
The Camel Cup is essentially the Melbourne Cup of the Northern Territory, but unfortunately no one gets a day off for it. But it happens on a Saturday anyway, specifically the second Saturday of July.
There are nine races throughout the day at the dusty Noel Fullerton Camel Racing Area. One such race is the Honeymoon Handicap, where husbands ride the camels, but have to stop halfway around the track to pick up their wife before crossing the finish line.
Besides the camel racing itself, there’s other attractions like Kids Camel Capers camel races, an animal farm, belly dancing, and even a fashion event (their equivalent to Oak Days perhaps). The whole event’s essentially a carnival, and a very fun and quirky one at that.
Saturday 20 July