Australia is the perfect destination for people wanting to escape the usual Christmas fuss. Lying in the Southern Hemisphere, Australia is blessed with celebrating Christmas in the middle of summer. If you are fed up with the snow, wind and rain, and do not want a “traditional” Christmas, then Australia is the perfect alternative. Trade skis and snowboards for surfboards; thermals for boardies (board shorts) and bikinis; woolly hats for sunhats and boots for “thongs” (better known as flip-flops or sandals). So, where are the best places to go for an Aussie Christmas?
Party Central in Cairns
Cairns is the party-central of Australia. Located in Northern Queensland, it enjoys a tropical climate. Be prepared for long and very hot sunny days, and a very high humidity level. Cairns attracts backpackers and young partiers to its shores over Christmas. Cairns is one of the smaller Australian cities, but it is easily accessed by plane. It is a lot cheaper than many other cities in Australia, particularly around the busy festive period, when other cities are known to hike up prices. Cairns is also a little more liberal, with more relaxed drinking laws and promotions. Spend Christmas Day at the lagoon, and have a traditional “Barbie”. Unfortunately, the lovely sandy beaches are not suitable for swimming, as the tropical waters are home to box jellyfish. Further up the coast are Palm Cove and Trinity Beach, which have sections of safe swimming with swimming nets. While in Ciarns, take a hike in tropical jungle, spot some freshwater crocodiles and of course, take part in the main attraction: diving in the Great Barrier Reef.
The Big City Christmas in Sydney
When it comes to Australia at Christmas, people automatically think of Sydney, primarily due to the great New Year’s Eve celebrations. On Christmas Day, head to one of the nearby beaches. Although be warned, traffic can be heavy. Accommodation is often hard to come by during this busy period, and prices are severely inflated. If you do not fancy cooking up your own Christmas dinner, you are in luck in Sydney, as many restaurants remain open on Christmas Day. If you plan on spending New Year’s Eve at the infamous Sydney Harbour, watching the fireworks over the river and Opera House and bridge, get there early during the day. Most people start arriving around mid-day, and the best spots are often filled by 2 or 3pm.
A Quiet Christmas in Margaret River
For those wanting an exotic Christmas in a quiet setting, go to the Margaret Rover Region in Western Australia. A mere 4 hour drive from Perth, Margaret River is an oasis on the coast. Much cooler than the rest of Australia, the region is populated with vineyards and wineries along the luscious coast. Spend long days wine tasting, or pick up a surfboard and head to one of the many quiet beaches. Margaret River has everything from cheaper camping accommodation, to luxury five star spa resorts. However, as it is Western Australia, prices are much higher than the Eastern Coast and will be more expensive than Cairns and more in line with rates in Sydney. There are many day trips to be done in Margaret River, which can be as mild or exciting as your desire. Choose from guided walking cave tours to extreme black-water rafting, and whale watching to shark diving. Head south to Cape Leewin to spot whales and dolphins travelling along the passage where the Indian and Pacific Oceans meet. The best thing about Western Australia is the sunsets, which explode in an array of colour in the unending ocean: the perfect place for a romantic Christmas.