By RAA Travel
Published: Monday, May 23, 2022
In a country with such a diverse range of climates and environments, there’s always somewhere where the weather’s just right.
If winter in southern Australia isn’t your thing, then plan a trip to the sun, surf and dramatic scenery of the far north.
For southerners, tropical northern Australia is like another world. It’s a place of bold landscapes, exotic birds and animals, and a laid-back lifestyle that matches the warm weather. It’s a great place for a holiday away from the jumpers, jackets and cardigans of the cooler climes.
We’ve worked with our partner, Journey Beyond, to put together a few travel ideas to help you follow the sun this winter.
Considered Australia’s last frontier, the Kimberley’s vast wilderness is crowded with spectacular sights. Roaring waterfalls plunge from precipitous escarpments, deep gorges slice through ancient mountain ranges, and the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean wash the shores of remote beaches.
Rich with wildlife, the region is home to more than 300 bird species – a third of all Australian species. Striking, red-collared lorikeets share the skies with lanky brolgas, and dainty jacanas skip across wetland lily pads. Prehistoric crocodiles cruise through the billabongs and lagoons, patrolling their turf.
The Kimberley is high on many Aussie travellers’ bucket lists, and a lot of preparation goes into a trip to this rugged part of the country. A high-clearance 4WD vehicle is a must, and caravans and camping trailers need to be tough enough to handle the bruising outback road conditions.
For those who prefer to leave the planning to someone else, Outback Spirit offers small-group tours that venture deep into the Kimberley’s tropical wilds. Travelling from Broome aboard a Mercedes Benz 4WD coach, a Jewels of the Kimberley tour will take you to the sheer walls of Windjana Gorge, the Bungle Bungle Range’s mighty domes, the thunderous cascades of Mitchell Falls, and many more exciting locations.
Among the 10 nights’ accommodation, guests will stay at the iconic El Questro cattle station and glamp at Outback Spirit’s own Ngauwudu Safari Camp on the Mitchell Plateau.
For an extra wow factor, the trip includes helicopter flights over the Bungle Bungles and Mitchell Falls. On top of that, visitors will enjoy a seaplane flight to ‒ and a powerboat ride through ‒ the Horizontal Falls, which are caused by massive tidal flows between the walls of a sea gorge.
Cruising the tropics
In winter, the best thing about South Australian beaches is imagining how inviting they’ll be in summer. In the meantime, Queensland is offering warm weather, colourful coral, and beaches with silica sand so pure it squeaks beneath your feet.
The Whitsundays is an archipelago of 74 sun-bathed tropical islands, each with its own unique style. They’re part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, a 344,000km2 coral garden. The reef is populated with such a dazzling array of marine life that it’s a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
Cruise Whitsundays has a range of tours that explore the Whitsunday Islands and further afield to the outer reef.
Cruise among the islands en route to the whitest of beaches, Whitehaven, on Whitsunday Island. Snorkel the clear blue waters offshore, take a stroll through the forest, or just lay back on the gleaming sands and wonder how winter’s going down south.
For the full coral reef blast, get among a kaleidoscope of colours on a Great Barrier Reef Full Day Adventure. From Reefworld, a permanently moored platform on Hardy Reef, guests can snorkel, hang out in the underwater observatory and take a semi-submersible submarine ride into another world.
For a real thrill, see what the reef’s up to at night by sleeping at the platform in an underwater Reefsuite or enjoy a deck-top Reefsleep experience. Beer, wine and meals are included.
Luxury on rails
Travelling north on The Ghan, you can see winter disappear as the landscape changes. The farmland and grey skies of the south soon give way to red sand, mulga scrub and outback sunshine.
Of course, the weather’s not a problem while you’re on board. Air-conditioned comfort, gourmet food, fine wine, crisp linen, and expansive views from your cabin window are what this trip’s all about.
In places, the rails turn away from the Stuart Hwy – the main north/south road – and head into areas so remote they’re difficult to access in even the sturdiest of vehicles. Travelling through some of the most hostile terrain on earth aboard a tube of luxury is a unique experience.
There are three stops between Adelaide and Darwin. At Marla, in the middle of nowhere, there’s a chance to stretch your legs and enjoy a dawn cuppa. Then it’s on to the iconic outback town of Alice Springs, nestled beneath the soaring bluffs of the MacDonnell Ranges. The last stop, Katherine, includes a cruise between the sheer walls of Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge – a Northern Territory marvel.
At the end of your journey, cosmopolitan Darwin awaits. For first timers, it’s an unexpected treat to see such a modern city in this far-flung location. Check out the quirky offerings and tasty food at Mindil Beach Sunset Market, catch a flick at the outdoor Deckchair Cinema, and cool down among the waterfalls and swimming holes in beautiful Litchfield National Park.
Meeting the biggest fish in the world
Western Australia has it all. From the gorgeous beaches, towering forests and sprawling vineyards in the south to the wilds of the Kimberley in the north, our nation’s largest state is truly blessed. It’s no surprise that WA is also home to the world’s largest fringing reef ‒ a reef near the shore ‒ which is a seasonal hangout of the world’s biggest fish, the whale shark.
The UNESCO World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Reef Marine Park extends from south of Coral Bay through to Exmouth. From autumn to winter, whale sharks up to 12m long drop by to feed on plankton and krill, providing a great opportunity to see these gentle giants up close.
Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef is a seaside safari camp 70km south of Exmouth, providing luxury glamping digs along one of the most pristine stretches of coastline in the country. Guests can snorkel among the coral straight out from the shore, and Sal Salis also offers trips into deeper water for a thrilling swim with the whale sharks. With more than 500 species of fish, as well as manta rays, turtles, humpback whales and dugongs, Ningaloo is a marine wonderland.
The Sal Salis experience is in high demand with limited availability ‒ speak to your local RAA travel expert for more details.