If you like your winters cold, snowy and packed full of adventure, Thredbo will be your wonderland! The best possible option for skiing, snowboarding and snowman-building in Australia, Thredbo is just two and a half hours south-west of Canberra or five and a half hours south-west of Sydney. The best - and we’re not even being biased here - place to stay? Thredbo YHA of course! Forget shuttling into the village or over-priced accommodation, Thredbo YHA provides unrivalled value at the food of the mountain. You can assess the conditions from the balcony – morning coffee in hand. Spend the day frolicking in the snow however you like, then warm up by our firepit at night, discussing skiing techniques with your new friends. With a choice of fantastic multi-share rooms and private rooms – there is no better base for snow season than Thredbo YHA.
Arguably Australia’s ultimate winter event, Vivid Sydney is a must-do in everyone’s lifetime. From the end of May to mid-June, stunning Sydney Harbour becomes aglow with dazzling light projections and installations, designed to be breath-taking and thought-provoking. Artists all over the world make their way Down Under to get in on the action – in 2019, this included English rock band The Cure and American director Spike Lee. Vivid attracts over two million visitors a year, so it helps to have affordable and convenient accommodation in Sydney. Introducing Sydney Harbour YHA! Located right in the heart of the action, you won’t have to worry about packed out public transport – spend the night being wowed by the beauty then crawl into bed right away. PS – the views from the hostel's rooftop of the illuminated Harbour Bridge and Opera House? Priceless.
Photo: Tourism Tasmania, Adam Gibson
Live music, art and movies. A nude swim at dawn with thousands of others to celebrate the winter solstice. A demon that eats your fears. Light and darkness, contemporary and ancient mythology and birth, death and renewal. These are just some of the weird, eerie and wonderful themes you can expect to experience when you visit Hobart while Dark Mofo festival is on, an annual event held by the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA). Controversial, show-stopping and unlike anything you’ll ever experience, Dark Mofo is featured prominently on every smart traveller’s Aussie bucket list. Once you’ve booked your transport to Hobart, book your bed at Hobart Central YHA – to secure affordable, convenient and quality accommodation while the festivities are going on. Save big and have more cash to spend on experiencing everything "dark" you possibly can.
Photo: Tourism and Events Queensland
Given it’s one giant island, it’s no surprise that Australia is chock-a-block full of fantastic spots for whale watching, and winter is the time to do it. To the east, tens of thousands of humpback whales depart Antarctic waters by heading north to the warm waters of Queensland. They find shelter near Fraser Island – the world’s largest sand island – where they give birth and raise their calves. Stay at Hervey Bay YHA to see the magic happen (as pictured above)! Further down the east coast, find yourself somewhere between Brisbane and Sydney at Port Stephens - another great for seeing humpbacks. Towards the west, the seaside town of Albany enjoys one of the longest whale-watching seasons in the country. Most remarkably, this usually includes several pods of majestic orca whales - base yourself at Albany YHA and see if you can spot them. Feeling lazy? Book a bed at Port Elliot YHA – from the balcony, you’ll get 180 degree views of Bashman’s Beach, where whales frolick every day in July and August. Read here for the full low-down on whale-watching in Australia!
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At a time of year when most Aussies don’t want to do anything but hibernate, Cabin Fever Festival is there to lift them from the slump – rug up and get cosy by the fire, but still be social about it! Held for two weeks in the breathtaking Margaret River Region of Western Australia, you’re guaranteed to find something that tickles your fancy amongst the 35 events held. Gorge yourself on cheesy goodness at Fondue by the Fire, live your best life at the Hip Hop Yoga Brunch and watch a bunch of comedians roast each other as you eat roast at the Sunday Roast. It’s food, booze, fire, live music, comedy and stunning scenery – all the good stuff! All that’s left is your accommodation, so book a bed at Margaret River YHA and let the good times roll! Click here to check out the full stacked lineup!
If you’re not a fan of winter at all and need to feel the sun and warmth on your skin at all times, the sunshine state is the place for you! Enjoying a pleasant climate all year round, it’s rare to experience a freezing cold day anywhere in Queensland, at any time of year. Enjoy exploring Brisbane’s foodie scene (from Brisbane City YHA), or experiencing the most stunning, crisp mornings you ever did see in Noosa (from Noosa Heads YHA). It’s also the best time to go to tropical north Queensland – the winter months are the driest, and it also means the nasty venomous box jellyfish clear out from the waters. Book a bed at Cairns Central YHA, and rest easy knowing you can take a dip in the cool blue waters without worrying about getting stung. The climate is nice and even all year round, so it won’t be too freezing to enjoy a swim, either!
Two hours outside of Sydney yet worlds away, the Hunter Valley is a joy to visit all year round. But throughout May and June, the area is home to the Hunter Valley Food and Wine Festival, packed full of brand-hosted evenings and over 70 epic events. You’d be hard pressed to find a night that doesn’t present an opportunity to eat delicious fresh, local produce and get a lil’ bit tipsy on the world-class wines. There’s fireside wine tasting, gourmet dinners, winemaking masterclasses and so much more. Where to rest your dizzy head? Newcastle Beach YHA is a great pick, located just an hour away.
Every year, Western Australia receives more and more visitors – especially those seeking out the famous quokkas of Rottnest Island, just a ferry ride off the coast of Perth. Slightly less crowded in winter, this could be your best opportunity to get the quokka selfie of your dreams – these little guys aren’t afraid of the cold, so you’ll see plenty of them around. While you’re there, enjoy stunning walks and lookouts, azure waters and white sand and breathtaking natural beauty. When it’s time to return to the mainland, stay at Fremantle Prison YHA and enjoy everything that this area has to offer all year-round. A sassy Perth cocktail bar, perhaps? A foodie day trip to Swan Valley? Exploring the hip area of Fremantle? The possibilities are endless.
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During the Aussie winter, our famous sporting codes are in full swing, particularly AFL (Aussie Rules) and NRL (Rugby League). Even if you're not a huge fan of either sport, seeing a game live and up close will be an experience you will always remember. Settle in with your bevvies and snacks and see the spectacle unfold - you'll find the atmosphere of thousands of diehard fans is contagious, and you'll be clapping, cheering and heckling with the rest. Plus, after the game comes the celebratory (or sorrow drowning) drinks! From Melbourne Central YHA, it's easy access to the MCG, Etihad Stadium and AAMI Park - world class stadiums and a great place to watch some footy. From Sydney Central YHA, you can get to the major stadiums such as ANZ Stadium and the SCG, as well as cute, much-loved suburban grounds.