As any Aussie knows, July means winter, winter means cold, and cold means it’s time for a getaway.
Add in the fact that Australian weather seems to be getting cooler and more unpredictable every year, and it’s no wonder that July has become one of the most popular months for Australians, especially those who live in our bigger cities down south, to take annual leave in an attempt to soak up the sunshine or perhaps go in the opposite direction and embrace the peak snow period.
But what are Australia’s top destinations for travel during winter, and July specifically? While there are numerous possibilities in each state, here are our picks for six of Australia’s best July travel spots.
Average Temperatures during July: 8.9 degrees Celsius (48.0°F) to 16.8 degrees Celsius (62.2 degrees Fahrenheit)
Ideal for: A balanced and flexible getaway with a blend of indoor attractions, dining & day trips to nearby attractions
Top things to do: Do the Newcastle Memorial Walk; climb up to Nobby’s Lighthouse; dine on the waterfront; visit the Art Gallery; day trip or wine tour to the Hunter Valley
New South Wales’ unofficial second capital remains a relatively under-the-radar harbour city yet stands as the epitome of urban development coexisting alongside wonderful beachfront.
With a strong maritime history that has played a large role in the city’s development, a burgeoning arts and culinary scene, and numerous easily accessible day trip destinations nearby, Newcastle serves as both an interesting alternative in its own right as well as an excellent gateway for further adventures.
While the underrated beach offerings will likely be of little relevance for those travelling during July, there’s still plenty here to offer the first-time visitor. This is evident in Newcastle’s increased popularity as a tourism destination rather than just a hub for the processing of coal and steel.
Winter days in Newcastle are relatively mild compared to other more southerly destinations in NSW, and as a result, the outdoors can still be enjoyed provided the weather is sunny, with its excellent (and recently-constructed) Newcastle Memorial Walk serving as an ideal starting point.
Combining impressive coastal views with a well-curated dose of Australian history in commemoration of our wartime ANZAC heroes.
The walk features a number of tasteful sculptures and metalwork and takes walkers on a route that offers an excellent panorama over Bar Beach and the southern coastline all the way out to distant Lake Macquarie. Likewise with the walk up to Nobby’s Lighthouse, a longstanding landmark perched atop a hill that grants another sweeping visual outlook.
Those wanting to simply idle and take things easy can instead stick to the city’s great foreshore area for waterfront views and some quality dining.
It’s a district that blends together a pleasant atmosphere with a sampling of the city’s upcoming culinary scene. As time has passed and those from afar have settled here as an alternative to Sydney, Newcastle is now brimming with quality restaurants and cafes that provide plenty of gourmet entertainment.
In addition, unlike some other coastal destinations that hang their hat on outdoors-only offerings, Newcastle features a significant array of quality indoor attractions for the days that the winter weather has a particular bite or for when rain hits.
The city’s home to some interesting architecture (highlighted by the Christ Church Cathedral that dates back to the mid-1800’s) as well as a number of cultural and historic attractions including the Art Gallery and signature Maritime Museum that provide edu-tainment in fine fashion.
Add in the ability to travel in short order to one of Australia’s premier wine regions in the Hunter Valley, the lovely beachfront areas of Nelson Bay/Port Stephens with all their associated natural and family attractions, and even the picturesque and laid-back Lake Macquarie itself – all roughly within an hour from the city – and you’ve got one of the most versatile bases for a variety of experiences that NSW has to offer.
Average Temperatures during July: 19.3 degrees Celsius (66.7 degrees Fahrenheit) to 30.6 degrees Celsius (87.0 degrees Fahrenheit)
Ideal for: A warm-weather escape full of history and options for natural adventures nearby
Top things to do: Mindil Beach Markets at sunset; Crocosaurus Cove; Travel to Litchfield National Park or Kakadu National Park; The Deckchair Cinema; Darwin Aviation Heritage Centre; Defence of Darwin Experience
Australia’s Top End is a region that’s not often given enough credit as a travel destination, and Darwin, in particular, is often overlooked, with its hot conditions cited as a reason for avoiding the NT’s capital. It’s a shame, as not only is the city ripe with interesting history including European, Asian and indigenous Australian, but it’s also home to a number of unique and interesting attractions that can’t be found anywhere else in Australia.
Where else in the country can you learn about war history, go swimming with crocs and then relax with a drink outdoors at night while taking in a movie all in the middle of winter? Darwin checks all these boxes and more.
July means that Darwin’s usually-stifling humidity is greatly curtailed, and as a result, most southerners find it much more tolerable and still comfortably warm, with daily maximums hovering around 30 degrees Celsius and minimums at a comfortable 19 degrees.
July is also smack-bang in the middle of the region’s dry season and experiences next to no rainfall, meaning the days are sunny and clear without the typically associated heat.
As a result, once you’ve experienced the attractions of the city, Darwin also serves as a great starting point to explore some of the country’s most spectacular natural environments, such as Kakadu National Park, Litchfield National Park, Arnhemland, Jabiru, and Katherine Gorge all within reasonable day trip distance.
The dry conditions during this period mean that occasionally perilous roads leading out to these natural wonders are much better formed, and unsealed sections of track can be navigated safely without requiring a large offroad vehicle.
This dryness causes the rivers and floodplains of the region to dry up as well and is a great time for wildlife enthusiasts to visit and spot hundreds of water birds gathering around billabongs within the national parks – an iconic scene of Central Australia.
The city itself is also very lively during this time, with plenty of chances to visit its famous Mindil Sunset Markets, and the opportunity to hit the beach even in the heart of winter. In short, there are few better times to visit Australia’s “far north capital” than July – especially if you’re able to avoid the school holidays.
Average Temperatures during July: 9.5 degrees Celsius (69.6 degrees Fahrenheit) to 20.9 degrees Celsius (75.5 degrees Fahrenheit)
Ideal for: A family-friendly waterfront environment with balanced options for entertainment and nature
Widely considered the gem in the crown of the Sunshine Coast’s many wonderful beach environments, Noosa, and its surrounds, still serve as a highly enjoyable getaway destination during winter due to characteristically sunny skies and a nice balance of things to do both indoors and outdoors for the whole family.
As a result, it’s one of Australia’s best winter destinations for those travelling with kids as parents get the benefits of beachfront relaxation while the mixture of both man-made and natural attractions provides plenty to see and do for the little ones as well.
While much cooler than other times of the year – you most likely won’t want to swim due to the water temperature – simply strolling down its beaches is still picturesque, and the Noosa and greater Sunshine Coast regions as a whole make for a wonderful place to drive whether it’s along the lovely coastline or inwards toward its spectacular hinterland.
Kids will be entertained by the likes of the iconic wildlife attraction of Australia Zoo, theme park Aussie World and SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast, while parents can rug up and head to the likes of Montville and Maleny for some craft shopping, wine tasting and outstanding views.
Those looking for a getaway from crowds and noise will be able to find accommodations to suit their needs in what is typically an incredibly popular and busy suburb.
This allows you to spend sunnier days lazing on the beach – Noosa offers sheltered conditions so that the wind doesn’t provide too much of a chill – and enjoying the wide variety of restaurants and other options without having to share them with the typical flocks of fellow visitors.
Noosa also serves as a suitable gateway for making the trip over to witness the wonders of World Heritage listed Fraser Island, as well, which opens up and entirely new range of options for nature-based experiences.
The amount of variety that the Sunshine Coast offers combined with its reliable weather makes it one of the most family-friendly destinations in Australia all-year-round, with Noosa as a worthy flagship and the business end of July acting as a month where you don’t have to share all of these benefits with as many other travellers.
Average Temperatures during July: -2.4 degrees Celsius (27.6 degrees Fahrenheit) to 1.4 degrees Celsius (34.5 degrees Fahrenheit)
Ideal for: Easily accessible snowsport hotspot from the Victorian capital o Melbourne
Top things to do: Hit the slopes; browse the Village Square; The National Alpine Museum of Australia; relax in an alpine spa; take a dog sled tour
Those looking to take advantage of the cold rather than shun it are presented with a variety of travel options in Australia during July, with other obvious destinations such as Thredbo and Perisher probably the first that come to mind when the words ‘Australian ski fields’ are mentioned. Don’t forget about Victoria’s Mt Buller, particularly if you’re a Melbournian looking for some quality winter sports to take part in.
It’s a highly viable snow trip destination that can even be done in a single day for determined travellers, although you’ll want to at least stay overnight to get the most out of your journey (book your accommodation as far in advance as possible).
While it’s a destination that lacks the raw altitude of some other nearby ski areas, Mt Buller more than makes up for this by offering a quality across-the-board experience in terms of terrain, facilities, dining options and activities for kids to take part in.
The mountain also offers a great range of slopes – particularly during the back end of July when the entire mountain is typically open – with runs to suit every level of skiers and snowboarder from the absolute beginner to the advanced.
This is aided by a comprehensive smattering of chairlifts which service the mountain, meaning wait times are seldom too long to get back up for another run. Capping things off is the beautiful village itself along with its surrounding scenery, although it’s pricey, there’s a feeling of upmarket exclusivity that more than justifies the investment.
The period from the end of July to the middle of August is typically Mt Buller’s peak snow season, and although you’ll be competing with everyone else in terms of fighting for accommodation and your turn on the slopes, the quality of the snow cover is considered worth it, regardless.
Considering it’s only around a 3-hour drive from the Melbourne CBD, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better ski experience that provides this kind of balance between convenience and quality of snow cover.
Both self-drive options and day tours are viable means of getting to Mt Buller from Melbourne, with the stress of one sometimes offsetting the cost of the other; your miles may vary as to which option you want to invest your time/money combo into.
One final word of advice, you can save yourself (and your wallet) a myriad of headaches by visiting Mt Buller during the week rather than on weekends, as its popularity can lead to crowding, a matter only amplified by visiting on weekends.
Average Temperatures during July: 13.7 degrees Celsius (56.6 degrees Fahrenheit) to 28.9 degrees Celsius (84.0 degrees Fahrenheit)
Ideal for: Experiencing some of Western Australia’s most striking landscapes without the uncomfortable heat
Top things to do: Visit the Horizontal Falls; witness a sunset at Cable Beach; take a beach camel ride; scenic flight over the Bungle Bungle Ranges; drive the Gibb River Road; see Mitchell Falls; explore Kununurra
The destination voted by the public as #1 in our annual Australia’s Top 10 Destinations to Experience poll for 2016 particularly shines in winter. This is due to the typically biting heat of the Kimberley region giving way to a much more comfortable environment during July, making exploring some of its truly unique and rugged offerings a far more pleasurable prospect.
This part of North West Australia packs a quantity of unique and impressive natural wonders into its boundaries that few other parts of the country can match.
Highlighted by a duo of Australia’s premier national parks in Karijini and Purnululu but extending all the way to its incredible coastline and beyond, many of the Kimberley’s landscapes are bright and colourful in a manner in which contrast is key.
Much of the terrain here is a vivid ochre hue, while its waters are also equally striking, and as a result, it’s one of the most uniquely Australian – and highly photogenic – landscapes in the country.
As many of the Kimberley region’s key attractions are of the natural variety and require a fairly significant amount of physical activity to experience at their best, July strikes a nearly perfect balance weather-wise as you’ll be able to walk further and explore in greater depth without burning out.
July is a month where T-shirts in the daytime and a light jumper at night is the norm here, and the comfortable climate is a large contributing factor to how many people choose to visit the region during this period.
Having that extra energy on hand is definitely a good thing, as the region is large and there’s an overwhelming amount of features to experience during a visit; you’ll more likely be limited by either time or budget than ever face a lack of things to see or do.
While most visitors will choose to base themselves out of Broome (as it’s the core fly-in destination for those travelling by air), and the town and its surrounds has plenty to offer in and of itself, it’s only by travelling further afield that you’ll uncover the Kimberley’s true magic.
The innumerable islands of the Buccaneer Archipelago, the incredible multi-tiered drops of Mitchell Falls, and the distinctive beehive-shaped domes of the Bungle Bungle Ranges are all phenomena unique to the region, and all require a significant investment to access in return.
Likewise is the case with the spectacular Horizontal Falls – nicknamed the ‘Horries’ by locals, this majestic display of a combination of sheer aquatic power and the influence of the tides is one of the most impressive natural sites in Australia, yet requires a journey either by light aircraft or boat to witness firsthand.
The region’s relative isolation from most of the population on the east coasts is its only major drawback, however, it’s also this lack of population and human influence that has kept the Kimberley as such a majestically untouched spot in the first place.
Those looking to tick off multiple Australian bucket list items in a single trip will not be disappointed with a trip here, and there are few better months throughout the year during which to take the adventurous plunge.
Average Temperatures during July: 16.8 degrees Celsius (62.2 degrees Fahrenheit) to 24.6 degrees Celsius (76.2 degrees Fahrenheit)
Ideal for: Visiting a premier reef and rainforest destination when humidity is low
In terms of winter island getaways, Port Douglas checks all the boxes and then some. With its comfortable weather, spectacular reef adventures at its doorstep, and a lush rainforest environment just a short distance inland, there are few more ideal spots to escape the July chill.
This does of course, however, come at a price as July is Port Douglas’ peak season, which means you’ll be paying peak season rates for the privilege, but what a privilege that is.
The Great Barrier Reef is the obvious drawcard to the region for most visitors, and the reef off the coast of Port Douglas tends to fare well in terms of natural beauty compared to its main regional rival, Cairns. This is in large part due to a smaller overall visitor volume, and there are few more easily accessible spots for visitors to the reef to marvel at its beauty than Port Douglas.
While the water is cooler – and can border on chilly – during this period, the clarity is often at its best during July due to a lack of rainfall which makes viewing the spectacular fish and hard & soft corals all the more satisfying.
You’ll also avoid stinger season during this time as well, as the box jellyfish and Irukandji that can prove dangerous to swimmers are commonly found in the warmer waters during summer.
Tours to the reef from Port Douglas are more pleasant in July from start-to-finish compared to most other months of the year, which helps to alleviate many of the concerns first-time visitors to the Reef will likely have.
Temperatures outside the water are ideal during this period, and daily averages of 24 to 27 degrees Celsius make for a comfortable environment when travelling into the midst of the Daintree Rainforest or spending time at Kuranda – unpleasant and sticky during the warmer months – much more enjoyable.
Add to this the lower count of mosquitoes and the ability to laze in the sun without being burned to a crisp, and in terms of overall atmosphere, Port Douglas truly shines in July. It’s a climate that’s comfortable enough to take a walk on the beach during sunset, then snuggle under your sheets at night without having trouble sleeping, truly the best of both worlds.
If you’ve got deep pockets or are willing to stay in less luxurious accommodation, you’ll get the best of almost permanently-clear skies and daily average max temperatures of 24 degrees Celsius while having one of the widest range of activities, tours and other natural attractions to take part in within easy reach, regardless of where you choose to stay.
The wonders of both the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest are at your doorstep in Port Douglas and there are few better months to experience them at their best.
In addition, if you’re looking for all the top things to see and do in and around Australia including activities, attractions and more, click here!