Winter is here. And for some, the cold winter months are reason enough to jet off somewhere warmer. But for others, it’s the perfect time to enjoy a mountain getaway with family and friends. A chance to get away from the city, surround themselves with nature and take some time to breathe in the fresh mountain air.
From Queensland to Victoria we’ve put together a list of our 5 favourite places in Australia to head for the hills and take advantage of the frosty weather. So snap on those thermal jackets, bring a book to read by the fireside, and pour yourself a glass of wine. It’s time to enjoy a winter vacation!
Dandenong Ranges, Victoria
With its towering mountains and quaint villages, Victoria’s Dandenong Ranges are spectacular at any time of the year. But add a sprinkling of snow and mist in winter, and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into another world.
Less than an hour’s drive from Melbourne, the Dandenongs are a great choice for quick weekend getaways or short holidays. As you break through the veil of mist, you’ll be greeted with a patchwork of flora that always manages to stay lush in the cold weather.
Here, tearooms and restored diners are a-plenty and are a fantastic way to stay warm and to savour some local fare. You can’t miss Miss Marple’s Tea Room, the Dandenong’s most famous establishment, to delight in their signature tea and scones. But if you’d rather skip the long queue, you can always head to Olinda, Sassafras, and Emerald to dine at equally amazing restaurants or browse the many quaint shops and galleries.
Don’t forget to catch a ride on Puffing Billy. Dangle your feet over the open carriages and enjoy the views as this iconic train traverses the route between Belgrave and Gembrook. After more than 100 years, it’s still one of the top things visitors do when visiting the Dandenong Ranges.
Blue Mountains, New South Wales
There’s a lot to love about the Blue Mountains in winter. Crisp cold air, cosy log fires, and an array of exhilarating activities await those who visit. The Greater Blue Mountains is a World Heritage region and features hectares of beautiful rainforest, canyons, and heathlands that you can definitely still enjoy – even in the cold weather.
Because the Blue Mountains are only an hour from Sydney, it’s a favourite weekend destination for city dwellers. If you want to enjoy a typical winter here, you should start with something as easy as enjoying the thick hoar frost. It’s simple but quite magical, especially when you see it glittering in the sunlight and hear it crunching under your feet. Best to wake up early to experience this.
Another popular option is to arrange a day tour that takes in all of the major sites, such as Featherdale Wildlife Park, the Three Sisters and Scenic World – the steepest railway in the world. Alternatively, head to Jenolan Caves to partake in the ever popular Yulefest celebrations, in particular at Caves House on Friday and Saturday nights.
Adelaide Hills, South Australia
Forget the dreary weather and the biting cold, the Adelaide Hills can be as much fun in winter as it is in the summer. From nature walks and wine tours to festivals and entertainment, you won’t find a dull day here.
Start your winter holiday at Hahndorf. Head to a cosy cafe and sit by the fire while savouring some distinctly German fare like sausage and schnitzel. If you’re visiting in August, you can experience the fun and colourful Hahndorf Winter Lantern Festival.
The Adelaide Hills is also wine country and boasts over 50 wineries serving up top-notch Pinot Noirs and Shiraz with equally delectable gourmet fare. If wine’s not your thing, you can also guzzle pints of craft beer from Prancing Pony or Lobethal Bierhaus. Burn off all those calories you racked up drinking and dining up at Mount Lofty where you can hike to the summit for unparalleled views of the surrounds. Or spend a lazy day at Mount Barker’s Farmer’s Market perusing the seasonal produce, flowers, and packaged goods.
At just over 20 minutes drive Adelaide’s CBD, this is the perfect place to escape the city and head for the hills.
High Country, Victoria
Whether you are travelling for some family-friendly fun or a romantic getaway, Victoria’s Alpine Region has a lot to offer those who love the snow. Though particularly popular as a winter sports destination, High Country is a fantastic choice for any holiday, with its irresistible mix of adventure, history, and culinary temptations.
Victoria’s High Country is a veritable playground for snowboarders and skiers in winter. Head to Mt. Hotham if you’re an intermediate or advanced skier. You’ll love the challenging options: tree runs, gullies, and steep slopes. If you’re bringing the family, Falls Creek is your best bet. There are beginner trails and long, easy runs at Wombats Ramble, and a snow tube park in Village Bowl.
If you’re short on time, then your choice is clear: Mt. Buller. It’s only a 3-hour drive from Melbourne and offers snow play for intermediate and advanced skiers and boarders. Not only that, you’ll also love the more than 30 bars, cafes, and restaurants here, offering a range of fare from European to Asian.
If skiing is not your thing, the lovely and historic towns of Bright, Beechworth, and Mansfield offer hours of fun—and safe—explorations. Meanwhile, King Valley and Rutherglen are best if you love your wine and gourmet food.
Scenic Rim, Queensland
Stretching from Tamborine Mountain through the Lost World and to Kalbar, the Scenic Rim in Queensland is a nature lovers paradise. Just an hour’s drive from Brisbane or the Gold Coast, the scenery couldn’t be more different, and spectacular: lush rainforests, majestic mountains, and rolling winery hills.
The bracing winters draw in the beach bums and the coastal dwellers of Queensland in probable need of change. Not just scenery and weather, but also for the relaxing activities one can enjoy, minus the sunburn, salt and sweat. Think cosy cottages, farm stays, camping, and exceptional food and wine. It’s the kind of laid-back life that most of us crave.
Get a bird’s eye view of the spectacular countryside scenery and majestic mountains via hot air balloon or a glider. Then have a pub lunch and sample some local beers with a sumptuous Scenic Rim cheese platter. Get the family over to O’Reilly’s Tree Top Walk for some adrenaline pumping adventure or to see camels at the Summer Land Camel Farm. Later, you can cosy up by the fire with a bubbly or a relaxing massage while thinking of all the wonderful things you did and can still do while here.