Gordon River Cruises, Gordon River, Tasmania © Tourism Tasmania
Summer: Things to do during February in Australia
Here’s how to make the most of the summer’s glorious long days of sunshine.
By Amy Fraser
As the end of summer approaches, February is the time to make the most of the country’s sunshine, long summer evenings and outdoor adventures. For some, that means an escape from the heat on a cool-climate countryside getaway, while others prefer to cool-off with a splash, whether from cascading waterfalls or exhilarating ocean experiences. Whichever takes your fancy, here’s how to make the most of February in Australia.
Wake up next to nature (literally)
After a busy festive season, February is a great time to get back to nature and recharge your batteries, and what better way to do it than to sleep under the stars in luxury. Immerse yourself among the enchanting eucalypts at New South Wales’ Paperbark Camp or at Nightfall in Queensland, open your canvas walls and drift off to sleep to the sounds of the surrounding rainforest. At Canberra’s Naked Cubby Collective, you can hide away in one of their cubby glamping tents, known for their cool breeze, heavenly comforts and sweeping views. And if you’re an ocean-lover, book a once-in-a-lifetime night at Reefsleep and awake to experience sunrise on the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef.
Sail away to an idyllic island
Australian beaches are spectacular at the best of times, but add summer’s calm waters and glowing sunshine on top and you’ve got a picture-perfect paradise. Some of the most beautiful are found on the country’s islands, and February is the ideal time to feel the wind in your hair on an island-hopping adventure. Set sail from Cairns to explore the Great Barrier Reef’s Fitzroy Island on a day trip, where you can step foot onto the peaceful paper-white sands of Nudey Beach and escape the sun in the island’s lush rainforest. If you’re looking for a longer getaway, try captaining your own ship on a “bareboat” around the Whitsunday Islands. All you need is a driving licence and an appetite for adventure – then it’s just you, your sail and 74 epic islands to choose from.
Head for the hills
While most of the country heats up in summer, there are still plenty of regions that bask in a cooler climate. Despite their name, New South Wales’ Snowy Mountains – Australia’s highest range – spend a portion of their time without powder. And they’re all the prettier for it. In February, the landscape is all wildflowers and wildlife, with the warm weather providing the perfect conditions for scaling the country’s loftiest summit, Mount Kosciuszko (2,228 metres, or 7,300 feet). While in South Australia’s Adelaide Hills and Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, the summer months are the time to sip and sample the wine regions’ finest produce under a shady sanctuary. Summer is also strawberry picking season, so be sure to head over to Beerenberg farm in the Adelaide Hills to pick your own.
Sip away over sunset
As the sun goes down, the drinks come out. And the views? They often get better. Luckily Australia’s not short of alfresco drinking spots to soak up the sunset. Picture sipping seriously good cocktails while enjoying a vista of Sydney’s Harbour at Opera Bar, or ordering an Aussie wine and craft beer as the waves roll over the horizon at The Tropic in Burleigh Heads. Then there’s the Limes Hotel in Brisbane, where the bar comes with bubbles aplenty – in the form of champagne and two hot-tubs. Whatever your alfresco goals, they’re answered in the country’s oh-so-cool venues. Cheers to summer in Australia.
Cruise to a new view
They say the new year is the time to expand your horizons, and we couldn’t agree more. Join a Gordon River Cruise in Tasmania and gain a whole new perspective as you drift through the jaw-dropping Wilderness World Heritage area, where lush mountains meet the mesmerising reflections of the water. On the Hawkesbury River, just outside of Sydney, take a holiday with a difference and hire a houseboat; beat the heat with swimming, canoeing, or picnicking in the shade. Or in the Northern Territory, rise with the wildlife on a Dawn Tour with Nitmiluk Tours where you’ll witness the morning glow light up the spectacular sandstone cliffs as you cruise through the gorge. The best bit is, you’ll have the whole gorge to yourself.
It’s not just ancient artefacts, wetland wildlife and rich rainforests that entice travellers to the Northern Territory’s Top End. Visit during the tropical summer (between November and April) to catch cascading waterfalls at their best. In Litchfield National Park, just an hour from Darwin, you’ll find waterfalls and waterholes galore. During the summer, your best pick is Florence Falls, which flows into a crystal-clear plunge pool below and is open all year round for a refreshing dip. Take a picnic and keep an eye out for resident wildlife who are most active during the Top End’s summer months. Over in Western Australia, the charming town of Serpentine is home to an abundance of cooling stations, from Serpentine Falls to one of Perth’s biggest dams. Light one of the public barbeques on the water’s edge and soak up the summer sunshine.
Go wild on the water
If you’re into action-adventure, then fasten your seat belt and get ready for a wild ride. From self-drive jet skis cruising Darwin’s sun-drenched coastline, to surfing Bondi’s famous breaks – Australia’s not short of activities that’ll get your heart pumping (while you keep cool). Can’t make it to a theme park? Strap in for a water roller coaster with Jet Boat Extreme, where you’ll bounce across the Gold Coast’s waves at 80 kilometres per hour (50 miles per hour) while soaking up the sights of Surfers Paradise. And if visiting waterfalls isn’t enough for you, why not launch yourself off one? Tasmania’s Cradle Mountain Canyons offer a variety of exciting experiences to explore Cradle Mountain’s cool-climate utopia. Think abseiling, jumping off waterfalls and floating through the rainforest.
Tempt your tastebuds
Australia’s foodie scene offers a smorgasbord of delicious fare, and there’s no better place to tuck in than at one of the country’s ever-growing markets. For an evening affair, grab your favourites to-go at Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market, kick-off your weekend fun at Hobart’s Street Eats @ Franco or say cheers to fine food at The Forage in Canberra. It’s not just the country’s food trucks that have grown in popularity, but the farmer’s markets too. Go organic and pick up your groceries at Adelaide Central Market (you might even spot your favourite Master Chef running a cooking class) or explore the Fremantle Markets near Perth for fresh veggies and over 100 years of culture.