Wye River, Great Ocean Road, Victoria © Great Ocean Road Tourism
Summer: Things to do during January in Australia
Kick the new year off right with these summer experiences.
By Leah Dobihal
January in Australia is all about long summer days full of sunshine, outdoor exploration, alfresco dining and epic road trips. From killer whale cruises to urban water parks, here’s how to make the most of one of the country’s warmest months.
Get out on the water
Summer is the season of kayaking, boating, rafting and stand-up paddleboarding. Luckily, you’ll find these activities all around Australia. Paddle next to pink granite mountains in Tasmania’s Freycinet National Park, take a sunset kayak safari on Queensland’s Moreton Island or watch the sun rise over the Sydney Harbour Bridge on a coffee and kayak tour. Fancy a picnic on the water? Rent an electric GoBoat in Canberra, Brisbane or the Gold Coast.
Cool off with an icy brew
What’s better than a cold drink on a hot day? Each Australian city has its own take on great beer, so check out a local brewery next time you’re in town. Bodriggy in Melbourne is housed inside a former mechanics workshop, while Sauce Brewing Co in the Sydney suburb of Marrickville has an onsite beer garden perfect for sinking a cold one in the sunshine. Don’t forget about Australia’s hand-crafted spirits, either. There are great distillery experiences dotted around the country, like Canberra’s first-ever lakeside gin experience from Underground Spirits.
Chase beauty behind the wheel
There’s something dreamy about a mid-summer Aussie road trip. Take a drive along the coast and you’ll enjoy warm waters, ocean breezes and plenty of charming beach towns. The Great Ocean Road is one of the best coastal routes, with abundant wildlife and natural formations like nowhere else. Alternatively, Western Australia’s South West Edge road trip takes in lesser-known wine regions and forests of 400-year-old tingle trees. Anyone looking for the picture-perfect road trip from Sydney should look no further than the Grand Pacific Drive. Weave your way down the coast from Sydney to Kiama, crossing the impressive Sea Cliff Bridge along the way.
See crocs and killer whales safely
Australia is well-known for its cuddly creatures, but if you’d rather have an up-close encounter of the thrilling sort, you’re in luck. Head north to Darwin’s Crocosaurus Cove and climb inside a glass tube suspended within the crocodiles’ enclosure. Or, get up-close to crocs in the wild on a jumping crocodile cruise and watch them leap from the water in search of their next meal. Over in Western Australia, pods of up to 150 orcas (also known as killer whales) gather between January and April in Bremer Bay, located halfway between Perth and Esperance. Hop on a Naturaliste Charters expedition to see these ocean hunters jump, splash and play in their natural habitat.
Find shade inside a gallery or museum
When you need to escape the sun, an art gallery or museum is the perfect place. Canberra boasts an ever-evolving rotation of art exhibitions at the National Gallery of Australia, the National Portrait Gallery and the exceptionally quirky Gallery of Small Things. In the goldfields of Victoria, take a tour of the Bendigo Art Gallery and Art Gallery of Ballarat – they’re some of Australia’s oldest regional galleries. If you’re interested in Australia’s oldest art tradition, be sure to visit the Aboriginal art galleries in Alice Springs – Mbantua and Araluen Arts Centre are not to be missed.
Admire island wildlife
Australia is home to hundreds of islands, and many offer the perfect habitat for incredible wildlife. Maria Island, located off Tasmania’s east coast, is famous for its abundance of wombats, Tasmanian devils, wallabies and birdlife; it has even gained the nickname “Tasmania’s Noah’s Ark.” Victoria’s Phillip Island offers the unique opportunity to watch tiny penguins waddle to shore each evening in the aptly named “Penguin Parade.” If you’re in Adelaide, don’t miss the opportunity to spot koalas, wallabies, echidnas and seals on a one-day tour of Kangaroo Island. Of course, one of Australia’s most well-known island animals is the quokka, which lives in abundance off the coast of Perth on Rottnest Island.
Treat yourself to a spa day
The summer months can be busy, so take a break with a beautiful spa day. There are plenty to choose from around the country. Victoria boasts spas surrounded by stunning countryside at the Lake House in Daylesford, as well as Jackalope and Peninsula Hot Springs on the Mornington Peninsula (bonus: you’ll be among vineyards and cellar doors). In the north-east corner of Tasmania, guests can visit a Floating Sauna and experience a dry heat followed by a cold plunge into the waters of the calm Lake Derby. If you’re after a tropical holiday, Queensland’s spas have you covered. Check out Elysian Retreat and qualia in the Whitsundays, or the Balinese-style Ikatan Day Spa on the Sunshine Coast.
Splash around in urban water parks
It’s no secret that Australians are drawn to the water. So it’s no wonder that water parks and aquatic obstacle courses pop up in Aussie cities. Bring the whole family to the Canberra Aqua Park, where kids and adults alike can climb, slide and splash through a giant inflatable obstacle course set atop Lake Burley Griffin. Of course, no trip to the Gold Coast is complete without a visit to a water park – Wet N’ Wild and WhiteWater World are both home to epic water slides and all-age activities.
Explore by bike
A bike tour is a great low-impact way to explore during your holiday. Plus, biking provides a welcome breeze during the summer months. Take an Adelaide City to Sea tour to bike from the bustle of Adelaide to the golden sands of Henley Beach. Near Hobart, you can embark on the ultimate downhill bicycle ride as you descend from the summit of kunanyi/Mount Wellington to Hobart’s scenic waterfront. On the New South Wales South Coast, Southbound Escapes offers e-bike tours to explore the breathtaking coastline of Tilba and Narooma. Electric bikes mean you can effortlessly glide up hills and along the coast.