Spring: Things to do during October in Australia
Here’s how to make the most of Australia’s blue skies and balmy weather during October.
By Natasha Dragun
October in Australia is hard to fault. The country is starting to warm up, and we’re not just talking about the temperature. Festivals and concerts take centre stage, wining and dining becomes an alfresco affair, and flowers bloom. October is the ideal time to be outside and active, whether hiking, cycling or running, or simply being blown away by the migratory wildlife this month brings with it. From Western Australia to Tasmania, here’s how you can make the most of October in Australia.
Wine, walks and whales
One of the planet's few wine regions where the vines meet the sand; Western Australia’s Margaret River, only three hours from Perth, is a feast for all the senses. When you’re not sipping world-class wines, the best way to experience the region's countryside is on the Cape to Cape Walk. Embark on this breathtaking coastal trek and find yourself on secluded beaches by day and luxury villas by night. Add to that delicious wines, cheeses and gourmet meals and you have a perfect holiday spot.
Australia’s friendly giants make the Cape to Cape walk particularly incredible during October. Humpback, southern right, minke and blue whales come to Western Australian waters at this time of the year. To see one breaching is the icing on an unforgettable coastal adventure.
Munch on a croc burger in Darwin
October marks the end of the dry season in Darwin, the capital of the Northern Territory and gateway to the resplendent Kakadu National Park. While there are plenty of reasons to head into the Northern Territory’s outback – picturesque waterholes, remote waterfalls, Aboriginal art and bird-magnet wetlands among them – there are also reasons to linger in town, not least the golden sunsets you’ll catch from the Mindil Beach Sunset Market. From 6pm, immerse yourself in the hundreds of stalls lined with food purveyors (crocodile burger, anyone?) buskers, tarot readers and tailors. Browse the shops, buy a bite and find a patch of beach to watch the dazzling Darwin day disappear.
Give our wildlife a helping hand
For decades, the Irwin family has worked tirelessly to build awareness of Australia’s remarkable animals through Queensland’s perennially popular Australia Zoo. Its sister, the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, has been working just as hard to rehabilitate native fauna at its neighbouring facility on the Sunshine Coast, and over the years has nursed more than 90,000 injured or orphaned patients back to health. Visiting this extraordinary zoo imagined by the late Steve Irwin (popularly known as the Crocodile Hunter) means your family will not only see everything from koalas and kangaroos to possums and lizards, but will also support the recovery and regeneration of these species.
Experience jazz in the vines
Aside from cheese (and great company), the only thing that could make wine better is music. The good folk at Hope Estate in the Hunter Valley, two hours north of Sydney, understand that and now host an annual outdoor jazz festival of epic proportions. The grassy amphitheatre couldn’t get any prettier — it’s the perfect perch to nibble on goodies from your picnic hamper while sipping local bubbles, or perhaps a chilled craft beer.
Cycle, with a side of chardonnay
There’s no bad time to visit South Australia’s Barossa Valley wine region, but spring is particularly beguiling, with the beauty of blooming fruit trees outshone only by fiery sunsets. One of the best ways to enjoy the rolling countryside, just an hour from Adelaide, is on two wheels along the Barossa Trail. This 40-kilometre (25-mile) track meanders along the North Para River, weaving through twee country towns where you can pause to refuel at historic winery cellar doors, cafés and restaurants. Plenty of artisan producers are dotted along the route, so bring an empty backpack to fill with delicious goods. The only thing you don’t need to pack is your chariot — you can rent bikes of all kinds across the valley.
Tiptoe through the tulips
Australia’s tulips bloom well in October; this month, you can marvel at the rainbow across Tasmania’s Tulip Festival Wynyard, an annual tradition in this normally sleepy coastal town, 65 kilometres (40 miles) west of Devonport on the northern coast. Wander through rows of immaculate flowers in every colour imaginable, then enjoy Tassie’s fine food and wine (the island is known for its stellar pinot noirs) while browsing arts and crafts stalls and enjoying local music. It all culminates with a bang, quite literally, when fireworks explode over the Inglis River.
Take a walk on the “wow” side
Sydney has its fair share of drool-worthy coastal views. One of the greatest is the seascape along the ocean-hugging cliffs between Bondi Beach and Coogee. Here you’ll find surfing waves galore, Instagram-worthy ocean pools with views to match, hidden bays begging to be snorkelled, and patches of sand ideal for picnics and beach volleyball. Take a stroll in late October around the Sculpture by the Sea festival, which offers larger-than-life installations along your route.
Feel the need, the need for speed
While many people descend on Phillip Island, 140 kilometres (85 miles) south of Melbourne, for the daily dusk Penguin Parade (it can't get much cuter than seeing this collective of tiny penguins waddle from the water to their burrows), many more arrive to revel at October’s Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix. The scenic track weaves around the small island-state, and when you’re not cheering riders as they whiz by, there’s plenty of other entertainment to indulge in, including live music and the Grand Prix Expo.
Take part in the world’s biggest fun run
For serious runners, 14 kilometres (8.7 miles) might not sound that far, but at Sydney’s annual October City2Surf it’s all about having fun. Each year, more than 85,000 people sign up to be part of the world’s largest fun run. Companies collaborate to raise money for charity, friends dress up to form themed running waves, musicians line the streets to lift spirits. It’s one big fitness jam that spans across Australia’s largest city for the day, finishing in Bondi where the “three B’s” – beach, bars and beers – rule supreme.
Art with a side of dumplings
Australia’s colonial heritage is inextricably linked with Asia, our closest continental neighbour. These colourful cultural ties are on show at Adelaide’s October OzAsia Festival, a contemporary arts fête. The leisurely three-week event covers everything from film and food, to dance and visual arts. Performers take you through the likes of Japan, Korea, Indonesia and Singapore, and other countries that have augmented Australia’s diverse cultural scene over the decades. Don’t miss the number of community events including the always-popular Lucky Dumpling Market.