If you're planning a Christmas getaway this year, try one of these top 5 destinations in your own backyard. The summer break is the perfect time to explore all that Australia has to offer.
5) The Whitsundays
For the ultimate luxury getaway, head to The Whitsundays. Those dreaming of a white Christmas won't find snow here, but they will find some of the purest, brightest sand seen anywhere in the world. Boaties will be spoiled for choice in this tropical paradise, with 74 islands to stumble upon. The Queensland coastal region is right in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef, which allows families, couples and other travel groups to enjoy the warm summer waters on their Christmas break. Whitehaven Beach is a must-visit as it's regarded as one of the best beaches in the world. Relax in the flawless silica sand or plunge into the cobalt water that lines this seven-kilometre beach. Enjoy the quintessential Australian experience of Christmas on the beach, overlooking Hill Inlet where the tide shifts to create a stunning fusion of sand and watercolours. This is a truly romantic Christmas destination, perfect for those who wish to relax and catch some sun after the hustle and bustle of the working year.
4) Kangaroo Island
Kangaroo Island is a great destination for anyone who wants to feel a world away from home without leaving Australian soil. The island boasts 509 kilometres of coastline, plus bushland and wildlife to explore when you feel like a break from the beach. This unspoilt land is an ideal destination for adults looking to spoil themselves over the silly season, with a Kangaroo Island Farm Gate and Cellar Door Trail providing the ideal opportunity to sample fresh produce and wines right from the source. Foodies will love King George whiting, exquisite honey and sheep's cheese all located on the island. Small industries are flourishing here, with free-range eggs, home-made native jams, sauces, marinades and olive oil aplenty. Enjoy a Christmas Day lunch of fresh seafood such as prawns, oysters, snapper, whiting and freshwater marron and wash it all down with locally produced wine from one of 18 labels.
3) Coffs Harbour
Families will love a Christmas in Coffs Harbour, with a beachy, relaxed area that welcomes visitors with open arms. Make the most of the sunny Christmas weather and head to the Solitary Islands Marine Park for uncrowded beach time and plenty of nature to explore. Spend a relaxing Christmas Day at the Botanic Gardens, which are open every day of the year. The hidden gardens are a veritable treasure trove of natural beauty, with rainforests, mangroves and even koalas to be spotted high up in the trees. Discover the glasshouses, sensory garden and flora representing different continents and countries, or simply relax on the manicured lawns and enjoy a picnic lunch. For an off-the-beaten-track destination, try Bellingen. This relaxing town boasts warm and mild weather year-round and is an ideal location for outdoorsy activities such as cycling, kayaking and bushwalking. It's also home to the largest regional markets in Australia, so be sure to stock up on your seasonal produce when you arrive.
Christmas in Canberra is a family-friendly affair that offers plenty of activities and events. Take the children along to SIDS & Kids Christmas Lights in the City, which is attempting to break the existing Guinness World Record for the Largest LED Image Display in the World. The city will be lit up with millions of lights, creating a breathtakingly beautiful Christmas ambience. Wine connoisseurs can head to more than 30 boutique cellar doors within close driving range of Canberra, where you can enjoy cellar door tastings, informative meet-and-greets and perhaps an indulgent meal or two. Toast the season with a Shiraz or Riesling, which the region is known for, and let the long summer days pass you by as you roam through the vineyards. See white lions at the National Zoo and Aquarium, which is the only attraction of its kind in Australia. Animals and aquatic life are spread over seven kilometres of land, with the special feature of Australia's largest inland saltwater tank. Pack a barbeque and spend a day with your family here - it's open every day except for Christmas Day. Of course, you can't visit Canberra without seeing Parliament House.
1) Mornington Peninsula
Escape the hustle and bustle of the capital cities when you head to the Mornington Peninsula this Christmas. Known for its golf and favourable weather, Christmas is the perfect time to get out on the green and enjoy 15 of Australia's best golf clubs, each more beautiful than the last. Horse riding is another popular leisure activity here, with Red Hill and Main Ridge ideal locations for a gallop or canter. Some tours even take you down to the beach where the horses frolic in the waves - a truly memorable experience. Like many of our other top picks, there are plenty of unspoilt, serene beaches for you to laze away at over your Christmas break.