The winter break is just around the corner, which means you can start planning some time off from your studies. As interstate border restrictions start to ease, you can also tour other parts of the country, or, if you don’t plan on travelling, it’s also the perfect opportunity to explore your adopted city.
Here are 10 activities to make your winter break just that little bit more fun.
1. Visit a museum or art gallery
Spending the day inside browsing art galleries or museums is a great way to escape the cold. Australia has plenty of amazing museums and galleries, with most capital cities offering multiple options to choose from. You can visit the big, state-run institutions for major exhibitions, or head to smaller, independent galleries for something a bit different. Plus, many major galleries and museums – including the Sydney Observatory and the Art Gallery of NSW – hold special nights throughout winter where you can check out the exhibitions after hours. Most of these places offer free entry, or discounted tickets for students, so make sure to keep your student card on you.
Just check that your local museums and galleries are open at the moment, as they may have limited opening hours.
2. Stop by a café
Australia thrives on its café culture; each city claims that their coffee is the best, and Sunday brunches are an incredibly popular pastime. Australia has a huge amount of beautiful (and Instagrammable!) cafes in incredible locations, with hot drinks, fresh pastries and other snacks for when you need a pick-me-up.
If you want to avoid the hustle and bustle of main-street cafés, keep an eye out for smaller secret cafés and laneways, like Degraves Street in Melbourne, or Wolf Lane in Perth. For something more unique, seek out international cafés – that way you can try something new, like Turkish coffee and a slab of Greek baklava, or an iced Vietnamese coffee and an egg tart.
With restrictions currently in place across a number of cities in Australia, just check whether you need to book a table beforehand.
3. Take a walk along the waterways
Major Australian cities are built around waterways. While it’s nice to splash around in the summer, don’t let the cold weather drag down your adventurous spirit. Taking a brisk walk along the beach is a great way to wake up in the morning, and visiting a nearby river or lake makes for a nice way to relax. Plus, there are usually cafés or food vans along the way, so you can stop for a hot drink.
4. Wander around a national park
Australia is home to beautiful national parks, and winter is the best time to explore them. In summer you might risk coming across a snake or two (but don’t be scared – it’s pretty rare and there are steps you can take to ensure your safety), but in winter you can relax, explore the wild bushland, and see if you can spot any koalas or kangaroos. Most capital cities have small national parks that are a short drive or ride on public transport from the city centre, where you can have a picnic or learn about Australia’s flora and fauna.
Some national parks were closed during the recent lockdowns, so ensure the park is open to the public again before visiting.
5. Picnic in botanic gardens
Australia is famous for its blazing hot, sunny summers by the beach, but eating outdoors in the hot weather will also mean you’ll have to battle with lots and lots of flies. This makes the mild winter weather perfect for a picnic outdoors with friends, particularly if you head to one of the country’s beautiful botanic gardens. There’s always gorgeous green space in cities and towns across Australia, so grab some friends and food, and settle in for an afternoon.
6. Browse a market
Visiting a market is a great way to pass the weekend. Check out the fresh produce section for fruits and vegetables, sample free tasters, grab some warm food, or shop for comfortable cold-weather clothes. If you’d prefer to stay out of the cold and keep warm, you can browse the stalls at Australia’s incredible indoor markets, like the Adelaide Central Market or Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne.
7. Enjoy the winter sports
Sport rarely stops in Australia, and despite the cool weather, you can still participate in plenty of sporting activities – AFL, soccer, hockey, and rugby are popular winter sports.
Attending live sports events has been sidelined by COVID-19, but you can still enjoy it on TV! Many pubs will even screen matches live, so you can enjoy watching on a bigger screen with friends. AFL – Australia’s unofficial national sport – is played in winter, so if you haven’t had a chance to wrap your head around this popular game yet, now might be the time!
8. Visit a wildlife park or aquarium
If you want to see and interact with Australia’s unique animals without heading into the bush, travel to your local wildlife park, zoo or aquarium. You can even pet a koala (and get your photo taken!) or feed a kangaroo at some of Australia’s wildlife parks.
Due to restrictions, you might find some places are still closed, so make sure you check opening times before visiting. If so, you can still check out Australian wildlife virtually from your couch!
9. Go on a heritage tour
A great way to explore your city is to take a heritage tour. Australia has many buildings and landscapes connected to its rich history – and what better way to get to know your city than by exploring its past? Many cities have guided walking tours available, but some also have self-guided tours that you can access through apps or by downloading maps.
10. Take a day trip
Even if you’re not travelling over the mid-year break, you can still go on an adventure close to your city. Taking a day trip is a great way to explore new territories and still be home in time for dinner. Visit the penguins at Philip Island in Victoria, take photos with the quokkas at Rottnest in Western Australia, or see some beautiful waterfalls just outside of Darwin.