I'm a freelance writer based in Perth, Western Australia, who enjoys writing about the things I love: travel, nature-based activities, the arts, spirituality and creative, fun activities for children.
Published December 21st 2012
Everyone deserves a summer escape
Summer in Australia is hot. Very hot – sometimes to the point of being almost unbearable. Day after day of scorching weather tends to test the patience and even sanity of all but the most saintly of us.
Even the seals on Kangaroo Island are chilled out. Image is from Wikimedia Commons (by Didier B - Sam67fr).
Admittedly, some people seem to flourish during heat-wave conditions: carefree surfie sorts who practically camp out on the beach each summer and sun-starved tourists from the cold, dark climes of northern Europe who lap up the excessive heat and sunlight like a garden in springtime. However, most of us simply wilt, hankering for autumn and even winter, or daydreaming about idyllic paradises, free of climatic extremes.
It's therefore good to know a few cool spots to escape to for an extended period, if time and circumstances allow.
Cradle Mountain and the wilderness areas of Tasmania are great spots to escape to in the heat of summer. Image from Wikimedia Commons (by Berichard).
In Australia, the general 'rule of thumb', is to follow the sun, heading north to the tropics when the first chill is felt in the air, and only returning 'down south' when it starts to get too hot to be comfortable. Grey nomads, backpackers and roving hippies have been long aware of this practical migration pattern, and arrange their lives to take advantage of it. Now that you're aware of it, you can also join this elite fraternity. The following paragraphs give a few suggestions about where to go.
Anywhere near a beach Being an island (albeit a very large one), it's only natural that Australia is blessed with some of the world's most magnificent beaches: a great compensation for the very hot summers which we're forced to endure.
Generally during the hotter months it's best to choose a beach holiday in the southern part of the country, as further north in the tropics the deadly box jellyfish is prevalent in the ocean at this time of the year.
Every state has its favoured beachside spots, although there are innumerable other magical hideaways which are much less known. These places should be approached with caution, however, as there won't be any lifesavers to rescue you if you get into trouble.
Having grown up in the Hunter Valley, I'm especially partial to the beaches around Newcastle and the mid-north coast of New South Wales. Situated right next to the city's historical end, Newcastle Beach would have to be one of the best surf beaches in the country. Just a stone's throw away are the delightfully retro Newcastle Ocean Baths and the adjacent canoe pool whose sheltered waters are great for lap swimmers as well as families with young children.
Other personal favourites are Kingscliff and Cabarita Beaches in far northern NSW, just a short drive from all the action of the Gold Coast but well away from the hype, and those along the south-west and southern coasts of Western Australia. While sheltered Geographe Bay near Dunsborough is great for families, Yallingup and Prevelley Beaches near Margaret River are preferred by those who love the open ocean.
Margaret River, Western Australia. Image from Wikimedia Commons (by SeanMack).
WA's south coast also boasts some wonderful beaches. However, most are unpatrolled, so be sure to be extremely careful. After spending a lovely family holiday there a few years ago, I strongly recommend the small beachside hamlet of Hopetoun for a 'beat the heat' escape. There are several great accommodation options there including the terrific Hopetoun Caravan Park, which is right on the beach.
Tasmania: the Apple Isle Situated south of the mainland, Tasmania is a perfect spot to escape summertime heat stress. Although it also gets some very warm days, in general it's much cooler than the rest of the country, especially in the far south. Inland, in the mountainous regions it's not uncommon for snow to fall at any time of the year.
Freycinet National Park boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in Tasmania. Image from Wikimedia Commons (by Jorn Brauns).
Like the mainland, the best place to escape the heat is on the beach. Popular beachside destinations include Bridport and Penguin on the north coast, and St Helens, Swansea, Bicheno and Coles Bay along the eastern coastline. Of course, these are just a handful of innumerable terrific spots.
Hiking in the state's mountainous interior is also a popular pastime. Traversing spectacular wilderness country, the iconic Overland Track between Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clair is one of Australia's best known long-distance walking trails. Other popular longer trails are the South Coast Trail and the track to Frenchman's Cap. For more information, I recommend this website.
Cradle Mountain, Tasmania. Image from Wikimedia Commons (by Periptus).
The wild western coast is one of the state's coolest regions and also well worth a visit. Surrounded by rugged wilderness, picturesque Strahan on Macquarie Harbour is a great place to escape the rat-race of twenty-first century life as well as the heat. Be warned, though. It's a lovely spot and you may never want to leave.
Strahan. Image from Wikimedia Commons (by M. Murphy).
Tasmania boasts some lovely islands as well. Situated in windswept Bass Strait, both King and Flinders Islands are unique spots to unwind while beautiful Bruny Island, just off the coast south of Hobart, has a special other-worldly vibe which nature-lovers will love.
Currie Harbour at King Island. Image from Wikimedia Commons (Karl Barnfather).
The tropics may not seem to be the best place to head to in summer to beat the heat. However, despite the threat posed by deadly box jellyfish in the ocean, the potential of a rogue cyclone heading your way, and the all-pervading humidity, a sojourn in the tropics can be rather fun during the Wet Season, as the summer is called up there. Pricewise, accommodation is drastically reduced during the Wet and there are a lot less other tourists around. Best of all, however, most accommodation options have a pool and it's lots of fun swimming in the rain.
In conclusion, when the heat gets you down this summer don't lose heart. Instead, check out some of these beaut holiday destinations. Wherever you live in Australia, there is sure to be somewhere which will suit your budget and lifestyle.