Help me plan my August annual leave in Australia
July 15, 2023 11:51 PM   Subscribe

I’m taking 10 days of annual leave in early August. I live in regional Victoria where it’s cold and dark, and I want to go somewhere warm and sunny to try and turn back this seasonal depression! Needs to be in Australia, no international trips this time.

This will be a solo trip. I like sitting on the beach reading (swimming is great but I’m ok with it not being quite warm enough to swim), eating at nice restaurants on my own, reading at wine bars, walking around cities, and wandering around museums. I run and would love to go for some decent long runs somewhere sunny!

A decade ago I did 10 days in Byron and that was very restful, but I’ve heard it’s a different vibe now. Living in a country town I don’t mind being in the city for a holiday; does Brisbane have much in the way of low-key tourism? I’ve only been for work.

Adelaide sounds like it would be my jam and I loooove Hobart. What’s the Adelaide of the North?

Total budget is around $5k, and I plan on booking flights with points. Can be shorter than 10 days.
posted by third word on a random page to Travel & Transportation around Australia (8 answers total)
Great Barrier Reef and glass bottomed boats?
posted by chariot pulled by cassowaries at 12:18 AM on July 16, 2023

Brisbane has some very decent wine bars and an excellent modern art museum. Might get a bit boring after 10 days and it is a good hour away from the nearest decent beach.

How about flying into Brisbane, spend a few days there and then catch a train up the Sunshine Coast? Lot of very nice options for sitting on a beach in the sun. Then fly out of the Sunshine Coast airport.

Or just do Sunshine Coast? Been a while since I last stayed in Noosa, but there are good restaurants and bars. Less of a backpacker vibe than Byron, but I don't know what qualifies as too hectic for you.
posted by arha at 1:37 AM on July 16, 2023

Not a city. Better.
posted by flabdablet at 5:17 AM on July 16, 2023 [1 favorite]

Broome hits your warm, sunny, and beaches requirement. It is slightly touristy but also relaxed. There are a few museums and Broome has an interesting and multicultural history.

However, unless its upped its game recently, the food and wine bar scene is not particularly great (though not terrible). If this is more your priority, maybe try Darwin or Cairns.
posted by pianissimo at 7:33 AM on July 16, 2023

Best answer: Last time I was in Broome was in 2021. It is great for beaches but does not tick many of your other boxes. If you wanted to do things like go out into the bush I would recommend it, but based on what you're looking for I think you'd be very frustrated after three days.

Are you willing to split your time? You could fly into Brisbane, do half your time in Brisbane, then rent a car or take a bus to Noosa. Noosa has amazing beaches, good food, good wine, and paths near the ocean to go for a run, but doesn't have much on the museum end of things. It is also not particularly urban. But if you do decide to take a dip in the ocean, it has a good shot at being warm enough. Brisbane has great food, nice wine bars, and great museums - and it's the best time of year to avoid the city's sticky heat. I really liked the Museum of Brisbane, QAGOMA, and the Macarthur Museum. (QAGOMA is also right around the corner from Gelato Messina, which is a nice bonus.) The botanic gardens are also great if you enjoy that sort of thing. It doesn't have an ocean beach, but Streets Beach does a really good imitation of one - and it is also near QAGOMA. If you like tours, I would also book in with the Brisbane Greeters. They do free tours of Brisbane that are extremely interesting.

Others have mentioned Cairns. The coast in the city itself is all tidal mudflats. If you want to go to a beach, you would need to drive to someplace like Palm Cove, Trinity Beach or Holloways Beach to have the kind of experience you're looking for. It also does not have the urban density to support a 10 day trip of the type you're looking for.

How warm do you want to be? Perth has its cool days but tends to average highs of about 19 degrees in August - which means there's a fair shot of it being over 20 degrees. And otherwise, it ticks off all your boxes in a way that no other Australian city does in winter. It has heaps of gorgeous beaches (Freo and Scarborough, obvs, but also Cottesloe and South Beach, just for starters) and if you tire of the beaches you can hang out at King's Park. You could even take a day out at Rottnest Island, which has a few beaches. Not only are there lots of wine bars but you can also go wine tasting in Swan Valley, which is about a 30 minute drive. The restaurants are great. And it has a lot of great museums (thanks, mining money!) Also, side note, because of all the people with mining money the thrift shops are unbelievably good. Plenty of great places to run along the Swan River, as well as places like Canning River Regional Park if you want your run with a side of nature. It has just under 12 hours between sunrise and sunset in August, same as Cairns and just a few minutes less than Broome, and it is the sunniest city in Australia because of the combination of long sunlight hours (even in winter) and frequent clear days.
posted by rednikki at 8:24 AM on July 16, 2023

Depending on what you think of as warm, Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast are still going to be cool in the dead of the winter. Probably around 22C.

I think Cairns (26C) is your most likely destination, although as others have mentioned it's a ways away from a beach. On the other hand if you spend a few days doing SCUBA training before you go you can get in some diving on the reef, which is something everyone should do once. I made the mistake of doing my training in Cairns which means I did my certification dives on the reef, which did not give me nearly enough time. It's dying, so last chance to see...

It's been a long time but I found Cairns to be a relaxed city, pleasant to be in but not necessarily full of tourist attractions. Perhaps half of your time there and half nearer the beach?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:48 AM on July 16, 2023

Echoing Cairns, but expand your time North as far as Cape Tribulation and East up to the Atherton Tablelands. You can rent a car from Cairns airport and that gives you plenty of scope to explore the area, giving you everything you've asked for and then some. Well, except Museums, but you do have the reef to explore (if you do this, take a tour out of Port Douglas rather than Cairns). The area North of Cairns is full of lovely beaches you can't swim at (crocodiles and, in the warmer months, marine stingers) but you can walk and run forever, just keep your eyes open for crocodiles. I've walked for miles along those beaches and never seen one, but they're there. Cairns has lots of nice restaurants, mostly a pretty casual vibe, not so much fine dining. Lots of parks to sit in the sun and watch the world go by, though.

Otherwise (and a lot closer - Cairns is as far away from Brisbane as Brisbane is from Melbourne), Brisbane/Gold Coast/Sunshine Coast. Brisbane has the Qld Museum and Museum of Modern Art right next to each other, Gold and Sunshine Coast have all the beaches, restaurants and wine bars you could hope for. A bit cold for swimming, but lovely for walking and running in the Winter months and lots to explore in the hinterland. You could possibly fly into the GC, spend a few days there, then Brisbane, then Sunshine Coast and fly back from the Sunshine Coast.

Any of these places require a car - anywhere your travel plans coincide with public transport is purely accidental.
posted by dg at 10:00 PM on July 16, 2023

Think about Darwin. Friends just came back from two weeks there and they said it was one of the best holidays they had done.

They would do a day trip out to, say, Katherine one day, and then have a day exploring Darwin. Some of the day trips were just day bus tours.

The food is very Asian influenced, so if you want some top notch laksa or noodles, the sunset markets are renowned.
posted by Barbara Spitzer at 11:28 PM on July 16, 2023

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