Winter blues busters

Give winter the slip by escaping to these warm — but local — destinations. Flip Byrnes reports.

In the depths of these long, dark winter months, break out of the coop and soar towards sunnier climes. We’re ordering a full glass of sunshine, served far enough away to be a winter blues buster, but close enough to home to turn it into a long weekend getaway. Cheers, from where you’d rather be.

Culture crockpot: Broome

Western Australia has many gems — the Kimberley, Margaret River and Rottnest Island are just a few. But in the dry winter months, Broome comes into its own, a melting pot of cultures and cuisines, history and small town glamour.

With a pearling past, the town has its fair share of historic sights, and taking a tour of a pearl farm is a must as is a visit to the Broome Museum. Then jump on a bike, explore Chinatown (and pause for a laksa), hit the weekend Courthouse Markets and if you miss Darwin’s outdoor cinema, a deckchair at Sun Cinema will give that same balmy evening feel.

Don’t miss the iconic Cable Beach camel sunset tours. It sounds touristic, but the glowing sunset, peaceful camels and photographic opportunities are well worth it.

Hipsterville: Darwin

Darwin is so hot right now. And we’re not talking about the growing appreciation for its laid-back vibe, thriving arts scene and easy access to natural splendours. It’s literally hot: in winter months, leave southern cities engulfed in layers to be greeted in a bear hug of 31°C average heat. Bikini weather in August? Tick.

Catch the extravaganza that is the Darwin Festival from August 10-27 with over 70,000 other tourists. For the best of the northern lifestyle experience, do a Wharf dinner and Deckchair Cinema double whammy for the ultimate thaw-out. And whatever you do, don’t miss Litchfield Park — just 2 hours from Darwin you can be sitting under Florence Falls, water droplets ricocheting around your ears like exploding white diamonds. Bliss.

Romance and relax: Lizard Island

Even though it’s warm, there are plenty of good excuses to snuggle up to your plus one in this luxury paradise. Think of every tropical island cliché: white sand (24 powdery white beaches, in fact), palm trees, balmy temperatures, a private romantic dinner picnic for two and spa treatments and you have a winter winner.

Even simply arriving is an event. Located 240km north of Cairns, and 27km off the coast, the flight is an aerial tour of the Great Barrier Reef — blues, greens and navy hues melding into reefs where waves froth. Lizard Island is on a coral cay; you can step right off the beach for snorkelling in the reefs or dive the world-famous Cod Hole. Wannabe castaways, drop your towel here.

A world away: Vanuatu

OK, so we’ve officially left Australia, but it’s only a short 2.5 hour flight from Brisbane, so for the eastern seaboard dwellers, Vanuatu is technically closer than, say, Uluru. And it’s an archipelago bursting with holiday treasure.

The island has recovered from the devastation of Cyclone Pam, and while there is the 5 star luxury of over-water bungalows in the newly rebuilt Iririki Island Resort & Spa, head further afield to discover an ancient culture on the rugged islands. Head to the island of Tanna for active volcanoes, sublime secluded beaches and some of Vanuatu’s most intriguing traditional village life.