When thinking about celebrating one of the most popular holidays in the world, most people might get visions of snow, Christmas markets, and Santa Claus. I mean, who doesn’t love the thought of a stereotypical White Christmas? I know I do, as it has always been a norm for me growing up in the cold climate of Estonia. For the third year running I will be celebrating Christmas on the other side of the equator in Australia and when everybody is having fun in the snow, I’ll be having a dip and a tan on the beach. In this post, I’ll be introducing what Aussies do during their most popular summer holiday.
Going camping over Christmas is an Aussie tradition. Everybody is on annual leave, kids get five weeks off from school during this time and that makes camping a great opportunity for a family outing in the bush. Venturing off the beaten path and enjoying a camping trip is the most Australian thing to do, given that an overwhelming number of people in Australia love camping and fishing.
Many own an impressive collection of must-haves and not so must-have camping equipment. I am talking 4WD vehicles set up with roof-top tents (yes, that’s us!), camper trailers folding out to a massive tent fortress with kitchens, toilets, and double beds to full on homes on the road.
No, Aussies don’t take camping lightly and Christmas in the summer makes camping one of the most popular activities during the festivities and with so much beautiful nature around you, why wouldn’t you want to go and play house in the bush?
All Aussies hit the beaches at Christmas, it’s as simple as that! On Christmas Day there will be no available picnic tables or BBQ’s left after 9 am. You will be lucky to pitch a towel on the sand next to some very jolly fellas enjoying a drink (which is illegal in most public places), a tan and a dip. The water has just gotten warm and everybody has time off… what’s not to like? Pack your roast to go or make it a barbecue with all your family. Join other travellers from cooler climates living out their fantasy of spending Christmas on the beach under the hot summer sun. It has become a tradition for international visitors who are in Sydney at Christmas to go to Bondi Beach where up to 40,000 people visit on Christmas Day.
Not fantasising about Christmas on the beach? Perhaps you are not from Australia and think that it’s not right to have Xmas without snow? Can’t get into the Christmas spirit? Then going to the “snow” could be your answer. There are several ski resorts in Australia’s high country of the states of NSW, Victoria, Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania along with real snow to get you right into Christmas spirit. The extensive skiable terrain in the South Eastern states is between elevations of around 1250 meters to 2200 meters. The accessible winter snows are generally found above 1500 meters. Thredbo, near Mount Kosciuszko, has Australia’s highest point accessible by ski-lift at 2037 meters. Other well-developed downhill ski resorts include Perisher in NSW, Mount Hotham, Falls Creek and Mount Buller in Victoria which has the largest snow village in Australia with accommodation of 7000 beds. Go skiing, snowboarding and stay in a lodge for the full experience. Book early and be sure to plan everything well in advance.
Many neighbourhoods decorate their houses in elaborate light displays and compete with each other trying to beat others each year. Some do it for fundraising while others are obsessed with Christmas. There is a house in Dubbo that keeps their Christmas lights in a shipping container for 11 months of the year and what the whole community will drive out to admire in December. Next to the lavish jaw-dropping window displays at someone’s property, you’ll find a donation box for the Salvation Army and a guest book filled with names and countries from all over the world. When it gets closer to Christmas, the host will come out of his house dressed as a Santa to greet all the inspecting visitors.
Christmas Day Lunch
When most parts of Europe have their main meal at Christmas Eve, Aussies prefer to have lunch on Christmas Day along with Christmas crackers and presents. When all the businesses close and public transport stops working, this is when Australians enjoy a substantial roast consisting of different roast and cold meats and vegetables very similar to European Christmas food.Many choose to have a BBQ instead and indulge in fresh seafood bought from the local fish markets on Christmas Eve. Throwing a “shrimp on the barbie” is not such an uncommon saying then after all.
And to top it all up, the feast is followed by Pavlova, a soft meringue cake topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit. If it’s Aussie or from New Zealand will forever be a debate.
Some families play backyard cricket after stuffing themselves full of oysters and pavlova while others have water balloon fights to cool down under the hot Australian sun. The Christmas break is an opportunity for sports fans to enjoy two major sporting events. December 26th is the opening day of the “Boxing Day Test” between the Australian Cricket Team and an international touring side at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. In Sydney, one of the world’s most prestigious yacht races, the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, starts on Boxing Day from Sydney Harbour and is an awesome attraction to watch if you have the opportunity to be in either location at the start or end of the race.
Whatever your reasons are for visiting Australia during our summer break, experiencing Christmas on this side of the equator is a must for everyone at least once. So if you are wondering where to go this Christmas, Australia has got you covered!
From sun and sea to snow and skis with camping in the outback in between, Australia has it all! Have you ever spent Christmas in Australia? What would you add to the list? If not, would you ever consider it? Let’s talk in the comments!
This article has been published as it featured in A Brit And A Southerner blog on the 22nd of December 2016.
And also, please have a look at the link ups I’m participating in from #TheWeeklyPostcard by Two Travelling Texans, #FollowMeFriday by Feet Do Travel Community. Feel free to click on the badges below to find other great posts about travelling. Thanks!