Did you know that Australia is around the same size as all of Europe? This means there is a lot to explore across the country – although a few destinations really shine in the lead up to winter.
The Australian autumn, or fall as it's known in some parts of the world, is a beautiful time to visit. The weather is still warm without being stiflingly hot, but the summer crowds have dissipated and off-season tariffs help you to keep your budget in check.
“No matter what time of the year you visit, there will be several destinations that truly shine,” says Adam Schwab, CEO of LuxuryEscapes.com, an Australian travel site that specializes in affordable five-star holidays. “But from March to May, there are some holidays that really stand out from the rest.”
“Byron Bay is a popular destination year-round, but the beachside town really comes to life during the annual Byron Bay Bluesfest,” Schwab shares. “The award-winning festival serves up over 200 performances over its five-day span, and the likes of Bob Dylan, Robert Plant, and James Brown have performed here.”
Although March is officially the first month of autumn in Australia, Byron Bay still offers balmy days in the mid-20s (Celsius) and with world-class white sands fringing this special part of the country, it’s the ideal destination for music-lovers and beach-goers alike.
Where to stay: Stay away from the crowds and relax in luxury at Wategos Beach, which is situated just 2km away from Byron Bay town center. “For lavish, elegant accommodation, book a guest house at Victoria’s at Wategos. It’s a chic, boutique place to stay, especially for couples indulging in a romantic escape,” Schwab says.
The Emerald City turns into a colorful party during the annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, and the highlight is, of course, the parade, which takes place every March. Make sure to grab a prime spot early in the day and don’t forget to put a rainbow-colored outfit on!
“Food lovers will also adore the popular Taste of Sydney food festival the same month, staged in the picturesque surrounds of Centennial Park. The four-day food celebration invites you to try Sydney’s finest eateries, wineries and producers all in the one = location,” Schwab says.
Meanwhile, for families, the Sydney Royal Easter Show is a must, with the unique countryside making a pilgrimage to the city to take over Sydney. You can pet farm animals, go on show rides, play to win along sideshow alley, and indulge in a show bag (giant-sized goodie bags) to continue the fun!
Also when you’re in Sydney, you may want to make time “to venture to the Hunter Valley”, he adds. “If you can avoid staying during the Easter holiday period, you can get some great prices on hotel stays and it’s the perfect time to travel, as the days are still warm.”
Where to stay: “Enjoy a stay in the heart of Sydney at the heritage listed 4.5 star Grace Hotel; you will be close to everything! A stunning piece of architecture that was built in the 1920s, the Grace Hotel is a showcase of the art-deco area, with a neo-gothic exterior. It’s been beautifully restored and combines modern amenities with old-world charm,” Schwab says.
Adelaide comes to life during late February and March, with two major festivals taking place. While February is technically still summer, you can catch the end of these fantastic festivals in March, as autumn begins – which is the ideal time to visit, as Adelaide can get scorching hot over Christmas.
“During summer, Adelaide can get exceptionally hot with temperatures in their 40s, so the first month of autumn is a great month to visit with plenty of sunshine and pleasant weather,” Schwab says.
He suggests you time your visit to coincide with The Adelaide Fringe; as the world's second-largest annual arts festival, it runs for several weeks between February and March. The Fringe is followed by WOMADelaide, an annual world music and dance festival, which is a showcase of different types of music, arts, and dance.
“Don’t forget to venture out to the renowned wine region of Barossa Valley, which is about a 75-minute drive from Adelaide,” Schwab suggests. “Shiraz grapes are the local specialty.”
Where to stay: “Mayfair Hotel Adelaide is worth a second look. It’s the city’s newest five-star boutique hotel, and it offers luxury, contemporary accommodation in the heart of the city,” Schwab says. “It has a fabulous rooftop bar atop the old Colonial Mutual Life Building, while in the basement the Mayflower Restaurant and award-winning chef Bethany Finn serves up modern interpretations of retro-classic dishes.”
“Perth has more sunny days annually than any other Australian capital city, and March is no exception, with many pleasant days,” Schwab shares.
Outdoor art exhibition Sculpture by the Sea, set in the picturesque Cottesloe Beach, takes place in March, with beach transforming into a ‘sculpture park’. You’ll wander between exhibits from some of the world’s top sculptors, against a backdrop of one of the city’s most popular beaches. Best of all, Sculpture by the Sea – one of Perth’s largest public events – is completely free to attend!
While you’re in Perth, don’t forget to make a day trip to Rottnest Island, an island located about 18km west of Freemantle. It’s not only a beautiful place to explore, but you can also spot the adorable quokkas.
Where to stay: The Alex Hotel is the hotel of choice to rest your head, Schwab shares. “This fashionable boutique hotel with pops of color and natural texture is the new kid on the block in funky Northbridge – you’ll want to move in!”
The Tasmanian capital city turns into a cultural destination in March, during Tasmanian International Arts Festival, Australia’s only statewide festival. A must-visit is the Spiegeltent in Hobart, which offers a jam-packed program of music, comedy, cabaret, and circus.
“The festival is also a great excuse to venture outside of Hobart,” Schwab says. “For instance, the Taste of the Huon is a celebration of fine food, wine, arts, crafts, and entertainment. Held at Ranelagh, which is only a 30-minute scenic drive south of Hobart, the festival is a great place to try the finest and freshest quality produce and wines Tasmania has to offer.”
Where to stay: “Hadley’s Orient Hotel is a grand old dame of Hobart brought back to its original glory and located in the heart of Hobart’s CBD. It’s within walking distance of Salamanca and the waterfront precinct. As one of the oldest boutique hotels in Australia, it was recently restored under the guidance of heritage experts. High tea in the Palm Court is a must!”