Richard in the office just returned from two weeks in Sydney without a tan. People were shocked. People were disappointed. But they needn’t have been, because unlike Antarctica and snow, and unlike Manchester and the rain (just a joke), it’s not actually always sunny in Sydney!
We asked Sydney-based writer Elena to firstly clarify this point, and then to let us know what you can do in Sydney in winter. Is it really worth visiting without blazing sunshine?
Firstly, yes, Sydney has a winter! There, now you know what I believe to be one of the world’s best-kept secrets. Nobody thought to tell me this as I nonchalantly gave away my jumpers before heading for the life Down Under four years ago.
I’d been somewhat taken by surprise when March came around during my first year in Aus and as I glowed with my Bondi tan and the satisfaction that my friends had just endured the Great British winter. Suddenly the air got chilly – and by chilly I mean an average temp of 13 degrees… which isn’t really bad by Euro standards!
I’ve actually come to love a Sydney winter and I think you would too, let me tell you why it’s worth considering this summer (BST I mean)…
You can go for brunch without getting “hangry”. The Aussies love to brunch and tourists love it even more, so during the summer months, you can have a wait on your hands for your smashed avocado on sourdough. But in winter, you’ll have the local eatery (Brown Sugar is a Bondi favourite of mine) pretty much all to yourself.
Same goes for beaches. you have to get up early to get a roomy spot on one of Sydney’s famous beaches in the summer, but come winter, you can cruise down after brunch and get yourself a prime piece of sandy real estate. No worries mate.
Sydney’s 23- day festival of lights, music, and ideas – Vivid Festival – gets bigger every year! In fact, it attracted 1.7million people in 2016 (that’s 10 x bigger than South by South West in Texas), and of those, 26,000 were international visitors! Three weeks is a long time for a festival but that doesn’t mean you have to camp in a muddy field for three weeks, it just allows to pick out the bits you want to see and bob along when you fancy it.
The festival features a public art display of lighting sculptures and installations, all set on the glorious backdrop of Sydney Harbour. You can enjoy world-class music and a programme of events focusing on imagination, creativity, and innovation (perfect dinner party chit-chat fodder) or you can see world-renowned acts like Fleet Foxes. Get yourself to Vivid before it becomes all mainstream and uncool.
My next Sydney winter tip is to go skiing. This is not a joke. Known simply as ‘The snow’ to Sydney-Siders, you can drive to Thredbo for Alpine-quality skiing in around five hours, which in Australian terms, is really close. Roughly equidistant from Sydney and Melbourne (but inland), Thredbo offers the longest ski runs in Australia. This isn’t some gimmick either, as the piste map shows – this is a proper resort with views to rival Switzerland any day.
Or, if skiing seems too much effort, a few open-air ice rinks have sprung up around the city over the past few years which are less chilly than the mountains and don’t risk unsightly goggle marks! So with Qantas introducing direct flights from the UK to Australia very soon, why not grab your Salopettes and head to Sydney – now there’s a sentence I bet you never thought you’d read.
Thanks to Elena for her pearls of Sydney wisdom. If you do fancy a trip Down Under in winter, summer – or any season for that matter – then it’s worth considering WeSwap for your Aussie Dollars. We’re up to 90% cheaper than alternative options and signing up is a doddle.