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Christmas in Australia: A Visitors Guide

Updated on October 27, 2008

Christmas in the Middle of Summer

For those of us who live in the southern hemisphere Christmas is all to do with long summer holidays, days at the beach, and for Autralian's particularly: trying to reconcile traditional heavy winter food with temperatures well over 100F.

For visitors to Australia at this time of the year here is a quick guide to Australia's Christmas traditions and some quick survival tips.

Oh and if you are looking for cheap airfares at this time of year: make sure you get a flight which will see you arrive late Christmas Day: they are generally cheaper and flying on Christmas Day can be a surprisingly pleasent experience - everyone really is happy and relaxed and not looking for an argument: even the check in staff!  

Business Hours in Australia at Christmas

Christmas is the start of Australia's peak travel season. Almost everyone has 3 paid public holiday's on the 25, 26 December and 1 January. Many other busineses close down from the 24th through to the 2nd or 3rd depending on weekends. Business such as CBD coffee shops who rely on city workers for their trade will shut for 2 or 3 weeks - well into January.

Also don't expect many business to work late on Christmas Eve. Many public servants and other office workers will get an official or un-official half day.

Where to Eat on Christmas Day 

On Christmas Day itself most cities run only skeleton public transport - thought what is available is usually free.  Many restarunts will close and those associated with large hotels are often booked out for Christmas lunch and dinner far in advance. You should plan on where to eat well in advance.  Many hostels and  camping grounds will have a pot luck "orphan's Christmas".

Most large cities and towns will run a charity Christmas lunch for those in need which may be a volunteer option if you find yourself at a loose end.

Alternatively head for the beach with BBQ ingrediants: most beachs have BBQ available for a nominal charge and you are guaranteed a beach party on Chrsitmas Day!  

Christmas Decorations, Perth, WA
Christmas Decorations, Perth, WA

Boxing Day Sales

Christmas you won't find a shop open: for emergencies a 7/11 or a large petrol station are your best options.

On Boxing Day: beware the crowds. Boxing Day (26 December) has become the tradition BIG sale day after an entire 24 hours without shopping the big sales are on. Roughly equivalent to Black Friday or  Cyber Monday sales in the US this is one of the best days to shop for major household appliances - but unless you are really sure you need the bargain stay away - its crazy out there!  

 

The Song's Not Common but the Photos are Spot on!

Hot Locations for Christmas in Australia

Sydney is traditionally a popular spot for Christmas and Famous for the New Year's fireworks.

From Christmas on any beach town within 200km of a capital city will be crowded and busy, book well in advance for anywhere from Melbourne to Brisbane especially Byron Bay, Lakes Entrance, Sunshine and Gold Coasts. Expect to pay more for accommodation and have to book for minimum periods over the publich holidays.  

 

Less Crowded Places in Australia at Christmas

If you trying to avoid the crowds then head to anywhere in the  Top End of Australia  Come December the wet or green season is in full season.Darwin, the Kimberleys, northern Queensland get almost all their annual rainfall at this time of the year. These days sealed roads (normally) stay open, but the far more common dirt roads are closed.

Many tourist attractions and accommodations are closed at this time of the year, but if you are prepared to plan and prehaps fly you will see this extraordinary part of Australia in what the locals often say is their favourite season  

 

Far North Photo's by the Author

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Kakadu National Park, Northern TerritoryKakadu National Park, Northern Territory, AustraliaOrd River, from the Air, Western AustraliaEmma Gorge,Kimberleys, Western AustraliaThe author at Emma Gorge, KimberleysBell River Gorge, Kimberleys, Western Australia
Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory
Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory
Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory, Australia
Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory, Australia
Ord River, from the Air, Western Australia
Ord River, from the Air, Western Australia
Emma Gorge,Kimberleys, Western Australia
Emma Gorge,Kimberleys, Western Australia
The author at Emma Gorge, Kimberleys
The author at Emma Gorge, Kimberleys
Bell River Gorge, Kimberleys, Western Australia
Bell River Gorge, Kimberleys, Western Australia

Rolf Harris Six White Boomers - well Reindeer's Don't Cover Oz!

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    • profile image

      luxury camping 7 years ago

      Very useful guide for visitors.

    • Lissie profile image
      Author

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 8 years ago from New Zealand

      Its what you grew up with - I find having properly hot weather odd cause I am used to mediocre summer weather in Dec! We often have Christmas in July as well - any excuse for a party!

    • Lisa HW profile image

      Lisa HW 8 years ago from Massachusetts

      Although I know the answer to this now, I had been wondering if Australian Christmas cards had Summer backgrounds on them. From there I started to wonder a little more about Christmas in Australia, so I found this Hub. Somehow, to me, it's easy to "process" that places with year-round warm weather don't have cold Christmases; but it would seem strange to have Winter but not have Christmas in it. :)

    • Lissie profile image
      Author

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 8 years ago from New Zealand

      Agreed we are driving accross the desert to Adelaide - there is zero chance of rain!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 8 years ago from North America

      Christmas in a hot climate could be fun, what with the beach and all. No worries about bad weather for a holiday.

    • C.S.Alexis profile image

      C.S.Alexis 9 years ago from NW Indiana

      Sounds like a pleasant change from the cold weather I am use to in Chicagoland. I would want to stay a long time. I love hot weather. Thank you for sharing, C.S.

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Christmas in a warm summer or in a snowy winter, I don't mind. I love Christmas of any kind. LOL Great travel guide! :)

    • Lissie profile image
      Author

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 9 years ago from New Zealand

      I'd agree with that wanderlust: the downside is almost all accommodatin in Sydney now requires you book for a minimum of 10 days over that period: its nightmare for people wanting to book for less time or don't realise they should already have booked their accommodation - in Oct!

    • Wanderlust profile image

      Wanderlust 9 years ago from New York City

      Lissie, that's my dream - Christmas and New Year Eve in Australia! That's why I put Sydney as one of 10 best cities for New Year Eve celebration! Please check it out https://hubpages.com/holidays/Best-Cities-For-New-...

    • Lissie profile image
      Author

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 9 years ago from New Zealand

      I've had a few Christmases in Canada and the UK - and all I got was rain not snow! The weather meant staying inside all day and eating and drinking made a whole lot more sense. In fact the fine sunny weather isn't common in NZ either - as a child we normally got rain or coollish - but in Australia its a little different - it hit over 40C in Perth last Christmas Day!

    • Moon Daisy profile image

      Moon Daisy 9 years ago from London

      Nice hub! I loved Sydney when we visited (in the summer months), and hopefully one day we'll make it there over the Christmas period. It's too cold here; actually I'd like to be there right now!

    • Stacie Naczelnik profile image

      Stacie Naczelnik 9 years ago from Seattle

      Great things to know. I would actually love Christmas at the beach, but I also grew up in California. Even if it wasn't 100 degrees at, it definitely wasn't snowing where I lived. I didn't experience a cold, white Christmas until I was 19 and in Switzerland.

    • SweetiePie profile image

      SweetiePie 9 years ago from Southern California, USA

      What a fun hub and I love the video too! I would prefer a warm Christmas day in Australia over a snowy one. I guess I just had enough of the snow growing up in the mountains :).

    • Lissie profile image
      Author

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 9 years ago from New Zealand

      I guess that wasn't the version injected with Vodka LOL? True the old days without iPods were quieter, but one of the disadvantages of host Christmas weather is that the chocolate melts and makes horrible mess!

    • honestway profile image

      honestway 9 years ago from Spain

      Yep, I remember eating watermelon on Curl Curl beach (Sydney) at Christmas most of my lifetime ago when I was a kid. We didn't have iPods in those days...

    • Lissie profile image
      Author

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 9 years ago from New Zealand

      I must admit I prefer it too! Though the frist time I saw the store lights in London I realised why light decorations are so big in the northern hemisphere: I mean its dark in London at 4pm at Christmas time! The introduced thing with doing lights on private homes is just silly - particularly in NZ - its 10pm before its dark enough to see them! Thanks for visiting!

    • sceptic profile image

      sceptic 9 years ago from Christchurch, New Zealand

      Ever since I came to New Zealand, it has amazed me that christmas is in the middle of the summer. Now I just plain love the fact that you can bbq outside on Christmas day! Great hub thumbs up!