5 Only-In-Oz Experiences to Have Right Now (or Soon)

Nov 30, 2017

Just as North America is starting to feel its first twinges of Seasonal Affect Disorder, summer is about to kick off in the Land Down Under. And though you may not consider Australia a go-at-the-drop-of-a-damp-winter-hat kind of place, the deals below bring the trip into the realm of the reasonable. Plus, the next few months there pack all manner of amazingness.

Be among the first on the planet to ring in the new year

…at one of the holiday’s most bucket-listy blowouts: 12 minutes’ worth of insane fireworks launched from the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Sydney Opera House and a flotilla of barges. To plot your spectating strategy (and brush up on everything else happening that night, from the eucalyptus smoke cleansing of the harbor to the parade of illuminated boats), go here. And not for nothing, Sydney’s temperature will likely fall between 67 and 79 degrees that day.

Check out the smallest of the world’s penguin species

…during the famed parade of the fairy penguins on Phillip Island. Their nightly homecoming to these shores always draws a crowd at sunset, but—with the colony’s numbers peaking in December—the next couple of months are prime viewing time. In fact, the spectacle is the main reason some people make a pilgrimage to Victoria—though you’ll also want to hit the island’s Koala Conservation Centre and gorgeous nature trails.

Catch the tail end of the breathtaking Field of Light at Uluru

…before the frequently sold-out art instillation by international phenom Bruce Munro closes in March. What you’ll find is the convergence of two radically different kinds of beauty, each mystical in its own right: Uluru, the massive red rock site sacred to the Aboriginal community, and Munro’s 50,000+ glass spheres, which start to glow and shade-shift as the sun goes down. Because this is a darkness-dependent installation, the daytime summer heat at Uluru won’t stop you from attending. In fact, there are scheduled sunrise outings, plus a host of evening possibilities, from a helicopter ride over the site to an alfresco dinner there.

Hit the Whitsundays for the crazy Clipper Round the World Race

…an eight-leg, six-ocean amateur yachting competition. (Think the Amazing Race meets Olympic sailing on the high seas.) Leg five, which ultimately takes the competitors over the equator and up to China, starts in the Whitsundays, a gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. And even if you wouldn't normally be among the thousands of spectators who show up at the event's ports of call, the two-week Whitsundays Clipper Race Carnival lineup is tempting in its own right—especially the White on Whitehaven Long Lunch. But also: the first ever "Rodeo by the Reef.”

Go wine tasting with kangaroos

Okay, the roos may not be sipping and spitting Shiraz right alongside you, but they may well be hopping through the Adelaide Hills—yes, even in the local vineyards—when you attend Crush 2018. Held at the end of January, the festival celebrates not just the widely beloved regional wines, but the food, music, culture, art and fashion scenes here, too. Of course, you could easily spend all your time here on viticulture: Scattered among orchards, rolling fields and market gardens, these vineyards are particularly Insta-worthy, with or without kangaroos.

See for yourself what's going on down under:

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