Winter hotspots

Okay, so I’m kidding. Winter in Australia means cold, cold weather, in southern destinations at least. Unless you’re heading north, above the Tropic of Capricorn, there are a lot of chilly things that southern travellers can look forward to at this time of year. Rugging up. Wearing psychedelic beanies. Planning comfort-food meals. And, best of all, winter travellers see nature at its sparkling best.

Here are a few of our favourite cold-weather destinations.Chambers-Pillar

Chambers Pillar, NT: Pre-dawn is the time to set out for this Central Australian icon, just when the last stars are blinking out. A short walk (or stumble) over the first sand dune gives the first shadowy glimpse of this massive monument, and with each step the sky lightens. It’s the top of Chambers Pillar that lights up first, and the glow filters downward to create a “beacon in the desert”, just as described by explorers long ago.Great Victoria Desert

Queen Victoria Spring, WA: Who would think that a remote part of Australia’s largest desert could turn into an amazing wonderland? That’s what we found in the Great Victoria Desert at Queen Victoria Spring. Through the night, a fog bordering on Scotch mist descended and with the first sight of dawn a new layer began to sparkle. Thousands and thousands of spider webs lit up, hanging between trees and shrubs, draping branches, carpeting the ground and forming multi-storied apartments stacked from basement to penthouse. And all were outlined in shimmering 3D. That display was supercool, and not just in temperature.Mansfield

Mansfield, Victoria: With a backdrop of a snow-shrouded Mount Buller, Mansfield is guaranteed to be icy in winter. And morning walks around here pass paddocks coated in frost and touched by a hovering haze. It’s a time of the day that’s brisk and invigorating, made more welcoming by a hint of wood smoke wafting through the air. Further into Kelly Country, Stringybark Creek can be an even icier experience and frost can linger into the afternoon. This is the season when flame robins tease campers with happy-dance displays, and the forest is ultimately fresh and exhilarating.Tower Rock

Tower Rock, NT: Winter sunsets in this red-rock landscape are among the best we’ve ever seen. As both the sun and the temperature drops, light begins a subtle play that intensifies, then glows across the granite formations. The last rays of the sun add an incredible flush that flickers and radiates out to night. And if the weather’s fine, the night skies are clear and so enticingly crisp, you can just about touch the stars.

These are the times to rug up and enjoy the delights of winter.