After the heartbreak of summer 2019/20, it almost feels like our collective duty to rediscover our love of this quintessential Aussie season.
Best summer destinations
Located in the Eurobodalla region of the NSW South Coast, Narooma (a local Yuin word for ‘clear blue waters’) is evocative of beach holidays of old, with its decidedly laid-back approach to sun, sea and sand. Expect stunning beaches, plentiful seafood (it’s on the Oyster Coast after all), and cute wildlife – visit Montague Island (Barunguba) for its fur seal colony.
Fitzroy Island, Qld
An easy ferry ride from Cairns, Fitzroy Island (part of Gunggandji Country) is stunningly positioned in the waters of the Great Barrier Reef. A national park, the island is covered in pristine rainforest and ringed by unspoilt beaches, and offers up walking trails, snorkelling, diving, turtle rehabilitation tours or sybaritic relaxation.
Also head to Mooloolaba, Cape Hillsborough, Dingo Beach
Its location at the end of the fabled Great Ocean Road means the pretty fishing village of Port Fairy (the traditional home of the Gunditjmara) doesn’t get the Melbourne day trippers who swarm to the likes of Lorne and Torquay during the summer months. Here you can learn to surf, eat your fill of fresh seafood and take in the thriving local arts scene in relative peace and quiet.
Also head to Wye River, Metung, Mallacoota, Queenscliff
Sitting at the gateway to the breathtaking Freycinet National Park, and perched near the celebrated Wineglass Bay, there are few locations in the country as blessed as Coles Bay when it comes to location. The laid-back village is the perfect base for exploring the wonders of the landscape here, including hiking Mt Amos and the Hazards, eating freshly harvested oysters to your heart’s content and enjoying the blissfully remote (and uncrowded) Friendly Beaches.
Also head to South Bruny, Tullah, Stanley
Situated on the delightfully named Rainbow Coast (along with Denmark and Albany) in the south-west of the state, the Walpole region (traditionally the Wagyl Kaip and Southern Noongar region) dazzles with its natural wonders, surrounded as it is by stunning beaches, ancient forests and a trio of national parks: Walpole Nornalup, D’Entrecasteaux and Mount Frankland. The town itself sits at the edge of the expansive Walpole Inlet, where summer days are spent paddling, kayaking and fishing.
Also head to Dirk Hartog Island, Horrocks, Cape Leveque
Marion Bay, SA
Located on the Yorke Peninsula (the traditional home of the Narungga), a three-hour drive from Adelaide, Marion Bay spoils those who venture here with choice; the coastal town boasts a tranquil swimming beach, surf beach, ample fishing spots, as well as rugged coastal scenery (including its own shipwreck) and bushwalking at nearby Innes National Park. As for accommodation, there’s camping (at Marion Bay Caravan Park), glamping (Bayside Glamping) and Hillocks Ocean Pods, luxe contemporary cabins with views out to Butler’s Beach and Hillocks Point.
Also head to Rapid Bay, Myponga, Southend, the Coorong
Top 10 summer beach reads
From the life and learnings of an eco-warrior to the follow-up to Trent Dalton’s record-breaking Boy Swallows Universe to a glimpse behind the scenes of the world of high fashion, try some of these recommendations from Melbourne’s Avenue Bookstore when you are stocking up on the perfect summer holiday reads.
1. All Our Shimmering Skies by Trent Dalton
2. The Living Sea of Waking Dreams by Richard Flanagan
3. The Mother Fault by Kate Mildenhall
4. Betty by Tiffany McDaniel
5. The Golden Maze: A Biography of Prague by Richard Fidler
6. The Chiffon Trenches by André Leon Talley
7. Honeybee by Craig Silvey
8. Just Like You by Nick Hornby
9. A Life on Our Planet by David Attenborough
10. Bluebird by Malcolm Knox
Five elements to the perfect summer fish and chips
“The perfect fish and chips relies on a few simple yet key steps in preparation, and like every great meal, depends on the context and company to provide the final seasoning,” explains James Green, head chef at North Bondi Fish. Here, he walks us through the key ingredients to the ultimate summer meal.
1. The Batter – a great batter is reliant on three points. Self-raising flour is key, as it contains the raising agents that promote a deep golden brown batter without overcooking the delicate fish encased inside. Cold beer is a necessity, as is making the batter right before you plan on using it and not overmixing the batter. This is what keeps the bubbles in the batter, promoting a light and shatteringly crispy coating.
2. The Fish – fresh fish seems like such an obvious thing to say, yet it’s true. Coating a poor-quality fish in batter doesn’t really save it, it just makes a mediocre end product. Fish that tend to fare better in batter are lighter in flavour and flaky in texture. Gurnard and flathead are some of my favourites, but after growing up on Lord Howe Island, kingfish will always be right up there for me.
3. The Accompaniments – you will want a sauce with a nice dose of acidity to cut through the richness and complement the delicate flesh. Something like NBF’s yoghurt tartare fits the bill for me; the acidity of the yoghurt and pickles with the briny capers and light aniseed flavours of the dill provide a nice accent. And a lemon wedge never goes astray.
4. The Beverage – no good fish and chips is complete without a complementary drink. An ice-cold beer, preferably lighter in style, fits the bill for me, though I must admit I’m also partial to a margarita, which has the generous acidity to really cut through the richness of the dish.
5. The Company – every great meal is not just about the food. The context and the company you’re in play a huge role in overall enjoyment. A great meal with great friends will always be unbeatable, every time.
Best bars for summer drinks
One of the joys of summer is sipping cocktails in the sunshine. Here, some venues with a view to hit up as the mercury rises, plus a cocktail recipe to make that feeling last long after last drinks.
With uninterrupted views of Sydney’s Harbour Bridge, this open-air bar is iconic on a world scale.
There’s possibly nowhere better to experience Australia’s holy trinity of sun, sand and sea than from a stool in Iceberg’s cosy bar.
The perfect juxtaposition of old and new, the design of this Spring Street al fresco bar incorporates neon and industrial steel, while its outlook takes in the Parliament, the spires of St Patrick’s Cathedral and the domes of the heritage-listed Princess Theatre.
Perth’s recent boom in five-star hotels has blessed the city with this stand-out drinks venue, with impressive views over its jutting high rises and the waters of the Swan River.
A position on the deck for cocktails here is highly prized, offering the chance to gaze out across Henly Beach, one of the city’s prettiest spots, to the water beyond.
Housed in a four-storey pontoon fl oating on the water at Sullivan’s Cove, as the name implies, The Glass House offers uninterrupted water views through soaring floor-to-ceiling windows and a menu of locally sourced produce and wines (and gins and whiskies).
OH LA LA By Burleigh Pavilion head bartender Todd Grevsmuhl
10ml Wild Strawberry
10ml Licor 43
60ml pineapple juice
15ml lemon juice
Shake all ingredients with ice and double strain into a coupe. Garnish with an edible flower.
Outdoor summer events
The sheer joy of waving your hands in the air at an outdoor music gig, eating al fresco at a celebrity chef-helmed food event or enjoying art with water views is the stuff of summer dreams. Aussies love an outdoor event more than the next person, and while mosh pits and share platters are, for now at least, a thing of the past, there is a raft of summer music, food and arts festivals that are good to go in the coming months.
Expect contemporary arts, culture and entertainment in Burleigh, Chevron Island and the Gold Coast Regional Botanic Gardens.
November to April
Everyone’s favourite outdoor movie show returns for its 25th year at inner-city spots in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.
15–17 January (Launceston) and 22–24
19 February – 21 March
Expect the usual (and unusual) line-up of performance, theatre, circus, music and visual arts in the largest arts festival in the southern hemisphere.
While the Bondi event is still in limbo, Perth’s version (pictured) is forging ahead in the new year.
The festival will have an exclusively Australian line-up featuring the likes of Daniel Champagne, The Church, The Waifs, Ziggy Alberts and Jimmy Barnes, to name but a (very) few.
Eat, drink and be merry in one of NSW’s most picturesque regional towns.
23 April – 8 May
Visit our Reclaim Summer hub for more ways to experience the best of summer.