Five of the best Bush Christmas destinations

The festive season in the northern hemisphere is famed for eggnog by the fire and sleigh rides in the snow, but here in Oz, we like to do things just a little differently. Combining the arid beauty of the outback, the serene surroundings of the Australian bush, and the community spirit of our provincial towns, Christmas in the country is a unique experience for the whole family.

Here are six of the best Bush Christmas destinations. Remember to book your stay at ChoiceHotels.com.

1. Kalgoorlie

Located in the heart of the Western Australian Goldfields region and named after the native silky pear, the historic city of Kalgoorlie-Boulder brings the magic of Christmas to life in the outback. Head along to the Christmas markets or enjoy the popular annual ‘Carols in Kal’ in Centennial Park. There’s a 15-metre-high civic Christmas tree to admire and glittering decorations throughout the CBD. The Christmas Toy Run brings together not-so-bad-to-the-bone bikers and soft fluffy toys. This annual tradition sees the Salvos join forces with the Goldfield’s motorcycling community to collect toys and raise money and hope for those in need during the festive season.

Need a place to stay?

Quality Inn Railway is the perfect accommodation option for your Kalgoorlie Christmas getaway. It’s located just a short walk from the CBD. Cool off in the seasonal outdoor pool and enjoy room service from Carriages Restaurant.

best Bush Christmas
Enjoy a glittering outback Christmas in Kalgoorlie. Image courtesy of Tourism WA

2. Dubbo

On the other side of the country in the Orana region of New South Wales, the city of Dubbo is a vibrant hub for Christmas festivities. Give a gift that’s been made with love from the popular pop-up Christmas market. It showcases local creativity with stallholders selling everything from handcrafted homewares and artworks, to gourmet goodies for the Christmas grazing table. You can also shop for gifts from the market stalls at Taronga Western Plains Zoo’s fabulous Christmas Family Fun Day in mid-December. Or go one better and spend the big day itself monkeying around with the zoo’s furry and feathered residents. Taronga is open 365 days a year, and a Christmas Day at the zoo will get you up close and personal with giraffes, elephants, lions and more. Just don’t expect to see too many reindeer. They’re likely to be a tad busy.

Need a place to stay?

Comfort Inn Dubbo City offers comfortable accommodation within easy walking distance of the CBD. All guest rooms are air-conditioned, and the outdoor pool is a refreshing bonus.

Comfort Inn Blue Lagoon also has an outdoor pool and offers free Wi-Fi. Onsite Sails Restaurant serves breakfast Tuesday to Sunday, and dinner seven nights a week.

For those looking to stay near the zoo, Quality Inn Dubbo International is located just a few minutes’ drive away. When you’re all zoo-ed out on Christmas Day, head back to the hotel and enjoy the outdoor pool and spa.

best Bush Christmas
Do Christmas with the locals in Dubbo. Image courtesy of Destination NSW

3. Darwin

If you’re dreaming of a tropical Chrissy in tees, shorts and thongs, make Darwin your festive destination of choice. It’ll feel about as far as you can get from the North Pole in terms of the weather! Spend your evenings down at the fabulous Waterfront with its Christmas wonderland of twinkling lights and traditional decorations. You might even get a sneak peek at Santa, so make sure you’re on the nice list! If you loved The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of The Desert, Drag Territory’s annual Queens of Christmas Cabaret is a fun and feathered laugh-a-minute. And speaking of going all out with the sparkles, there are prizes to be won for the best Christmas outfits at the City of Darwin’s Santa Fun on Wheels Tropical Christmas Bike Ride. Decorate yourself – and your wheels!

Need a place to stay?

With its contemporary rooms and tropical-style pool, a stay at Quality Hotel Darwin Airport feels very much like a resort holiday.

best Bush Christmas
Celebrate Christmas in the tropics in Darwin. Image – Bigstock

4. Mildura

Situated by the Murray River on the border of New South Wales and Victoria, Mildura is renowned for its heritage paddle steamers, gourmet food and wine scene, and friendly and welcoming vibe. The region also gets right into the spirit of the silly season. Jingle-Bell-Rock your way through the night at the Mildura Carols by Candlelight. It’s been a local tradition for more than 70 years. You can wrap up your Christmas shopping at the Twilight Christmas Market  held in the city centre. Also check out Santa’s Magical Workshop – a one-stop-shop in nearby Red Cliffs for all your decorative Christmas requirements. From Christmas wreaths to giant inflatable Santas, the workshop is guaranteed to leave any Grinch feeling mighty merry.

Need a place to stay?

Stay right in the heart of Mildura at the very grand Quality Hotel Mildura Grand. It’s located opposite the mighty Murray, and close to shops, restaurants and cafes.

On the opposite side of town (with easy access to the airport), Comfort Inn Deakin Palms offers spacious, contemporary room styles and a central outdoor pool.

For good value accommodation, you can’t go past the Econo Lodge Mildura, located on the edge of the city centre. Work off those Christmas indulgences in the onsite fitness centre.

best Bush Christmas
Indugle in gourmet festive fare in Mildura. Image courtesy of Visit Victoria

5. Shepparton

Each year, Shepparton in regional Victoria gets a complete Christmas makeover. The city centre is adorned with decorations, including a giant Christmas tree, a larger-than-life Santa Clause, a giant peace sign, and an array or twinkling LED lights. Known as the ‘Merry Moos’, the 90-odd fibreglass cow statues around town also get a festive look. In the Maude Street Mall, kids can plead their case for the nice list via Santa’s mailbox, while shoppers can get their gifts wrapped for a gold coin charity donation. On Boxing Day, the place to be is Aquamoves. This splash-tastic recreation centre is the perfect spot to beat the summer heat.

Need a place to stay?

Overlooking Victoria Lake, Shepparton’s Quality Hotel Parklake is the largest hotel in town and features modern room styles and plenty of onsite amenities. In fact, you may never want to leave!

Walk to the decorated town centre in minutes from the charming Quality Hotel Sherbourne Terrace. You can also relax by the seasonal outdoor pool and enjoy the spa and sauna. 

Comfort Inn Peppermill is conveniently located on the southern approach to town and has an onsite restaurant and beer garden.

best Bush Christmas
Shepparton’s Moooving Art cows become the Merry Moos at Christmas. Image – Alamy

About the writer

Michelle Thomas is a Perth-based freelance writer who loves to pen prose about all things travel and lifestyle. When she’s not running her freelance writing business, she spends her time patting dogs, eating burritos and planning her next travel adventure.

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