This blog post was updated on September 12, 2014.

The Christmas freeze may be setting in over the northern hemisphere but Down Under they’ll be firing up the barbie for their Christmas dinner. So to feel a little sunnier, here are some of the best places to get out of town.

Blue Mountains National Park: There aren’t just mountains in the Blue Mountains – there are forests, rainforests and canyons. Take a cable car or a railway ride, or strike out on your own two feet – either way you’ll see koalas, kangaroos, exotic birds and jookaburras. It’s a 90 minute ride from Sydney.

Hunter Valley: There’s nothing like a quick trip out to some vineyards and, as the oldest wine area in Australia, the Hunter Valley is perfect for this. there are 80 vineyards to choose from (including famous brands like Lindemans and Hardy’s) and as it’s just 90 minutes away from Sydney, it’s the perfect escape. If you really want to see the views, try a hot air balloon ride.

Port Stephens: Two and a half hours from Sydney, Port Stephens is nicknamed the “blue water paradise” thanks to its magnificent waters. As well as the ocean, there are also 19 miles of white sand beaches to explore, as well as dolphin and whale watching opportunities and biking over the sand dunes. The town itself is a lively place with art galleries and craft markets.

Royal National Park: Only half an hour out of Sydney, Australia’s oldest national park has beaches, rainforest, stunning scenery and bush walking trails. If you’ve got time, follow the “coast walk” from Bundeena to Otford – the views are well worth it, but it’s a two day walk.

Bondi Beach: It may be more crowded than the other beaches here, and it’s only half a mile long, but Bondi is iconic. If you’re not up for either wearing a bikini or gawking at those who are, you can take a walk along the coast or go kite flying, or go inland and check out the markets and art galleries.

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