SUMMER IS AN ideal time to hit the beach or relax in the pool. But what else can you do to escape the heat during a heatwave? Here are five cool ideas based on our travels that should help you to avoid a summer meltdown.
Hide in a cave at Margaret River
Most people think of visiting vineyards when they go to the Margaret River region in WA, but this area also has dramatic coastal walking tracks and great beaches. For cooling down on a hot day, there are also many caves open to the public. The temperature inside the caves remains mild all year round, so they can seem positively chilly on a hot day.
Walk among Antarctic trees at Springbrook
Springbrook National Park in southeast Qld keeps you cool in several ways. Located in the mountains of the Gold Coast hinterland, the temperatures at Springbrook are usually cooler than on the coast. In addition, there are plenty of sheltered walks through the cool forest, complete with splashy streams and waterfalls. Maybe the coolest aspect of the park is the fact that it contains patches of Antarctic beech forest. These ancient trees are a reminder that the world used to be much colder place.
Go underground at Walhalla
The old gold mining town of Walhalla in Vic used to be a ghost town, but has now been resuscitated. It has many interesting historic buildings, and on a hot day you can cool off by taking a tour of the Long Tunnel Extended Gold Mine. In the heat, it can sometimes feel like the mine is air-conditioned.
Take to high ground in the Blue Mountains
Average summer temperatures in Katoomba are about four degrees cooler than in Sydney, due to the drop in temperature with increasing altitude. In addition, many of the bushwalks are sheltered by the shade beneath dense foliage or below sheer cliff faces – so it's easy to stay out of the sun. As a bonus, some of the walking trails go past waterfalls which produce a cooling misty spray as they fall down the cliffs.
Chill out in Hobart
A particularly amazing way to beat the heat is to make a simulated visit to frozen Macquarie Island. You can do that in the Subantarctic Plant House at Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens in Hobart. This unique greenhouse-in-reverse has murals depicting the bleak scenery of Macquarie Island, recorded sounds of howling wind and eerie bird calls, and freezing cold air blowing out of the air vents. You may need a sweater, even on a hot day.
Needless to say, you can enjoy all these destinations on a cooler day as well.
WORDS AND PICS Susan and Keith Hall
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