What to do in decidedly December Australia

No caption required.

December in the UK is cold, wet, busy, dark and plenty of other things to make you miserable - let's not forget the torture that is Christmas shopping.

In the UK, we need open fires, mulled wines and ludicrous sweaters to jar us into a jolly mood but in Australia, you get all the trimmings of a great Christmas season - carols, presents, trees and stockings - but presented in a glorious welcoming basket of blazing sunshine.

So if you're in Australia and missing the nostalgic Christmases of your childhood that never really happened - good news! Because Australia's sun-kissed December is so out of place for Christmas, the country goes ALL out to make it as festive as possible.

However, if you hate Christmas and are sourer than a lemon dipped in battery acid, there's still plenty to do to remind you have no friends to buy stuff for and a family on the other side of the world not missing your company.

Let's have a look at some great stuff to do this December!

Night Markets - Melbourne - 6th, 13th and 20th 

Let's face it, Christmas shopping is a nightmare, you either brave the throng, the heat, the frustration, the waiting times and out of stock notices or, you can do it in person. Even if you do choose to do it 'the easy way' - online - there's still three people left to buy for who have everything under the sun and pre-programmed eBay auctions set up to sell whatever you give them.

Well, here's your answer: the Kris Kringle Night Markets on Thursday 6, December as well as the 13th and 20th include over 50 stalls selling everything from hand carved hand carving kits to self immolating banana flambé makers.


Luna Park - Melbourne - until the 13th

"Yes, do come in, you'll definitely
be coming out alive"

While amusement parks in the US and Japan continue to try and set records for the biggest, highest and fastest death traps known to man, the golden oldies remain the best; rickety wooden rollercoasters sounding like they could splinter and collapse this time round even though they've been going for a million years, candy floss served from old timers in candy striped shirts and mascots that gave kids nightmares, what more could you want?

And where else could fulfil all these ideals then at Melbourne's Luna Park, one of the oldest continually operating theme parks in the world which celebrates its 100th birthday this month.

The iconic theme park is running all sorts of specials in the run up to the 13th so head on down there and party like it's 1912 when you could drink and drive 'without the law on your back' and money really did make you a better person!

More Markets - Brisbane - 14th

Outdoor markets are as much of a staple in the Christmas experience as pigs in blankets, family arguments and fire hazardous Christmas puddings - you can basically never have enough..

The BrisStyle indie Twilight Markets set in the heart of King George Square offers punters a relaxed Friday night where they can take in some of the soothing sounds of live jazz, feast on some festive foods and pick up a trinket or two for some people you don't really care about but need to have something to show for yourself.

Not-your-average-fairy lights - Perth - 14th

The true Christian meaning of Christmas got buried under generations of ungrateful kids and uncooked turkeys way before we came along so it's not our fault our associations of the festive season like in Coca-Cola trucks, half melted snowman, cheap plastic gismos and above all, lights.

Christmas lights line the streets of any decent size town in most countries but if you want to see a truly spectacular show and enjoy Illuminites Festival of Christmas at the Culture Centre in Perth where the extravagant displays and 6 metre walk in snow dome all lead the way to the bar.


Movies, on the roof - Perth - until the 16th

Rooftop Movies.

Photo: Jarrad Seng

What is it about where you watch movies that influences the experience so much? The dark room, giant screen, sticky floors and more popcorn than you could ever wish to eat seems to have become the universally accepted model as the best film-absorbing experience but there are more and more emerging all the time: watching Avatar on an iPod nano on a train, lying in some twisted, wrangled position to keep the charger in the laptop and of course, the classic: the drive in movie theatre which only exists (ironically) in film.

However, a new trend is emerging: the rooftop cinema. For some reason sitting atop a few-storey building in a deck chair with the evening breeze teasing your popcorn is the new in thing and nowhere does it better this month that Rooftop Movies in downtown Perth, particularly because of their schedule, showing classics like Leon the Professional and the Goonies.

Just don't wander off the edge trying to find the toilets in the dark.

A life of Riley - Sydney - 7th to the 16th

Thanks to all pervading media prying into every 'celebrity' and the minutiae of their personal lives, we can get a glimpse of the high life on a regular basis. But it's almost always framed in a 'these people are scum, look how great their lives are, yours will never be this good' sort of way.

However, every once in a while us common folk get a genuine taste of the life of the upper classes; whether it's a ride in a Bentley at a motor show, an upgrade to first class on a flight or you simply decided that 'escort' isn't all that degrading of a profession if you go about it in a Pretty Woman sort of way.

If you've tasted the highs and now aren't satisfied with regular life, head along to Bondi Beach between the 7th and the 16th for the The Cool House: Pop-Up Boutique when the penthouse suite at the spankingly new Pacific Bondi Beach apartments will be turned into 'The Cool House'.

While you might not be able to afford anything on sale, let alone the penthouse, taking a few quick posey pictures to whack on Facebook will certainly assure all those jealous back home you can.

Christmas Carols - Sydney - 22nd

And lastly we have something truly Christmassy: Woolworths Carols in the Domain. What is now a 30-year-old tradition, Australia's largest free Christmas concert features some very respectable names singing all sorts of songs you hate at any other time of the year but might just strike a sentimental chord when sung by someone who can actually hold a tune just three days before the big day itself.

Head on down to the Domain on the Saturday for some truly festive cheer.

Ho ho ho!-ly hell there's only three weeks to go!

- Dominic Ladden-Powell is the Online Editor with the Australian Visa Bureau, an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge applications for a Working Holiday Visa to Australia.