Last minute NYE ideas outside the city

Published December 28th, 2015

Yep, you’ve done it again and left your New Year’s Eve preparation to the last minute.  The hottest tickets in town have been devoured by the well planned; already gloating of eccentric, accurate-era Great Gatsby costumes acquired painstakingly over months of scouring thrift shop bins and eBay. Bid good tidings to the flappers and join hands with your leisurely band of nonconformists (aka other mates with no NYE plans yet) for Auld Lang Syne on a last minute NYE expedition to one of the many rousing locales outside of Australia’s capital cities.

Brisbane Enjoy the New Year countdown twice in one year. Living between two time zones can be a nightmare for residents of nearby cities Coolangatta in Queensland and Tweed Heads in NSW, who are separated by a border PLUS one hour of Daylight Saving Time. Luckily for you, an hour is all you need to enjoy Tweed Head’s New Year countdown before heading down the road to do it all again in Queensland. There are free buses between Tweed and Southport every 15 minutes until 5.30am too. Just remember check out is an hour earlier if you stay in NSW. If it all seems too hard, there’s always a shot at last minute tickets to Woodford on the Sunny Coast.

Sydney You can party in Sydney on any other night. Welcome the New Year on a relatively nearby island paradise also known as Lord Howe Island. A two-hour flight from Sydney or Brisbane means drinks and a bonfire on the beach after a day of snorkeling, diving, fishing, surfing, kayaking, paddle boarding and, well, you catch our drift. We also hear skinny-dipping at dawn – which you will see before anyone else on mainland Australia – is a thing on New Year’s Day. Save some steam for later to hike one of Lord Howe Island’s twin peaks for some January 1 inspiration. Too far? Get an early night and go hard at Field Day instead.

Melbourne Take advantage of all the good freebies, from trams to fireworks, of New Year’s in Melbourne. Or, break free of the crowds on a last minute trip to Yarra Valley for some vino sipping or Falls Creek where your attendance at one of the hill’s many restaurants and bars is required to add extra sparkle to their New Year’s Eve shenanigans. It might be summer, but Falls Creek is still worth the trip for kayakers, fishers, hikers, gourmet travellers and all-round lovers of nature. For something different, save your strength for a waddle with the penguins at Phillip Island on New Year’s Day – what better way to welcome 2016!


Who's coming with me? ⛵️ @southaustralia @travel.freedom A photo posted by Jason Charles Hill (@jasoncharleshill) on

Adelaide Grab your mates and a tent and head to Kangaroo Island. Everyone is friendly on Kangaroo Island, known as KI to locals, just over 100kms southwest of Adelaide, where you will likely make new friends as you mingle with fellow campers on New Year’s. You’re also well-placed to welcome in the New Year with breathtaking coastal views and a group of some 600 Australian Sea Lions. Not a camper? Try get on a last-minute cruise along the Murray River where you can visit historic towns, sample delicious local vinos and the rest.


Yes Rottnest @hayleyebarnett @caitlinskinner #thomsonbay #hotelrottnest

A photo posted by T I A R A (@ttiarajade) on

Perth Take a short ferry ride from Pert or Freemantle and welcome the New Year diving, surfing and kayaking in the crystal blue waters off of Rottnest Island. This no car, bike about nature wonderland has something for everyone including a few good New Year’s parties in and around the main strip at Thomson Bay. Here you will find fireworks, free entertainment (circus performances and glow-in-the dark facepaint ain’t just for kids, after all) and parties with live music at Hotel Rottnest (formerly Quokka Arms) and the Governor’s Bar. Stay overnight if you can secure accommodation or catch one of the regular overnight ferries back to the mainland after you’ve had your countdown fun. Alternatively, skip the crowds and get in early on New Year’s Day for Hotel Rottnest’s chill out day with DJs, pop up food stalls and that breathtaking outlook.


I wanna see the whole world with you. @jdarcyhayward #roadtrip #thredbo A photo posted by Ally May Hayward (@substance_blog) on

Canberra It might not be prime ski season, in fact it’s far from it, but that doesn’t mean the nearby Snowy Mountains  isn’t a prime location for a New Year’s Eve bash. Snag a last minute holiday package and spend a night or two somewhere within the range’s townships and resorts – or camp it at somewhere along the mountain lake at Kosciuszko National Park. Head to Thredbo for the biggest celebrations on the mountains for December 31. Thredbo’s Alpine village throws famous parties at this time of year with fun for all ages. Enjoy a fire and drum show in Village Square before the area transforms into a free concert from 9.30pm to late. There’s also a pool party with The Figmentz at Thredbo Alpine Hotel starting at noon the following day. Or head to Lake Jindabyne for a day of fun on the water.


Sunsets over this spiritual place- Uluru • I couldn't resist the wine glass trick @topdecktravel #topdecker

A photo posted by Lauren Bullen (@gypsea_lust) on

Darwin Forget the Top End and try the Red Centre for New Year’s Eve bliss in the Northern Territory. Watch the sunset on New Year’s Eve at Uluru and the sunrise on the first day of 2016 at Kata Tjuta. Located a good 300kms from Alice Springs, Uluru is probably Australia’s most recognizable natural landmark and nearby Kata Tjuta will give you as many ooh-ahh moments. Get cheap flights to and work your way around independently in a van or upgrade to a resort package - you could be downing a cocktail with your bestie or chatting to randoms at the resort bar overlooking the outback in between your sunrise and sunset appointments.

Hobart If you’re super lucky you can get last minute tickets to Tasmania’s Falls Festival in the beautiful Marion Bay just south of Hobart. Held from 29 December to New Year’s Day headliners include Alpine, Art vs Science and Birds of Tokyo. Choose from 2 or 3-day tickets with optional Gimme Shelter, which means they will pitch a tent for you. If you’re around Hobart this time of year do your taste buds a favour and pop into five-day The Taste of Tasmania – one of Australia’s best food parties with all the Tasmania scallops, wine and music you can handle.

Jolee Wakefield

A seasoned backpacker and travel writer, Jolee has spent the past decade wandering the globe in pursuit of good vibes, unusual conversations and unforgettable adventures like cave diving in Mexico, mountain climbing in Borneo and learning (failing at) local dances in the Pacific nation of Kiribati.