Thanks to Australia's closed borders, holiday accommodation is heavily booked this Christmas. Britt Lazarus finds the places that still have some room.
As the jacarandas bloom and the sun shines longer, those of us counting down to the Christmas break are abruptly reminded that time is running out to book that summer getaway.
This year, with all Australians holidaying at home, accommodation is harder to find. Even the most luxurious beach houses are booked out. So keep your credit card handy and check out these 12 stays that have availability over Christmas.
1. Hayman Island Intercontinental
Sitting at the northernmost point of the Whitsundays, Hayman is the nearest island to the outer Great Barrier Reef. The resort reopened last year after a $135-million facelift. There are one- and two-bedroom options available in December, as well as suites and four-bedroom villas.
Price: from $767 per night
2. Flynn Crystalbrook Hotel
New kid on the block, Flynn is making waves in Cairns as the latest Crystalbrook Hotel. Just steps from the Esplanade Boardwalk, Flynn has lush tropical gardens and offers a range of rooms and suites for couples and small families. Whether you prefer city lights or ocean views, accommodation of all shapes and sizes is available in December.
Price: from $179 per night
3. Vivere Retreat
Near the Gippsland town of Neerim South and with spectacular views over the Baw Baw Ranges, Vivere Retreat is perfect for a romantic getaway. The self-contained villas are nestled in landscaped gardens and offer stunning views. The Retreats are the most luxurious, while the country-styled Studios and Cottages are more homely. All are available at various times in December.
Price: from $200 per night
4. The Houses
In the foothills of the Great Dividing Range, Daylesford is known as a place of healing - the perfect recharge after a long year. The Houses is a portfolio of residences for up to 24 guests. They are perfect for family celebrations and long-overdue catch-ups. There's rare Christmas availability and most are available at times throughout December.
Price: from $406 per night
5. Armalong Winery Chalets
Escape the school-holiday noise at the adults-only Armalong Winery Chalets in Grindelwald North, less than half an hour from Launceston. There are 10 chalets available, all with valley views and close to the town centre. Nearby you'll find Velo Winery, Stoney Rise Vineyard and the Tamar Island Wetlands Centre. Cataract Gorge and Marion's Vineyard are also close.
Price: from $167 per night
6. Hamptons on the Bay
Settle into a luxury clifftop residence or superior cabin at this Swansea hotel and enjoy panoramic views across Great Oyster Bay to the Freycinet Peninsula. Cabins have a queen bed, lounge area and kitchens, while the luxurious three-bedroom residence sleeps eight guests. There is almost full availability throughout December.
Price: from $221 per night
7. Marion Holiday Park
This family-friendly holiday park at Bedford Park is close to historic Glenelg, wineries and beaches. Choose from self-contained accommodation that sleeps up to eight people, bring your own tent and camp out, or roll into a powered campsite. Cabins are modern, fresh and clean with plenty of room to relax when you aren't at the waterpark, outdoor cinema or beer garden.
Price: from $45 per night
8. Ecopia Retreat
This luxury wildlife-sanctuary getaway is on a parcel of Kangaroo Island's natural wilderness. There are two villas free during the Christmas break, as well as a three-bedroom residence which is available until December 13. It's the perfect place to get back to nature while not straying too far from your luxury room.
Price: from $450 per night
9. Mercure Kakadu
In a quirky nod to the area's wetlands, the Mercure Kakadu is shaped like an enormous crocodile. This hotel is in the township of Jabiru - a perfect base for exploring Kakadu's attractions of waterfalls and wetlands, wildlife and Indigenous culture. The hotel has full December availability.
Price: from $189 per night
10. Desert Palms
An outback oasis in the heart of Australia, Desert Palms is on the Todd River, near Alice Springs. The 3.5-star hotel has a range of studio villas, each with ensuite, kitchenette, a veranda and the all-important air-conditioning. Palm trees surround the free-form pool and give the villas privacy. Desert Palms has full availability in December.
Price: from $150 per night
NEW SOUTH WALES
11. Banjara Retreat
Two luxury suites overlook Wollemi National Park at this perfect romantic getaway. The two suites can be booked together for a trip away with friends.
Close to restaurants, open gardens, orchards and cellar doors, you can have a gourmet adventure or ride the country trails.
Price: from $375 per night
12. Powerhouse Tamworth
Experience Tamworth in the only five-star luxury accommodation available in the New England region. Choose from newly refurbished rooms, suites and villas with one to three bedrooms. Recent renovations have transformed the Powerhouse Tamworth by Rydges' public areas, restaurant and bar as well as the conference and event spaces.
Price: from $219 per night
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