Cracker Christmas: 19 Places to Go this Holiday Season

A Christmas dinner with all the trimmings can be a daunting prospect for many home cooks, sending them into panic mode as the days disappear in the lead up to the 25th.

The idea of slaving over a baking oven at the hottest time of the year is less than appealing for many, as Australia starts to swelter under the Summer sun and thoughts turn to lounging by the pool, sipping from a frosty glass.

Take the stress out of Christmas Day and opt to eat out, take away or get away. However you choose to celebrate, the most important aspect is spending time with family, loved ones and friends.

Here’s a few ideas on how to have a Cracker Christmas this year. 

Those enjoying the holiday season soaking up the sun, sea and sand on the Gold Coast, can take to Clifford’s Grill & Lounge on Surfers Paradise Boulevard for a four-course Christmas lunch, paired with premium wines. Located under the Watermark Hotel & Spa (pictured above), this industrially chic restaurant beckons with festive fare such as a starter of lobster thermidor with watercress and lemon, followed by mains like turkey breast with brown butter, sage and cranberry jus, as well as ham on the bone with a marmalade and mustard glaze.

Next door at Waves Buffet Restaurant, be merry with a festive feast for either lunch or dinner, including a beverage package and glass of Moet on arrival. Santa will drop down the chimney in his bright red suit, and there are bonbons on every table, as well as a gingerbread house making competition and live music. Send the senses into overload with fresh seafood from the cold buffet, succulent turkey and ham from the carvery, live cooking stations and decadent desserts – including a three-tier chocolate fountain and ice cream station.

Escape day to day hustle and bustle and spoil the family at Ocean View Estates Winery and Restaurant in Dayboro. Open throughout the Christmas period, the winery is a great destination for festive parties and private bookings, among vineyards and rolling hillsides - this sublime setting alone is reason enough to linger, with Ocean View offering a complete food, wine and accommodation indulgence. Make a statement and arrive by helicopter to enjoy passionately made wines, complemented by a select menu created by Head Chef, Tony Tierney.

For a modern, spacious place to stay in the heart of Bathurst this Christmas, Havannah Accommodation has plenty of options available. Located on Havannah Street and specialising in family groups, this multi-level block accommodates up to eight bedrooms per floor, all with a private ensuite, plasma TV, bar fridge and built-in wardrobe. Each floor also has a shared living area with comfortable lounges and a fully appointed kitchen-dining space, to meet guests’ cooking needs.

For take away or catering options this Christmas, Chef’s Kitchen and Cafe food truck has all the answers. Once a hole-in-the-wall café, this burger joint is now a mobile food truck catering to large events and functions, as well as pit stops at Sydney markets. It’s love at first bite for burger fanatics with a menu of handcrafted premium beef patties, fresh produce and American cheddar, resulting in taste explosions such as the Cali, with grilled onions, streaky bacon, special sauce and pickles. Catering menu options include canapes, finger food and buffet dishes.

Celebrate this Christmas at The Gallery Restaurant (pictured above), nestled inside Baulkham Hills Sports Club. This relaxed family-friendly venue is bright and cheerful, with a spectacular view from the dining room windows, while guests enjoy a festive buffet with selections such as tiger prawns, smoked salmon with horseradish cream sauce and a variety of salads. Carve a slice of honey glazed Virginian leg ham or roast breast of turkey with cranberry, accompanied by sides like rice pilaf, Brussel sprouts with bacon and roasted root vegetables. For a sweet finish, tuck into traditional Christmas pud with brandy custard.

Those looking for a special present for a loved one can purchase a Beer Masterclass gift voucher from Redoak Boutique Beer Café on Clarence Street in Sydney city. An ideal spot to indulge in an ice-cold craft beer and a spot of people watching, Redoak welcomes guests into a relaxed and stylish vibe of timber furniture, high ceilings and golden pendents throwing ambient light. Enjoy a delightful afternoon being taught about some of the best beers around and a five-course degustation menu, with each small dish matched or paired to a different drop – an ideal gift for the beer lover in the family.

Holidaymakers at Phillip Island are spoilt for choice, with options such as Verandah Retreat on Gordon Street in Cowes. This Hamptons-style beach house is an idyllic couples’ getaway for a romantic retreat, or for family groups looking to spend time together, in a garden oasis of climbing bougainvillea, citrus trees and outdoor lounges. After a lazy beach day, come home to hardwood floors, plantation shutters and restored furniture, creating a nostalgic vibe to chill out in. A blue and white haven, where sitting in a hanging chair with a glass of wine is obligatory, Verandah comfortably sleeps six with linen and towels supplied.

Take the family for a relaxing glass of Christmas cheer at The Lincoln (pictured above) on Cardigan Street in Carlton. Blurring the lines between pub fare and fine dining, this grand old hotel retains its art deco features with parquet wooden flooring, dark furniture and abstract artwork, creating a chilled-out ambiance where lingering over a catch up with friends is the norm. With a wine list focussed on small, interesting producers and 12 taps featuring craft beer, The Lincoln is an ideal venue to while away an afternoon or evening in old world style.

Deck the halls with classic French character and charm at A La Bouffe Bar & Bistro on Toorak Road in South Yarra. Say bon Appetit to a Christmas three-course menu with bite sized hors d’oeuvres to start, followed by a seafood tasting platter and happy holiday mains such as eye fillet with truffled mash, seasonal vegetables and red wine jus. Santa will be tempted by decadent desserts like chocolate and salted caramel tart with vanilla ice cream, finishing with coffee and chocolate truffles while relaxing in this quaint corner restaurant, echoing the ambiance of a Parisienne brasserie. 

Fremantle locals seeking festive fun and fare need look no further than Eat No Evil, Street Food and Catering. From canapes to a sit down dinner, this high end mobile restaurant uses sustainable, native and local produce to create dishes to inspire and entice foodies to follow their food truck journey around Perth’s suburbs. Taking street food to a new level, Eat No Evil dishes up art on a plate with choices such as stuffed tofu with wakame and peanut brittle, or melting morsels of sticky pork belly and pineapple chow.

Celebrate Christmas in vintage opulence, among softly draped French doors and windows, mosaic covered dining chairs and soft mood lighting at Cecilia’s on Hay in Kalgoorlie. This all-encompassing venue on Hay Street is offering hot and cold buffet lunch options for Christmas Day, with dishes such as roast pork belly with crackle, potatoes in duck fat and honey sesame carrots. Be tempted by glazed ham with coleslaw and guacamole salad, or salivate over seafood such as prawns and oysters; before a divine selection of desserts.

Overlook the picturesque Swan River while feasting on a scrumptious buffet lunch at Tradewinds Bar & Bistro (pictured above), on Canning Highway at East Fremantle. Salivate over succulent local seafood and a traditional Christmas carvery with all the trimmings, while sipping bubbles, beer or soft drink of choice and listen to festive sounds from an acoustic musician. This iconic destination offers an idyllic setting for relaxing in warm sunshine in an alfresco courtyard, catching up with family and friends for cool drinks and a casual meal, or dine in the adjoining restaurant for air-conditioned comfort in a contemporary vibe.

Enjoy a gourmet Christmas luncheon with an impressive seafood buffet - wines and beer included - plus one of the best views in the state over Piccadilly Valley, at Hardy’s Verandah Restaurant (pictured above) in Crafers. Mount Lofty House is home to this elegant restaurant, styled with true refinement and opulence, where intimate seating is set with white linens, a dark oak bar, open fireplace and ambient lighting. A fabulous festive atmosphere awaits diners, with entertainment for the children, a live flambéed brulee station, giant chocolate fountain and ice cream cart.

Paulett Wines and Bush DeVine Cafe invite guests to partake in a two, three or four-course festive feast at Sevenhill. Start the party with a specialty platter with fresh crusty bread to share, followed by entrees like Atlantic salmon ceviche with bok choy, radish, snow peas, seablite and finger lime dressing. For the merry main affair, expect turkey tenderloin wrapped in bacon with quince dressing, sage and karkalla cous cous, or barramundi, turmeric baby potatoes, tarragon and rivermint mayonnaise; before a songful sweet of chocolate and orange citrus cake and pepperberry ganache.

Spend a Christmas Day to remember, dining alfresco under leafy branches at The Enchanted Fig Tree on North Coast Road at Kangaroo Island. Step into a fairy tale under the largest fig tree in Australia, planted by early settlers, where over time gnarled branches have formed rooms and dappled light casts enchanting shadows over dining tables. Expect seasonal dishes with a yuletide twist, from a menu boasting fresh KI produce like pork belly and raw fish sashimi of the day; while delicious desserts such as Fig Tree Alaska with island beehive honey ice cream, also await.

The ultimate festive five-course degustation lunch, with paired wines, is on offer at Pod Food on Beltana Road in Canberra. This hidden culinary gem within the vibrant gardens of Pialligo Plant Farm, is housed in a restored 1930s weatherboard cottage surrounded by a green garden terrace, setting the scene for a warm and refined dining experience. Relax inside or soak up the sun outdoors underneath shady trees and enjoy European-style fare, expertly matched with wine from Pod’s impressive list of local and international varieties.

For the best lunch in Canberra this Christmas Day dine at The Boat House (pictured above) on Menindee Drive in Barton. A fixture on the city’s culinary calendar since the restaurant opened, this festive six-course degustation menu has become a favourite for many families and guests. Surrounded by private parkland overlooking Lake Burley Griffin, The Boat House is an ideal place to relax and enjoy award-winning fare, amongst rich décor and stunning views. Waterside dining calls for seafood and guests won’t be disappointed with prawns, fresh fish and octopus as mouth-watering menu options.

Good times and good food await at the Tipsy Bull on Lonsdale Street in Braddon. A decadent four-course Christmas menu, with a glass of Cloudy Bay Pelorus sparkling wine, Tipsy Bull lager or soft drink included, is sure to be a hit with those looking to dine out on the big day. Santa will happily say Ho, Ho, Ho to a seafood platter with oysters, prawns, Moreton Bay bugs and barbequed baby octopus; or strap a feed bag on the reindeer full of maple and mustard glazed ham, oven roasted chicken and a selection of salads. Oh what fun it is to finish with a Summer berries pudding and crème anglaise.

Still looking for the ultimate place to jingle your bells this Christmas? Click here for more venues to have a not so silent night!