Australians love to get together around food and if you’re lucky enough to live in the Illawarra you’ll know that outdoor dining is a year-round affair.

Whether you have an acre or a balcony, an outdoor setting with a creative twist is a worthwhile investment.

Think of Christmas on the deck. A string of fairy lights twinkle overhead as you sip on a wine, the kids squeal and splash in the pool, the conversation and laughter is only interrupted by the intermittent sizzle of the mozzie zapper.

You can create this atmosphere in your new home with a few well-chosen items.

It’s hard to look past the Australian staple; the barbeque. There’s a shape and size for every outdoor area.

You’ll be flipping steaks and sizzling prawns for your friends before you know it.

If you have more room there is the tantalising possibility of a backyard pizza oven. Debate whether pineapple has any place on a pizza while you build your own delicious creations. Or inhale the scent of burnt sugar as the kids roast marshmallows over the crackling fire pit.

Just be sure to double check any fire warnings with the RFS.

If you have the space, build a hutch and keep some chickens. The kids will love collecting fresh eggs for y our Sunday morning fry up. While you’re at it, add in some veggies from your veggie patch. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have the land. There are plenty of vegetables that thrive in pots.

Don’t have an outdoor area? Organise a picnic and pop down to North Wollongong Beach to make use of the free BBQs.