Best time to visit Australia

The best time to visit Australia is anytime. The sheer size of Australia, more than 7.5 million square kilometers (almost 3 million square miles), means there is always somewhere hot, warm or cool to visit at anytime of the year.


El Niño and La Niña

Australia's climate is influenced by ocean currents, including the Indian Ocean Dipole and the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which fluctuates between the El Niño phase and the La Niña phase. These factors cause rainfall to vary markedly from year to year.

El Niño is associated with drier weather, which often leads to drought conditions and the possibilty of bushfires; while La Niña brings an increase in rainfall that often leads to flooding.


Weather in Australia

The seasons of Australia are the reverse of those in Europe and North America: the summer months include December, January, February, while the winter months are June, July and August. Autumn is from March to May; and spring lasts from September through November.

Unlike in the northern hemisphere, the farther south you go in Australia, the colder it gets. Seasonal weather variations are also more distinct in the southern third of the country.

The highlands featuring alpine and subpolar oceanic climates. The interior is arid to semi-arid.

Winter, from June to August, sees Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales receive cold weather, while the northern states of Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia bask in warm sunny weather during what is their dry season, which lasts from April through September.

Summer, from December to February, brings warm and occasional hot weather to the southern regions of Australia, while the northern regions receive hot and wet weather, with heavy and sporadic rainfall from October through March.

The best time to visit northern Queensland (from Townsville northward), the Top End, the Red Centre and the northern half of Western Australia is from April through September, when you can expect clear sunny days with little or no rain and daytime temperatures range from 19°C to 31°C (66°F to 88°F).

June, July and August are the high season months.

On the other hand, the best time to visit southern Australia, including New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia (from Perth southwards) is during summer from November to March.


Tropical north

Northern Australia receives a tropical climate with hot, dry winters (May to October) and hot, wet summers (November to April).

In the Northern Territories, Darwin experiences an average high of 32°C (89°F) in summer, and a low of 20°C (68°F) in winter.

In Queensland, Cairns enjoys an average high of 31°C (87°F) in summer and 17°C (62°F) in winter.

Further south, the Whitsundays enjoys an average high of 30°C (86°F) in summer and 23°C (73°F). Spring and autumn have an average high of 29°C (84°F).

During the wet summer season, these regions feature sunny days interspersed by torrential downpours. Tropical cyclones may inundate coastal regions each year between December and April.

South & southeast Australia

On the east coast of Australia, including Queensland (Mackay, Sunshine Coast, Brisbane, Gold Coast), the climate is humid subtropical, with temperatures cooling the further south you travel.

Southeast and southern Australia enjoy a more temperate climate with warm summers and mild winters. This includes the states of New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and Victoria, as well as the southeast of Queensland and the southeast of South Australia.

In January, summer highs average 29°C (84°F) in Brisbane, 26°C (78°F) in Sydney and Melbourne, and 28°C (82°F) in Canberra and Adelaide.

Typically, inland areas experience more extreme temperatures than coastal regions. The further south you travel the colder it becomes.

In the extreme southeast (Melbourne and Hobart) the climate is oceanic and much cooler than the rest of Australia: mild in summer, cold in winter.

Central Australia

Experiences a severe desert climate with uncomfortably hot summers ranging from 32°C (89°F) to 40°C (104°F) and warm winters averaging 18°C (64°F) to 23°C (73°F).

The centre of the Australia, including the town of Alice Springs, is generally hot and dry during the day, and often bitterly cold at night.

Western Australia

Experiences a similar climate as central Australia with hot summers and cool winters. However, the coastal regions enjoy more comfortable weather.

Also, the southwest region of Western Australia experiences a Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters

Perth sees average summer highs of 31°C (87°F) and winter lows around 8°C (46°F).

Tasmania

Australia’s most southerly region sees the coldest temperatures in the country.

Hobart receives an average summer high of 21°C (69°F) and an average low in winter of 5°C (41°F).


Popular holiday destinations in Australia

Weather you can expect in different regions of Australia…

Queensland: Airlie Beach BrisbaneCairnsPalm CoveTownsvilleMagnetic IslandGladstoneGold CoastHamilton IslandHayman IslandLizard IslandMission BeachMoreton IslandFraser IslandNoosa HeadsPort DouglasSunshine CoastWhitsundays


Western Australia: BroomeCable Beach Coral BayEsperanceExmouthNingaloo ReefPerthShark Bay / Monkey MiaMargaret RiverKimberleyTurquoise Bay


Northern Territory: Alice SpringsDarwinKakaduKatherine


New South Wales: Byron BayJervis BaySydneyLord Howe Island


Australian Capital Territory: Canberra


South Australia : Adelaide


Tasmania : HobartWineglass Bay


Victoria : MelbourneApollo Bay


Holiday seasons

High season: December to February, especially during the summer school holidays from 26 December to the end of January. Major public holidays including Easter when everyone seems to be on the move and everything from airline seats, hotels, restaurants and petrol prices are at their highest.

The winter months of June, July and August are the busiest periods for travel in Northern Queensland, the Top End, the Red Centre and the northern half of Western Australia; and the ski fields of Victoria and the Snowy Mountains in southern New South Wales.

Low Season: Summer, from October through March, when it is uncomfortably hot, wet and humid in the Red Centre, the Top End, North Queensland and Western Australia (except Perth and the southwest).

The wet season from November/December through March/April makes travel often very difficult due to floodwaters and many tour companies close shop, but hotels do offer great discounts.


Source: Meteorological data is based on climate statistics gathered by the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) from the nearest weather station.


Latest update: Best time to visit Australia: 11 May, 2024



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