The climate in Australia
The continent of Australia lies in the southern hemisphere. The Indian Ocean borders the country to the west, while the east coast lies on the south Pacific. Throughout this huge continent there are several different climates to experience. In the north it can be quite tropical, while the middle latitudes experience a subtropical climate. You’ll find a temperate climate to the south. The seasons in Australia are opposite to what they are here in Ireland. It’s winter in Australia at the same time as it’s summer in Ireland So, the best time to visit Australia if you’re looking for the heat is from October to March. You can experience temperatures of between 25° C and 40° C, depending on which region you travel to. This is the rainy season in the north of Australia, though, so do expect heavy rainfall on an almost daily basis.
As well as this, October to March is the most popular travel time for the Aussies themselves. Tickets, hotels and campsites can be more expensive and booked up long in advance. Keep this in mind when you’re planning your trip to the Land Down Under. To help you make the most of your holiday to Australia, I’ve put together a guide explaining the climate in Australia in each of the states in more detail. There’s also some information on the rainy season here, and everything else you need to decide when is the best time to visit Australia for you.
- Best time to visit Australia
- Climate in southeastern Australia: New South Wales (Sydney), ACT (Canberra)
- Climate in south Australia
- Climate in east Australia: Queensland (Brisbane, Cairns)
- Climate in Western Australia: Perth, Broome
- Climate in north Australia: Northern Territory (Darwin, Kakadu Nationalpark)
- Climate in central Australia: Alice Springs, Ayers Rock (Uluru)
- The rainy season in Australia – information on travel planning and beach holidays
- My opinion on the best time to visit Australia
Best time to Visit Australia
Australia is roughly the size of the continental US (so without Alaska or Hawaii). This size also explains why Australia has so many different climates. Keep this in mind when you’re planning your perfect holiday to Australia. In general, Australia rarely gets as cold as it does here in the UK. Even their winters are pretty mild. But, as a rule of thumb, the weather is hottest in the centre of the country. The closer to the coast you travel, the cooler it comes and the more likely it is that you’ll see rainfall. The Australian Spring is good for city breaks from the months of October to December. If you’re looking for the best time to hike or visit national parks, then this is it. A beach holiday is ideal for the months of January to March. The Australian autumn and winter (April to September) is the best time to visit the desert region in the centre of Australia.
|Best time to visit|
|Good time to visit|
|Less recommended time to visit|
Climate in southeastern Australia: New South Wales (Sydney), ACT (Canberra)
Southeastern Australia included two the states of New South Wales, where you’ll find the popular metropolis of Sydney, and the Australian Capital Territory, where you’ll unsurprisingly find the country’s capital – Canberra. In the south east of Australia, there’s a pleasant climate the year round. Temperatures are often between 15° C and 29 ° C. You can expect moderate rainfall pretty much throughout the year. In summer, there can be long periods of intense heat. The further inland you drive, the colder it will get. The probability of rain also decreases as you move into the interior of NSW and the ACT.
The climate in Sydney is a bit of a guideline for the climate in New South Wales as a whole. The best time to travel to Sydney and New South Wales is from November to April. Temperatures can rise to up to 27° C, and the average water temperature can be maybe 21 ° C. So, no reason why you can’t have a fantastic holiday here. The fresh breezes from the Pacific Ocean are enough to cool you down on a hot day.
Climate data for Sydney
|Max. Temperature in °C||27||27||25||23||21||18||17||19||21||23||24||26|
|Min. Temperature in °C||20||20||18||15||13||10||9||10||12||14||16||18|
|Sunshine hours per day||7||7||7||7||6||6||6||8||8||8||8||8|
|Water temperature in °C||23||24||23||20||18||18||16||17||18||19||19||21|
|Rainy days per month||9||9||10||11||10||8||8||6||6||8||9||8|
The climate in Canberra is the perfect example of how an inland location can affect temperature and precipitation. Compare it to Sydney to see what I mean.
Climate data for Canberra
|Max. Temperature in °C||28||27||25||20||16||12||11||13||16||19||23||26|
|Min. Temperature in °C||13||13||11||7||3||1||0||1||3||6||9||11|
|Sunshine hours per day||10||9||8||7||6||5||6||7||8||9||9||9|
|Rainy days per month||6||5||5||5||5||6||6||7||7||8||8||6|
Mount Kosciuszko in the Snowy Mountains, found in Kosciuszko National Park in New South Wales, is Australia’s highest mountain. Here, there’s a lot of snowfall, which isn’t very typical for Australia.
Climate in south Australia
South Australia (Adelaide, Kangaroo Island, Nullarbor Plain)
The climate in the state of South Australia can be divided into two zones: that around Adelaide and Kangaroo Island, and also the coastal area around the desert area of Nullarbor Plain. The weather in the area around Adelaide and Kangaroo Island is Mediterranean. Summer brings dry and hot days. The average summer temperature in Adelaide is 27 °C, and there might be about four rainy days during the summer. If you need a refreshing dip, the water temperature is a cool 19° C, perfect for a swim. The best time to travel to Adelaide is from October to April. But, Adelaide is always worth a visit – even in autumn and winter. During these seasons, the average temperature is around 18°C. But, when you plan your trip, keep in mind that there could be anything from 13 to 17 rainy days a month during autumn and winter.
The south coast at Nullarbor Plain is a lot drier compared to Adelaide. There are very few rainy days, and this means there’s an annual total rainfall of less than 250 mm. This transforms this region of South Australia into a desert landscape. There is even very little rainfall during winter. But, do expect some pretty violent hurricanes from March to August.
The best time to visit South Australia is the months from October to March.
Victoria (Melbourne): November to March as the best time to visit
The climate in Victoria is temperate. You can really experience all the different seasons in the weather here, unlike in the rest of Australia. My climate chart for Melbourne, which I’ve included below, will give you an idea of what the weather in the state of Victoria can be like.
Climate data for Melbourne
|Max. Temperature in °C||26||26||24||20||17||14||14||15||17||20||22||24|
|Min. Temperature in °C||14||15||13||11||9||7||6||7||8||10||11||13|
|Sunshine hours per day||9||8||7||6||4||4||4||5||6||6||7||8|
|Waster temperature in °C||17||18||18||17||16||15||14||12||13||14||15||16|
|Rainy days per month||6||5||6||8||10||9||10||11||10||10||8||7|
Melbourne is at its warmest during the summer months of January and February, with average temperatures of 26° C. In winter, it can be as low as 12°C. The weather in Melbourne is generally quite changeable and unpredictable. There’s a reason the locals say you can experience “the four seasons in one day” in Melbourne. You can go from having the sun shining and no clouds to heavy rain in just a few minutes.
So, I believe the best time to visit Victoria is from the warm months of November to March. A If you visit during this time, you can look forward to warm temperatures of 26 to 30°C. You also don’t have to worry about there being too much rain.
Tasmania (Hobart): October to March as the best travel time
Tasmania is an island off the southern coast of Australia, and so it does have a slightly different climate to the other states that are on the mainland. In fact, the weather in the state of Tasmania can be a little like the weather that we have here in the UK. In Tasmania you can experience warm summers and mild winters. In terms of its climate, Tasmania can be divided into two zones. On the east of the island you’ll find flat land areas, while in the west it’s quite mountainous. The table below shows the weather for Hobart, the Tasmanian capital. This should give you a rough idea of what the weather in Tasmania is like as a whole.
Climate date for Hobart
|Max. Temperature in °C||22||22||20||17||14||12||12||13||15||17||19||20|
|Min. Temperature in °C||12||12||11||9||7||5||5||5||6||8||9||11|
|Sunshine hours per day||8||7||6||5||4||4||4||6||6||8||6||7|
|Water temperature in °C||15||17||16||14||13||12||12||11||11||12||13||14|
|Rainy days per month||11||10||11||12||13||14||15||15||15||16||14||13|
Thanks to the winds from the Pacific, summers in Tasmania are relatively cool by Australian standards, at an average of 21°C. The water temperature hits about 16°C, too. You won’t have to worry about too many rainy days, as the warm summer months also tend to be quite dry. In autumn and winter, the east of the island experiences temperatures of about 12 to 15° which is pretty fresh. The western side of the island is a rugged and mountainous landscape. Much more rain falls here compared to the eastern side. As the western side of the island is influenced by the western winds over the oceans, the national parks on the west coast can experience up to 2500 mm of rainfall a year!
The best time to visit Tasmania is definitely the warmer months of October to March. This is when you can experience the island’s vegetation in full bloom.
Climate in east Australia: Queensland (Brisbane, Cairns)
In the state of Queensland, on the north of the island, the sun shines pretty much all year round. That’s why it’s known as Australia’s Sunshine State. There’s a tropical climate here in Queensland. The super popular holiday resort of Cairns, as well as the Great Barrier Reef, can also be found here. Summer is the perfect time for a visit here, with temperatures of 30° to 35° C. If this is too much for you, you can come back in winter when it’s slightly cooler at 25°C. The water is the perfect place to cool off, with water temperatures of a balmy and pleasant 23°C from May to August. So, a beach holiday to Queensland is ideal no matter what time of year it is.
Climate data for Cairns
|Max. Temperature in °C||32||31||30||29||28||26||26||27||28||29||31||31|
|Min. Temperature in °C||24||24||23||22||20||18||17||18||19||21||22||23|
|Sunshine hours per day||7||6||6||6||6||8||7||8||8||9||8||8|
|Water temperature in °C||27||28||28||27||26||25||24||23||24||25||26||26|
|Rainy days per month||14||15||17||15||11||6||5||5||4||5||8||10|
In the summer season of November to March (also their wet season), you should expect heavy rainfall on an almost daily basis. The weather can be very humid and extremely hot. It can happen that the rain is so heavy, the roads become impassable. Be sure you check your journey with rest stops and tourist centres before you go. These can give you reliable updates as to which routes are passable during the rainy season. As with all the other Australian states, in Queensland, the further inland you travel, the more humid it gets and the less likely it is to rain.
The weather in Brisbane is quite temperate compared to northern Queensland, and the weather can actually be quite similar to that of Sydney. There can be rainfall in summer here, so be aware – there can be up to 10 rainy days per month.
Climate data for Brisbane
|Max. Temperature in °C||29||29||28||26||24||21||21||22||24||25||27||28|
|Min. Temperature in °C||21||21||19||16||13||11||9||10||13||16||18||20|
|Sunshine hours per day||8||8||7||7||7||7||7||7||8||9||9||8|
|Water temperature in °C||24||25||25||24||23||22||21||20||20||21||22||23|
|Rainy days per month||10||9||8||7||8||6||4||4||5||6||10||9|
The best time to visit Queensland is the months of June to October. In this time the temperatures are a pretty pleasant 25°C, so it’s not too stifling hot. It’s also perfect for beach holidays, as the water temperature is the ideal 23°C.
Climate in Western Australia: Western Australia (Perth, Broome)
Western Australia is the only state in Australia where you can experience all the different climate zones. There’s a tropical climate found in the northwest and Kimberley region. Below you’ll find the climate data for Broome, a town in the north of Australia in the Kimberley region.
Climate data for Broome
|Max. Temperature in °C||33||32||33||34||31||28||28||30||31||32||33||33|
|Min. Temperature in °C||26||26||25||22||18||15||13||15||18||22||25||26|
|Sunshine hours per day||9||7||8||9||9||9||10||10||10||11||11||9|
|Water temperature in °C||22||23||23||23||22||21||20||19||19||19||20||21|
|Rainy days per month||11||11||7||3||3||2||1||0||0||0||1||5|
In summer, temperatures in northern Western Australia can ride to at least 40°C. During the rainy season (November to March) you also have heavy rainfall to contend with. This season is known as the “wet season” or “green season”. Most of the heavy rainfall should happen during the afternoon. Due to high humidity, lots of tourists think the wet season is very humid, unbearably hot, and generally unpleasant. So, because of this, a lot of tourists will avoid the region during the rainy season, so you can really grab a bargain for your hotel and travel prices. During the dry season (April to October) the average temperature in the region is 29°C. There is just one rainy day a month during this time.
In the stretch of land from Exmouth to Perth, there’s a subtropical climate. Check out the climate table below for Perth, the state capital. This will give you a little more of an idea as to what you should expect. From November to March, the temperatures rise to a quite summery 26 ° to 31 ° C. February and March are the hottest months. There’s just two rainy days a month, so you don’t have to worry at all about getting caught in a shower. In contrast, if you come to visit in June, July or August temperatures can drop to a low of 12°C. There can also be at least 16 rainy days a month.
Climate data for Perth
|Max. Temperature in °C||32||32||30||26||22||19||18||19||20||23||26||29|
|Min. Temperature in °C||17||18||16||13||10||9||8||8||9||10||13||15|
|Sunshine hours per day||12||11||10||8||7||6||6||7||8||10||11||12|
|Water temperature in °C||22||23||23||23||22||21||20||19||19||19||20||21|
|Rainy days per month||3||3||4||7||12||17||18||16||13||9||7||4|
The region of Margaret River, which is south east of the city of Perth, is reminiscent of the Mediterranean climate as we would know it from our holidays to Spain and Italy. December is the perfect time to visit this popular wine-growing region. The temperatures are often between 25° and 35° C during this month. From April, the temperatures drop to an average of 12°C, and you should prepare yourself for some cool nights.
The best tome to travel to Western Australia is difficult to determine, mainly because of the different climate zones. However, I do recommend travelling to Australia’s largest state during October and November, and in March and April. In this time, you can expect temperatures of around 25° C to 30°C, and you’ll avoid the threat of tropical rainfall in the northwest of the state.
The climate in North Australia: Northern Territory (Darwin, Kakadu National Park)
You’ll find a tropical climate in the Northern Territory, which means that the summer months from October until March are characterised by very hot with temperatures between 35 – 40°C and heavy rainfall. The autumn and winter (April – September) are not really any cooler than the Australian summer with average temperatures of 30°C, but the air humidity in the winter will at least be a lot lower. Take a look at the table below for some tasty statistics!
Climate data – Darwin
|Max. temperature in °C||32||31||32||33||32||31||31||31||33||33||33||33|
|Min. temperature in °C||25||25||25||24||22||20||19||20||23||25||25||25|
|Sunshine hours per day||6||6||7||9||10||10||10||10||10||10||9||7|
|Water temperature in °C||28||28||28||28||28||26||25||25||27||27||28||28|
|Rainy days per month||20||18||17||7||2||1||1||1||2||6||9||13|
The rainy season in the Norther Territory lasts from October until March, where rain is pretty much a daily occurrence in the afternoon, and you might come across a few storms and cyclones along the way as well. Some streets may be cut off due to flooding. If you’re wanting to travel in rural areas of the Northern Territory (such as the Kakadu National Park), you should definitely pay a visit to either the police, service stations or tourist offices where they can inform you about the current road conditions.
The southern part of the Northern Territory is in the centre of Australia, featuring a desert climate where daytime temperatures can reach up to 40°C. Night times cool down to a chilly 3 – 5°C. These drastic temperature flucuations are normal in desert regions, as is the limited rainfall. In winter (April – September), temperatures are a lot more comfortable at the 21°C mark, so it’s a great time for tours.
When it comes to the best time to visit the Northern Territory, I recommend the months from April until September. If you’re planning on visiting Kakadu National Park, then you’re best going in May – the waterfalls will be at their strongest and the vegetation will still be in bloom.
The climate in Central Australia: Alice Springs, Ayers Rock (Uluru)
Central Australia isn’t actually a proper state in itself, but since the climate is so distinct it’s worth taking a look at this area in its own separate section! This is pretty much the area that we’d definite as the Outback, with Alice Springs serving as a popular gateway to the so-called “Red Centre”.
Climate data – Alice Springs
|Max. temperature in °C||36||35||32||27||23||19||19||23||27||31||34||36|
|Min. temperature in °C||21||21||17||12||8||5||4||6||9||14||18||20|
|Sunshine hours per day||10||11||10||10||8||9||9||10||10||10||11||10|
|Rainy days per month||4||3||3||2||2||2||1||2||1||3||4||4|
During the summer months, temperatures of over 40°C aren’t unheard of – so make sure you always have enough water with you! Departures plummet to an average of 4°C during the nights, which is what you’d expect from desert regions. If you’re wanting to do a camping tour through central Australia, you’ll have to be prepared for those cold nights by bringing thick sleeping bags. It’s very rare for rain to fall in central Australia. In fact the long dry spells can even lead to sandstorms that sometimes reach cities down by the coast.
I would recommend the months from June until August as the best time to visit central Australia. Temperatures are at 21°C on average, meaning that you can go out on longer excursions and hikes in the national parks without melting in that blistering summer heat.
The rainy season in Australia – information for planning and beach holidays
The northern regions of the states of Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory have their rainy seasons from October until March. The weather during this time is extremely warm and humid, which many holidaymakers find uncomfortable. You will have to take into account daily (and sometimes very strong) rain showers, with most of the rainfall occurring in the afternoon or evenings. You’ll often see storms too. As you’d expect, such heavy rainfall will lead to localised flooding, so like always, stay safe and be smart – the police, tourist offices and service stations will all provide you with an overview of the road conditions!
The strongest showers tend to be between January and March – and it’s at this time of year that you’ll find the most cyclones as well. Cyclones are a type of storm that form when water temperatures reach 27°C. Smaller storms are called “Willy willy” by locals. If the authorities think that a cyclone will present a danger, then they’ll provide you information using local media outlets.
Those of you planning a beach holiday to the northern parts of Queens, Northern Territory and Western Australia should keep an eye out for box jellyfish. These guys produce some of the nastiest stings around, and can in fact lead to other things such as nausea, skin irritations, cramps and localised paralysis. Just keep your eyes peeled! Most beaches will have jellyfish nets, protective suits and vinegar on hand as precautions (vinegar helps with the stings!).
The best time to visit Australia – my verdict
Since there are three climate zones in the Land Down Under, it can be pretty difficult deciding the best time to go. So you’ll more than likely have to make a compromise somewhere! If you want to travel around the whole continent, then you’re best going during the Australian spring or autumn. It may be a bit chilly in Victoria and Tasmania at this time, but at least you’ll be able to see the landscapes in full bloom. It also means that you won’t have to put up with heavy rainfall up in the north of Australia. Autumn is also another good time to go, and the sea will still be lovely and warm, though the plants will have lost their colour somewhat as they start to dry. Another advantage of travelling in the shoulder seasons that hotels and flights will be cheaper too. During the summer, when the schoolkids in Australia will all be on holiday, you can imagine that the prices will be sky-high!
The best times to visit Australia at a glance:
- New South-Wales: November – April
- South Australia: October – March
- Victoria: January – March as well as November – December
- Tasmania: October – March
- Queensland: June – October
- Western Australia: March – April as well as October -November
- Northern Territory: April – September
- Central Australia: June – August