An introduction to Australia’s Climate

So today I’d like to talk a little bit about the climate in Australia for the visitor. Well, you know, it’s also the same for the resident but the visitor may not know exactly what it’s like, so anyways…. Lost my train of thought….

Australia, so I’ve heard, has a reputation for having brilliant warm to hot weather all year through. Which is not really the case. What place actually does? Not only that, being such a big country the climate varies greatly across the land. As does the environment and foliage. Whereas there is a lot of rainforest in Queensland, much of the west and central Australia is desert. And then a place like Tasmania is very much full of trees and forests, but is much different to that of Queensland. Inland is very different from the coastline… this is all as you might expect in a country of Australia’s size.

The first thing to keep in mind is that as Australia is in the Southern Hemisphere, the north of the country is much closer to the equator than the south. So that is the hottest part of the country (well, sort of averaged out across the year) and is the most tropical. The south is colder, mainly in the winter, and yes the mountains can received snow. In fact in Victoria and southern New South Wales, there is a ski season!

The Capital Cities

So the state capitals are wide spread across the land. Whereas Adelaide and Perth are very dry cities, with coolish winters an extremely hot and dry summers. In winter you may get maximums of around 16 – 18 degrees, summers invariably experience plenty of days of 40 plus degrees Celsius. Melbourne is colder, winter maximums can get as low as 10 degrees although they are usually a few degrees more. The summer in Melbourne is a wild ride of hot days and not so hot days, changes that blow in and drop the temperature 15 degrees in an hour or two. Only a couple of days usually of 40 or more, but often in the high-30s. Melbourne over all is a dry city, but in the winter you often get a lot of extended light drizzle.

Hobart again is cooler and you won’t (well, never say never) see 40 plus. More rain in Hobart, which sits beneath Mt Wellington where snow is not unheard of in winter months. Canberra is hot in the summer and freezing in the winter – lucky to get to 10 as a max. and snow, although rare, does fall.

Sydney is a milder city, warmer in the winter and probably cooler in the summer. But it is more humid than Melbourne or Adelaide. More rain falls, summer hovers around the low to mid-30s as a rule but last summer was extra hot and they passed 40 on more than one occasion. Winters see a fair bit of rain and temperatures a few degrees warmer than Melbourne. Brisbane is a bit like Sydney but there are more extremes. When the rain comes in summer it is seriously heavy – there was a huge flood a few years back.

Darwin is the Northern Territory capital, and the northern most capital in the country. It generally is between 30 and 37 degrees all year around. It’s wet season in the north when it’s summer in southern Australia, and dry season when it’s winter. It is actually a couple of degrees cooler in the wet season. Nights are sticky, to say the least.

In general the north of the country is tropical, the central is serious desert – so very dry and very hot. All of the north experiences Wet and Dry seasons instead of the standard four seasons. Towns on Queensland’s coast north of Brisbane are not usually quite as extreme as Darwin, but in the wet season is prone to the occasional cyclone.

Tasmania is an island which is Australia’s southern most state. It’s the coldest state too, and you need to be prepared for rain and in winter snow (in the mountains).

In summary, in my humble opinion, best times for visiting different parts of Australia –

Melbourne – Anytime from late October to April. Otherwise it’s pretty chilly. For snow in the mountains of Victoria and southern New South Wales, you want to head from July to early September. Most of the mountains which cater to snow tourism have snow machines these days so you should safely have snow to ski on etc at this time of the year.

Tasmania (including Hobart) – December to March probably. Depends on how cold you like it I guess. This will be the warmest and most pleasant time of the year though. Still could experience really cold days though.

Central Australia, desert area, winter (June to August) is probably going to be your best bet, but anytime out of summer shouldn’t be too bad, but if say you’re visiting Uluru in October, you can at the very least expect mid to high thirties.

Autumn and Spring are probably best for Perth and Adelaide, and indeed Sydney which I don’t like in the summer months at all. New South Wales in general is a bit warmer in the north but the nights can be freezing in winter!

And in the north, well May to September for northern Queensland and you might find Darwin and the northern parts of the Northern Territory probably the same, although November to March brings a little cooler weather plus a usual dump of rain almost every day.

Of course, it all depends on what you like and you might like the winter, or you might like humidity mixed with mid-thirties plus temperatures, Hopefully today’s post is at least a little bit of a guide that is useful. Thanks for reading today – May the Journey Never End!

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