Australia has a mainly arid climate (variants of Köppen climate classification BS and BW) that ranges from semi-desert to desert type of weather. The extreme northeast has a tropical wet and dry climate (Köppen Cfa, Cfc). The southeast corner of the country enjoys an oceanic climate (Köppen Cfb). Summers are hot, while winters are mild due to the far-off location from the poles. Australia lies in the southern hemisphere, in Oceania, and stretches below the Tropic of Capricorn. New Zealand lies to the southeast, the Solomon Islands in the northeast, and Indonesia further away in the north. The low latitudes, proximity to large bodies of water such as Indian and Pacific Oceans, ocean currents, subtropical high-pressure systems, and factors such as El Nino and La Nina influence the climate.
Australia, the largest island and smallest continent in the world, has a diverse landscape with a vast desert in the center, rainforests in the northeast, and mountains in the southeast, east, and southwest. The Great Barrier Reef extends over 1200 miles stretching down from the northeast, while the coastline measures a vast 21,262 miles. Mount Kosciuszko is the highest mountain on the mainland, with a height of 2228 meters. Forests in less arid regions are evergreen with eucalyptus trees, while dry areas mostly grow shrubs, like acacias. The Great Dividing Range lies in the east, with uplands and grasslands running to the coast. Sandstone cliffs and gorges lie in the northwest. Uplands, shrublands, and deserts constitute a large part of central and western Australia.
The average annual rainfall in Australia is a minuscule 406.4mm (16"). The precipitation ranges from less than 254mm (10") in the central zone to more than 1676.4mm (66") in the north. Deserts receive 76.2mm (3") to 254mm (10") of rain, with daily high temperatures often between 32.2°C (90°F) and 40.6°C (105.1°F) in the summer. Summers are hot with daily high temperatures above 26.7°C (80.1°F), while winters are mild in the majority of Australia. Heatwaves are a regular feature as many locations register between 37.8°C (100°F) to 48.9°C (120°F) during peak summer. Westerly winds blow in the southern parts of the country, while sea breezes prevail along the coast. The eastern highlands receive regular snow, as also do Tasmania and the high altitudes of the Great Dividing Range. Frost is common in the southern half during winter nights.
The Northern Territory of Australia sees a tropical wet season from October to April and a dry season from May to September. June average lows dip to 19.4°C (66.9°F), while January average highs register 36.1°C (97°F) in a few places. The Australian Capital Territory has high mountain peaks that see significant snowfall in the winter. The average rainfall is to the tune of 635mm (25"), with the highest percentage of rain during spring and summer. New South Wales registers average temperatures ranging from -7.2°C (19°F) in the alpine zone in July to 32.8°C (91°F) in arid areas in January. Precipitation in the eastern part of the state is between 609.6mm (24") to 1219.2mm (48"). Queensland has hot summers in its western portion, while the southern mountains experience mild to cool temperatures even in the hot season. The central part is hot and dry, with 762mm (30") to 1016mm (40") of annual rainfall.
South Australia is chiefly arid except for the southern coasts that exhibit a Mediterranean type of climate. Rainfall ranges from 152.4mm (6") in Lake Eyre basin to 1193.8mm (47") in the high mountains. Tasmania is mostly temperate with four different seasons. The average sea temperatures during the summer rarely breach the high of 21.1°C (70°F). Victoria ranges from hot in the north to temperate along the coast. The Victorian Alps are cold, with average temperatures below -17.8°C (-0°F) in the winter on the highest peaks. Western Australia is mostly hot and arid, with precipitation in the range of 304.8mm (12") to 1397mm (55"). The cold waters off the western coast keep the area devoid of moisture, resulting in a dry climate in four-fifths of the state.
Oodnadatta recorded the highest ever temperature of 50.6°C (123.1°F) on January 2, 1960, in Australia. Charlotte Pass in the Snowy Mountains recorded the coldest temperature of -30.6°C (-23.1°F) on June 29, 1994, in Australia.
The best time to visit Australia
The best time to visit Australia is during the mild winter season, which occurs from June to August in the southern hemisphere. The weather is cool and refreshing compared to the hot and dry summer. Winter also allows tourists to enjoy adventures in the Great Australian Outback, the vast desert in the core of the country. The probability of cyclones is low, but it is rainy in Western Australia, and the cold south needs winter wear. Spring and autumn are pleasant for a visit to the southern part of the country, where the climate is of the Mediterranean type.
The worst time to visit Australia
The worst time to visit Australia is during the scorching summer from December to February. The heat is oppressive, particularly in the western and central areas, and there are prolonged periods of hot weather. Summer weather is usually harsh for traveling in the majority of the country. Additionally, the interior of the country faces droughts and scarcity of water. The mountain regions in the south are an exception, where tourists enjoy temperate weather even in the hot season. For an extended trip to Australia, it is better to avoid the period of blistering heat.
Australia is prone to severe droughts, heatwaves, bushfires, and dust storms. Occasional tornadoes, tropical cyclones, and frosts pose threats to the population. Heatwaves are frequent during the summer in many parts of the country. Dust storms are frequent in the arid regions. The hot and dry climate feeds bushfires that consume the dry vegetation as high-speed winds spread them over large areas. Flooding is common in the extreme north, where rainfall is high. A large part, in the heart of the country, struggles with less rain, and frequent droughts. Cyclones average five to six times, mostly near the coast, with wind speeds over 321.9km/h (200mph) that inflict substantial damages on infrastructure and crops. Blizzards occasionally occur in the high mountains of Victoria and New South Wales.
Weather in January
January is the hottest and wettest month of the year in Australia as the reverse seasonal cycle peaks during the summer in the southern hemisphere. The average temperatures in Canberra, the capital of the country in the southeast, are between a moderate 13.9°C (57°F) to hot 28.9°C (84°F). Alice Springs in the Northern Territory is fairly hot, with temperatures in the 22.2°C (72°F) to 37.2°C (99°F) range. The heat is intense in Port Hedland on the northwestern coast, where the sea temperature averages 28.9°C (84°F) in January. The southeast and southwest portions of the country have moderate summer temperatures due to the proximity of the ocean. Windy conditions near the coast make sailing a popular choice during the mornings and evenings. Swimming is popular, while white sandy beaches such as those in Western Australia offer excellent fishing options in seclusion. The summer is prone to cyclones mainly along the northern coasts that bring strong winds and torrential rain. Darwin receives up to 381mm (15") of rain. The New Year sees plenty of tourists in Australia in January.
Weather in February
February is a hot summer month in Australia, with significant rainfall and cyclone activity. While the western, central, and northern portions of the country experience scorching daily sunshine of 10 hours and temperatures in the 26.7°C (80.1°F) to 32.2°C (90°F), the southeast has moderate summers. Hobart in Tasmania and Ballarat in Victoria see average high temperatures in the 22.2°C (72°F) to 26.1°C (79°F). Cairns in Queensland receives up to 447mm (17.6") of rain in February. Northern parts of the country experience the highest rainfall of the year during the summer season. A stay in the Blue Mountains is enjoyable during summer when most of the country is under the rule of the hot sun. Lightweight clothing and a wind scarf are appropriate in the tropical weather, as also is a light jacket for the rain and air-conditioned places. Mornings and long evenings are perfect for the popular ocean rafting and snorkeling activities. February is generally a time to skip the itinerary of the Great Australian Desert in the center of Australia.
Weather in March
March brings the warm autumn season to Australia, with a gradual decline from the summer heat. Melbourne in Victoria has average temperatures in the comfortable 14.4°C (57.9°F) to 24.4°C (75.9°F) range, while Sydney is slightly hotter between 18.3°C (64.9°F) to 25.6°C (78.1°F). The northern territory reels under the impact of rain and storms, but the rest of the country receives little to moderate precipitation. Humidity breaches the 80% barrier near the coast in places like Newcastle and Maitland in New South Wales in the morning. The ample sunlight and extended daylight are a boon for cruises and private yachts, with perfect winds and calm seas for a company. Light summer clothing is apt for the day, especially near the beaches. The bright skies and extended daylight packs a long list of fun-filled events in tourist schedules. The desert lands provide some of the clearest skies in the world for stargazing in the night. March nights are cozy in the majority of Australia and do not need warm clothes.
Weather in April
April brings comfortable temperatures in Australia with the advance of the autumn season. Nights are between 10°C (50°F) to 20°C (68°F) in the majority of the country, with rare instances of cold or frost. Hot winds from the desert keep the temperatures high in the west and central parts of the country, as the rainfall gradually reduces in the northern territory. The waters of the Great Barrier Reef are warm, with average temperatures above 26.7°C (80.1°F) near the eastern coast of Queensland. The sea temperatures in Adelaide in the southeast at 17.8°C (64°F) are milder compared to Perth in the southwest at 22.8°C (73°F). Wildlife sanctuaries draw many visitors as the soaring heat gives way to moderate conditions. The Australian Outback has plenty of attractions for tourists, from desert safaris to spotting wildlife as the conditions mellow. Lightweight summer clothing is best during the day and a jacket in the evening. April is a pleasant period to plan vacations in coastal locations in Australia.
Weather in May
May is a month with pleasant conditions in the autumn season in Australia. The northern territory is dry, but the average temperatures in Darwin are in the 22.2°C (72°F) to 32.2°C (90°F) range, with bright sunshine that lasts for 10 hours daily. Adelaide in South Australia is cloudy, with significant rainfall of 71.1mm (2.8"). The average temperatures are in the comfortable 10°C (50°F) to 18.9°C (66°F), with sea temperatures approximately 17.8°C (64°F) in the nearby Spencer Gulf. Perth in the southwest registers between 10°C (50°F) to 21.1°C (70°F), which is significantly milder than the peak of summer. The autumn season is comfortable, particularly in the southern parts of the country, with moderate rainfall. The fishing season adds to the thrill of kayaking, canoeing and river rafting. May is an excellent time to visit the picturesque Yarra Valley region near Melbourne for excellent wine tasting and vineyard lunches. A light jacket is useful in the evening in most parts of the country. May is an excellent time to visit the majority of Australia.
Weather in June
June is the beginning of the mild winter season in Australia. The northern territory receives scanty rainfall while it rains heavily in the south. Perth and Adelaide register the wettest month of the year in June. Queensland receives heavy rainfall during the winter season. The average high temperatures drop below 26.1°C (79°F) in the majority of the country, while the average low temperatures remain above 4.4°C (39.9°F)°. Alice Springs in the north registers average temperatures in the mild 5°C (41°F) to 20°C (68°F) range, while Launceston in Tasmania is relatively cold between 2.8°C (37°F) to 13.3°C (55.9°F). A barbeque on the beach is a good idea on the northeast coasts, such as Cairns in Queensland, where the daily sunshine of 7 hours keeps the rain at bay. A road trip along the Great Ocean Road ranks amongst the best in the world in the mild winter. There is plenty of sunlight to see kangaroos and koalas in the national parks. June seldom reports snowfall in any part of Australia.
Weather in July
July sees moderate to significant cold in many parts of Australia, with heavy precipitation in the south. Bunbury and Rockingham in Western Australia receive between 127mm (5") to 152.4mm (6") of rainfall. Melbourne in Victoria experiences its coldest month with average temperatures in the 6.1°C (43°F) to 12.8°C (55°F) and sea temperatures at 12.8°C (55°F). The gentle mountain ranges in a rainforest setting near Melbourne make for an enjoyable experience with a few rain showers for a company. The Australian Alps are humid and rainy in July, with temperatures in the frigid -3.9°C (25°F) to 4.4°C (39.9°F) at altitudes above 1500 meters. The arid regions of the northwest see sunny days with cold nights. A desert safari over a few days is not too farfetched in the winter, with the aid of an extra layer of clothing for protection from the cold. The vastness of the country ensures abundant sunshine in many parts, even at the peak of the winter. Tourist footfall in Australia is more towards the drier regions in the north and center in July.
Weather in August
August is cold and wet in many parts of Australia, with cloudy skies as well as sunny days. Brisbane in Queensland averages between 10°C (50°F) to 21.7°C (71.1°F), while the best time to visit the nearby Gold Coast is in the winter when the water temperatures are mild. Canberra is partly cloudy, with 6 to 7 hours of daily sunshine, occasionally freezing nights, and moderate rainfall. Frost and light snowfall occurs are possible in the Australian capital due to its altitude of 600 meters above sea level. The Snowy Mountains receive significant snow and footfalls for many winter sports, including skiing. Winter clothes usually involve jackets and sweaters in most of the country, with extra layers only in frigid areas. Budget travelers find great deals during the winter on hotels and flights in the south, where the weather is cold. Wind speeds are moderate along the coast, and the cold temperatures mean less competition for surfing in the ocean waters. The temperatures gradually rise by the end of August in Australia.
Weather in September
September begins the beautiful spring season in Australia with gently warm temperatures, partly cloudy skies, and a bit of rain. Nights are still cold in Victoria and Tasmania, with average temperatures in the 4.4°C (39.9°F) to 7.2°C (45°F) range. Days are mild with 6 to 8 hours of sunlight, and the majority of the country registering above 15.6°C (60.1°F). Queensland coasts are warm in the 15.6°C (60.1°F) to 26.7°C (80.1°F) range and see an increase in activity with the decrease in the rain. Sydney and Launceston receive up to 76.2mm (3") of precipitation. Open mountain trails are for the adventurous, and the rugged country is a heaven for hikers. Bird watching is not only for hobbyists but also for visitors who like to see the winged creatures chirp in their natural habitats with the end of the cold season. Crowds swell in national parks and zoos to witness the numerous species of animals that awake from winter slumber. Do not forget a jacket in the cold September nights of Australia.
Weather in October
October lies in the middle of the spring season in Australia, which sees a significant decrease in precipitation. It is a great time to visit Darwin and Kakadu in the absence of rain, with temperatures in the 25°C (77°F) to 33.3°C (91.9°F) range. The Outback has warm days and chilly nights and is a place for many adventures during the spring break. Canberra hosts the largest flower festival in the southern hemisphere in mid-spring. The pushy wind is the driver behind hot air ballooning in the crisp morning conditions. Museums see plenty of footfalls in the afternoons when the sunshine becomes intense. Bowral, near Sydney, is alive in the mildly warm months with a glorious display of flora over the landscape. The spring season is an excellent time to explore the vast coastline. Light jackets are useful in the evenings, while the days demand shorts in sunny conditions. October is a beautiful time to visit Australia, with comfortable temperatures and clear skies for stargazing.
Weather in November
November sees the end of the spring season in Australia, which warms the conditions further. Perth average temperatures are between 13.3°C (55.9°F) to 26.7°C (80.1°F), while Melbourne is still cold between 12.8°C (55°F) to 22.8°C (73°F). Places like Mackay, Rockhampton, and Townsville in Queensland witness daily high temperatures between 26.7°C (80.1°F) to 31.1°C (88°F). Ballarat and Bendigo in Victoria have cold nights in the 4.4°C (39.9°F) to 7.2°C (45°F) range. The wet season begins in the northern territory by the second half of November, as many places register 50.8mm (2") to 101.6mm (4") of rain in November. Food lovers' dreams come true with the abundant number of spring food festivals that include some of the finest wines in the world. Running races such as the Sydney Running Festival are a great way to explore the city without interference from the rain. Explore the spectacular wildflower trail in western Australia with orchids, daisies, and numerous desert species, while traveling on foot, bike or car. November ends the spring season in Australia.
Weather in December
December is the beginning of the hot summer season in Australia that brings rain and cyclonic events in the northern part of the country. The temperatures soar during the day to register in the 23.9°C (75°F) to 32.2°C (90°F) in most parts except the southwest and southeast. Albury, Gosford, Maitland, and Newcastle in New South Wales register average temperatures between 18.3°C (64.9°F) to 32.2°C (90°F) during the early days of the summer. Darwin receives 276.9mm (10.9") of rain, while Brisbane crosses the 119.4mm (4.7") mark in December. The hot days mandate sunglasses and hats on the coast, and it is usually best to keep beach outings during mornings and evenings. The extended daylight hours are especially useful for day-long boat tours to the offshore islands. Humidity is higher on the east coast than the west. The Darling Harbor hosts scintillating fireworks on New Year's Eve, which is a prime attraction for tourists. December brings stormy weather in the northern territory of Australia.