So, you’ve decided to travel to Australia? Fantastic! You’ll be treated to some of the most beautiful scenery in the world in a country where an easy-going, welcoming attitude infuses every aspect of life. As seasons are turned on their head Down Under, many living in the Northern Hemisphere have asked themselves the question ‘when is the best time to visit Australia’? Our summer runs from December through to February and winter is between June and August; however, some regions are better to visit during different seasons (depending on the activities on your travel agenda!). To help you figure it all out, here’s a look at each region’s weather to give you an idea of when to book your next trip.
South East Australia: February – May
The South East region of Australia has some of the country’s most well-known locations, including Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Brisbane. While this area is a treasure trove of world-famous wine regions, seriously gorgeous beaches and adorable wildlife (hello Kangaroo Island!), there are also plenty of bustling hotspots (such as museums, art galleries, and trendy restaurants) to explore. Your best bet is to head to this region during February through May, as the major cities are less crowded. Around this time, the temperatures have dropped a little but tend to stick around the comfortable upper 60s (~20oC).
North East Queensland: June – October
Many people flock to the North East region of Australia for one reason alone: the Great Barrier Reef, a jaw-droppingly beautiful stretch of colourful corals and kaleidoscopic fish that make up one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Encompassing some of the best snorkelling and diving on Earth, it should come as no surprise that this protected marine reserve tops the bucket lists of most Australian-bound travellers. The pretty tourist town of Cairns is considered the gateway to the Reef but if you fancy giving your sea legs a break for the day then you can head north to explore the lush Daintree Rainforest, which is bursting with verdant plant life and exotic animals. Further south you’ll find the pristine Whitsunday Islands, which are pure heaven for both sailors and sun-worshippers alike. Given the North East’s tropical climate, there’s a fairly wide range of months during which tourists can get the most out of their visit. Those travelling between June and October will enjoy temperatures ranging between the 60s and 80s (~20 – 30oC) with little to no rainfall, creating the perfect conditions for diving along the Barrier Reef. The North East is in wet season between November – April, when the region is most likely to experience unpredictable weather including rain and the chance of a monsoon/cyclone. On rare occasions the weather can mean cancellation of tours and some road closures, but generally tours continue to run all year round and throughout the wet season.
Red Centre: May – September
Interested in heading to the Outback? If you’ve got an adventurous spirit, you’ll love Australia’s Red Centre region as the many hiking opportunities available through Kings Canyon and Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park allow nature lovers to fully embrace the rugged beauty of Australia’s wilderness. This area is of particular cultural and spiritual importance to the local Aboriginal people. Visitors to the park can choose to immerse themselves in the fascinating history of one of the world’s most successful and peaceful hunter-gatherer societies by taking part in a cultural tour. Wondering when to visit? Consider May through September as your target months; the weather will be cooler and this softer climate is essential, since most activities require spending time under Australia’s infamously harsh sun. The dip in temperature during this time allows travellers to comfortably explore ancient rock formations and marvel at the iconic sunrises and sunsets over Uluru (Ayers Rock) without fear of burning out…or up!
The North (Darwin, Kakadu): June – September
The Northern region of Australia is ideal for anyone looking to immerse themselves in the great outdoors. Whether discovering 50,000-year-old rock art in Kakadu National Park, diving under the refreshing waterfalls of Litchfield or taking a guided cruise through Yellow Water Billabong, the deep history and vast, unspoiled wilderness of this land is guaranteed to leave an imprint. Most tourists use the capital city of Darwin to embark on their northern adventure. June through September is a perfect time to travel north, as this is when you’re likely to experience comfortable temperatures with low humidity and little chance of rainfall – ideal conditions for spending time under the sun. Experts also recommend September as the key time to visit if you’re interested in doing a spot of bird watching, as this is when you’re most likely to spot some of Australia’s most impressive winged wildlife. Similar to the North East, this region experiences wet seasons that run from November through to April are not the best times to travel as the weather can be unpredictable.
The West (Western Australia): March – September
Australia’s west coast is so jam-packed full of hidden treasures it’s hard to know where to start. Whether you’re into whale watching in Albany, snorkelling along the Ningaloo reef at Coral Bay and Exmouth, sipping wines in Margaret River or hunting for bargains in the port of Fremantle – the West has it all. Did we mention hiking Kalbarri Gorge and snapping a selfie at Nature’s Window, traversing the treetop walks in The Valley of Giants, playing a game of hide and seek through the curious limestone pillars of the Pinnacles or feeding the friendly pod of dolphins in Monkey Mia? We’re just scratching the surface…
Perth is this region’s capital city and is the best launch pad from which to explore the South. The popular tourist town of Broome is located in the North and acts as a relaxed gateway to the Kimberley region and Karijini National Park. This activity-rich area is most tourist-friendly during the months of March, April and May, when the days are typically sunny with no rain. The summer months of December – February can become uncomfortably hot, while June – August brings a colder climate to the South with a higher chance of rain but remains comfortable further north. If you want to catch the spectacular colours of the West’s wildflower season then plan your visit around September – October.
Tasmania: November – March
Tasmania might seem like a remote part of the world but this little island is quickly becoming one of the most popular parts of Australia to explore, given its world-class galleries, breathtaking scenery and burgeoning foodie scene. Discover what makes Tasmania such a truly unique destination by hiking around Cradle Mountain in Lake St. Clair National Park, taking in the views of Wineglass Bay from the Lookout in Freycinet National Park or learning about the infamous, historical penal colony of Port Arthur. Tasmanian locals recommend travelling January through March, as this is when you’ll find the best temperatures (a warning: December and January can get extremely busy, so if you’d like to visit during this time, make sure to book well ahead to avoid disappointment). Hikers will still find some opportune conditions – and lower costs – during late spring (October and November) or early autumn (March and April). If you don’t mind the snow, June, July, and August will offer cheaper accommodation and airfare prices.
As you can see, there’s really no bad time to visit Australia. With a wide variety of activities and sights to see, you’ll always find something to do no matter the time of year. Just make sure to plan around the weather in Australia with regards to your desired destination, and remember to pack accordingly!