Australasia & Pacific
Sara and John say...
There's a variable climate across the vast landmass of Australia, the continent with the highest sunshine duration, ranging from desert conditions to a tropical climate with cooler temperate zones in some corners. Read on to see how each region differs!
*New South Wales
Compared with some other parts of this vast country, the climate of New South Wales is much less extreme. Think ‘warm and balmy’ and you won’t be too far wrong for much of the year.
However there are variations across the state. North of Sydney, in the direction of Queensland, temperatures tend to be higher than further south, routinely reaching the mid-to-high 30s in the summer months from December to February, which is when most downpours occur. Elsewhere across the state, it’s less hot and humid, and summer days are routinely sunny and warm. In fact it’s ‘beach weather’ almost any time of year. Do bear in mind. however, that bush fires can cause poor air quality in the summer months. Southernmost parts of the state are generally cooler, and here, most rainfall occurs in the autumn and winter months, especially from March to July.
It may come as a surprise to visitors from abroad, but some winter days really can get cold. In fact some mornings across the rural south and west dawn frosty. And snowfall across the peaks of the Blue Mountains is not uncommon in winter.
But for most of New South Wales for most of the year, it’s a climate that defines the outdoor culture of this country. Enjoy the beach and the barbecue - the chances are that neither will be spoilt by the weather!
South Australia’s weather is often described as ‘Mediterranean’. The copious supply of sunshine explains its huge appeal to holidaymakers; and the healthy blend of warmth and sprinkling rains helps make this hub of Ozzie winemaking even more attractive to locals and visitors alike! But the climate ranges from the comfortable warmth of the populous coastal south to the barren desert of the northern interior, where it can fail to rain for years on end.
South Australia’s summers are dry and can get very hot. The temperature in Adelaide is often above 35°C; but the mercury can sometimes get as high as 40°C, and even higher further north into the Outback. The sun can be extremely intense too, so seek shade, use sun protection and drink plenty of water whenever possible, particularly between the hours of 11am and 3pm.
There are occasional summer thunderstorms; but the overnight lightning displays can be fantastic! Bush fires can be a hazard, though.
Spring and autumn provide more mixed weather, and for many this can bring a more comfortable feel with cooler temperatures and occasional showers.
In winter, chillier, wetter weather makes more of an appearance, bringing some rare snowfall, especially across the Adelaide Hills. It can be quite blustery at this time of year too, especially towards coastal areas exposed to southerly winds off the Australian Bight.
But, even in winter, South Australia can still experience pleasantly warm and sunny weather, with daytime highs occasionally reaching into the 20s Celsius. T-shirt and beach weather - even in the depths of winter!
From the monsoonal north, via the central desert, to the milder southwest coastal areas, Western Australia’s climate is one of the most diverse in the country. If you’re heading to the tropical northern settlements of Broome and Karratha, you can expect high humidity and thundery downpours from October to March. This is the most likely time for a tropical cyclone but even then, they are rare. It turns drier and less steamy from April to September, with long warm and sunny days and comfortable nights. The desert interior of the country can get extremely hot in the daytime - touching 50 degrees in summer - but it’s much colder at night, especially in wintertime - when temperatures can sometimes dip close to freezing. But rainfall is rare, and often comes during brief summer thunderstorms.
Towards the south and west coasts, you’ll find a more moderate climate. The summer is mostly warm and dry and the winter is mild and somewhat wetter, especially towards the southern coastal towns of Albany and Esperance.
But it’s Perth that prides itself in being the sunniest city in the whole of Australia, and while summer temperatures often climb into the 30s Celsius, the hot days are cooled down by the trademark breeze called the ‘Fremantle Doctor’, often a very welcome relief in the afternoon. Many describe Perth’s as the quintessential Ozzie outdoor climate - perfect for beach, barbecue and a glass or two of something home-grown too.
From the top end to the dead centre of Oz, the Northern Territory feels like two different worlds, or at least two very different climates.
The tropical north has distinct seasons - ‘Wet’ and ‘Dry’. From November to April, it’s safe to say that you’ll need waterproofs! With temperatures varying from the mid-20s Celsius by night to the mid-30s by day, both heat and humidity are high; and although there are still lengthy drier interludes, downpours are regular.
Magnificent storms roll across the sky most afternoons and lightning dances through the clouds. It's not hard to see why many locals say the 'Wet season' is actually their favourite season.
Then a transformation. Through the winter months from May to October, the skies clear, the sun shines and, most importantly, the humidity falls. While 30-degree warmth remains the norm by day, the nights are much cooler. It’s now that Darwin and the ‘Top End’ bustle with a packed calendar of events and festivals, drawing visitors from near and far making the most of the balmy outdoor celebrations.
The ‘Red Centre’, by contrast, is dry and arid for much of the year. Occasional dramatic thunderstorms light up the desert sky in summer - the wettest time of year. But for months on the end, the sun shines across the Outback. Daytime temperatures can peak well over 40C, especially from December to February. But nights are much cooler. And with the shorter days, it can turn quite chilly. If you’re visiting Alice Springs, don’t be surprised if there’s frost in the shadow of Uluru on some winter mornings!
With one foot inside the tropics and the other outside, the climate of Queensland appropriately ranges between warm and downright hot!
The tropical north is steamy for much of the year, with high humidity leading to summer downpours. Away from the rain-sodden far north, the winter half of the year, from May to November, is fresher and drier. Daytime temperatures range from the high 20s to low 30s Celsius for much of the year. But humidity is a big factor, meaning the winter is much more comfortable, especially at night. And, with sea temperatures remaining quite high, this is a good time to visit the Great Barrier Reef.
Further south towards Brisbane, the climate is less intensely hot and humid.
Wintertime sees mild conditions, with temperatures in Brisbane typically ranging between 10 Celsius at night to 20 by day. It’s the driest time of year, although some rainfall does occur.
Further north, the summer is much warmer, with occasionally intense thunderstorms, especially during the peak of humidity from December to February. And hot winds from the desert interior can sometimes mean temperatures approach 40 Celsius even across the south. Bush-fires can be an additional hazard.
Needless to say, then, hydration and sun protection are essential through the Queensland summer, while layers will be needed for some chill winter nights.
It may be small compared with some other Ozzie states, but Victorian weather makes up for it with its variety. From the winter snowfields of the northeast, via the hot and dry summers of the semi-desert northwest, to the notoriously fickle Melbourne weather down south - we mean variety!
Rain falls more frequently in winter than in summer in Victoria and, during these months, the weather in the capital can seem just like the state’s title, very ‘British’! Typical highs here from June to August are near 13 Celsius. But Melbourne weather can change on a daily basis. Warm winds from the interior can be replaced by chilly southerlies and back again, almost in the blink of an eye. As we head towards summer, however, the heat wins out, sending typical temperatures between December and February into the high twenties in Melbourne. And scorching north winds can routinely peak well into the high 30s Celsius. Do bear in mind, too, that bush fires can cause poor air quality. So pack for every eventuality, especially if you’re journeying into the magnificent scenery further up-state.
The Victorian Alps are the coldest region of Victoria. In fact, in winter the temperature can often fall below freezing in the highest parts of the ranges. By contrast, the hottest Victorian weather is in the semi-arid north west, where the average daily temperature in summer is over 30 degrees Celsius, and sometimes well over 40!
So enjoy Victoria and all its variety. Waterproofs, windproofs and thermals might all be needed; but for most of the year, it’s sunscreen and a drink that will be your ‘must-haves’ on any holiday excursion in this great Australian state.