If you are contemplating a trip to Australia, you may be asking yourself When is the best time to go? But the question is not as straight forward as it sounds.
Every person is different, and what sounds like paradise to one person can sound like torture to another. Take the Australian summer, for example. Some purposely choose summer time to visit because they love the heat and the sunshine, while for others the Australian summer can be too hot. The right time to visit will most certainly be influenced by your climate preferences, interests, and budget.
Australia is the world’s sixth largest country and has an area that’s 7,692,024 km². As a result, there are large variances in temperature across Australia on any day. A July day in Cairns could be 27°C, whereas the same day in Melbourne it could be just 11°C. As a rough guide, the higher north you go, the hotter it gets.
So to answer the questions, you must first take a look at the influencing factors. Weigh them up against each other, and see what’s important to you. Only then will you know when it is the right time to visit.
Being in the Southern Hemisphere, Australia’s seasons are in reverse to Europe and America. This means the seasonal sequence is:
Summer: December to February
Autumn: March to May
Winter: June to August
Spring: September to November
The best time to visit the tropical and subtropical regions of Australia (Cape York, Northern Territory, Kimberley Region, Cairns etc) is between April and October during the dry season. Typically the temperatures sit at around 20°C during this time. Between November and March, the weather is warmer at between 30°C – 50°C but monsoons and high rainfall are common.
In southern Australia (Sydney, Canberra, Adelaide, Melbourne, Hobart and Perth), the temperature is generally hot in summer and cold in winter. Spring and autumn are beautiful months, perfect for picnics and exploring the exciting cities.
The popular tourist areas of Northern NSW and Southern Queensland (Byron Bay, Gold Coast, Brisbane), generally have an all-year-round temperature of 22-28°C on any given day.
Average weather per capital city
Summer: 16 – 29°C
Autumn: 13 – 23°C
Winter: 7 – 15°C
Spring: 11 – 22°C
Summer: 21 – 36°C
Autumn: 13 – 28°C
Winter: 19 30°C
Spring: 25 – 33°C
Summer: 21 – 29°C
Autumn: 17 – 27°C
Winter: 10 – 21°C
Spring:16 – 26°C
Summer: 13 – 28°C
Autumn: 7 – 20°C
Winter: 0 – 11°C
Spring: 6 – 19°C
Summer: 25 – 32°C
Autumn: 24 – 33°C
Winter: 19 – 30°C
Spring: 25 – 33°C
Summer:12 – 21°C
Autumn: 9 – 17°C
Winter: 5 – 12°C
Spring: 8 – 17°C
Summer: 18 – 30°C
Autumn: 14 – 25°C
Winter: 6 – 15°C
Spring: 8 – 22°C
Summer:18 – 30°C
Autumn: 14 – 25°C
Winter:9 – 18°C
Spring: 12 – 22°C
Summer: 19 – 26°C
Autumn: 15 – 22°C
Winter: 8 – 16°C
Spring: 13 – 22°C
What you want to do with your time is another big influence. On the whole, Australia is packed full of exciting things to see and do all year round, but if you have a particular interest, find out which month would best suit you.
Australia serves up some of the finest food in the world and love to celebrate all things gastronomy. The country is home to a huge range of gourmet events, with highlights including:
Good Food Month: Throughout October and November, fans of good food can celebrate Australia’s largest food festival with a huge number of events across Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, and Brisbane.
Crush Festival: In January each year, more than 30 South Australian wineries open their cellar doors to present a diverse program of food and wine events.
Festivale: Festivale is one of Australia’s premier food events, and turns Launceston’s historic City Park into a three-day celebration of food, wine, beer, arts, and entertainment each February.
Melbourne Food & Wine Festival: Indulge your senses over 17 days in February/March with a diverse program of exciting food and wine events.
Orange Food Week: Each April, the picturesque regional town of Orange in NSW plays host to ten full days off food and wine events, including a masquerade ball.
Truffle Kerfuffle: Western Australia is the biggest producer of truffles outside Europe, and each June thousands of people flock to Manjimup to enjoy one of the world’s most prestigious food events.
Between May and November every year, whale groups like humpbacks and orcas migrate from the cold waters of the Antarctic to Hervey Bay in Queensland to give birth to their young. The best time to visit Australia in the hope of getting up close to a whale would be between June and October, and the best places to spot these majestic creatures include: Storm Bay in Tasmania, Point Hicks in Victoria, Ningaloo in WA, Byron Bay, The Gold Coast, and Hervey Bay.
June is the official beginning of Australia’s winter, and for those who have an interest in winter sports, July and August are the best times to come. Australia is home to some fantastic snow fields, including Thredbo and Perisher Blue in NSW, Mount Buller and Mount Hotham in Victoria, and Ben Lomond National Park in Tasmania.
For beach lovers and water sport enthusiasts, the Australian summer is the perfect time to visit areas such as Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth. The waters are warm, the skies are blue, and the fish are plentiful for snorkelling and diving.
For those preferring to explore the waters of the Great Barrier Reef, the best time to travel is June to November, when the weather is mild and the visibility is good.
If you love a good party, the best time to head Down Under is during the months of November and December, when the celebrations are in full gear. Late October marks the start of Australia’s Spring Racing Carnival, when all eyes are focused on feature horse races and fashions of the field. The champagne is flowing, and if you enjoy getting dressed up then Melbourne is the place to be in November for the Melbourne Cup.
Come December it’s officially festive season, and no city knows how to party better than Sydney. Celebrating Christmas in style with a huge range of events, the party season is finished off with the world’s most spectacular New Year’s Eve fireworks display.
If you are on a strict budget, it’s worth noting when cities are at their cheapest, and that will depend on the location. Generally speaking, June, July and August are the cheapest months (providing you’re not looking for snow) in most parts of Australia, as this is the country’s winter and considered the least popular time to visit. December and January is the high season, and is usually the most expensive.
If you are looking for budget-friendly accommodation as well as good weather, the months of March and September are popular, as long as you time your trip outside of school holidays.
School holidays can rapidly increase accommodation and activity prices, so are best avoided if you are looking for an inexpensive holiday. Times to avoid include Easter, early-mid July, late September-mid October and December/January.