Australia is a continent that experiences a variety of climates due to its size. The temperature can range from below zero in the Snowy Mountains in southern Australia to extreme heat in the Kimberley region in the north-west of the continent.
Due to the size of the continent, there is not one single seasonal calendar for Aussie. Instead there are six climatic zones and this translates as two main seasonal patterns: There is a Summer / Autumn / Winter / Spring from centre to south and, also affecting the Desert and the Grassland climatic zones and a Wet / Dry in the tropical north which includes the Equatorial, Tropical and sub-tropical zones.
Depending upon where you are each Month, the season will vary on whether the weather is defined by the Temperate zone seasons or the tropical seasons.
The Temperate zone with all 4 season occupies the coastal hinterland of New South Wales, much of Victoria, Tasmania, the south-eastern corner of South Australia and the south-west of Western Australia. The seasons in the temperate zone are described in terms of European seasons applied to the southern hemisphere in the following sequence:
Summer: December to February
Autumn: March to May
Winter: June to August
Spring: September to November
The two other zones affected by the temperate seasons are:
Grasslands (or savanna) : essentially a belt surrounding the arid and semi-arid desert areas in the centre and seeping into the area north of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory
Desert : arid and semiarid areas of the centre of the continent, stretching across the vast amount of South Australia and Western Australia, far south western Queensland and far north western corner of New South Wales, and not quite half of the Northern Territory
The tropical zones with a Wet and Dry pattern, is characteristic by three climatic zones in the tropical areas of Australia:
Equatorial : the tip of Cape York and Bathurst and Melville Islands north of Darwin
Tropical : across northern Australia including Cape York, the Top End of the Northern Territory, land south of the Gulf of Carpentaria, and the Kimberley region
Sub-tropical : the coastal and inland fringe from Cairns along the Queensland coast and hinterland to the northern areas of New South Wales and the coastal fringe north of Perth to Geraldton in Western Australia.
In the Australian tropics the wet season, called the monsoon season, lasts about six months, between November and March. It is hotter than the dry season, with temperatures between 30 and 50 degrees Celsius. This is because of the high humidity during the wet, which is caused by large amounts of water in the air. During the wet there is a lot of rain, which frequently causes flooding.
The dry season lasts about six months, usually between April and October. Temperatures are lower and the skies are generally clearer during the dry. The average temperature is around 20 degrees Celsius
The ‘build up’ is the humid time of year between the wet and dry seasons. It usually lasts for three or four months. Things become quite tense during the ‘build-up’ as people sit and swelter in the humidity while waiting and hoping for the first rains to come. The humidity continues day and night with no respite, so when the rains finally do come everyone enjoys their cooling relief.
Weather tips to Visit Darwin:
Darwin truly is a tropical city, with a monsoonal wet and dry season. During the dry season it almost never rains, and in the wet season you can expect torrential rain falls.
The Build Up (also known as Troppo Season), is the period at the end of the dry season when the humidity level sky rocket, but it doesn’t rain. It is an amazing experience, but not for everyone. As the days go by with hot temperatures and high humidity level, but no rain, you can feel the tension in the air and in the people.
Finally, normally with a crash of thunder and an amazing lightning show, the first rains come and mark the beginning of 3-4 months of the extreme wet season.
During the dry season it virtually does not rain a single drop for 5 months straight. You never have to check the weather forecast, it will be sunny and between 31-32°C every day!
The Wet Season (October/November – April)
– Because of the torrential rains, virtually every unsealed road becomes impassable even with the best 4WD.
– Be aware of flash flooding, and never try to drive across a flooded road.
– Cyclones are a possibility, although the chances of one directly hitting where you happen to be are very minimal.
– You cannot go swimming on any beaches due to potential jellyfish stings, sharks, and crocodiles.
– Even though it rains a lot, the nights are very hot and humid. You’ll want air conditioning if you want a good night’s sleep.
– There will be a lot less tourists during the wet season, and prices are often cheaper than the dry season.
The Dry Season (May – October)
– You can swim at the beaches, but you must still ask locals where is safe; crocodiles will still be about, but they generally only inhabit certain areas.
– Roads become drivable again, but don’t get lost in the outback, all the water will be gone and you’ll find yourself in a potentially deadly situation!
– There will be no need to check the weather, the days will be sunny and virtually always the same temperature.
– You can forget about cyclones, they only happen during the wet season.
– There will be A LOT more tourists. Expect hostels, hotels, tours, etc to book out early. Please book ahead!
– And be prepared to pay a premium price during the dry season. Due to the number of tourists, business can put their prices up.
– There will be a lot more outdoor events and festivals due to the good weather.