Climate of Australia
Where is the country of Australia located? Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent. Australia is a large country with several climatic zones. Most of Australia, the center, has a warm desert climate (type BWh according to the Köppen classification) and is surrounded by a large zone with a warm steppe climate (type BSh). The northern part of Australia has a tropical savanna climate (type Aw), also called a subtropical climate.
The south and east of Australia have a maritime climate, which can be further subdivided into the types CSb, Cf and Cw.
Since Australia is in the Southern Hemisphere, the seasons are exactly opposite to ours. When it’s winter in the Netherlands, it’s summer in Australia and when it’s summer with us, it’s winter there.
Warm and quite dry
Because Australia is relatively close to the equator, it is quite warm. Temperatures in the north are still above 20 degrees during the local winter and only in some parts of southern Australia is there a chance of frost or snow. It is also a fairly dry country, because more than half of the land surface receives less than five hundred millimeters of precipitation on an annual basis. In the north, east and some places in the south, quantities are comparable to the Netherlands or even higher.
Summer in Australia
De zomers in Australië vallen gelijk met onze winters. In de maanden december, januari en februari is het warm tot zeer heet in Australië. In Centraal-Australië valt er dan weinig neerslag (zoals het hele jaar), in het oosten en zuiden is het iets droger dan in de winter en in het (sub)tropische noorden valt de regen bijna met bakken uit de lucht. In de stad Darwin valt er in deze drie maanden gemiddeld ruim 1000 millimeter neerslag, wat ongeveer anderhalf keer zoveel is als wat er in Nederland in een heel jaar valt. Temperaturen van veertig graden en hoger kunnen in de zomermaanden in vrijwel heel Australië met gemak gehaald worden, op sommige plekken wordt heel af en toe zelfs een officiële 50 graden genoteerd. Heat waves are common in Australia and can last for a long time. The longest heat wave on record lasted 161 days and was recorded in Marble Bar in western Australia. From October 30, 1923 through April 7, 1924, it got hotter than 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 degrees Celsius) every day.
The combination of drought and heat can cause forest fires. Sometimes these take place on a large scale in Australia, such as in the summer of 2019-2020. During a prolonged period of drought, bushfires started on an extremely large scale in Australia. The drought combined with the weather conditions have allowed the forest fires to spread to enormous proportions. The devastating impact of the fires makes world news. Climate change is said to be one of the causes of the fires on this scale. The experts dare not only point to climate change, although statistics show that the average temperature has risen by an average of 0.5 to 1 degree over a period of fifty years. Overdue or improper maintenance of nature would be the main factor.
In the summer months there can be hurricanes, which are called tropical cyclones or willy willy. The hurricane season in Australia is quite short: only three months (January through March). The hurricanes come from the east and almost exclusively affect the northeast and north of Australia.
The winter months in Australia show great variation in weather and temperature. The north is warm, sunny and experiencing its dry season. It is much cooler in the south and frost and snow can occur, especially in the higher areas. Even winter sports enthusiasts can go to Australia, especially in Mount Hotham, Falls Creek and Mount Buller.
The coolest state is Tasmania, where the temperature in the winter months averages slightly above zero at night and around ten degrees during the day. Even in the desert it is a lot cooler in winter; with daytime temperatures around twenty degrees and at night just above the freezing point it is cool in the desert. In Alice Springs, a minimum temperature of 7.5 degrees below zero was even measured in July 1976.
In addition to the aforementioned heat, heat waves and hurricanes, Australia also has other forms of extreme weather. For example, it is possible that you wake up in Sydney, look outside and that the whole sky is red with dust. A strange sensation, caused by desert sand being carried by a northwesterly wind.
The wettest place in Australia on average is Tully, which is located in the northeast, just south of Cairns. Due to its location between mountains and ocean, this place receives the most precipitation on average. However, nearby Mount Bellenden Ker (1593 meters high) holds records, with the highest amount of precipitation in a year (12,461 mm in the year 2000) and in a calendar month (5387 mm in January 1979).
Those who want to see large hailstones have a reasonable chance in the states of New South Wales and Victoria in the southeast. Sometimes cars and windows are damaged there by hailstones the size of large marbles up to the size of tennis balls.
If you want to go on holiday to Australia, a good assessment of the climatic conditions is essential for good travel preparation. While one area is dry and warm, others can be downright wet. If you are planning a trip through Australia, you will definitely have to look at what weather you can expect for each destination. Before departure, do not forget to apply for your visa for Australia on time.
The figures below are based on long-term average climate statistics. The temperatures are displayed in degrees Celsius (°C).
|Maximum temperature||Minimum temperature||Hours of sunshine per day||Days of rainfall per month||Water temperature|
Best time to visit Australia
Do you want to know when is the best time to travel to Australia? You can determine the best time to travel to a destination based on the weather and climate. In addition, there are other factors that are not directly related to the weather and that can influence the best travel periods for a travel destination. Think, for example, of holidays or festive periods, which makes traveling more interesting or not, because daily life comes to a standstill as a result. With an area of more than 7.5 million square kilometers, Australia is a huge (island) country, where different climate types occur. An unequivocal answer to the question ‘what is the best time to travel to Australia?’ is therefore not really possible. You can actually visit Australia all year round. The best travel period for “Down Under” depends on your specific destination. Are you going to the tropical north, visiting the outback or staying in the south of Australia? That determines when you should travel to this versatile country.
What is good to know is that Australia has reverse seasons compared to the Netherlands. That’s because Australia is located in the Southern Hemisphere. Winter falls there during our summer and vice versa.
Northern and Central Australia
If you want to travel to the tropical north or the arid central part of Australia, it is best to do so during the local winter. The best time to travel to this part of the country is from June to August, which coincides with our summer vacation. During this period it is not too hot and there is much less chance of heavy rain showers or even cyclones. These deep tropical depressions can occur from mid-November to May. The greatest chance of such severe weather is between January and mid-April.
If your destination is the south of Australia, it is best to travel between October and March. In this part of the country, where major cities such as Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Adelaide are located, it is just a bit too cool and gloomy in the winter, while the summer months are pleasantly warm and have significantly more sunshine. During the warmest months of December and January there is a greater chance of severe thunderstorms.
Anyone who thinks that we only have Alps in Europe is wrong. Australia has several mountain ranges in the southeast that are collectively called the Australian Alps. Here you will find the highest mountain peaks in the country. This region offers opportunities for winter sports. The ski season lasts from June to October. The best months for a winter sports holiday in Australia are July and August. If you want to go hiking in this mountain area, you should choose the period from December to March.
South of the main island of Australia is the much smaller Tasmania. Here there is a moderate maritime climate that does show some similarities with our climate. The summers (here from December to February) have afternoon temperatures of around 22 degrees Celsius. The mild winters have maximums of about 8 to 15 degrees, while at night it often remains above freezing. The best time to travel to Tasmania is from December to March.