Seasons in Australia
Southern & Northern Climates
When planning your trip to Australia, it is very important to be aware of our Seasons. There’s no point on planning a volunteering journey through the Outback in the Wet Season … you won’t get very far, or a road trip through the Southern States in the Winter time … you’ll freeze your balls off.
So, you need to be aware of our various seasonal changes from the North to the South and the Desert in between.
Australia has a total Tropical Climate, similar to Asia, Africa and South America, as well as a European climate of Summers and Winters with everything in between.
Let’s start off with the Southern States, or the bottom half of Australia. Remember, if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere (Europe, USA etc) then as you go South it tends to get warmer, whereas in Australia, as you go South it gets colder. We’re “Upside Down” remember!
Australia’s climate is divided into two distinct areas. North and South. The dividing line is the Tropic of Capricorn. It’s the line on the Earth where the Sun travels to the lowest point in the Southern Hemisphere Summer. The sun is on the Tropic of Capricorn at our Summer Solstice (Europes Winter Solstice), so that’s in December.
That means, Spring starts in September, merges into Summer through December/January and eventually merges into Autumn around April/May. These are the best times to visit or travel in Southern Australia.
This includes anywhere from Carnavon in Western Australia, through the centre to Alice Springs, then over to Rockhampton on the East Coast. Of course it’s not a rigid line dividing North from South, as the northern tropics merge into sub-tropical around Brisbane, Queensland and the further south you go the less tropical it becomes.
So south of the Tropic of Capricorn is basically ruled by the typical European four seasons.
Spring: From September through to December – for the Southern States, it’s planting time. Most of the ground preparation has been done over Winter. Seeds and seedlings are planted out as most risk of frost has now gone. Farm animals and livestock are birthing their young at this time, so there’s plenty of action going on in the countryside.
Rainfall is usually plenty at this time of year. Bursts of rainfall and sunny skies makes ideal conditions for seedlings to germinate and get started, before the heat of summer. Temperatures start rising in the low 20s with bursts of warmth in the mid to high 20s. Frosts usually stop happening, thus new shoots and blossoms can safely be exposed to the elements.
Summer: From December through to March – this is the hottest time for all Southern States. Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, the southern part of New South Wales and Western Australia. Temperatures will normally average from 25 to 40 degrees celcius. This can be very hot, with clear blue skies and a scorching sun. Day in and day out.
Keeping the weeds down is a constant job during this time, and the small amount of rainfall makes irrigating a necessity in most areas. Plants and animals are growing at full speed, with early varieties already starting to mature.
This is also beach weather, as most of the good surfing and swimming beaches are really down South. We don’t have any of the tropical stinging jellyfish or the like down south, so the population usually flocks to the summer seaside towns along the east and south coasts of NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia.
Ocean water temperatures are usually around 20-24 degrees during summer. Cool but refreshing in the summer heat.
This is also bushfire season. You must obey the Fire Restrictions in force in all Southern States during Summer. Very limited opportunities to light camp fires or any fire outside. It’s a very very big deal here. No Fires in Summer. Our eucalypt gum tree forests are very susceptible to going up in flames in an inferno you’ve never thought possible. Hundreds of thousands of acres of land can burn in a few days. So make yourself aware of the Fire Restrictions during summer and don’t disobey them.
Autumn: With the ending of summer comes harvest season. From April through till June, everything is ripe at once. Farms are at full capacity getting the harvest in before the coming cold snap of winter. The temperatures again drop to 20-25 and the rain tends to return sporadically.
It’s mushroom season as the earth is still warm and the autumn rains help to start greening up after the harsh summer season. Dams get topped up for livestock and irrigation can stop.
Winter crops will be planted out now as the summer crops are harvested. This is the season when our Apples, Pears, Nectarines, Peaches and the like are all coming into ripeness. Plenty of seasonal work is available, whether it’s picking fruit or picking carrots.
Rainfall is random but a welcome relief.
Winter: From June through to September. This is when it starts to get cold and you don’t want to be exposed to the elements in a tent or similar. It gets wet down South. Wet and cold. Temperatures will drop to average sub-20’s and fall to 2 degrees overnight.
There are no places in southern Australia, except for in the Alps along the Great Dividing Range in the Eastern States, where it snows. No snowfall generally happens except up in the mountains. Frost is the action that halts the summer crops, like tomatoes, from growing anymore. Frost generally kills everything off.
Rain and cloud will be the predominant weather patterns. Sure we get clear, crisp, blue sky winter days, but more often than not, it’ll start raining, or get very windy and cold. Not a great time to be out and about or travelling. Our winters are not as extreme as northern Germany or the north of the USA, but after a hot summer and mild autumn, winter feels cold anyway.
Summary: The best times to be in Southern Australia, for work and travelling, is from the beginning of Spring, September, through to March or April when the temperature starts dropping again and the rain returns.