Australia Weather, climate and geography

Weather & climate

Best time to visit

Australia is in the southern hemisphere and the seasons are opposite to those in Europe and North America. There are two climatic zones: the tropical zone (in the north above the Tropic of Capricorn) and the temperate zone. The tropical zone (consisting of 40% of Australia) has two seasons, summer ('wet') and winter ('dry'), while the temperate zone has all four seasons.

Spring to summer (October to March): Warm or hot everywhere, tropical in the north, and warm to hot with mild nights in the south. This is the classic tourist season, with northern hemisphere visitors looking to escape winter temperatures and soak up some Antipodean sunshine, although Australia is essentially a year-round destination.

Autumn to winter (April to September): Northern and central Australia have clear warm days and cool nights; the south has cool days with occasional rain but still plenty of sun. Snow is totally confined to mountainous regions of the southeast. At certain times, the southern part of the mainland (as well as Tasmania) can become seriously chilly, so be prepared to wrap up.

Drought is becoming more widespread with southeast Queensland, Victoria and South Australia all badly affected.

Required clothing

Lightweights during summer months with warmer clothes needed during the cooler winter period throughout most of the southern states. Lightweight cottons and linens all year in the central/northern states with warm clothes only for cooler winter evenings and early mornings. Sunglasses, sunhats and sunblock lotion are recommended year round in the north and during the summer months in the south.

Should you arrive in the country without the appropriate clothing or equipment, however, it’s generally no problem to find high-quality items to purchase – there’s no danger of being left to choose from a substandard selection.

Geography

Australia's great coastline covers 59,736km (37,119 miles); the country is lapped by the Arafura and Timor Seas to the north, the Coral and Tasman Seas of the South Pacific to the east, the Southern Ocean to the south, and the Indian Ocean to the west.

Most of the population has settled along the eastern and southeastern coastal strip, with the notable exception of Perth, one of the most remote cities in the world, on the west coast. Australia is the smallest continent (and the largest island) in the world, and terrain ranges from baking red desert to lush green rainforest, and from world-renowned surfing beaches to snow-clad mountains.

 

It’s partly the extreme diversity of different landscapes that makes Australia such a great travel proposition, in fact – there aren’t many countries that can offer natural features as richly eclectic as Uluru, the Great Ocean Road and the Great Barrier Reef.   

In the east lies the Great Dividing Range; there are rainforests in the far northeast (mainly in Queensland); the southeast is a huge fertile plain; and further to the north lays the enormous Great Barrier Reef: a 2,000km (1,200-mile) strip of coral that covers a total area of 345,000 sq km (133,000 sq miles).

Edited by Jane Duru
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