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It seems most people think that Australia is hot and dry all year round, this is simply not the case. So what is the Australian climate like? Well being as vast as it is, there are many different climates, depending on area and time of year you may visit. For example in winter times the north is still pretty warm and dry, but go there in summer and it is unbelievably hot and humid, with heavy rain. While in South Australia the winters are cold with a fair amount of rain but arrive in summer and it’s dessert like. No rain for months and 40C+ is pretty much the norm. One thing I couldn’t believe is that Australia actually has ski resorts!! When I first heard this I thought they were pulling my leg or talking about sand boarding. Nope for a couple of months a year you can actually ski on natural snow slopes in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania.
Western Australia – the second biggest state in the world.
First off a personal tip from myself – Perth in June is not the hot sunny place they show you in the brochures!! Myself as many others I met got this completely wrong. When packing to fly into Perth don’t just pack 2 pairs of jeans and a hoodie, it’s cold…. cold and wet. I was there for 2 weeks and it rained every day, a backpack full of shorts ain’t much cop in winter. As for WA on the whole, at any time of the year it’s summer somewhere. In winter the south (Margret River) is cold, hovering around 10C but travel a couple thousand kms north to Broome and it’s 30C and sunny every day. Then in the summer months Broome is hot humid and subject to daily rainstorms, while the south is hot, sunny and dry. With temps in the mid 30s.
The Northern Territory has two different climates. In the north around Darwin, the climate is tropical. Warm and dry in the winter months, with lots of sunshine and very little rain. Temperatures normally do not go below 14C and frost has never been recorded. In the summer months it’s a completely different story, high temperatures and crushing humidity. During the wet season the afternoon humidity averages 70% and monsoon rains are common place. Darwin is a fantastic place to see thunderstorms in the wet season months. Yearly rainfall can be as much as 2100mm.
In southern NT things are a lot drier and more dessert like. Central Australia is semi arid with an average yearly rainfall of just 250mm around Alice springs, most of which falls in the summer months between October and March. The highest temperature recorded in the NT was 48.3C and the lowest -7.5C. Traveling from Kununurra to Adelaide in a campervan half-way through July, I can certainly vouch for the cool nighttime temperatures in central Australia. Sunny and warm in the days, Arctic at night…. call me naive but I was not expecting that.
South Australia – Relentless heat!!
I arrived in south Australia towards the end of July, as I pulled up onto an industrial estate in Waikerie, to consult the map, looking round it was misty, drizzly and cold. Deja vu….. For a second I thought I was back home looking for the electrical wholesalers, I’m not gonna lie I felt sick. Winters in South Australia can be grim at times but still an abundance of sunny days mixed in there. In the outback winter temperatures can dip as low as -8C but usually daytime is around 13C.
Summer in South Australia is just something else altogether, I’ve never known heat like it. After all it boasts the highest temperature ever recorded anywhere in Australia of 50.7C. Constant drought during the summer months bring real danger of bush fires, especially in the rugged outback. Many people in Australia still rely on harvesting water from their house roofs in winter to see them through summer, there was a few times the hostel tanks ran dry. Water in such dry places is quite cheap to buy though so not all bad.
Victoria – Looks a little like rural England
The climate of Victoria is very broad for the relatively small size in comparison of other Australian size. Apart from Tasmania, Victoria is the wettest of all Australian states and rain mainly falls in the winter as opposed to summer in the northern states. The hottest temperature ever recorded was 47.2C and the lowest was -12.8C. Victoria is home to the great dividing range which has a cooler mountain climate.
New South Wales
The New South Wales climate is a complete mixed bag, from the freezing cold snowy mountains to the subtropical east coast and everything in between. In general NSW has hot dry summers and cool wet winters. Inland, Broken Hill area receives very little rain fall and has very hot and dry summers. The highest temperature recorded was in Wilcania at 50C and the coolest was -23C on the Charlotte pass.
Again Queensland is a vast state with many different climate zones, 5 in fact:
- Far north and coastal: hot humid summer, warm dry winter.
- Coastal elevated areas and coastal south-east: hot humid summer, mild dry winter.
- Central inland and north-west: hot dry summer, mild dry winter.
- Southern inland: hot dry summer, cool dry winter.
- Elevated south-eastern areas: warm humid summer, cold dry winter.
On the far northern coastline is Australia’s wettest region, Mount Bellenden Ker. This region can receive up to 8000mm of rain fall per year, quite a lot considering the UK average is around 930mm per year. The highest temperature ever recorded in Queensland was 49.5C and the lowest was -10.6C. Queensland is also at risk from tornadoes, large hail, damaging winds and torrential rain.
Situated 240KM south of Australia, the state of Tasmania has a maritime temperate climate, with mild to hot summers and cool wet winters. The prevailing wind blows from west to east so the west side of the island will take the brunt of the rainfall. Hobart receives up to 600mm of rainfall per year, while the west coast can be drowned in as much as 1500mm per year, mainly spread out throughout the year. While Tasmania is generally cooler than mainland Australia it can still get pretty tasty in heatwaves, the highest recorded temperature was 42.2C and the coolest being -13C.
In a nut shell no matter where you go in Australia it has the potential to be pretty damn cold but on the other hand, at some point it WILL be extremely hot!! The climates in this country are vastly diverse so it’s hard to say exactly what you’re going to find, every area of every state is different. One thing I can say is that winters are short and summers are long and hot. To put this into perspective. I remember after weeks of extremely hot weather in South Australia (37C+) me and a friend were heading into town to buy a new stereo for the hostel parties, after checking the weather we both decided to wear jeans and a hoodie…. It was only going to be 30C. Now 30C in the UK and we all start melting and just simply can’t handle it but after a couple of months of acclimatization 30C was nothing. Bottom line don’t let the heat put you off, give it a month, you’ll be like a battle hardened Ozzy!!