Australia is a continental country with a vast territory, and a varied climate, largely influenced by the powerful presence of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Australia's location in the southern hemisphere means it has opposite seasons to our own, although there are some regional variations. Traditionally, it is possible to divide Australia into three major climatic zones. The North, a tropical and equatorial zone, has a warm climate in summer and a humid climate in winter. In the heart of the Australian continent, the desert area benefits from a wide range of temperatures. The days there will be hot and the nights cool, sometimes with negative temperatures. Finally, to the south, the most pleasant area has warm temperatures throughout the year, with spring and autumn being the best times. To find out about the climates and seasons and the best times to visit Australia, see details by major area.
New South Wales and Sydney
In New South Wales, which includes Sydney, Broken Hill and Byron Bay, the highest temperatures are observed during the summer months, from December to February. In Sydney, the average maximum is 26°C in January, and above 22°C from October to April. For example, both autumn and spring offer milder temperatures, despite higher rainfall in March and April. July is the city's coldest month. NSW, due to its size, has a variety of climates. For example, the west of the state has seen the highest temperature recorded in Australia (50°C), while in the Snowy Mountains (still in the state of New South Wales) -23°C has been reached, which is still the lowest temperature ever recorded in Australia.
Victoria and Melbourne
Victoria, including Melbourne, is located at the southern tip of Australia. The climate varies from semi-arid and warm in the northwest to cooler along the coastline. Victoria is the coldest state because of its location (excluding Tasmania), but the cities of Melbourne, Morwell and Geelong have a relatively mild climate compared to the mountains. Sunshine in Melbourne is best in January and February, with average maximum temperatures of 27°C. From May to September, these averages fall below 20°C.
Western Australia and Perth
On the west side of Australia, Perth, Broome or Kununurra are well in the same state (Western Australia) but have different climates. The southwest (Perth region) has a temperate climate. The summer months of December to February are the warmest (average maximum temperature of 30°C or 31°C), while in winter, June to August, the mercury can fall below 20°C for the average maximum. In the centre of this state, many areas are semi-arid or desert, with drought prevailing and infrequent but torrential rain. Finally, in the north, the tropical region, the closest to the countries of South Asia, a very hot monsoon climate prevails, despite a rain-free period from April to November.
Queensland and Brisbane
In Queensland, some coasts are subject to very heavy rainfall, and receive almost 160 inches annually. In Queensland, the winter is generally hot but with limited rain, while the summer is very hot, with heavy rainfall. In the hinterland, or on higher ground, the climate is more bearable, hot and humid, like in Brisbane. Queensland's most 'temperate' climate is near Stanthorpe, with warm summers and cold winters, but lesser variations in temperature.
Northern Territory and Darwin
Darwin has a humid tropical climate with two seasons. The most pleasant dry season is between May and October, with plenty of sunshine and relatively limited rainfall. In June and July, the coldest months, the minimum temperature is never below 10°C. From December to March, there are rains of tropical monsoons and cyclones, with thunderstorms.
Red Centre and Alice Springs
Part of the southern end of the Northern Territory is occupied by desert. Between October and March, the warmer months, there could be rain but temperatures are likely to remain very high. In the winter months, the mercury drops and it can freeze.
Cairns and the Reef
The Great Barrier Reef (2,900 reefs and 900 islands) is located in northeastern Queensland, as is the city of Cairns. Summer is very hot and humid, but generally more temperate and less dry than in the southwestern or central part of the state.
Unlike in other parts of Australia, although Tasmania has four distinct seasons, the climate is generally temperate and cold. In summer (December to February) the temperature varies greatly between the coastline (24°C maximum observed) and the central plateau in the inland, where temperatures go below 10°C. The wettest and coldest months are June and July when you can see snow on the mountain ranges. Rainfall is heavy in western Tasmania, with the northern part traditionally suffering the least. While on the coast, winters have average temperatures of about 12°C, further inland, averages are close to 3-4°C.