Australia: When is the best time to visit?

The Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains under rainy conditions

When is the best time to visit
Australia - especially its waterfalls?

The answer depends on which part of the country you're visiting. That's because there are distinctly different climatic regions. In one state, it could be very wet and muggy while at the same time in a different state, it could be very cold. We'll try to break this down in terms of the various climatic regions...

The Tropical North: This region encompasses most of Australia's north around the Tropic of Capricorn and above. Though some of the northern sections of New South Wales and central Western Australia as well as Uluru are also prone to this type of climate. The weather in this region is most simplistically characterized by a wet and dry season. The wet season is typically from November through April where temperature and humidity are at their highest, and monsoonal thunderstorms dump buckets of rain at a time. Cyclones also tend to occur at this time.

As you can imagine, waterfalls at this time are flowing their best, but you may have to deal with impassable roads (especially in the Outback regions) either due to flooding or muddiness. If you're into seeing the aquatic wildlife (especially at the Great Barrier Reef), you really have to watch out for box jellyfish which can kill in a matter of minutes (though they're not the only wildlife you have to watch out for).

The dry season typically starts in May and goes through October. It is best characterized by lack of rain and cooler temperatures (though it can still be above 30 deg Celsius). Many of the tropical north waterfalls start to dwindle until they eventually go dry as this season wears on. Thus for waterfallers, you'll want to be here at the start of the dry season to enjoy the benefits of waterfalls flowing under relatively comfortable weather.

The Temperate South: This region encompasses most of the populated areas including Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, and the Tasmanian cities of Hobart, Launceston, and Devonport. Naturally, the farther south you go, the cooler the temperatures. It is in these regions that you can expect more "typical" four-season weather where winter (June through September) tends to be cold and rainy while summer (December through March) tends to be hot and sunny. Then of course, you have the transitional seasons of Spring (September through December) and Autumn (March through June).

When it comes to waterfalling, your best bet to see waterfalls flowing is during the latter parts of winter and early spring. However, the rainfall patterns tend to be a little fickle as evidenced by the severe droughts currently plaguing the southern half of the country (especially in Victoria). When it comes to comfort (regardless of your activities), Spring and Autumn seem to have the optimal temperatures and reasonable chance of sunny skies and fine weather.

For weather, climate, almanac data (i.e. temperatures, rainfall, sunshine hours, etc.), and more from the Australia Government's Bureau of Meteorology, click here.

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