Australia is a large island continent in the southern hemisphere with a diverse range of climate zones. These vary from tropical regions in the north, through the arid expanses of the interior to temperate regions in the south.
Seasons in Australia are opposite of those in Europe. Summer runs from November to March while winter is from May to August. You must take this into account while making your vacation plans to Australia.
There are, however, huge variations throughout the country:
- The dry interior is hot year-round during the day, but at night it can become very cold.
- In the north, as the country enters the tropics, there are just two seasons – the dry from May to September and the wet from December to March.
- The southern states are simply hotter, with temperatures up to 41 degrees in Sydney, Adelaide, and Melbourne but generally between 25 and 33 – very pleasant indeed!!! In Melbourne during August, maximums are as low as 13 degrees, but can reach as high as 23 degrees.
- Further south, the weather is less dependable – Victoria and Tasmania can experience chilly winters, combined with short days.
New South Wales, the center of Western Australia and Queensland have hot summers and mild winters. In “winter”, typical daily maximums are from 20 to 24 degrees Celsius and rain is rare. The beaches and tropical islands of Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef are perhaps at their most pleasant at this time of year.
What about snowfall:
- Snow is rare in the southernmost cities of Melbourne and Hobart, falling less than once every ten years, and in other cities it is unknown.
- However, there are extensive, well-developed ski fields in the Great Dividing Range, a few hours drive from Melbourne and Sydney.
- Late August marks the peak of the snow season, and the ski resorts are a popular destination. However, especially at the higher elevations in Tasmania and the Victoria, snow may be abundant and temperatures are below freezing. In fact, many people do not know that there are ski resorts in the mountains of Australia.
Australia is relatively arid, with 80% of the land having rainfall less than 600 mm per year and 50% having even less than 300mm.
Periodic droughts, heat and aridity are constant threats. Dry conditions create the potential for disastrous fires. Almost most of northern Australia tolerates heat discomfort for over 150 days a year. The tropical seas along the coast offer little relief from the heat.
Today’s scientists talk about the continent’s large climate variability from season to season, and from year to year:
What causes these fluctuations?
These are due to the climate phenomenon called the Southern Oscillation, a major air pressure shift between the Asian and east Pacific regions whose best-known extremes are El Niño events.
Conservationists advocate the plantation of trees and deep-rooted evergreens, the preservation of bushland, the use of more native predators instead of pesticides and a more self-sufficient, less-urban population to reduce this extreme weather variability.