What are the weather conditions in Australia?

Australia is a continent that experiences a variety of weather climates due to its size and location. The temperature ranges from below zero in the Snowy Mountains in southern Australia to extreme heat in the Kimberley region in the North West of the continent.

Due to the size of the continent, there is not one single seasonal calendar for the entire continent. Instead there are six climatic zones and this translates as two main seasonal patterns – the wet and dry seasons.

Bureau of Meteorology and climatic zones

There is a Summer / Autumn / Winter / Spring pattern in the Temperate zone, also affecting the Tropical and Grassland climatic zones and, a Wet / Dry patterns in the tropical north which includes the Equatorial, Tropical and sub-tropical zones.

Depending upon where you are each Month, the season varies on whether the weather is defined by the Temperate zone seasons or the tropical seasons.

Climatic zones

The temperate zone: is Summer / Autumn / Winter / Spring pattern

The Temperate zone occupies the coastal hinterland of New South Wales, much of Victoria, Tasmania, the south-eastern corner of South Australia and the south-west of Western Australia. The seasons of the temperate zones are described in terms of European seasons applied to the southern hemisphere in the following sequence:

  • Summer: December to February
  • Autumn: March to May
  • Winter: June to August
  • Spring: September to November

This means that the Australian Christmas takes place at the height of summer. It also means that the mid-year break for students happens in winter. The long end of year break for students is commonly known as the ‘summer holidays’, or the ‘Christmas holidays’.

The two other zones affected by the temperate seasons are:

  • Grasslands (or savanna) – essentially a belt surrounding the arid and semi-arid desert areas in the centre and seeping into the area north of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory
  • Tropical – arid and semiarid areas of the centre of the continent, stretching across the vast amount of South Australia and Western Australia, far south western Queensland and far north western corner of New South Wales, and not quite half of the Northern Territory

The tropical zones:  Wet / Dry pattern

There are three climatic zones in the tropical areas of Australia:

  • Equatorial – the tip of Cape York and Bathurst and Melville Islands north of Darwin
  • Tropical – across northern Australia including Cape York, the Top End of the Northern Territory, land south of the Gulf of Carpentaria, and the Kimberley region
  • Sub-tropical – the coastal and inland fringe from Cairns along the Queensland coast and hinterland to the northern areas of New South Wales and the coastal fringe north of Perth to Geraldton in Western Australia.