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Winter in Australia is for three months. It starts on the 1st of June and finishes on the 31st August. Australia is in the Southern Hemisphere, so the Australia winter runs parallel to the summer in Northern Hemisphere countries.
What Does Winter Feel Like in Australia?
There is no single answer to that, owing to the vast size of Australia and its extremes falling in very different climates.
To give you some context on the variances around the country, below is a summary of the Australian winter from different parts of the country.
In the far north of Australia, in the Northern Territory capital, Darwin, winter isn’t really recognised. Due to the tropical climate, Darwin can be split into two seasons – hot and wet, and hot and dry! In the traditional months of June to August, Darwin is hotter than the all other states get in summer – with average high temperatures of 31°C (88°F), which are only 1 degree or so cooler than summer. It’s also the driest time of year, with less than a day of rain on average, compared to 20 days or more of rain in the wet, summer months.
In Queensland’s capital, Brisbane, on the East Coast, it is the coolest time of year with temperatures between 11-21°C (52-70°F). Similar to Darwin though (and the complete opposite to what I was used to in the UK), it’s also the driest time of year, with Brisbane averaging less than 5 days of rain, versus nearly 10 days of rain in summer.
In the most southerly mainland capital of Melbourne, I can assure you, winter is pretty brutal. Being much further south means sunlight hours drop dramatically (from nearly 15-hour days in summer, down to 9.5-hour days in winter), and with temperatures dropping to 6-14°C (44-48°F). Winter is also the wettest time of the year for VIctoria, with over 9 days of rainfall in each month, and August the highest of the year at over 10.
In Hobart, the capital of the island state of Tasmania, the weather gets very cold, with lows of 5°C (41°F) and highs of only 12°C (54°F). The rain does get pretty heavy in winter, with August peaking at 11 days, with around 60% of days in August not having clouds, versus only 50% of days in the summer.
In Western Australia’s capital, Perth, it gets surprisingly cold, with temperatures between 8-19°C (46-66.F). Unlike the rest of Australia, it’s actually the wettest time of the year, with June, July and August all above 11 days of rainfall, the biggest uplift versus summer of any capital city in Australia (Perth has less than 2 days of rain in the summer months).
In the red centre, around Alice Springs, in the desert at night, it actually is the coldest part of the country in winter. Nighttime temperature can get below 0°C (32°F), meaning there can be frosts! The days still get, on average, up to 20°C (68°F), with barely any rain (less than 1 day on average in August).
Do Indigenous Calendars Have Winter?
There are over 250 different aboriginal groups (mobs) across Australia, with over 60,000 years worth of knowledge passed down through their cultures. The seasons are viewed slightly different, and also vary dependent on the part of the country you’re in.
For example, the calendar of the Nyoongar people (who have country in the very southwest of Australia) recognise six seasons across the year.
June and July fall into Makuru, which is the Nyoongar winter, but August falls into Djilba, or ‘first spring’. It is seen as the season of conception, when the weather warms and the first new born animals start to emerge.
For the Wurundjeri people of Melbourne and the Yarra Valley, there are seven seasons, with what Europeans see as winter crossing between the four-month Waring season into the one -month Guling season.
AUTHOR – BEN REEVE
Reeves Roam, is a first-hand travel blog. The Reeves have lived in the UK, South Africa and Australia and have travelled extensively in Europe and Southeast Asia.
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Thanks – Ben, Becca and Gracie