As the days shorten and temperature drops as the end of the year approaches in the Northern Hemisphere, Australia is just gearing up for the summer months. This outdoors loving nation is blessed with warm weather and thousands of miles of sun-baked coastlines and summer in Australia is the most popular period for anyone heading down under.
In this post, we’ll look at five of the best things about summer in Australia from island adventures to perfect beaches plus the highlights of summer life in the big cities.
Summer in Australia – 5 Highlights
Australia is home to a number of islands which offer the perfect escape from the mainland. Perhaps the most well known are the Whitsundays, a popular stop on any Australia backpacking route. They are known for their incredibly calm seas, clear waters and picture-perfect white beaches. There are 74 in total, although all but five are uninhabited.
If you want to learn more about the nation’s aboriginal past and indigenous culture, you may want to head to the Tiwi Islands. Located north of Darwin, the two main islands (Melville and Bathurst) are home to a population that is almost 90% of aboriginal descent and life there is very different to that in the big cities on the mainland.
There are loads more island options if you’re looking to experience nature with Kangaroo Island perhaps the pick of the bunch. Aside from the obvious it is also home to sea lions, koalas, numerous bird species and even some penguin colonies with much of the island consisting of dedicated nature reserves.
Loads of Sport
Australia is also a sports-mad nation and no matter when you arrive during the summer months, you should find some top live sport to take in. Cricket is the primary summer sport with the Melbourne Boxing Day test match (from 26th December) a major highlight on the Australian sporting calendar. This summer it’s the Ashes with old enemies England visiting with five-day tests also being played in Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane and Sydney. For short-format (T20) cricket fun and fireworks, Australia’s Big Bash league is perhaps a better introduction for newcomers to the game.
Overall, Melbourne is perhaps your best bet for summer sports in Australia. With major events such as the Australian Open tennis and the F1 Grand Prix, it is one city that lays claim to being the world’s sporting capital.
However if you’re more into practicing sport than watching it, you can find great water sports options further north along the coastline with the state of New South Wales perhaps offering the best surf although there are great spots on both coasts.
Snorkelling & Diving at the Great Barrier Reef
Going underwater, the Great Barrier Reef remains Australia and perhaps the world’s best snorkelling and diving location. It is the world’s largest coral reef system with around 2,900 individual reefs stretching for over 2,000 kilometres off the coast of Queensland.
Climate change and pollution has impacted the area for the worse in recent decades but it’s still a quite unique place to visit. Most of the tours and excursions depart from Cairns and that is probably your best starting point. However it does stretch from Cape York, Australia’s northernmost point right down to Bundaberg which is located around 350 km north of Brisbane.
Christmas & New Year’s Eve in Sydney
One of the highlights of the summer months in Australia is the Christmas and New Year period. For anyone from the Northern Hemisphere, the opportunity to celebrate the festive period with hot weather and beach barbeques may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience and is certainly something quite different from the norm.
The biggest celebrations at New Year are found in Sydney, one of the best cities to live in Australia as well as one of the best to visit. As one of the first countries in the world to welcome in the new year, Sydney puts on a spectacular show each year with fireworks lighting up the night sky above Sydney Harbour Bridge and all around the bay. The 2020 and 2021 events have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic but normal service should be resumed soon.
Another major draw for visitors to Oz is the incredible array of wildlife. Creatures such as kangaroos, wallabies and the ever so cuddly koalas are symbols of the nation and there are loads of places where you can get close, be that in the wild or in wildlife reserves and animal rescue centres.
The late Steve Irwin’s famous Australia Zoo and wildlife rescue and rehabilitation centre in Queensland is another very popular destination with visitors to the country. It allows you to see some of the country’s more dangerous creatures including the giant saltwater crocodiles close up. Although highlights for nature lovers include Phillip Island, Daintree Rainforest and the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.
If you’re planning a longer stay in the country, you may also want to consider looking for summer jobs in Australia via Worldpackers who have a number of opportunities that involve working with or being in easy reach of wildlife.
When is Summer in Australia?
To some, Australia is a continent rather than just a country or island and as such there are many Australia climate zones with distinct seasonal patterns. The northernmost regions don’t really have summers or winters in the typical sense with average high temperatures in Darwin for instance remaining at around 31-33°C in all twelve months of the year. However there are distinct wet and dry seasons with most of the heavy rainfall occurring between December and March.
Winter in Australia is far more noticeable the further south you go. Although rare, sub-zero temperatures have been recorded in Melbourne during the winter months (June to August). However average highs in Australia in the hottest months of January and February are around 27°C in Melbourne and Sydney and temperatures can go above 40°C in much of the country during extreme heat waves which bring with it the very real risk of deadly bushfires.
This post was published in November 2021.