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Autumn in Australia

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March, April, May
Autumn foliage at Canberra's lakeside Commonwealth Park, copyright Australian Capital Tourism

Autumn foliage at Canberra's lakeside Commonwealth Park

© Australian Capital Tourism

Autumn in Australia begins on March 1. This is actually some 20 days before the March equinox when day and night are finely balanced at 12 hours each and the day begins to shorten as it cools towards winter.

In the northern hemisphere, March 20 or 21 is actually the spring equinox and marks the start of spring. In the southern hemisphere, this is the vernal equinox and should be the de facto start of autumn.

The Australian seasons have been simplified by starting each season on the first day of each season's starting month. So summer begins on December 1, autumn on March 1, winter on June 1 and spring on September 1.

Whatever the rationale behind how the seasons begin and end in Australia, simply think of the Australian autumn as the months of March, April and May.

End of daylight saving time

Dayloght saving time ends on the first Sunday in April in the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria. The Northern Territory and the state of Queensland and Western Australia do not observe daylight saving time.

Public holidays

Several public holidays take place in the autumn.

These include Easter Sunday which may occur in March or April, Labor Day in Western Australia and Victoria with the equivalent Eight Hours Day in Tasmania, Canberra Day in the Australian Capital Territory, and Anzac Day on April 25 througout the nation.

Festivals and celebrations

Autumn racing

There is no let-up in horse racing events throughout the autumn with most racing venues holding Autumn Racing Carnivals.

The big horse racing event in Sydney in the autumn is the Golden Slipper, the world's richest race for two-year-olds.

Autumn foliage

There is a magical quality to autumn when the leaves start to change color, from green to yellow, orange and varying shades of red.

Unfortunately, you won't see masses of colorful foliage in the country's north and in fact in most Australian cities, except perhaps in Canberra where large numbers of deciduous trees exhibit more dramatic seasonal changes.

It is the deciduous trees that lose their leaves in the winter and in the process undergo changes in color in the autumn. While there are deciduous trees in many parts of Australia, they may not make much impact with massed autumnal color changes.

Tracts of wilderness, such as in New South Wales, comprise large numbers of non-deciduous conifers, eucalypts and other evergreens that do not shed leaves in the cold of winter.

Autumn weather

The Australian weather has been a-changing and can often be unpredictable. The last month of summer, February, this year was mainly wet particularly along the Queensland and New South Wales coasts, with flash flooding in several areas, and occasions of rain is expected to continue in the early autumn.

But, yes, there are days of brilliant sunshine, and many more are forecast for the days ahead.

Ski season

Autumn is pretty much the 11th hour to plan for skiing trips, as accommodation choices begin to diminish with early bookings at the ski resorts.

The ski slopes in New South Wales are in the Snowy Mountains roughly south-southwest of Canberra, while the Alpine region of Victoria's High Country is the site of the state's ski resorts. Yes, there are ski slopes in Tasmania, too.

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