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Summer in Australia

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December, January, February
Summer morning at Port Macquarie's Flynn Beach, New South Wales North Coast

Summer morning at Port Macquarie's Flynn Beach, New South Wales North Coast

© Tourism New South Wales

Summer in Australia is generally a season of fun, sun and festive times. It begins on December 1 and continues until the end of February.

For those visiting Australia from northern hemisphere countries such as the United States, Canada, England and the northern countries of Asia and Europe, the Australian summer almost exactly coincides with the northern winter.

So northern travelers should keep in mind that they are journeying from winter to summer and should accordingly dress for the season in their country of arrival.

The weather

While there is a wide temperature range within the continent itself, summer is generally how it is perceived to be: warm and sunny.

In Sydney, for instance, the average midsummer temperature can range from around 19°C (66°F) at night to 26°C (79°F) in the daytime. It is possible for temperatures to rise above 30°C (86°F).

It gets warmer as you travel north and cooler as you travel south.

In northernmost tropical Australia, the seasons are more appropriately divided into the dry and the wet, with the Australian summer falling within the north's wet season which begins around October and November and continues through Australia's summer months.

The wet season in the north can also see incidences of tropical cyclones in varying degrees of intensity.

In the south, the summer temperatures can cause the flareup of bushfires.

While the incidence of cyclones and bushfires can cause serious destruction, generally travel to Australia is not critically affected by these forces of nature which, more often than not, occur in unpopulated areas.

Public holidays

Australia's national public holidays in December are Christmas Day and Boxing Day; and on January 26, Australia Day. When a public holiday falls on a weekend, the following workday becomes a public holiday. There is no official national public holiday in February.

Events and festivals

There are a number of major events and festivals in the Australian summer.

  • The Sydney Hobart Yacht Race starts on Sydney Harbour on December 26 with around 100 boats of different sizes competing for line and handicap honors.

  • The Sydney Festival, celebrating arts and culture, covers a broad spectrum of the performing and visual arts. It is usually held from around the second week of January until the weekend after Australia Day.

  • The Australian Open, the first of the world's Grand Slam tennis tournaments in the calendar year, takes place in Melbourne from around the middle of January through Australia Day.

  • In Tamworth in country New South Wales, the Country Music Festival normally takes place in late January around Australia Day. A highlight of the festival is the annual country music awards.

  • The Sydney Chinese New Year Festival is arguably the largest and most popular Chinese new year festival in Australia, including lantern parades, food markets, dragon boat races, and music and dance events. Chinese new year festivals are held in some other cities and major towns.

  • The Sydney Mardi Gras is a major multi-week gay and lesbian event, culminating in a glittering nighttime parade. The festival begins in February.

Beachtime

For a country enamoured of sun, sand, sea and surf, summer is the peak of the beach season.

Many of Australia's most popular destinations are on the coast or on islands off the coast and beaches are not only numerous but also within easy reach by car or public transport. If you have beachside accommodation, you can of course simply step out to the beach.

Sydney, for instance, has numerous beaches around Sydney Harbour and all along the coast, from Palm Beach in the north to the Cronulla beaches in the south.

Melbourne, not quite as famous as Sydney for beaches, has a number of beaches close to the city centre. You can, of course, if you wish, drive out to the beaches of Mornington Peninsula just south of the city or to the many other seaside areas of Victoria.

The islands

Queensland has a large number of holiday islands, particularly on and along the Great Barrier Reef. In South Australia, consider crossing over to Kangaroo Island and in Western Australia to Rottnest Island.

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