Northern Australian Climate


Northern Australian climate is different from the southern one.

As opposed to the Northern Hemisphere, where the climate is warmer in the south, in Australia and other countries in the Southern Hemisphere, the further north you go the warmer it gets.

Southern parts of the country have cooler climate, while up here it is hot and humid enough for tropical rainforests to grow.


While southern parts of the country have four seasons - spring, summer, autumn and winter - up here, we only have two - the Wet and the Dry.

Australian Climate

But Australian climate can be confusing for anyone from the Northern Hemisphere. Firstly, as you may know, our seasons are the opposite from the Northern Hemisphere:


Northern Hemisphere Southern Australia Northern Australia
March - May Spring Autumn The Wet
June - August Summer Winter The Dry
September - November Autumn Spring The Dry
December - February Winter Summer The Wet

While it is winter in the in the Northern Hemisphere we have summer and so on. But that's in southern Australia.

Up here, we have the Wet Season roughly from December to May, and the Dry Season roughly from June to November.


These are rough estimates and as close as you get, because from year to year the beginning of the Wet and the Dry season may vary.

(Both actually used to start earlier, but lately the Wet has finished as late as in June, and the beginning of the Wet has also been pushed from November to December/January. When we had cyclone Larry in March 2006, a cyclone that late in the season was quite unusual. Now it wouldn't surprise me at all if we had a big cyclone in April.

Within the Wet and the Dry, there are distinctive patterns.

Dry Months

australian climate
The Dry Season
dry season
May - June
The change-over is of course gradual so in the beginning of the Dry season there is still a lot of water around but the big rains do finally stop.

July - August
The Dry season kicks in properly, the weather is cool and sunny, and Cape York gets very busy with visitors. It is the best time of the year to visit climate-wise, but not if you don't like crowds.

September - October
The weather is getting gradually warmer, but is still dry and the crowds are gradually taking off. This is a good time to visit if you want more room for yourself, and can handle higher temperatures.

Wet Months

wet season
Early Wet thunderstorms
tropical storm
Early Wet
tropical rain
Late Wet Season

November - December

The weather is getting hot enough that thunderstorms start building in late afternoons and evenings. You put up with heat and a few showers, but can have the place for yourself, because by November almost all travellers have taken off.

This is the time I like to get around, however you have to watch yourself and get outta here before the real rains come in and you risk to get stuck up here because creek and river waters rise quickly with heavy rains.

January - February
Some time in January, but this can vary - the thunderstorm weather changes to moonsoonal rains. The hot build-up is over, the grey cloud cover moves in with ever-lasting rains.

Temperatures cool down, so no thunderstorms build up anymore. It's just raining, and everything gets very wet. This is the time for floods in Queensland and by now you should be out of Cape York long ago! 
 
March - April
The rains continue, the cyclone-watch wesbites are busy, Cape York travellers are planning.. The opening of the roads has in recent years really happened later and later, and in 2010 and 2011 they opened as late as in June.

Summary of Northern Australian Climate

The Dry Season


So you see the patterns - roads really get dry when the Dry has kicked in properly by June or so. Then the build-up to the wet season starts gradually from September.

It gets hotter and hotter, until in November or so is the Troppo season when everyone goes mad because it's so hot. The heat builds up thunder storms in the afternoons.

   early wet season
    Early thunderstorms start building up in Novemeber in Weipa. It's still sunny, still hot, we're just          getting a few showers.

The first parts of the days are crazily hot, the second part it's thundering and lightening and raining..

It does cool the temperatures down late in days and evenings, and the storms sure are spectacular but it can also be dangerous (read more about thunderstorm safety).

The Wet Season


Then, usually some time in January, it turns - the Wet kicks in properly. This is the most misunderstood season by southern Australians.

They think it is hot here, but it is not (well for us up here anyway, because we are used to the tropical temperatures).

It is only hot until the buildup lasts, the buildup that gets so hot in the end that thunderstorms start getting worse and worse.

But once the real monsoonal cloud cover and big rains roll in some time in January, the weather actually cools down a fair bit.

It is not uncommon that I wear a jumper this time of the year - the weather is cool and the moisture gets in everywhere - your clothes, computers, and all the way through our houses. It's not hot but it sure is wet!

   late wet season
   The Wet Season has kicked in. It's not sunny, not hot, all it is it's WET. Grey skies
  and rain for months
, Cape York roads get boggy, slippery and flooded in places.

It can be a boring season (unless you, like me, just sit in front of the computer and work through it.. ;-) and it lasts for months.

It is also the tropical cyclone (hurricane) season
, and when we get them, the cyclone impact only means even more rain...

All that goes on until about May (the latest - Cyclone Zane - is a good reminder that a late cyclone can hit; however - we do not get flooded in the way south east Queensland does - read more about Cyclone Oswald).






Plan Your Trip... the FREE Cape York Travel Pocket Guide

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Get this 50 pages guide totally for FREE. It contains information that helps you getting started with planning of your trip. You get to make early-stages desicions such as when to go, how long time you should take, how to get there and get around, where to stay (general info), what will it cost.. and a short insight to what is there to see and do in Cape York.


Bring to the Trip... the full Visit Cape York Destination Guide

visit cape york

This complete 300 pages travel guide is all you need before and during your trip. Besides the background chapters on the peninsula's history and wildlife; and the comprehensive detail about all the places (down to prices, opening hours and full contact detail), it has invaluable information on at least 10 four wheel drive tracks, at least 30 guaranteed FREE camping spots on the Cape (and at least 150 on your way to the Cape), at least 40 best swimming holes, all mapped; as well as practical things - from fuel, roads, wireless internet and mobile phone reception, how to deal with the national parks booking rules; and Aboriginal land entrance and camping permits and alcohol restrictions - to vehicle preparation and accessories and necessary recovery gear by my partner Mark who is the recovery guy on northern Cape York and the Old Telegraph Track). Not to mention locals' tips on how to spot that croc and palm cockatoo ;-)



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western cape eco tours

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cooktown river cruises and dinghy hire

west coast hotel cooktown

cape york businesses


A little off the most beaten track, but you can still get some of these into your annual leave length of a trip (you can get most if you have all the details to plan right):

You find them all in the Site Map, along with all the other pages on the site and many more great gems :-)

Old Coach Road

old coach road

Frenchmans Track

frenchmans track

CREB Track

creb track

Falls Track

falls track

Starcke Wakooka Track

starcke wakooka track

Bathurst Head

bathurst head

Running Creek Track

running creek track

Silver Plains

silver plains

Old Coen Track

old coen road

Pennefather

pennefather

Stones Crossing

stones crossing


Skardon River

skardon river

Jardine River Ford

jardine river ford

Ussher Point

ussher point

Sadd Point

sadd point

Mutee Head and Jardine Mouth


mutee head

Escape River and Newcastle Bay 

escape river

Five Beaches Track


beaches loop road

Roko Island Pearl Farm

roko island

Friday Island Pearl Farm

friday island