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In December, January and February, Australia is at its summery best. Plan your summer holiday Down Under with our guide to the best destinations, events and things to do.

Australian Summer

When is Summer in Australia?

Australian Summer is at the same time as the Northern Hemisphere's winter.
Summer in Australia starts in December and lasts until February. In most of the country, this is where you will find the sunniest days and the warmest weather.

Sounds perfect, right?

Is summer the best time for YOU to travel to Australia?
You may be wondering: will it be *too* warm for you? And are there areas you may prefer to visit in a different season? 

The answer will vary from person to person, of course: what's "too hot" for you is probably "just right" for someone else. If you have an ideal temperature range, you can check our guide to temperatures and rainfall throughout Australia to help you decide when and where to travel.

Northern Australia may be too hot for some during summer...
During summer, it's Wet Season in the Tropical Northern parts of Australia (Northern Territory, Far North Queensland and northern Western Australia. This can mean:

  • Hot temperatures
  • Monsoonal rain
  • High humidity
  • Higher cyclone risk

...but the tropical conditions needn't scare you off if you plan carefully
We're not saying you shouldn't travel to these areas during summer - far from it. But be prepared to check the weather frequently and keep your itinerary flexible if possible: that way, if conditions change you can amend your route accordingly.

Let's take a more detailed look at what each month of summer has in store:

Monsoon Cairns

Australia in December: A Summertime Christmas

Escape the winter blues...
If you're travelling to from Europe, the UK or the USA, arriving in Australia in December will feel like heaven: after several months of cold, dark autumn (fall) days, you'll be bathed in December sunshine.

The sun may be harsher than what you're used to, so pack sunscreen and a hat to protect yourself.

...and discover Christmas in the sun.
In the run-up to Christmas, there will be festive decorations everywhere and Christmas markets to explore - if you have never spent Christmas in the sunshine, it's a fascinating experience! 

This goes for New Year's Eve too of course - and it's MUCH more fun watching the fireworks on a warm summer evening than in the rain or snow.

Experience a life lived outdoors...
Since it's early summer, temperatures may not have reached their summer peak yet. This makes December a great time for outdoor adventures. Take advantage of the climate to hike and explore Australia's national parks & landscapes to your heart's content. 

...but be prepared for summer crowds.
December is a great time to travel, but late December is extremely busy. Schools close for the long summer holiday and many families flock to Australia's beaches & outdoor tourist attractions around this time. Book accommodation and flights as early as possible to avoid missing out or paying premium prices.

christmas in australia

Australia in January: Mid-summer Down Under

January is the peak season for holidays in Australia...
...and for good reason: schools are on holiday, so Australian families are taking advantage of the summer sunshine and soaring temperatures.

It's a great time to head south.
The while the south of Australia is the coolest part, it's generally experiencing lovely warm weather in January. It's the ideal time to visit Tasmania, the southwest of Western Australia, Adelaide, Victoria and New South Wales.

You're guaranteed an eventful trip...
Major January events include the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne and the Australia Day public holiday (January 26). Wherever you go, you will find plenty of events to keep your kids entertained, with children's activity programs in full swing for the school holidays.

...but book early if you can
Accommodation prices tend to remain high throughout January, especially around New Year and Australia Day. Book as early as possible.

Australian Summer Festivals

February: what Australia is like in late summer

Summer's coming to an end...
February brings summer (officially) to a close, and you'll find plenty of locals making the most of sunny beach days before autumn (fall) begins in March. 

...but the fun's not over yet.
Australia likes to end summer on a high note, with lots of festivals taking place around this time. One major highlight is the Sydney Mardi Gras, a lavish and colourful celebration of Queer Pride. With thousands of revellers lining the streets for the spectacular pride parade, it's a joyous time to visit.

You might experience more rain in February...
In spite of the high temperatures, February often brings an increase in rain. Pack your umbrella to be on the safe side - it can also help to protect you from the sun's rays if it isn't needed for rain duty!

...but you can beat the summer crowds if you don't mind getting wet.
The tropics will still be in the middle of the Wet Season, so you may wish to avoid these areas if humidity isn't your thing. But these areas will be quieter than the tourist-packed southern states, so don't rule them out if you prefer a peaceful holiday.

Sydney Mardi Gras

Best Australian summer destinations

Are you sold on the idea of an Australian summer vacation? Here are some great places to add to your itinerary:

Southern Great Barrier Reef
The northern end of the Great Barrier Reef is too humid for most travellers at this time of year - not to mention too stormy, and with too much risk of jellyfish stings! Get your reef fix at Great Keppel Island, Lady Elliot Island or Heron Island: you'll be sharing the waters with giant manta rays and cute baby turtles, how cool is that?

Visit Lady Elliot Island as part of our beach-filled 14 Day Sydney to Brisbane Wanderer Itinerary


South Australia Coast
Adelaide, Kangaroo Island, Mt Gambier, and South Australia's outstanding wine regions are all worth adding to your summer road trip itinerary. Beaches are within easy reach, as well as wildlife-filled Kangaroo Island for the nature-lovers in your life.

This 8 Day Melbourne to Adelaide Itinerary showcases some of the most dramatic coastlines in Australia.


Coastal Victoria & New South Wales
Grab your swimwear and hit the road for a road trip along the New South Wales or Victorian coastline this summer. Start from Sydney or Melbourne and see where the mood takes you: you'll be rewarded with quaint fishing towns, deserted beaches, and incredible marine wildlife.

10 Day Sydney to Melbourne Coastal Explorer Self Drive Itinerary


Hobart, Tasmania
Tasmania's capital city, Hobart is a harbour town with heritage charm and a modern lifestyle. Nestled amongst the foothills of Mt Wellington, this lovely city is known for its dynamic art and gourmet food scenes. 

Inspiration: a 12 Day itinerary for Tasmania


Queensland's Gold Coast
Love it or loathe it, the Gold Coast is an Aussie icon. The glitzy Gold Coast boasts long sandy beaches, cool surf spots and theme parks such as Dreamworld, Sea World and Wet’n’Wild. With 21 beaches there's a perfect patch of sand for every traveller, from family-friendly Coolangatta & Currumbin to the dazzling resorts of Surfers Paradise.

Queensland Self-Drive itineraries to kick start your holiday planning


Australian Reef

Australia's Best Summer Events

Christmas Day at Bondi Beach
It doesn't get much more Aussie than a Christmas barbecue at Bondi! Don your Christmas hat, buy some snags (sausages) and find one of the four on-site gas BBQs to cook them on. 100% pure summer. 

New Years Eve in Sydney
Arrive early to snag a prime spot for the lavish fireworks at Sydney Harbour... if you're not a fan of crowds, don't worry: simply head out of the town centre and climb one of Sydney's many hills for an awesome view.

Australian Open tennis in Melbourne
Catch tennis's biggest superstars in action at Melbourne's Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne during the last two weeks of January.

Australia Day Public Holiday
Australia's national day on 26 January commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet of British ships in Botany Bay in 1788. Expect outdoor events, fireworks, and some peaceful protests too: like Thanksgiving in the USA, some see it as a controversial choice of date to celebrate the nation.  

Sydney Mardi Gras
Camp, colourful and utterly fabulous, Sydney's Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras takes over the town at the end of February. Don't miss it.


Final Travel Tips For Australia in Summer

Don't Forget:


  • Southern states will be cooler, while northern areas of Australia will be warmer. 
  • Avoid the Tropical North at this time of year if you'll be uncomfortable with rain, high temperatures and humidity.
  • The Australian sun can be harsh - bring sunscreen, a hat, and a lightweight long-sleeved top or scarf to shield yourself when the sun's at its hottest.
  • Save money by planning your itinerary around school and public holidays and book accommodation well in advance if you can.
  • Even in summer, Australia's climate and temperatures can vary! Click here for month-by-month Australian temperature and rainfall statistics in major locations.


Need help planning your Australian summer dream vacation?

Try our free Itinerary Planning Service today - our expert Travel Specialists will work with you to create the Australian vacation you've always wanted.


More Articles to Help You Create Your Dream Trip To Australia

Australia Trip Planning Guide
Australian weather, temperatures & rainfall
Our informative Australia Travel Blog
Trip Inspiration: Amazing Australian Landscapes
Travelling Safely in Australia

Australian Self Drive Tours
Submitted by
Marianne Davies
: 1 Jul 2019 (Last updated: 19 Feb 2020)

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