The northern third of Australia lies in the tropics and so is warm or hot
the year around. The rest of the country lies south of the tropics and has
warm summers and mild or cool winters.
In winter, many parts of the south have occasional frosts. But the
Australian Alps and the interior of Tasmania are the only areas of the
country where temperatures remain below freezing for more than a day or so
at a time.
Australia receives most of its moisture as rain. Snow falls only in
Tasmania and the Australian Alps. About a third of the country is desert
and receives less than 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain a year. The
deserts are too barren even for the grazing of livestock. Much of the rest
of Australia has less than 20 inches (51 centimeters) of rainfall
annually. Few crops can be grown in these regions without irrigation. The
heaviest rainfall occurs along the north, east, southeast, and extreme
The east coast of Queensland is the wettest part of the continent. Some
places along this coast receive as much as 150 inches (381 centimeters) of
rain a year. Parts of the southeast coast and of Tasmania are the only
areas of the continent that receive uniform amounts of rainfall the year
around. Rainfall is seasonal throughout the rest of Australia.
Australia lies south of the equator, and so its seasons are opposite those
in the Northern Hemisphere. The southern part of the continent has four
distinct seasons. Winter, the wettest and coolest season in Australia,
lasts from June through August. Summer, which is the hottest and driest
season, lasts from December through February.
Tropical northern Australia has only two seasons--a wet season and a dry
one. The wet season corresponds with summer and lasts from November
through April. The dry season corresponds with winter and lasts from May
The wet season brings heavy downpours and violent storms, especially on
Australia's north coast. In 1974, for example, a cyclone almost leveled
the northern coastal city of Darwin. Floods plague many parts of Australia
during the wet season. However, droughts are usually a far more serious
problem. Nearly every section of Australia has a drought during the
country's annual dry season.
Water conservation measures prevent these droughts from doing serious harm
in most cases. However, Australia also has periods when little or no rain
falls even during the wet season. These droughts can cause severe water
To the Yanyuwa people rolling coastal clouds indicate that flying
foxes and certain bird species are about to start their seasonal
To the Wardaman people the appearance of march-flies in September or
October indicate the end of the dry season.
To the Walabunnba people when the mirrlarr (rain bird) calls out, it
indicates that there will be a lot of rain.
During the Djilba season in Nyoongar country, the flowers of the
balgas (grass trees) emerge in preparation for the coming Kambarang
The flowering of the boo'kerrikin (Acacia decurrens) is an
indication for the D'harawal people, an end to the cold, windy
weather, and the beginning of the gentle spring rains
among the Rainforest People in far north Queensland there are
four seasons with various names:
The Wet Season - January - February - March - when the green
cicada sings it is time to move from the coast to the uplands
rainforest to collect bush turkey eggs and harvest rainforest nuts
The Cool Season - April - May - June
The Dry Season - July - August - September
The Stormy Season - October - November - December
To the people of D'harawal country during Marrai'gang, when the
cries of the Marrai'gang (quoll) seeking his mate can be heard, is the
time when the lilly-pilly fruit begins to ripen on trees. However,
when the lilly-pillys start to fall, it is time to mend the old warm
cloaks from the last cold season, or make new ones, and begin the
yearly trek to the coastal areas.
A comparison of various Aboriginal seasons
from around Australia with the Western four season calendar: