The best time to book a trip in Australia: When to go

Climate matters. It's not just where you go but when that can make or break a holiday. Book a trip to Australia's tropical north in wet season, or Tasmania in mid-year, and you might find yourself spending a lot of time in your hotel room watching videos. Here's a country-wide wrap with the best time to visit our holiday hot spots.

Far North Queensland

When Everyone Goes

May to November is the dry season, when temperatures and humidity are lower. There's still plenty of heat in the sun even in July and August, the peak of "winter" in the far north, and a great time to experience all the outdoor adventures that the region has to offer. Expect calmer seas as well. Combined with decreased runoff, this is prime time for snorkelling and diving adventures on the Great Barrier Reef. Roads in some areas such as the coast road between Cape Tribulation and Cooktown and Cape York can still be cut by high water well into May.

When to Avoid

Rainfall begins to increase in November, peaking between January and March and tailing off again in April. This wet season is preceded by a period of extreme humidity during October. January to March is the peak of the cyclone season. Marine stingers are most likely to be found at beaches between Townsville and Cape York from October to June, and between Gladstone and Townsville from December to March.

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In April, the country is fresh and green in the aftermath of the wet season and rivers and waterfalls are running strong. May to September is excellent but avoid the mid-year school holidays, when airfares and accommodation prices peak.

Red Centre and Flinders Ranges

When Everyone Goes

April to September is the most popular time, although temperatures vary considerably during this period. Coldest month is July, when days are pleasant and sunny with temperatures around 20 degrees but night temperatures drop to an average of 4 degrees, with overnight lows in June and August only marginally higher.

When to Avoid

November to March is fiercely hot. Average daily temperatures are above  30 degrees, with spikes into the 40s. Apart from the relatively cool hours in the early morning and evening, anything more strenuous than lying in the shade and preferably beside a pool is unwise.

Prime Time

May to September is ideal, but avoid the coldest months between June and August if camping is on the agenda. If rain happens to fall over winter or early spring expect a carpet of colour as wildflowers come to life.

Kakadu and Arnhem Land

When Everyone Goes

Rainfall practically ceases between May and October, the weather is warm, skies are sunny and for those who want to camp and tour the region, the timing is ideal. Coolest temperatures are experienced between mid-June and mid-August, when night temperatures drop below 20 degrees, particularly close to water. As the dry season progresses the waterways shrink, many rivers become a series of pools and birds and crocodiles are concentrated in ever decreasing areas.

When Not to Go

Heaviest rainfalls are recorded between December and the end of March. Many roads will be impassable and water covers a huge area of Kakadu's floodplains. The wet season is preceded by a period of heat and intense humidity generally between mid-October and December, and this is the least favourable time to visit.

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Best Time

April is ideal for anyone who wants to experience the Top End in its green glory. Waterholes should be full, but there is a risk that some areas might still be cut of by floodwaters. September to mid-October are the best months for seeing the spectacular wildlife of the Top End.

Kimberley

When Everyone Goes

The wet season tails off in April but it might take another month for rivers to fall sufficiently before roads through the region become passable. Highway 1, which girdles the Kimberley to the south, is less affected by rainfall. The dry season lasts until late November but the main tourist season finishes at the end of September.

When to Avoid

From September onwards the country becomes increasingly dry, deep bulldust is a common feature on unsealed roads and every vehicle trails a plume of dust. Campsites along the Gibb River Road become parched and dusty. Rainfall is heaviest between January and March, preceded by two months of unpleasantly hot and increasingly sticky weather in the build-up to the wet season. Many tourist facilities in the region are closed between December and April.

Prime Time

Mid-May to mid-August is the sweet spot, and especially the beginning of that period, when the country is still flushed with green from the wet season and waterholes are full.

Sunshine Coast

When Everyone Goes

The region gets into high gear in the drier months between May and December, when it draws many sun–seekers from cooler southern climes.

When to Avoid

The chance of rain is high in the first four months of the year. Hinterland towns such as Maleny receive considerably more rain than the coast.  Temperatures between June and August are mild, with average daily lows falling below 10 degrees in July and August. Although days are typically sunny, you won't feel like taking a dip. The Sunshine Coast is a popular destination for family travels, steer clear of school holidays, when air tickets and accommodation prices rise. This is also a favourite for schoolies week in November.

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September to November are perfect for anyone looking for balmy warmth. The region is well supplied with upmarket accommodation and outside school holidays, you should be able to track down a bargain.

Alpine Victoria/NSW

When Everyone Goes

Peak months for snow sports are July and August, and possibly into September. For alpine hiking, horse riding and other warmer weather adventures, November to March is ideal. Temperatures in the region vary hugely with altitude. In Thredbo Village in February, average daily maximum and minimum temperatures are 21 degrees and 7 degrees respectively. Maximum and minimum for the same month in Bright, 1060 metres lower, are 29 degrees and 11.4 degrees.

When to Avoid

May- June and generally between mid-September and October are shoulder seasons at higher altitudes, too warm for reliable snow and too cool for summer fun.

Prime Time

July and August are the coldest months, and two of the wettest, and therefore a safe bet for snow sports. If it's alpine walks or camping, head for the heights between November and March. In the first two months of this season, spring unfurls a carpet of wildflowers across the high meadows, while March brings a flush of autumn colour to alpine towns.

North Coast NSW

When Everyone Goes

October  to April are popular, with most of the crowds arriving during school holidays.

When to Avoid

Between May and September the temperature drops to the low 20s.  The towns and beaches are much quieter during this period yet some visitors prefer to come here for this very reason, and there are usually plenty of accommodation bargains around. Highest rainfall is recorded between January and May, when you can expect rain on one day out of three.

Prime Time

Mid-October to early December is ideal, but beware of schoolies mayhem in November. Late March to mid-May is another sweet spot, with warm seas and fewer visitors.

South Coast Victoria and South Australia

When Everyone Goes

Summers here are brief and mild, with average daily maximum temperatures rising above 20 degrees only between December and March. These are also relatively dry months. Sea temperatures peak in February and March.

When to Avoid

Winter bares its fangs in June and although proximity to the sea prevents the temperature from dropping to extreme lows, a wind off the sea adds a bite. May to October are generally not good months to be outdoors here, and this is also the wettest period.

Prime Time

February and March, after the summer crowds have departed, are the pick of seasons along this coastline.

Tasmania

When Everyone Goes

The island gets most of its mainland visitors between December and March, when the mercury creeps to an average daily maximum of just over 20 degrees.

When to Avoid

The island's roads are at their busiest in December and January, and accommodation prices and airfares peak. June to October is chilly and days are relatively short at these southern latitudes. While the climate of coastal Tasmania is modified by the sea, inland regions experience cooler temperatures in mid winter.

Prime Time

February and March are perfect for outdoor activities such as hiking and kayaking, typified by mild, sunny days and crisp nights. This is also a relatively quieter time, with most of the summer visitors departing by the end of January. For self-drive touring, April, November and December are fine.

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