Australia’s seasons are opposite to North America’s, something most globetrotters are well-aware of. But for most North Americans, the idea of travelling to Australia during ‘our’ summer would be a waste of precious sunshine, but it is in fact the best time to visit certain parts of Australia which would otherwise be unbearably hot.
During May to September, Australia has sunny, dry weather in the north part of the country, making it an ideal time to vacation there. The country’s Top End is tropical and covered in jungle – and while extremely hot in other parts of the year, is suddenly accessible and downright heavenly. As most international travellers are unaware of this, fewer visit during this time of year, so crowds are less common. This, combined with sunny skies and warm coastal waters, make it a perfect time for a journey to the land down under.
From the indigenous Aboriginal culture… to the otherworldly landscapes of the Outback… to the sparkling beauty of the tropical Ningaloo Reef on the west coast, Australia has a lot to offer, which is best explored between May and September.
Here are our top 5 suggestions for making the most of your summer holiday in Australia:
Jumping Crocs, Tropical Jungle, and the Top End
The colourful and exotic city of Darwin makes a great place to base yourself to explore the wonders of the country’s “Top End”. Some travellers pair this with an excursion in Singapore, a great air gateway to this part of Australia. With a fascinating WWII history, Darwin easily deserves 2 days, but most travellers come here to explore the surrounding area. Must-see experiences nearby this tropical city include taking a dip in one of the 13 canyons in Katherine Gorge, part of the larger Kakadu National Park. Watch enormous salt-water crocodiles leap out of the water before your eyes on a family-friendly Jumping Crocodile cruise. Darwin has a phenomenal open-air night market known for a variety of great food, and is the perfect spot to watch an incredible sunset. Get a taste of Australian pioneer life at Litchfield National Park and enjoy a freshly cooked lunch of wild-caught barramundi, crocodile and kangaroo!
The Bungle Bungles
Located in Purnululu National Park in Western Australia, the Bungle Bungle Range features striking, black-and-orange-stripe mounds bubbling up from the landscape. A fascinating UNESCO World Heritage site, the “Bungle Bungles” existed for millions of years, but were “discovered” and named by modern Australians only in 1983. Found in an extremely remote part of Australia, it was only known to the local farmers and the Aboriginal people before them. The Bungle Bungle Range is a fascinating UNESCO World Heritage site, featuring some of the most dramatic and remote landscapes in Australia. By 4WD vehicle or helicopter, explore the beehive-shaped domes, hidden pools, slender palm trees, and deep gorges of Purnululu National Park, all offering some of the most dramatic landscapes in Australia.
Swim With Whale Sharks
Get the ultimate bucket list experience as you swim in sparkling tropical waters alongside the largest fish in the sea. Gentle whale sharks arrive to feed in Ningaloo Reef between April and July, making the North American summer an ideal time to dive or snorkel here.
Ningaloo Reef is located about halfway between Broome and Perth in Western Australia, a rugged region where the Outback meets the ocean. The tiny town of Broome has a fascinating history tied to the pearl trade. It’s now very famous for its beautiful Cable Beach, and jaw-dropping sunsets over the Indian Ocean, where you’re also guaranteed to see a few camels! Broome is a great jumping off point to exploring the wild lands of the Kimberleys, and the Bungle Bungles beyond.
Iconic Uluru & Alice Springs plus Camels…and More Camels!
No trip to Australia is complete without a journey to its remote Red Centre. Majestic Uluru is at its finest between May and September, when the oppressive heat lifts to reveal wild, magical desert landscapes. The iconic sandstone rock formerly known as Ayers Rock is steeped in Australian indigenous culture and spirituality. Prepare to be awe-struck as you take in a magical sunrise or sunset here, as the rock changes colour dramatically throughout the day.
Now a quirky gateway to the Outback, the remote town of Alice Springs was once a ramshackle collection of buildings on dusty streets…and it still is! Located in the middle of Australia along the railroad between Adelaide and Darwin, Alice Springs has a fascinating collection of Aboriginal art galleries and ancient sites.
Did you know that Australia has the largest, healthiest wild camel population in the world? From sunrise or sunset, these magnificent creatures roam the outback in herds. Climb aboard a tamed beast and arrive at the award-winning Sounds of Silence Dinner experience. As you watch the colours change again and again as the sun goes down, a captivating astronomer will walk you through the bright constellations shining above.
Cairns, the Great Barrier Reef and Tropical North Queensland
Cairns is the gateway for many travellers to Australia seeking the incredible Great Barrier Reef. While the reef itself is great all year round, tropical North Queensland is a hot and humid place, but comfortable from May to September. To head inland, the Atherton Tablelands are very impressive, as is a journey by Kuranda Scenic Railway to Kuranda. Cairns (pronounced ‘cannes’) is a country-inspired city on the ocean, but for those looking for something quieter, one hour north is a lovely small town called Port Douglas, with a top beach, and an alternative port to join ships to check out the Reef. Port Douglas has great short-term apartment rentals, perfect for travelling families. North from here are the jungles of Cape Tribulation and Cooktown, where Europeans first made landfall in Australia – historical and remote. A 5 day cruise on the Coral Princess will take you from Cairns to Cooktown.
For any traveller having second thoughts on travelling to Australia during the North American summer months, remember, this is the most ideal time to explore the Northern parts of Australia, avoid crowds, and have some incredible experiences… all the makings for a perfect summer vacation!
For more information on visiting Australia, click here or call 1.800.557.2841.