January, February and March are the hottest months of the year in the south of the country, with January, in particular, being when Australians hit the beach due to school holidays. It’s the heart of the wet season in the north — remote roads can be flooded out, but accommodation prices are low and waterfalls in full flow.

Up north, the wet season transitions into the dry during April and May. 4WD tracks to key sites in National Parks reopen, and jellyfish more-or-less disappear from the Great Barrier Reef. Down south, temperatures cool a little, while still being shorts and T-shirt weather most of the time. It’s a good time for bushwalking.

June, July and August are the winter months down south — the ski season kicks in for the Snowy Mountains, and big city temperatures can drop into single figures. Sea temperatures are a couple of months behind the land, though, so you’re good for a swim surprisingly deep into winter. Up north, it’s warm, dry and blue skies.

September and October are essentially springtime in the southern states. Weather is changeable, but warming up, with wildflowers exploding into life — particularly in Western Australia — and native wildlife becoming more active. In the north, the humidity starts to crank up.

The rains return in the north during November and December and tour, hotel and trip prices drop. But it’s prime time in the south, often hot without being unbearably so, and even fussy locals agree the sea is warm enough to swim in again.

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Inner-city man made beach at South Bank Parkland, Brisbane

Events and holidays

The long, hot January days are accompanied by the Australian Open tennis in Melbourne and Australia Day festivities across the country on January 26. Expect plenty of fireworks.

February and March see the world’s second and third largest fringe festivals take over Adelaide and Perth, while the Mardi Gras parade in Sydney becomes a riotous celebration of all things LGBTQI+. Motorsport fans can also take in the Formula One Grand Prix in Melbourne.

April’s main event — the ANZAC Day commemorations on April 25 — is a more sombre, but hugely moving and community-spirited affair. There’s also Tasting Australia — a nationwide food festival.

In May and June, Sydney is illuminated with the Vivid light art festival, and the country’s sporting obsessions are on full display with the rugby league and Aussie Rules football seasons hitting their stride — the Grand Finals are held in October.

That’s also when the famed Bondi to Coogee coastal walk in Sydney, which also becomes a giant open-air sculpture gallery for Sculpture By The Sea.

In early November, Aussies use the Melbourne Cup horse race as an excuse for a boozy party, and revelry throughout December culminates in the New Year’s Eve celebrations. Again, the big cities blow serious budgets on fireworks.

Aus Sydneyfireworks

New Year's Eve fireworks display, Sydney Opera House

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