Best Time to Visit Australia: Why It Isn’t Summer
I’m just going to come right out and say it. I hate summer in Australia.
Often, I feel like mine isn’t the popular opinion. Many Australians spend the entire year lamenting the fact that it isn’t summer yet. This endless complaining tends to start on roughly the 1st of March and carry right onto around mid-November. That’s commitment for you and then some.
But beach! Sunshine! BBQs! Christmas! Friendship! Festivals! Isn’t an Australian summer the best?
As an Aussie myself, my immediate answer would be a loud, emphatic “NO!” There are many reasons why an Australian summer is generally the worst time to live in, or visit Australia.
Before your start gathering your pitchforks and lighting your torches – hear me out. I believe there are many reasons why Oz is a much nicer country to be in pretty much any other time of the year.
Here are some of them.
It’s generally hotter than Hades outside (and often, inside too)
Depending on where you are, (because it is a damn big country) Australia can have a fairly pleasant climate throughout the rest of the year.
The northern states like Queensland and the Northern Territory have winter temperatures that are warmer than what is considered to be “summer” in some parts of the world (England, I’m looking at you) – yet their summer temperatures, combined with the extreme humidity that the region experiences, can and will make you weep.
Even the mid-level cities like Sydney and Perth can get unbearably hot in the summer, a phenomenon that is worsening as climate change increases temperatures across the world.
Last summer in NSW, the thermometer was inching above forty degrees celsius (that’s above 100°F, folks) every few days. My grand plan of “days at the beach!” turned into “days spent slumped in front of the air conditioner at home” – it was so hot and humid that moving was rendered really difficult.
Not to mention that utilities in Australia are frightfully expensive, so you’re lucky if you can afford to run the air conditioning. For many of us, the options are limited to an $11 fan from Target or Bunnings, coupled with an ice pack at night. Fun times.
Here are some reasons why you should visit Australia any time other than the summer. Click To Tweet
Related: The Downsides to Living in Australia
…And the weather can be quite erratic
What do you picture, when you think of summer days in Australia? Perfect weather? Cloudless blue skies followed by those beautifully barmy summer nights? Yes, sometimes this is the case. But not always, my friend.
I am writing this on what is technically day three of summer, if you go by the calendar year on these things which is generally a mistake. This has been the weather pattern for the last hour – rain for five minutes. Stop. Sun pokes out for five minutes. Stop. Rain for five minutes… etc. Make up your bloody mind, weather!
Last week it was in the mid thirties for several days in a row (nineties Fahrenheit so we’re all of an understanding) in the city of Melbourne, a place which can’t seem to deal with extreme heat. It then dropped down to 13°C (55°F) while we were hit by torrential rain, in a city that also can’t really deal with flooding.
That has been the weather for the last three weeks. Unbearable heat, followed by wet weather and storms. The constant rises and drops in temperature means that there are sinus infections for all!
Many Australian hotspots (no pun intended) are terrible to visit in the summertime
You will be seriously limited by what you can see during the summer months in Australia, with many tourist destinations being simply far too hot to navigate.
Want to visit the Outback, far north Queensland or Darwin? Save it for the winter months, when the temperatures are pleasant and the entire region isn’t undated with flies.
There are bugs EVERYWHERE
Speaking of flies, summer is the season when ALL THE BUGS start crawling out of the woodwork, in the most literal sense.
The advent of the Australian Christmas beetle is usually a sign that the silly season is upon us, but they are usually the only bug that is welcomed with any kind of enthusiasm.
Expect to see an increase in spiders, cockroaches (keep your dirty dishes lying in the sink overnight at your own peril) and worst of all… it’s when the flies return.
Out of mind, out of sight, but when they reappear after the winter, you’ll recall that they are the most annoying creature to ever be birthed into existence.
Summer fashion is the worst
Personally, I love clothes and fashion in general, but often hit a wall in the summer months. Winter is all about the layering and I appreciate this fact, but in the summer your options are – skirts, dresses, shorts… or bust. (And remember that swimwear worn anywhere other than the pool or beach, defaults to underwear).
You always have to spend the first few weeks re-breaking your feet into your sandals or thongs (flip flops) as well, which can be a most upsetting affair. When I look behind me whilst doing downward dog at my local yoga studio, I see a sea of feet, covered with bandaids.
Plus summer always tends to feature the most unforgivable fashion faux-pas. Like the pockets-hanging-out-of-shorts trend of a few years ago. Or shorts-hiked-so-high-they-become-denim-underwear. Or shirt-becomes-optional-for-dudes-with-tattoos-and-beer-guts (it’s sadly never the fellas that you wouldn’t quite mind seeing with their shirts off, funnily enough).
Not to forget the current wave of dressing like it’s 1997. And remember when the bucket hat was made fashionable in the early-2000s? I have spent fifteen years trying to erase this period of time from my memory.
Chafing becomes a daily occurrence
That being said, I do love a flirty skirt or brightly-coloured summer dress – but I do not enjoy the thigh-rubbing-upon-thigh action that comes along with it.
Unless you have legs like a giraffe, chafing in the summertime is unavoidable. I know under every skirt I wear are my bike shorts, or at the very least, Chamois Butt’r lubricant. Never leave home without it.
You’ll sweat puddles, which can be upsetting if you’re not used to it
Us Aussies are generally really sweaty people – and apparently your childhood has an impact on that. Sweat is after all, your body’s way of attempting to cool itself down, so it makes sense that people in warmer climates will have more active glands than those who have grown up elsewhere.
So at least when we complain about the fact that puddles of sweat are pooling at our feet, we know our bodies are coping with the heat the best way they can. If you’re not used to extreme temperatures, it can be far more upsetting, as your body may find itself in a flutter, unsure of what it should do.
EVERYONE is on holiday, so there are people everywhere
Summertime is holiday time! Folks across Australia start knocking off work and school from around early-November onwards, with the school holidays officially in swing just before Christmas.
This means that there will be at least six weeks where there are people absolutely everywhere (particularly clogging up the freeways as they drive northward for their annual camping holidays). I’ve often requested to work over the Christmas break just to avoid this phenomenon. Je ne regrette rien.
Local pools and beaches become overcrowded
If the weather is warm and all these people are off work, where are they going to go? Why, straight to their local beach or pool, of course!
Even in Sydney, visiting a beach on a weekday during any other time of the year means you might get a bit of space to yourself. For comparison’s sake, this is what Bondi Beach looks like on New Year’s Day. Just looking at that photo makes me feel like hyperventilating.
Thank goodness we have 10,000 beaches, so if you head elsewhere you might get lucky… but is it truly worth the five hour drive? Probably not.
…Along with cinemas, restaurants, shops and all the places
And if people aren’t at the beach, they’ll most certainly be wherever the free air conditioning is! Pretty much everywhere else will be packed to the rafters – the shops, the cinema, places to eat, bowling alleys. You name it, there’ll be a stack of folk and most certainly children screaming their way around there.
Don’t try to go see a movie on Boxing Day without booking a ticket in advance. You have been warned.
Accommodation prices go through the roof
As this is the time of year most people are traditionally on holiday, you’ll be paying out the nose for accommodation in what is already a pretty damn expensive country to visit.
Particularly around New Year’s Eve in Sydney, as it is one of the premiere destinations for the event in the world. I remember a friend telling me last year she’d had to pay $400 AUD to rent a room in Parramatta, a suburb of Sydney that is a forty minute journey to the centre of the city.
Can you imagine how much the accommodation in the CBD (Central Business District) is during this event? I don’t want to even think about it. It’s probably roughly the same price as selling your kidney on the black market.
You will probably get the worst sunburn of your life
If you’re coming to Australia in the summer, please look after your skin. Wear a hat (and sunglasses too) and sunscreen – we have one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world.
A tip for sunscreen wearers – make sure it is free of toxins like octinoxate and octocrylene, as they have a detrimental effect upon the coral of the world’s oceans. Goodness knows the Great Barrier Reef needs all the help it can get.
Fire ban season is in full swing
Growing up, I was always very jealous of teenagers in American television shows who would follow on from a long summer day spent at the beach, gathering around a sand-based campfire with first marshmallows and then beer.
It’s just not a thing here – it can’t be. As soon as the weather gets hot, a total country-wide fireban is put into place.
Hot dry conditions, coupled with wind can lead to complete and utter disaster, where bushfires become a real and frightening threat, responsible for the loss of homes and life – both human and that of local fauna, every summer.
It’s not helped by the fact that our native and very prolific eucalyptus trees are highly flammable.
So, no late night campfire gatherings for Australian teenagers in the summertime. Better to be safe, than burnt out.
It’s too hot to even go road tripping
I tell everyone who makes plans to come to Australia that they have to do a road trip. Our public transport sucks and it’s the best way to see the country by far… plus it’s worth getting out of the cities, to check out what regional Australia has on offer (short answer – a lot).
But if you’re planning on doing one in the summertime… well, ensure your car has good air-conditioning. Take this from someone whose first ride had a barely working fan. The suffering was real.
You HAVE to wear shoes which is basically un-Australian
Australians have a thing against shoes, which is probably why a slip of rubber is considered our national footwear. This seems utterly ridiculous in a country where pretty much everything is trying to kill you, but that’s just the way it is.
Less fun is trying to walk barefoot across burning hot asphalt or sand… It’s just not advisable.
So in summary, avoid Australia in the summertime! Visit ANY other time of the year (you roughly have 3-5 months to work with here, so it’s doable!).
If you are heading to Australia, here are some of the best places to travel to.
Any commiserations you’d like to share about the Australian summertime?
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