When is the best time to visit Queensland?

Are you thinking of exploring Queensland? Do you know when the seasons are or when to come? Then come and discover the climate & best time to tour the state!

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On this page:
Tropical Queensland (wet season, dry season, conclusion)
Temporal Queensland (yearly average temps., conclusion)

Map of where Cairns, Mackay and Rockhamption is in Quuensland

It can be a little hard to plan when to visit Queensland because it has 5 different climate zones! But these can be broken down into 2 main areas.

The top two thirds of the state is classified tropical, which typically have hot monsoonal wet and dry seasons.

The southern third of the state is typically as humid tropical, which classified has a cool and a hot season.

Northern tropical Queensland (Mackay and above)

It has 2 seasons, the wet season (summer) which runs from November - April, and the dry season (winter) which runs from May - October.

Wet Season: November - April

A girl swimming in the rain at Fraser Island, Queensland
Even when it rains you will want to swim!

During this time it is typically very hot and humid. In Cairns temperatures are often above 31°C and humidity levels around 75%.


However, once you factor in humidity levels, the real temperature often exceeds 35°C. Night time temperatures average around 21 - 22°C. The temperature of the water is around the 29°C mark.

It should be noted that during the wet season you can expect torrential rains, tropical thunderstorms and it is not unusual for one part of the coast to be hit by a cyclone each wet season. Floods are also a very real possibility.

This means that many parts of northern Queensland become inaccessible if the roads are not made from bitumen. Dirt roads become mud, and some roads become unsafe even for experienced 4WD drivers. So don't expect to go where ever you want during the wet season. Flooding can also turn bitumen road into no-go areas.

You also cannot swim on beaches, unless they are netted, because of potentially deadly Stingers (a term given to all jelly fish that have a sting to them). There are potentially fatal box jellyfish (Chironex fleckerii) and the Irukandji jellyfish. If that's not enough risk for you, there is also the deadly salt water crocodile to contend with.

A python snake in Australia
Animals of Australia: The Python

In and around populated areas, such as Cairns, there are netted beaches, which are typically manned by lifeguards. During the wet season you should always ask some locals if it is safe to swim on a beach.

It should be noted that both jellyfish and crocodiles inhabit coastal areas, meaning you can swim, snorkel, and scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef all year round with a minimum of risk. Don't believe us? Then keep in mind hundreds of thousands of people do all year round without a problem!

One of the advantages of visiting during the wet season is that the number of tourists is much lower than during the dry season.

Dry Season: May - October

In Cairns, this season typically experiences daytime temperatures between 26 - 28°C, with night-time temperatures dropping to 16-17°C. Humidity levels are low, resulting in gorgeous sunny days that are not uncomfortable. Water temperatures are around the 25°C mark.

Animals of Australia: The Cassowary
Animal of Australia: The Cassowary.
A prehistoric bird of far north Queensland.

It rarely rains, so the risk of flooding or roads becoming impassable is a very minor risk. This means you can explore inland and remote areas as much as you want.

There is also very minimal risk of either jellyfish (stingers) or crocodiles, so you fill find people swimming at most beaches during the dry season.

Sounds perfect? Well, in terms of both temperatures, sunshine, and the safety of the beaches, it is. The only downside to this is that this gorgeous combination of factors results in a huge influx of both backpackers and visitors - make sure you book your accommodation in advance, they often book out early! The streets, shops, pubs/clubs, tours, beaches and roads will be packed full of holiday makers!

Conclusion

  • - You can visit all year long.
  • - If you like things quieter, and don't mind hot temperatures and high humidity levels, but are prepared to risk thunderstorms, or a potential cyclone, visit during the wet season (November - April).
  • - If you cannot stand high humidity levels but don't mind crowds and want to freedom to explore and swim where ever you want, then definitely come during the dry season (May - October).


Southern humid-tropical Queensland (south of Mackay)

Rockhampton, which is about 650 kms north of Brisbane, will give you a good indication of the weather in the parts of Queensland that are not considered tropical. Please follow the link if you are interested in knowing more about when to visit Brisbane. Here are the average temperatures of Rockhampton.

 
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sept
Oct
Nov
Dec

Avg. Max Temp:
32
31
31
29
26
24
23
25
27
30
31
31

Avg. Min Temp:
22
22
21
18
14
11
10
11
14
17
20
21

Avg. Rain (mm):
126
144
99
43
47
38
29
29
24
50
69
109


These are the average yearly temperatures from 1939 - 2012 and are sourced from www.weatherzone.com.au.
For more details please visit  www.weatherzone.com.au (Rockhampton)



Hottest 3 months:
December, January, February
Coldest 3 months:
June, July, August
Wettest 3 months:
December, January, February
Hottest ever:
45.3°C in November (1990).
Coldest ever:
-1.0°C in June (1949).

You can see that the hottest months are October - March, all averaging over 30°C, but they are also the wettest. That said, the rains won't make you cold, if the average temperature is around the 30-31°C mark, it can be very nice to be outside in shorts and flip flops splashing through puddles!

Water temperatures are generally good for swimming all year long, although they will be hotter in October - March. Generally, dangerous jellyfish are not normally found in waters around Rockhampton and southwards, but it is still a good idea to check with locals first as they can sometimes be found depending on the season, ocean currents, and due to other factors.

Conclusion

  • - You can visit all year long.
  • - But if you like it hot and sunny, I recommend coming during October - March.


Note: Queensland is a massive place. While this page gives a quick guide as to what to expect, and when I recommend you should visit certain parts of the state, it is always a very good idea to check the local weather forecast before heading somewhere new. Australia is a land of extremes with anything ranging from bushfires to flooding, or even the odd cyclone. While the chances of these are minimal, it pays to be safe!

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