Australia in August

It's the Height of the Ski Season

Skiing at Perisher Valley. Photo by Shannon Pawsey, Perisher, courtesy Tourism NSW
Skiing at Perisher Valley. Photo by Shannon Pawsey, Perisher, courtesy Tourism NSW. View larger picture

August in Australia is the last month of the southern winter but in the New South Wales Snowy Mountains and the Victorian Alps, you'd hardly know spring is just around the corner.

Traditionally, the Australian ski season ends on the Labor Day long weekend in early October, which is in the southern spring but the ski resorts wind down activities earlier or later depending on the snow conditions.

Where to Ski

In New South Wales, the destination of choice is the Snowy Mountains, about four hours out of Canberra. Take the Monaro Highway south to Cooma, then head west for the climb up the Snowy Mountins.

If your destination is Thredbo or Perisher Valley, follow the signs, past the town of Berridale, to Jindabyne. You may wish to stay in Jindabyne and take the Skitube for when you go skiing in the snowfields, just about half an hour away.

Jindabyne, with its large number of hotels and lodges, is a more economical place to stay, but if you prefer to ski in and ski out of your ski lodge, or at least simply walk to the snow, you'd need to book accommodation in the resorts themselves.

The group of resorts in this area include those in Thredbo, Perisher, Charlotte Pass, Guthega and Smiggin Holes.

Away from this group, and reached through the Snowy Mountains Highway between the outskirts of Cooma and the town of Tumut is Selwyn Snowfields which plays up its family-friendly features. Selwyn may have a shorter ski season and close before the Labor Day weekend.

The ski slopes in Victoria are less clustered than those in the Snowy Mountains, so you'd need to know more specifically where you want to go and how to get there.

You'd know where you want to go either by word of mouth or through information on the resort websites or from Victorian visitor centres.

Tasmania would have fewer, but less crowded, skifields.

How's the Weather?

At Australia's Top End, particularly in the major cities — Darwin in the Northern Territory and Cairns in Queensland — the average top temperature would be around 30°C (86°F). You wouldn't know it's winter.

The weather gets progressively colder as you go further south with Sydney getting a top average around 17°C (62.6°F), Melbourne 15°C (59°F) and Hobart 13°C (55°F). It's generally cooler inland, with Canberra having an average top temperature of 13°C (55°F), and certainly much colder in the mountains.

These temperature figures are more a guide than what you'd actually experience at the time, as extreme variations can and do occur.

Public Holidays

There are no national public holidays in August.

In New South Wales, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory, there is an official Bank Holiday (for bank workers) in early August and some banks may close or have limited service on the day. Bank Holiday in Victoria and Tasmania is in April.

In Brisbane, the Royal Queensland Show known as the Ekka takes place in August and Ekka Day in Brisbane is a public holiday in the city. Various other places in Queensland may have local public holidays during the holding of the Ekka.

Country Festivals

August is the month for a variety of country festivals. The National Country Music Muster, a celebration of country music, takes place in Gympie, Queensland; and the Balingup Medieval Carnival, in which residents and participants dress up in medieval costume in a medieval fair setting, takes place in Balingup, Western Australia.

In Yackandandah, Victoria, Spring Migration, said to be the only gay and lesbian festival in country Victoria, takes place at the end of August when winter turns to spring.