January in Australia: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

Dance performance at Martin Place during annual Sydney Festival First Night.
Andrew Watson/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images

January in Australia marks the peak of the country's summer season, which means rising mercury, school holidays, and loads of tourists. The south is the country's most popular destination during the season, especially among beachgoers. No matter where you visit in Australia in January, you'll find world-class sporting events, stunning natural beauty, and plenty of sunshine.

Australia Weather in January

January in Australia is the middle of summer with average temperatures ranging from a high of 97 degrees Fahrenheit (36 degrees Celsius) at Alice Springs to 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Celsius) in Hobart, and lows spanning from 54 degrees Fahrenheit (12 degrees Celsius) in Hobart to 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius) in Darwin. Of course, these are average maximum and minimum temperatures and actual temperatures may exceed the averages at certain times and in different regions.

  • Adelaide, South Australia: 85 F (29 C)/63 F (17 C)
  • Melbourne, Victoria: 79 (26 C)/60 F (16 C)
  • Sydney, New South Wales: 80 F (27 C)/67 F (20 C)
  • Perth, Western Australia: 89 (32 C)/63 F (17 C)
  • Brisbane, Queensland: 85 F (29 C)/70 F (21 C)

Except in Darwin, which may record an average 15 inches of rainfall in January, most city capitals will generally be dry with no more than 2 inches of rainfall.

What to Pack

Summer is Australia is everything you expect: Sunny, hot days and nights that are equally warm. The Australian sun is especially harsh, so combined with temperatures that can once in a while exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit, it's worth packing accordingly. Australia's style is mostly casual and eclectic. Don't feel like you need to pack five-star duds to fit in here. A good start for your packing list will include:

  • T-shirts made from breathable linen or cotton
  • Shorts, especially denim cutoffs
  • Flip-flops
  • Sunglasses
  • Swimsuit and cover-up
  • Maxi-dress or other "dressy" attire
  • A wide-brimmed hat for sun protection
  • Jeans
  • Leather sandals
  • Breezy blouses or button-downs

January Events in Australia

Major Australian events spanning some days in January include the Sydney Festival and the Australian Tennis Open in Melbourne.

  • In Tamworth, New South Wales, Australia's Country Music Festival normally takes place in January.
  • The public holidays celebrated in January are New Year's Day, January 1, and Australia Day, January 26. Australia Day commemorates the 1788 landing at Sydney Cove by Captain Arthur Phillips who founded the first European settlement in Australia in the Sydney area now known as The Rocks. Appropriate ceremonies mark Australia Day throughout Australia. In Sydney, most Australia Day events, such as the Sydney ferry race in Sydney Harbour, are encompassed within the Sydney Festival.
  • The Sydney Festival is a celebration of the arts, particularly the performing arts, and comprises music events; theater, dance and physical theater; visual arts and cinema; and a variety of outdoor events. Performing arts venues may include the Sydney Opera House, Capitol Theatre, Sydney Theatre, Theatre Royal, Riverside Theatres in Parramatta, and Parade Theatre at the University of New South Wales, Kensington.
  • The Australian Open is the first of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments during the year (followed by the French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open). The Australian Open is held at Melbourne Park with center court events at the Rod Laver Arena.

    January Travel Tips

    • Being midsummer, January is very much beach time in Australia. Check out the Sydney and Melbourne beaches. You may want to visit Jervis Bay with its Guinness Book-listed whitest-sand beaches. But be safe on Australian beaches—Be wary of the poisonous box jellyfish, including the deadly Irukandji jellyfish, along the north Queensland coast past Great Keppel Island.
    • School holidays run from Christmas through the end of January, so the whole country is crowded with residents and tourists. Hotels can be book almost a year or more in advance, so plan for the best deals—or expect to pay a premium. Rental cars are also more expensive.
    • In many parts of the country, bugs, like flies and mosquitoes are prevalent. Mosquito repellant is useful.
    • Heat can be excessive throughout much of Australia. Prepare yourself by drinking plenty of water, seeking shade (or air-conditioning) during the hottest parts of the day, and applying plenty of high-factor sunscreen. Additionally, the wet season in the tropics can cause excessive humidity in some places. Tropical cyclones (aka hurricanes) aren't frequent but do occur on occasion.

    To learn more about the best times to plan your trip, check out our month-by-month guide to visiting Australia.