Australia in May

Tourists at scenic lookout overlooking Hill Inlet and Whitehaven Beach. Whitsunday Island, Whitsundays, Queensland, Australia
••• Andrew Watson/The Image Bank/Getty Images

On the opposite side of the planet to the rest of the western world, Australia has a different order of seasons to what you may be used to.

While you may be departing your home country in spring, May in Australia is the last month of autumn or fall and takes place just before the winter, which occurs in the middle of the year in Australia. Given that many parts of the country escape the bitter cold of winter and the unbearable dry heat of summer during this season, May is one of the perfect periods in which to travel throughout Australia.

In addition to the agreeable weather that many travelers can usually expect in the late autumn, there are a number of things to do in May that don’t take place in any other month!

May In Australia: Things To Do and Important Dates

In Queensland, the Labor Day public holiday generally takes place on the first of May. In the northern Territory, the holiday is known as May Day and takes place on the same date. Both are intended to celebrate the granting of the eight-hour-working day to the citizens of Australia.

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As this is a public holiday, you may find some services and businesses are closed or offering reduced hours over this long weekend. Flight prices internally may also be a little more expensive or could sell out sooner.

Depending on where you are traveling to in Australia, the month of May offers some unique festivals to check out.

In the town of 1770 in Queensland, the Captain Cook 1770 Festival takes place in May. The festival commemorates the landing of Lt James Cook on May 24 at Bustard Bay. There are many exciting sights and activities, including a re-enactment of the landing, live music, fireworks and a street parade.

In Western Australia, the return of the whale sharks to Ningaloo Reef usually takes place in April or May and is celebrated with the Whaleshark Festival at Exmouth.

The festival features four days of activities, including a seaside cinema, a talent show, a fun run, and market stalls.

Even if there isn’t a festival held in the part of Australia you’re visiting during May, the autumn weather makes it a perfect time for day trips to country locations and activities outdoors that are fun for the kids as well.

Autumn Weather

The huge physical space taken up by Australia guarantees that there are some variations in weather between different parts of the continent at any given time.

For the majority of Australia, the top temperature on an average day in May is 20°C (68°F).

In Northern Queensland, however, temperatures could climb to an average of 27°C (81°F), while in Tasmania, they could drop to below 17°C (63°F).

There is usually a light amount of rainfall in May ­– an average of 50mm – except in Sydney, Cairns, and Perth where there tends to be more.

Despite what we’ve seen of the weather in the past, the Australian climate is susceptible to fluctuations, so while they’re not likely to occur, make sure you plan for surprises.

Overall May is a lovely time to visit Australia as the climate is mild and agreeable, crowds are not as chaotic as peak times and there are no busy school holidays to plan around.

Edited and updated by Sarah Megginson