Several factors come into play in choosing a suitable month for visiting Australia. These could be climate and weather conditions, public holidays, and events and festivals during the month of your visit.
January bursts into Australia with the pyrotechnic displays of New Year's Eve. This is midsummer month and features, among Australia's major events, the Sydney Festival, Australia Day and the Australian Tennis Open. The month is, of course, named after the Roman god Janus who is associated with doorways, beginnings, and transitions, and often depicted with two faces. January thus looks back at the year that was while looking forward to the year that is.
Well, yes, February is probably better known as the month for lovers as St Valentine's Day is celebrated on February 14. In Sydney, the major event is the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras which opens in February and may continue into early March. The Chinese New Year may also open in February, celebrated in Sydney with a Chinese New Year Festival. February is the last month of the Australian summer and temperatures may start to fall as summer days taper into the cooler autumn.
Autumn begins in March in Australia and starts the countdown to winter. Labor Day in Victoria and Western Australia and Eight Hours Day in Tasmania takes place in March, as does St Patrick's Day, Melbourne's Moomba Festival and Canberra Day in the nation's capital. Easter being a movable feast day, Easter Sunday and the Sydney Royal Easter Show may take place in March, or sometimes April. And the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras may hold its parade in early March.
April is mid-autumn, no fooling. Of course, it starts with jokes, practical or otherwise, on April Fool's Day, the first of April. The major Australian public holiday is, of course, Anzac Day on April 25. And if Easter takes place in April, Easter Monday is a public holiday as well. April, too, is the month of the actual birthday of Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia, and the anniversary of Captain James Cook’s landing at Sydney’s Botany Day to eventually claim Australia for England.
And so we come to May, the last month of the Australian autumn. Labor Day in Queensland and May Day in the Northern Territory are marked on the first Monday in May. Two interesting festivals take place in May: the Captain Cook 1770 Festival in that numerically-named Queensland town of 1770 and the Whaleshark Festival (although in some years it may be held in April) in Exmouth, Western Australia. And so as May days come to an end, we welcome winter.
While the northern hemisphere basks in the warmth of summer, it is winter in Australia. Officially, the Australian winter starts on the very first day of June and the ski season, particularly in New South Wales, begins on the state’s Queen’s Birthday holiday weekend. There's snow — and skiing — in the alpine regions of New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania, but if you’re the type who’d rather escape the cold, head north to Australia’s tropical regions.
July, named after the Roman emperor, Julius Caesar, is probably the best month to go skiing in Australia with good snow cover in Thredbo and Perisher Valley in New South Wales, in the high country of Victoria, and in the mountains of Tasmania. In the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, they’re having Christmas in July. But in northern Australia, they're having fun in the water, and in Darwin, at the Top End, they fashion all manner of watercraft from beer cans and sail them in the Beer Can Regatta.
It's the last month of the Australian winter but the ski season, which usually continues until the Labor Day weekend in October, is still at its peak. In the warmer north, Brisbane holds its Ekka, one of Australia’s top three country fairs, in August. Gympie, Queensland, celebrates country music at its National Country Music Muster, while Balingup in Western Australia comes alive with the days and knights of its Medieval Carnivale.
It's spring and the flower festival season begins right on Day 1 with Wattle Day honoring Australia’s national flower. The major and better-known flower festivals include the month-long Kings Park Festival in Perth, Western Australia; Floriade on the banks of Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra; and the Tulip Time Festival in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales. In county Queensland, they have the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers.
Springtime weather begins to sound its siren's call to the beach although it's not quite as warm as when summer finally arrives. But there's not that problem in the north where it's almost always summer, particularly north of the Tropic of Capricorn. As a general guide, average temperatures should be from the low to mid-20°s C in the daytime, and suitable for walks, picnics and day trips. Autumn horse racing starts reaching its peak in the lead-up to the Melbourne Cup.
Australia in November
It's the month of the big race. The Melbourne Cup, popularly known as the race that stops a nation, is run on the first Tuesday in November. It is also the month when the official end of World War I on November 11, 1918, is commemorated in Australia on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month at war shrines throughout the country. Weatherwise, Australia's capital cities, aside from Tasmania's Hobart, should have daytime temperatures above 20° C.
It's Christmas month and the beginning of the Australian summer. The two public holidays in December are Christmas Day and Boxing Day. For school children, it's the Christmas break, and most families plan holiday trips when they can all be together, at this time. A number of commercial and industrial firms also take a traditional holiday break, usually from just before Christmas Day to sometime after the New Year. And, yes, the grueling Sydney Hobart Yacht Race begins on Boxing Day.