If you thought the Outback was hot and sunny all year round, think again. Check out our seasonal guide to help you plan your Outback adventure.
The Outback occupies a whopping 70% of mainland Australia. Due to its size, the climate and weather patterns vary throughout the region, ranging from semi-dry tropic in the north to arid and desert the further inland you go.
There are generally only two seasons: hot and wet (summer), and cooler and dry (winter). It's important to note (because many people learn the hard way, i.e., they don't pack warm layers) that winter nights in the Outback can be deceptively cold. We're talking sub-zero temperatures in Alice Springs and other arid/desert zones.
When is the best time to visit the Outback?
The Outback is stunning year-round, but winter (May-October) is considered the best time to visit for good weather. During these months, it's warm to hot during the day and cold at night. The conditions are near-perfect for hiking and exploring, and you won't spend your entire trip wiping sweat from your brow or battling with flies.
Visiting during the summer (November-April)
- Pros: thriving flora, waterfalls and fewer tourists
- Cons: muggy weather, thunderstorms and potential road closures
Outback summers are hot. Like, really hot. Daytime highs linger between 35-40°C (though it's often hotter), while nights are a toasty 25°C. Humidity can also intensify the heat, making it challenging to be outdoors for extended periods. If you don't enjoy the heat, avoid late October/November; it's on the cusp of the wet season with soaring humidity and little to no rain relief.
The amount of rain varies yearly, but it usually comes in the form of afternoon thunderstorms. Creek and river beds fill up, vegetation grows, and waterfalls and waterholes flow again. If you're lucky, you might be one of the lucky few to see temporary waterfalls streaming down Uluru.
If it's a particularly wet year, creeks and gorges can overflow and cause flash flooding and road closures. Another drawback of summer is the millions of flies. They’re super annoying and wearing a head net is the only option to keep them away from your face.
Visiting during the winter (May-October)
- Pros: mild weather and good hiking conditions
- Cons: more tourists and cold nights
Winter is a glorious time of year in the Outback. Unlike the southern reaches of Australia where the winter brings cool, wet weather, the Outback boasts clear skies and abundant sunshine. Daytime temperatures average 18-23°C in Alice Springs, 18-26°C in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and 30-34°C in Katherine. Nights and mornings are cold, particularly in June and July, and it's not uncommon to wake up to frost. Ensure you bring warm layers... you'll need them!
The mild weather is ideal for exploring Uluru or hiking in the Ikara-Flinders Ranges. The trails in Kakadu National Park and Kings Canyon are particularly lush in April and May after the summer rains. Most waterholes that close due to heavy rains also reopen.
Winter is the busiest season in the Outback, especially during the Australian winter school holidays, so booking flights and accommodation in advance is recommended.
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