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Australia: When to Go

Australia's position south of the equator means that when it's winter in the northern hemisphere, Oz is experiencing its summer and vice versa. The Aussie winter lasts from June through August, with summer beginning in November and winding down in February. Unlike the northern hemisphere, the farther south you travel in Australia, the colder it gets. Though extreme temperatures aren't common here, the country has two main climate zones: the Tropical Zone consisting of the Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia, and the Temperate Zone making up the rest of the country.

The best time to travel in Australia depends on where you plan to visit. From June through August, chilly temperatures in the south are contrasted by dry weather in the Tropical Zone ranging between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the high travel season for the area. Prices and crowds reach their zenith as tourists make their way to popular spots like the Outback and the Great Barrier Reef. The Tropical Zone's wet low season is from November through March when heat and flooding can make it difficult to tour attractions. During this time of year, some attractions close and prices are at their lowest.

While the Tropical Zone's humidity peaks November through January, the Temperate Zone offers mild temperatures and long days ideal for sightseeing. Although winter is the low season here and snow does fall in parts of Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales, temperatures rarely dip below freezing during these months. If you plan to travel to the Temperate Zone, when to go might depend on what you'd like to do. You can see the Snowy Mountains during Australia's winter, participate in South Australia's wine harvesting during the fall, watch for whales along the Queensland Coast in the spring, or enjoy hiking, fishing and boating throughout the area during the summer.

The shoulder seasons from September through October and April through May are often considered the best time to travel to Australia value-wise. During these months, prices begin to drop and the weather is warm enough for sunning on the beaches of the south but still cool and dry enough to tour Uluru, Cairns and the Red Center in the north.

Note that a second vacation rush also occurs from Boxing Day through the end of January when Aussies take their summer vacations. Seaside holiday spots are busy and lodging is more expensive during this time.