Weather in Australia in January

Is January a good time to visit Australia?

It is mid-summer in Australia in January – the height of the local tourist season and time to hit the beaches on the coasts of Victoria and New South Wales. Prices are as high as the temperature in Sydney and Melbourne with a host of major events taking place, kicking off with the world famous Sydney harbour New Year fireworks display. While it’s a great time to be on holiday on the Australian south-east coast (if you don’t mind the high season crowds), January in Queensland and Northern Australia’s tropical region is sweltering hot, humid and usually deluged with monsoon rains and cyclones.  The north coast is also infested with poisonous box jelly-fish at this time. Western Australia and the desert interior is intensely hot and dry.


Climate in Australia in January

Its high summer throughout the vast continent of Australia in January so temperatures are high – how high depends on where you are. Alice Springs, near the “Red Centre” in the north, for example, averages around 36°C (97°F) while Hobart, way down south in Tasmania, offers a comfortable average of 22°C (72°F). Everywhere else in Australia hovers somewhere inbetween – and very often far hotter in actual terms – than these two extremes. 

The northern tropical areas of Australia, from Darwin eastwards to northern Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef, experience extremely heavy monsoon rains during January. The average rainfall for Cairns in January, for example, is 395mm. The area is also under threat of cyclones, severe thunderstorms and flooding at this time of year. By contrast, Perth, in the far south-west, has a Mediterranean climate and summers are bright, scorching hot and very dry. The best weather in Australia in January is to be found in the south-east region of the country, which enjoys a temperate Oceanic climate.

The beaches of Sydney and Melbourne beckon under blue skies, with moderate average highs of around 26°C (80°F). Rainfall in Sydney and Melbourne is consistent throughout the year, so there is the threat of the odd wet day, but the average for the month for both cities is just 76mm, so not enough to dampen the holiday spirit.


What’s on in Australia in January

One of Australia’s top sporting events – the Australian Tennis Open in Melbourne – takes place in January, and Sydney hosts its vibrant arts Festival, centred on the Opera House and major theatres. The Australia Day public holiday on 26th January commemorates the founding of the first European settlement near present-day Sydney in 1788, and is celebrated throughout the country with various events and ceremonies.


What to pack for a holiday in Australia in January         

Light, bright summer togs are all that is required for a trip to Australia in January. Shorts, t-shirts, a bathing suit, sundresses, sarongs and sandals will see you through, with perhaps some cool smart-casual wear for evenings and festival events. If heading for Darwin or northern Queensland an umbrella or waterproof poncho is vital. Don’t forget the sunglasses, sun-block and sun-hat – the UV rays are fierce down under!