Lesson

Australian Climate & Weather


Australia is in the southern hemisphere, obviously. And so, the seasons in Australia are actually the opposite of the seasons in Europe and North America. So, when you guys… ‘you guys’, anyone who is in the northern hemisphere, when you guys in the northern hemisphere have summer, it’s winter in Australia, in the southern hemisphere. And when you have winter, it’s summer down here. Okay?

There are two main climatic zones in Australia. These are the Tropical Zone, which is north of the Tropic of Capricorn. So, it’s pretty much the top half of Australia. And then, we have the Temperate Zone, which is in the south of Australia, in the southern area of Australia, south of the Tropic of Capricorn.

So, the Tropical Zone covers a little less than the Temperate Zone, about 40% of Australia, and it has two seasons primarily, summer and winter. And summer is the wet season when there is a lot of rain in the north of Australia, and winter is the dry season when there isn’t very much rain in.

The Temperate Zone on the other hand has four seasons. Spring to summer, which is from October to March. These are the warmer and hotter seasons usually everywhere in Australia. Tropical in the north and warm to hot with mild nights in the south. This is the classic tourist season for the Northern Hemisphere visitors to Australia as well, because they want to escape winter and winter temperatures. So, they tend to come to Australia to get salt-soaked and it get sunburnt.

The highest maximum temperature ever recorded in Australia was 50.7 degrees Celsius, and this was at Oodnadatta, which is a town in South Australia, and it was on the second of January in 1960. So, almost 60 years ago, quite a while.

And a little anecdote here, I remember in 2009 we had a really, really severe heat wave in Victoria and there were some places in Victoria that had 12 consecutive days of temperatures above 43 degrees Celsius, and the maximum temperature was 48.8 degrees Celsius. Unfortunately, almost 400 people died, 374 people died, and 2,000 people were treated for heat-related effects. That was a really intense heat wave. I remember, I just couldn’t escape all these days in a row above 40 degrees.

Now, autumn to winter is between April to September in Australia, and these are the cooler months in Australia. In the northern and central parts of Australia, you’re going to have warm days and cool nights, but in the southern parts of Australia, you’re going to have cooler days with the occasional bit of rain, that’s rain, R-A-I-N, but still loads of sun.

Snow in Australia is completely confined to the mountainous regions of south eastern Australia, and this is the Great Dividing Range. So, you’re going to have this in south eastern New South Wales, north eastern Victoria, and in some places in Tasmania.

Temperatures in Australia can drop quite low during winter, at least quite low for us, and they can get to as low as -8 Celsius, which is the lowest ever recorded temperature in Yongala, which is also in South Australia. And this was recorded on the 20th of July in 1976. But as an anecdote, that sort of surprised me, because that was the coldest day ever, and Canberra this year had a few days of -7 degrees Celsius, at least, in the evening, not during the day, at night, right?

Anyway, no matter what kind of climate or whether you prefer, you’ll find somewhere in Australia that suits you, whether it’s hot summers and cold winters in places like Melbourne, Hobart, and Perth in the south of Australia, or hot summers with milder winters in places like Sydney and Brisbane, or really hot and humid climate pretty much all year round in places like Darwin, Cairns, and Townsville.


Vocabulary:

ST – Something

SO – Someone

SW – Somewhere

A climatic zone – a geographical zone loosely divided according to prevailing climate and latitude
A heat wave – a prolonged period of abnormally hot weather
A heat-related effect – an effect caused by hot weather, i.e. dehydration
A tourist – a person who is travelling or visiting a place for pleasure
An anecdote – a personal story
Confined to SW – constrained to a location; only found in a location
Consecutive – following each other continuously
Drop – reduce
Humid – marked by a relatively high level of water vapour in the atmosphere
Loads of ST – lots of ST
Mild – not severe, serious, or harsh
Mountainous – characterised by mountains
No matter what – regardless of
Occasional – occurring or appearing at irregular or infrequent intervals
Salt-soaked – covered in salt
Severe – very great; intense
Sunburnt – suffer from sunburn where your skin has been burnt by the sun’s light
The northern hemisphere – the part of the earth above the equator
The southern hemisphere – the part of the earth below the equator