When most people think of Australia, they picture sun-soaked beaches, lush jungles, or dry, dusty deserts. And they aren’t wrong! The majority of Australia is definitely covered in those types of terrain. But as winter approaches, the country can sometimes experience a different climate – snow. In fact, Australia gets more snow than the entire country of Switzerland! In this article, we’ll share a bit more about Australia’s most unique climate and explain when and where you can experience it for yourself.
Does it Snow in Australia?
It does snow in some parts of Australia. However, snowfall isn’t very common. Australia is a vast country, so the weather can drastically differ from one territory to another. Coastal shorelines, big cities, and desert areas probably won’t see a single snowflake, but the mountain ranges in the south and Tasmania can experience several feet of snow each year.
As the 6th largest country on the planet, Australia’s climate varies from region to region. In some cities, it could be hot and humid while other places might see rain and snow! But in general, Australia has four distinct seasons – spring, summer, fall, and winter (remember – they are in the southern hemisphere, so seasons are opposite of those in the US!).
The only exception is in the northern part of the county, which has a tropical climate. The Northern Territory (Darwin, Kakadu, Arnhem Land) has two distinct seasons – rainy and dry.
The rainy season lasts from November to April and comes with hot temperatures, humid skies, and torrential downpours. The dry season (May to October) still has warm weather during the day, although it drops drastically at night.
South Australia has pleasantly warm summers (December to February), although it can get extremely dry and hot in the northern part of the territory. Winters aren’t too cold (around 60°F), but you should expect some rain during these months.
Next to South Australia is Victoria, a territory known for its diverse climates. Temperatures peak in the summer at 80°F and cool down in the winter to roughly 55°F.
The mountains here have an alpine environment, which means chilly temperatures and snow is relatively common.
To the south of the mainland sits Tasmania, Australia’s largest island and smallest territory (by population). The weather here is similar to Victoria and New South Wales, its neighbors to the north. Summers can be warm (~70°F), while winters can be brisk and even snowy.
If you’re visiting Queensland, you’ll be treated to mild winters and beautiful summers. North Queensland (Cairns, Port Douglas, and Palm Cove) experiences more tropical temperatures that can be wet and rainy from November to April and hot and dry from May to October. Spring and fall are the best times to visit if you want to hit the many beaches, islands, or Great Barrier Reef.
New South Wales and the bustling city of Sydney also have four distinct seasons. Summers are sunny and warm, with temperatures averaging anywhere from 66°F to 77°F.
Spring and fall can be a little cooler, although it’s still warm enough to hit the beaches or explore the outdoor sights. Winters in New South Wales can be wet, with July being the coldest month of the year. Part of the Australian Alps sits in New South Wales, which means you can see a hefty amount of snow in the winter.
Where Does it Snow in Australia?
Despite Australia’s size, there are only two main regions where you can find snow – the Australian Alps and Tasmania.
The Australian Alps is a mountain range that spans across eastern Victoria, southeastern New South Wales, and the Australian Capital Territory. Although the mountains aren’t particularly tall (most of them are around 6,000 feet in elevation), there is a great deal of snowfall in winter.
From June to October, the Alps are transformed into a skier’s paradise, with numerous ski resorts and over 170 miles of skiable terrain.
If you’re hoping for a snowy winter while staying in a big city, you’ll likely be very disappointed. It is extremely unlikely that any major city will experience snow. In fact, the last time it snowed in Sydney was in 1836!
If you visit the island of Tasmania, you’ll also likely see snow here in the winter. Popular places to experience a white wonderland include Mount Wellington, Mount Field National Park, the Central Highlands, and the Hartz Mountains.
The capital city, Hobart, also sees snow from time to time, although it rarely sticks due to its close proximity to the water.
When Does it Snow in Australia?
Although Australia is blessed with sunny days and warm weather, it can experience snowfall in some regions. Most snow occurs in winter, usually from June to August. However, in places like the Australian Alps, the snow season can last longer. Here, you can expect to see snow for three or four months (from June to November).
Where are the Ski Resorts in Australia?
There are only five major ski areas in Australia. With the tallest peaks in the country, New South Wales has two of them – Perisher and Thredbo. Perisher is one of the most popular areas. It’s home to four different ski resorts (Perisher Valley, Blue Cow, Smiggin Holes, and Guthega), 47 lifts, and five separate terrain parks.
Thredbo may be smaller, but it’s home to the largest ski slope in the country. The Thredbo Supertrail is 3.7-miles of groomed slopes. The resort also has 13 other lifts that are suitable for beginner or intermediate skiers as well.
In Victoria, you’ll find the other three major ski areas – Mount Buller, Falls Creek, and Mount Hotham. Falls Creek is the largest, with over 92 marked trails. Even if you aren’t a big skier, you can still enjoy the beautiful pedestrian-only town for its gourmet restaurants and luxury spas.
Mount Hotham is a bit different. Instead of sitting at the base, the village is situated on the mountain’s peak. Although it has a mix of beginner, intermediate, and advanced trails, Hotham is also home to the most difficult slope in the country – Mary’s Slide.
Finally, you have Mount Buller. This peak is home to the largest lift network in Victoria (22 lifts), taking you to one of 50 different groomed trails.
Because it’s only three hours from Melbourne, Mount Buller is a popular weekend spot for locals (and Olympian athletes!).
Tasmania isn’t known as a ski destination, although there are some small ski fields that cater to families and beginners. Ben Lomond is located an hour from the town of Launceston and has a quaint resort village with a ski school.
The 4,324-foot Mount Mawson in Tasmania also sees snow in winter. In addition to the three ski lifts, this ski field is also popular with cross-country skiers.
Not many people get to experience the snowy side of Australia. But if you ever need a break from the Outback or coastal beaches, you know you can always head to the mountains for a winter escape!