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Australian Climatic Zones

When people think of Australia, they tend to think of a hot, dry place. That’s fair enough – a lot of the country is desert and Australia has the lowest rainfall of all the inhabited continents.

Actually, most of the highly populated areas have a good deal of rainfall. While some places are generally dry, others can be very wet and humid at the right time of year. So while 80 per cent of the continent receives less than 24 inches (600mm) of rain a year, and 50 per cent of the continent gets less than 12 inches (300mm), some areas receive 160 inches (4000mm) a year.

About 40 per cent of Australia is arid or semi-arid. These areas aren’t highly populated but if you’re working in the mining industry, you might find yourself in these areas quite a lot.You can experience 50C during the day and dip to 0C at night.

Most of the Australia population lives in the cities, where the climate is milder – either a temperate or Mediterranean climate. These climates are more suitable to agriculture, too.

Wet Season, Dry Season

Tropical regions in Australia (the far north) experience a wet summer from October to April, while winter bring blue skies and mild, dry conditions. Consequently, you’ll hear northern Australians talk about their two seasons – the wet season and the dry season.

Australia also has a small Alpine climatic region, in the mountain chain down the east coast. You can even do a little skiing in Victoria at the right time of year.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has a map of Australian climate zones. They also have a reasonably detailed description of why the climate is the way it is, including a quick look at the mean temperatures in the major cities.

Major Cities

The Bureau of Meteorology provides the following table of mean temperatures and average rainfall of the major Australian centres. Alice Springs, whilst not a capital, is in the very centre of Australia (and quite close to Uluru) and is a good point of comparison to show how hot and dry Australia can be.

Visit our Life in Australia section for more articles about living in Australia.

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