When Is The Best Time To Backpack Australia?

When Is The Best Time To Backpack Australia? Image | East Coast Tours Australia

What is the best season to travel to Australia? 

  • The verdict: Spring (October and November)

Australia, and the East Coast in particular, is a spectacular and relatively warm country for backpackers all year round. However, both Spring (October and November) and Autumn (March, April and May) boast temperate weather that isn’t too hot or cold and are our favourite times to travel the East Coast. The skies are blue, the beaches aren’t overcrowded and hostels and tours aren’t facing peak season prices like over the Summer.

Should I come to Australia in the summer?

Summer, of course, is an awesome time to get out and backpack Australia, however, the sun down under is hot! Summer days, particularly up north and out west, can be brutal, so be prepared. Summer is also the wet season, noticeable more in the tropics like far-north QLD, so your travel plans may be impacted by rain.

4 backpackers on colourful floaties in turquoise waters

Is winter a good time to backpack Australia?

Winter is one of the most underrated times for backpacking in Australia. While the days can be cold, particularly down south around Sydney, Melbourne and Tasmania, there is less rain and the days are fresh and clear further up north! Many travellers flock to the tropical far-north QLD in the winter and to the southeast coast of NSW and VIC in the summer to avoid the intensity of too-hot summers and freezing winters! And, if you’re from the UK or colder parts of Europe, an Aussie winter is like your summer, so leave the huge coats and scarves at home - packing a single sweater will suffice!

Byron Bay beaches in JuneByron Bay waters in June

Weather and temperatures along the East Coast

Australia’s temperatures and climate vary greatly across the eight states and territories. In the tropical north, there’s a wet and a dry season, and in parts of the south like Tasmania and Victoria, there are even patches of snowfall during winter! 

  • In Queensland, the highs during summers can reach 30ºC to 35ºC, while lows during winter reach around 8ºC. QLD’s East Coast can become extremely humid, especially during the wet season (October to May). Out west, regional and rural areas are noticeably dryer and hotter than the coast.

  • In New South Wales, summer can reach 27ºC to 30ºC, while lows in winter can reach 4ºC.

  • Victorian summers can reach around 25ºC to 28ºC and lows during winter can reach the negatives in some areas. 

Two women walking on the beach at sunset

When is stinger season in Australia?

Another thing to consider when planning your visit to Australia, particularly for anybody wanting to explore the Great Barrier Reef or spend your time at the beach, is stinger season. Stinger season is the time in which deadly stingers such as Irukandji and box jellyfish populate the waters of some parts of Queensland (including Airlie Beach, Townsville and Cairns). Stinger season lasts from October to May, however, if you want to dive into the Great Barrier Reef during this time, just grab a stinger suit or wetsuit and dive in! All of our reef tours supply these on your boat trips, so swim safely amongst colourful coral and dazzling creatures! 

Three people in swimmers with snorkels at the waters edge

When is the East Coast of Australia busy?

School holidays in Australia

Australian school holidays vary state by state, and they pretty much mean that popular holiday spots are busier due to domestic and international travel, especially with families. During the summer Christmas holidays, tropical destinations like Noosa, Sydney, Byron Bay, Airlie Beach and Cairns, are super at their most busy and more expensive. If you do plan on travelling during an Australian school holiday period, make sure to book in advance for any accommodation or experiences you want, as prices are up and availability can be limited! 

However, if you want to avoid the crowds, a popular time for backpackers to come to Australia is February (right after the summer holidays) and in November (just before the Christmas masses come to town). 

One person walking on an island track through palm trees

Does Australia have an “off-season”? 

While Aussie cities like Sydney, Gold Coast, Melbourne and Brisbane don’t generally slow down, a sort of “off-season” is evident in smaller towns like Noosa, Airlie Beach, Cairns and Byron Bay. This off-season, generally from May to August, just refers to a seasonal lull in tourism over the winter months. Over the years and thanks to an increase in local domestic tourism through COVID, the contrast between off-seasons and peak times is way less… indeed, there’s always something happening in these little Aussie towns

While it may be more difficult to find hospitality work during winter, off-seasons are still an awesome time to visit the East Coast as it’s quieter but still open. Farm work is easy to find regardless of the time of year too, so there will always be a way to complete your 88 hours

Woman in swimmers with a towel smiling near the ocean

How long do you need to backpack Australia’s East Coast?

While we recommend at least a month to explore the wonders of the flourishing East Coast, you can do it in just 2 weeks. It really depends on the pace you want to travel at. For example, if you want to drive a lot and see a new town every day, you can make your way from Brisbane to Cairns in 9 days. However, there really is so much when it comes to secret hidden natural wonders, so we recommend taking 3 weeks to a month to explore all the way from Sydney to Cairns

Woman laying on the road in Cairns

Where should I start backpacking in Australia?

Start your backpacking travels on the East Coast! The perfect place for a coastal road trip and bursting with little surf towns, backpacker hotspots and natural marvels, it’s a no-brainer to start on the East Coast. See the Great Barrier Reef, Sydney, Melbourne, Noosa, the Gold Coast, Byron Bay, the Whitsundays and K’gari (Fraser Island) all on one convenient (and stunning) route! 

Two people in the front seat of a car looking at a map

So, when is the best time to backpack in Australia?

If you're after clear sunny days and fewer crowds, backpack the East Coast during Spring through the end of October to November. However, if you're after a classic Aussie summer and don't mind the crowds, come down through December and January for a hot, beachside summer (just make sure you book everything in advance)! Or, if you really want to escape the crowds and connect with nature, come during the "off-season" between May and October. Really, anytime is a good time to visit Australia, so let the adventure begin!

Group of people at sunset on a boat

Plan your East Coast itinerary for any time of the year... the sun is always shining down under! 

Live chat with a local travel expert or browse our jam-packed itineraries for some travel inspo!

East Coast Tours acknowledges all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traditional Owners of Country and recognises their continuing connection to land, sea, culture and community. We pay our respects to Elders past and present and extend that respect to all First Nations peoples.

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