The Northern Territory has two distinct climate zones: the tropical Top End, which has two seasons, and semi-arid Central Australia, which has four.
Weather in Darwin and the Top End
Darwin and the Top End, which includes the Katherine, Kakadu and Arnhem Land regions, doesn’t have winter and summer like the rest of Australia. The climate is tropical here, and the seasons are called the 'wet' and the 'dry'.
The wet season is from November to April. It’s characterised by higher humidity and monsoonal rains and storms. Temperatures typically range from 25C (77F) overnight to 33C (91F) during the day. Humidity can reach more than 80%.
In the ‘wet’, magnificent storms roll across the ocean every afternoon and the landscape comes alive with the abundant rain. Some roads become flooded at this time of year, and there’s also a risk of cyclones.
If you prefer clear blue skies, warm days and cool nights, the Top End’s ‘dry season’ is for you. That’s between May and October.
While southern Australia freezes through winter, in the dry season, Darwin and the Top End enjoys warm, sunny days and cool nights.
The average temperature ranges from about 21C (70F) overnight to 32C (90F) during the day. It can get down to 16C on really cool nights in June and July. Humidity levels are much lower in the dry season: around 60–65%.
Darwin and the Top End are bustling in the dry season, with a packed calendar of events and festivals drawing visitors from near and far to make the most of the balmy outdoor celebrations.
At 300 km south of Darwin, Katherine is further inland, but is still part of the Top End.
Katherine is treated to its share of spectacular electrical storms in the wet season, and the area is prone to flooding from November to March.
A sight to see is the rivers and creeks of Nitmiluk Gorge in full flow at the end of the wet season.
Things cool down and dry out again in the dry season from May to October, which is when tourist numbers increase again.
While many areas in Kakadu are closed in the wet due to flooding, seeing Kakadu in its wet season glory with thundering waterfalls and iridescent landscapes is a special treat. This is the perfect time to take a helicopter or light plane flight over Kakadu’s waterfalls, stone country and escarpments.
Like Darwin, the dry season in Kakadu, from May to October, is cooler and drier.
Weather in Alice Springs and Central Australia
This region includes Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, the Barkly Tablelands and Uluru/Kata-Tjuta, and it has a has a semi-arid climate.
This area has Australia’s four typical seasons: summer, autumn, winter and spring.
Many visitors don’t believe it (or pack for it), but Australia's Red Centre is prone to extremes, with hot summer days and cold winter nights—sometimes to sub-zero temperatures.
In summer (December to February), average temperatures range between 20C (68F) and 35C (95F).
In winter (June–August), the average temperature range is 3–20C (37–68F). Temperatures can drop below 0C (32F) overnight in winter. It can get very cold in the desert.
Spring and autumn in Central Australia bring warm days and cool evenings.
Check the weather before you visit Central Australia so you’re equipped for extremes.