Red Centre weather
There are four distinct seasons in the Red Centre:
- Summer: (December–February). Average temperatures range between 20°C and 35°C (68°F and 95°F). January is the wettest month with around 40mm of rainfall, however the climate is considered dry and arid for most of the year.
- Autumn: (March–May). Is considered one of the best times to visit Alice Springs, with warm days and cool nights. Average temperatures range from 12–27°C (54–81°F).
- Winter: (June–August). The average temperature range is 3–20°C (37–68°F). Temperatures can drop below freezing overnight in winter, sometimes leaving a thick frost on the ground like a carpet of snow.
- Spring: (September–November). Spring starts to defrost and warm things up again with average temperatures between 13–31°C (57–87°F). Spring can also bring spectacular thunderstorms and cool evenings.
When you venture outdoors, ensure you have appropriate clothing and carry enough water. If you’re spending the night under the stars in the cooler months, make sure you have warm clothes (think thick jackets and beanies) and adequate camping equipment.
Weather by region
Darwin, the tropical capital of the Northern Territory, experiences the typical Wet (November–April) and Dry (May–October) seasons of the Top End.
During the dry season, you’ll be welcomed by blue skies daily with temperatures sitting comfortably between 20°C and 33°C (68°F and 91°F). You may get the odd cooler night (by local standards) during June and July when temperatures can drop to 16°C (60°F). Residents relish this chance to pull out their jumpers – a rare occurrence here in the Top End.
When the wet season rolls around you’ll feel it first as the humidity starts to set in, and the minimum temperature rises. During the Wet in Darwin you’ll experience a minimum of 25°C (77°F) overnight, whilst the maximum remains similar to the Dry at 33°C (91°F), but the humidity rises to 80%. Don’t worry though, afternoon rains usually come through and cool things down, especially in January with the average rainfall sitting at 429mm (17 inches).
Alice Springs weather
The desert climate of Alice Springs makes travel possible all year round, though you need to be prepared for spikes and dips in temperature.
In summer, the thermometer can push into the high thirties (86°F) and in winter it dips below freezing on cool nights.
If you’re travelling in winter or summer, keep an eye on the short-term forecast so you’re prepared for changes of temperature and conditions.
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park has a desert climate, which means clear skies, low average rainfall, high temperatures in summer and cool nights in winter.
You can visit Uluru any time of the year. Plan ahead in summer, when high temperatures can mean that walks close early in the day. The average peak for January is 38°C (101°F) and the record high is 45.4°C (115.5°F). In winter the thermometer can dip below freezing at night.
Uluru’s desert climate means clear skies for most of the year and low average rainfall. Both Uluru and Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) are stunning at sunrise and sunset, and there are special viewing platforms for visitors to get photos.
Kakadu National Park, a world heritage-listed area 253km east of Darwin, experiences the same wet and dry seasons as the rest of the Top End.
May to October is cooler and drier and considered the best time to travel here. From November to April is when rains roll across the Top End, replenishing waterfalls and filling waterholes to the brim.
While many areas of Kakadu are closed in the Wet due to flooding, seeing it in all its glory is a special treat. It’s the perfect time to take a helicopter or light plane flight over Kakadu’s waterfalls, which are in full flow, and the stone country and escarpments.
Katherine is located 300km south of Darwin on the banks of the Katherine River, and experiences the high temperatures and the occasional tropical storms of the Top End during the Wet.
The humidity rises during the build-up to the Wet. The arrival of spectacular thunderstorms transforms the landscape into endless lush greenery, and fills the creeks and rivers with fish – a bounty reaped by the traditional owners.
One of the most spectacular sights outside of Katherine is Nitmiluk Gorge, which you can witness in full flow at the end of the wet season.
Arnhem Land weather
Arnhem Land experiences the dry and wet seasons of the rest of the Top End.
This means heavy rains during the Wet – November to April – and very little during the Dry (May to October).
Temperatures don’t change greatly between the seasons. The average ranges from the low thirties (mid 80’s °F) in the day, low twenties during the night (high 60’s °F). The humidity climbs as monsoonal storms roll across the Top End from December onward.
Tennant Creek weather
Tennant Creek is located 1,000km south of Darwin and 500km north of Alice Springs. It has a warm desert climate and shares the traditional four seasons of the rest of the Red Centre. It’s dry with clear skies most of the year, temperatures are high in summer and fall in the middle of the year, with sunny days and mild nights. Expect some rainfall in the summer months between December to March.