Traveling to Aussie land in Spring? You probably need to know more about the Australian Spring weather before planning your itinerary. I was in Australia from 1st September to 15th October, 2016 – a month and half long trip and the idea was to cycle for at least a month. I would be in Melbourne for about 10 days and then take off towards Adelaide. That was the tentative route Melbourne to Adelaide via a more northern route and then come back via the Great Ocean Road. However, I found the weather was just very difficult for me to cope with. And I was not at all prepared for the cold, wet and windy. The Winter in Victoria had been unusually wet and the trend continued into spring. I think in the end it was for the good because I learnt a lot about camping in cold, wet and windy weather. It made me stronger. I also got an idea about Australian weather patterns, so here sharing my thoughts on it, hopefully it may help you plan your Aussie trip better 🙂
Weather Planning for Australia
Plan for mid season:
This actually applies when planning trips to any place – to ensure you get seasonal weather plan to travel mid-season or even late-season. I planned to cycle in the second week of spring itself. This was a mistake because winter was just receding and so the first few weeks could very well be as cold as winter. So when I landed up at Atisha Buddhist Centre (my first stop) there were a few nights when the temperature would drop to 5C and possibly even 0C.
So I made a note to self: next time be careful and on safe side land in mid – season so I am sure to get the seasonal weather and not an outlier.
Climate Change – Check weather trends:
If early season was the only issue, then in couple of weeks the temperatures should have been warmer. And since I had a month to cycle, it would be ok. But it never really got better. The winter was one of the wettest this region has had and there was no real spring. Even now (in early December) I keep reading of severe weather warnings and below 10C temperatures. And spring is over, it is early Summer! Climate change effects are being seen across the world and as travellers we have to be ready for it. My earlier cycling trip in Europe turned out better because of the extremely unseasonal heat wave going on- I actually found the high temperatures much easier on me. So similarly in Australia there was a cold and wet wave.
The only suggestion I have here is: Check out the weather trends in past few months. If the winter was unseasonal then there is a high chance that even Spring would follow the pattern.
Victoria (& South Australia):
A German friend I met in Melbourne, had one thing to say when I told her of my travel woes “Why Victoria?” – and that sums it up. Melbourne supposedly has 4 seasons a day. A day! There are frequent alterations of weather in this region. Major reason is the proximity to the South Pole. All of a sudden there are cold winds from the SPole and it sends the conditions in Southern Australia – Victoria & South Australia states into a toss. The stormy weather that I had in Victoria, had already passed by South Australia. When I was at the Great Ocean Road (in Victoria) there was a severe weather warning over the weekend. But by Friday night it got cancelled. Later I came to know that Adelaide in South Australia and those regions had taken the major brunt of it – they had power blackouts because multiple power towers were uprooted across the state and there were talks of evacuation.
The colder SPole winds are countered by some really dry and hot winds coming down from the dessert heart of Australia. South Australia and Victoria really take the brunt of these opposing forces. So weather fluctuations are common in this area it seems, and now probably increased due to climate change effects. So if you are looking for more stable, warmer climates then the north of Australia, Sydney – Brisbane – Gold Coast is probably a better stretch. That is what I have guessed from my various talks with locals and watching of weather maps.
Australian Story of the Winds
Heard this folk story from a friend,
It seems that the cold winds from the South Pole have one extra electron, while the hot winds from the North have one less electron. Now if the colder winds are blowing and you end up catching some of it in your system then it energizes you really well with that one extra electron. You tend to feel great. But if the hot wind catches you then it spoils your health. So basically beware of the Hot desert winds.
I don’t know about the extra or missing electron bit but often these folk tales are sharing some truths. Even in India, it is said that certain hot winds cause disease. So basically beware the Hot winds more than the Cold. 🙂
Meteorological Department Of Australia
Surprisingly prompt updates and weather information available on the met departments website. You can even get regional contact numbers. So if you are planning a trip you can actually call them and have a chat regards wind direction and rain and so on. I found it really easy to be on top of the floods and unseasonal weather due to this website.
Caution: Weather is volatile. You can take this MET data only as a forecast and not a certainty. Especially once the weather got really unseasonal the MET predictions were often falling short. Days said to be rainy, turned out be cloudy but dry. The next day when it was supposed to be sunny, it was rainy and windy. So always be prepared in case of unexpected weather change.
Effects of Weather:
Weather affects many different aspects of overall life which I realized in my time in Australia. We have a certain comfort zone for weather and many of our small activities are based on this.
For eg: I do yoga on a daily basis. But in the cold weather, I couldn’t do my Surya Namaskars (Sun Salutations) on a lot of days because I would have 3 layers on, and was still cold if I was outside camping. When I had access to an indoor space then I could do it but often there would be no place etc…
The other effect was drinking water. Normal tap water was too cold for me. Sometimes I asked cafes to give me hot water from their coffee machines and then mixed it with tap water to make it warm. But getting the right temperature was tricky unless I had access to a kitchen. So a lot of simple things become tricky and uncomfortable in a weather we are not used to.
These few examples are very mild ones. Of course serious weather situations can have much bigger consequences too. So if you land up in really bad weather then take necessary precautions. Always have back up options in mind.