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The best time to visit Darwin in tropical Australia

When is the best time to visit Darwin in tropical Australia?   With so much to see and do in Darwin and the Top End, finding the best time to visit is key to getting the most out of your visit.

NT Darwin

Located in the far north of Australia, Darwin is the capital city of the Northern Territory and affectionately known as the Top End.

Darwin enjoys a balmy tropical climate so read on to discover why you should visit Darwin, and find out when is the best time to visit.

Why you should visit Darwin

If you’re looking for somewhere different, Darwin is an alternative destination for the icy-cold winters of the southern states of Australia

A laid-back city, Darwin is about as culturally diverse as you can get.  It boasts the best winter weather in Australia and, is the gateway to some of the most unique cultural destinations.

With UNESCO World Heritage listed sites on our doorstep, the Territory has an extraordinarily beautiful, rugged and untamed landscape.  It is also home to the world’s longest living culture, traditional rock paintings, an abundance of wildlife and predatory crocodiles lording over our waterways.

So when is the best time of the year to visit Darwin?

In short, the best time of the year to travel to the Northern Territory capital, is winter.  Mid-June through to the end of August or, if you don’t mind slightly higher temperatures, a month or so either side of winter.

While the southern states are rugging up for winter, Darwin temperatures average between 18-30 degrees Celsius. With little to no humidity or rain during this part of the year, it is considered perfect weather!

Effectively, we have only two seasons in our weather cycle each year – a ‘wet’ and a ‘dry’ season.

The Dry season in Darwin

When is the best time to visit Darwin

The ‘dry’ season is the weather all Top-Enders live for.

Legend has it that the first dragonfly sighted, heralds the end of the ‘wet’ and celebrates the incoming ‘dry’ season.

Darwin locals watch for the indicators of oncoming temperate weather and are quick to claim the first sightings of dragonflies.

Just a bit of fun we have with our visitors but it’s true, one morning you’ll wake up to the cool weather change and hear us all exclaim ‘ahh, the ‘Dry’ is here’!

Strange as it may seem, it’s like flicking a switch.  Almost instantly, the humidity is gone, the temperatures are mild and the cool ocean breezes create the true tropical living that we all love.

Dry Season: May – September

The ‘dry’ season falls between May and September.  It’s a time when the Top End of Australia experiences low humidity and almost no rainfall.

Expect beautiful balmy winter days 18 – 30 degrees, clear blue skies, warm tropical nights and beautiful sunny days.

During the ‘dry’ season many waterholes and creeks dry up completely, and once lush grasslands of the Top End, turn dry and brown.

Bush fires are common in the Top End late in the ‘dry’ and through the ‘build up’. The fires are often started as a continuing a practice going back many thousands of years of land management and to drive animals so they can be caught for food.

The Build Up – the ‘in-between’ season

In the Top-End, the annual weather cycle is a little more than just wet and dry.  The period in-between is called ‘the build-up‘.

‘Build-up’ Season
October – December

The build-up usually occurs a few months before the wet season presenting with high humidity, dark thunderous clouds and during this time, it rarely rains.

Usually the build-up starts around October and runs though into December or until the monsoon rains begin to fall.

The Wet season in Darwin

Jabiru in Tropical Darwin in the wet season

‘Wet’ season
October – April

The ‘wet’ is when the rains come.   Warm, moist northwest winds bring high humidity, spectacular storms and monsoonal rains to the Top End.

Expect close hot, humid days averaging 25 – 34 degrees with humidity often over 80%.  The humidity builds-up, and the air is hot and humid with heavy dark thunderous clouds.

Spectacular lightening displays are seen almost daily the lead to torrential downpours of the monsoon rains.  Once a storm hits, temperatures drop magically but then shortly after the humidity builds up again … until the next storm.

If you can stand a little humidity, visiting the Top End at this time of year can be very rewarding.  The waterfalls are magnificent, giant waterlilies bloom and rock pools are at the perfect temperature to swim.   It is the time of year that birds and wildlife are active and many nest or continue their migration journeys.

Best time to visit Darwin

For visitors, travelling to the Darwin and the Top-End is best during the start of the dry season but the other seasons are just as spectacular.

April – May – June – early dry season

It’s still warm but not too steamy.  The waterways are full of water and haven’t started to dry out.  There’s great fishing during the ‘run-off’ resulting from the late rains during the ‘wet’ season and there’s an abundance of birds and other wildlife moving around.  It’s a great time for photographers, bird-watchers and wildlife lovers.  Make sure you go out to Fogg Dam for an amazing show of birds.

August – September – October – late dry season

Temperatures are starting to warm up during the day but the nights are still cooler.  The Mindil Markets and Deck Chair Cinema is still on so that you can enjoy the balmy tropical evenings.  Sunsets overlooking the beaches are gorgeous and August in particular, is the start of the Darwin festival.  It’s the right time to head into Litchfield Park and other National Parks as most of the roads have opened after the wet and everything is lush and green.  It’s a great time to visit the Top End.

Wet season

Like most Territorians, I enjoy the excitement of the wet season with its spectacular lightening storms and refreshing downpours.  In my opinion, the wet is when the Top End is at it’s best!  Travelling to Darwin or the Top End during this time will give you some season advantages.  Yes, it is a little humid, but there are some amazing sights to see that can’t be seen at other times of the year and photographers come out in droves!

The wetlands are full and often overflowing, waterfalls are spectacular and at their best.  Many birds migrate from the northern hemisphere in the build-up of the wet season and when the rains start waterbirds head to the wetlands to breed.

It’s a unique place ‘our Territory’!

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If you’d like to read more about Darwin and the Top End … click here

Be adventurous, visit Darwin and enjoy our Top End like a local.   Have you been to the Top-End yet?   Which season will you choose to visit?