As you may know, here in the tropical north of Australia many recognise just two main seasons; the wet season and the dry season. These are two vastly different times in the Top End and have a significant impact on the environment around.
The dry season, between May and October is often said the be the best time of year to visit and is a great winter escape of southerners who can come and enjoy the consistently warm sunny days and nice cool nights.
Whilst the shoulder season months, between April & May as well as September & October, may not be so glamorous temperature and humidity wise, there are still many great reasons why travelling to and around Darwin at this time of year can be quite spectacular.
The wet season which occurs typically between November and March is far more bearable than the shoulder seasons and brings with it far more rain. This time of year is unique and special in its own way. Whilst many waterways and areas become inaccessible by road, there are certain advantages to travelling Darwin & surrounds this time of year.
Understanding that there is no ‘one season fits all’ and that the Top End is spectacular all year round, here are some of our ‘pros’ and ‘con’s to visiting Darwin and the Top End at each time of year.
The dry season is the most comfortable time to travel to Darwin with low humidity and almost no rainfall. Every day is sunny, and the night-time is mild. This is a comfortable time for experiencing the outdoors and enjoying the adventure activities of Kakadu, Litchfield, and Nitmiluk National Parks.
This time of year is by far Darwin’s busiest, creating a fun and exciting vibe throughout the city. These months bring many enjoyable events for locals and tourists including the Darwin Festival, the Barunga Festival, the V8 Supercars and the famous Mindil Beach Sunset Markets.
A real highlight and one of Darwin’s most spectacular natural attractions is the fiery sunsets full of red, orange, pink and purple that sweep across the sky. Mindil Beach fills up on market nights (Thursdays and Sundays) and many enjoy a classic laksa, often clapping as the sun disappears over the horizon.
If crowds aren’t your thing then the Dry season in the Top End may not be the best time to visit. Popular water holes will be busy, caravan parks will be packed, and roads will be full of caravanners and travellers.
THE DRY- If you are travelling this time of year and you want to get away from the crowds, our 5 Day Kakadu, Arnhem Land and Cobourg Peninsula Tour is a specially crafted small group tour which departs during this season. This tour enables travellers to escape the crowds and experience the highlights of the world heritage-listed Kakadu National Park as well as the pristine wilderness and culture of Arnhem Land and the Cobourg Peninsula. Click here for more details
Alternatively, our 6 day ‘Welcome to Country’ Tour is just as impressive, giving travellers an opportunity to explore the top ends rich indigenous culture and travel through some of the most spectacular landscapes in the Top End. Click here for all the info
April and May, being on the cusp of the dry season, is a great time to visit the Northern Territory. Crowds are still minimal and landscapes are still incredibly green and full of life. The weather can be unpredictable, and the humidity can range from high to low during the transition from monsoon to dry. At this time of year you are assured that waterfalls are going to be flowing hard which is well worth seeing in a light aircraft or chopper.
With rivers still flowing high, some areas may be inaccessible, and some waterholes may be closed. It is important to keep an eye on the NT parks website for any closures and openings and arrange your itinerary accordingly. This being said, there is still no shortage of incredible activities and attractions on offer this time of year.
If you’re keen to travel this time of year, we offer a 5 Day tour of Litchfield, Kathrine, Kakadu, and Arnhem Land in May, giving you the chance to see all the top-pick highlights of the Top End and more. Check it out here!
SEPTEMBER – OCTOBER (Transition from the dry season into the wet season- Also commonly referred to as 'the buildup')
Late September into October brings a 'build up' of humidity and locals all start longing for the first downpour of rain as we edge closer to the wet season. This time of year is great for those who enjoy fishing! Barramundi are likely to be biting with the increase in water temperature and the ocean is often in glass like condition making it the best time to find fish as well as marine life.
If a ‘bucket-list’ fishing trip to the NT has ever been of interest, this is the time to join one of Australia's premier fishing experiences. Offering exclusive fishing charters on the doorstep of the pristine Cobourg Peninsula, Cobourg Fishing Safaris offer world class fishing and eco tourism packages tailored to your needs! Find out all the info here :)
The end of the dry season transitioning into the monsoonal rains also brings with it an electric show in the sky well worth watching. Epic sunsets are still seen this time of year with flashes of lightening surrounding it.
If humidity bothers you steer clear of the Top Ends ‘build up’ as temperatures and moisture in the air can be uncomfortable.
There are a variety of misconceptions that circulate about the tropical summer of the northern parts of the Territory. These are often being it's ‘too hot’ and it's ‘raining all day, every day’. As this is sometimes the case, it shouldn't be a big factor to deter tourists travelling at this time of year.
‘The Wet’, popular among locals, brings a whole new environment for the Top End. Everything turns luscious and green, waterfalls are flowing, the wildlife are more active, the tourists disappear and the slow pace of NT life gets somewhat even slower.
Read our recent blog on the best of Darwin in the wet season to find out why this time of year is so special and why it is such an attractive time to travel for those who love avoiding crowds and who can appreciate nature as it is, green and full of life.
If you can't handle high humidity, the dry season is a better choice.
As water levels rise during the early months of the wet season, some roads become inaccessible which restricts access to a bunch of tourist attractions.
migration becomes an issue for popular swimming spots, resultingly in various closures
of tourist sites in National Parks. (There are still plenty of spectacular safe places to swim although best to travel with a local guide for reassurance)
Although some popular attractions will have to be missed by land, some of these sites can be seen from a different angle. Twin Falls and Jim Jim falls located in Kakadu are the best example of this – at this time of year tourists are blown away seeing the waterfalls in all their glory from above on a spectacular heli-flight experience.
If you’re thinking of travelling the Top End at this time of year, we have crafted a 6-day private tour that takes in the best of what the wet season has to offer and guarantees little to no crowds, fast flowing waterfalls, swollen river systems and an abundance of fish and wildlife.