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Australia’s Climate Zone Map: A Complete Guide

Did you know that Australia has a total of eight different climate zones? These range from tropical areas right through to alpine regions.

Featured Image: Climate zone map / Australian Building Codes Board / CC BY-ND 4.0

Australia’s wide range of climates means that you can experience almost every climatic zone in the world without leaving our beautiful country.

For gardeners and farmers, this means that you need to be aware of your local climate zone when it comes to choosing plants or crops that will thrive and survive.

Here’s an explanation of the different climate zones in Australia.

Climate zone 1 – Tropical

If you live in Darwin, Cairns, or Townsville, you’re in climate zone 1 which is regarded as tropical. This zone has hot summers with high humidity and warm winters. The average summer temperate is above 30 degrees Celsius and the lowest winter temperate is 15 degrees Celsius.

In the tropical climate zone, it’s normal to experience wet and humid summers and dry winters. If you’re a gardener living in this region, you will need to consider the plants that grow well here. You also need to understand that during the ‘wet season’, you’re going to have to deal with numerous pests and even fungal diseases.

Think about growing perennial edible plants such as asparagus, cassava, choko, ginger, pawpaw, sweet potato, taro, and yams. You might also want to research plants that are commonly grown in other tropical areas around the world. 

Climate zone 2 – Subtropical

This climate zone covers major cities like Brisbane, Mackay, Rockhampton, Coffs Harbour, Exmouth, and Broome. In this climate zone, you’ll experience warm, humid summers and very pleasant mild winters. Once again, this zone experiences wet summers and relatively dry winters.

Summer temperatures average around 30 degrees Celsius and the lowest winter temperatures are around 10 degrees Celsius. With this type of climate, it’s best to grow temperate vegetables in winter and tropical vegetables and plants during the humid summer period.

You’ll find that almost anything will grow well in the subtropical zone if you plant at the correct time. But, you do have to watch out for pests such as fruit fly, especially in summer.

Climate zone 3 – Hot-Dry

Climate zone 3 covers much of inland Australia including Queensland, the Northern Territory, and the top part of Western Australia excluding the tropical and subtropical zones near the coast. Alice Springs is in this climate zone.

It experiences hot dry summers and warm winters. Summer temperatures can often be above 35 degrees Celsius and will commonly reach at least 40 degrees Celsius. Nighttime winter temperatures will often drop below zero.

This can be a challenging climate for gardeners due to the extreme heat in summer and the lack of rainfall. Gardeners in this zone often find it useful to grow vegetables, especially greens, under a shade-cloth.

However, a wide variety of edible plants can be grown in this region. Here’s a handy guide from the Northern Territory Government for vegetables that can be grown in the Alice Springs region.

Climate zone 4 – Desert

This climate zone covers a large part of inland Australia including Western Australia, South Australia, the northwestern part of Victoria, and New South Wales excluding the coastal regions and the northern parts of Western Australia.

Climate zone 4 has hot dry summers and cool winters. Temperatures are similar to climate zone 3, however, winter temperatures can be lower. Humidity is also low so the air is much drier than in tropical or subtropical zones.

Most of the plants that will grow well in climate zone 3, should also grow in climate zone 4. However, you need to be aware of frosts in winter and be prepared to protect any frost-tender plants in your garden.

Climate zone 5 – Warm temperate

This climate zone covers major cities like Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongong, Adelaide, Perth, Esperance, and Geraldton. 

As most of this zone is around the coastline, temperatures are moderated by the ocean. Summers experience warm temperatures of just under 30 degrees Celsius and cool winters with the lowest temperature of 5 degrees Celsius. 

Climate zone 5 generally has reliable rainfall all year round. It is one of the most optimum climatic zones for gardeners as there are 4 distinct seasons and plantings can be planned accordingly. Those plants that require a winter chill factor, such as fruit trees, can be very successfully grown in this zone.

Climate zone 6 – Mild temperate

This climate zone covers a major part of Victoria, the southeast region of South Australia, a southern section of Western Australia, and a narrow strip up the inland coastal region of New South Wales.

This means that if you live in Nowra, Melbourne, Bendigo, Horsham, Victor Harbour, Kangaroo Island, or Albany, you are in climate zone 6.

In this zone, you’ll experience most of the rainfall in winter and cold temperatures down to 5 degrees Celsius. Summers are traditionally hot and dry but with climate change, I’ve been experiencing a higher level of humidity in summer than ever before.

Gardeners should be happy to know that almost anything can be grown in this climatic zone except for plants that require a more humid environment. However, even this can be achieved with a little thought and careful planning. 

Climate zone 7 – Cool temperate

Climate zone 7 includes most of Tasmania and a large section of Victoria as well as a strip of land inland from the New South Wales coast. It excludes the coastal areas of Victoria and the alpine regions. Major cities in this climate zone include Canberra, Hobart, Launceston, Wangaratta, and Ararat.

In this climate zone, summers are generally mild but winters can be cold with temperatures often dropping below zero during the night. Thanks to this winter chill period, gardeners find it easy to grow fruits such as cherries and other stone fruit. 

It’s also important to note that the summer growing season for vegetables and flowers is relatively short so it’s often necessary to start seeds indoors so that the plants can get into the ground as soon as the soil has warmed up. 

Climate zone 8 – Alpine

This is the coldest climatic zone in Australia and snow is often experienced in winter. It basically covers the highest areas around the eastern part of Australia including Tasmania, Victoria, and New South Wales.

This makes it a challenging climate for keen gardeners as most plants do not like to be covered with snow in winter. However, you can establish a pretty garden if you look at what grows naturally on the slopes during summer.

FAQ

What climate zone is most of Australia?

Climate zones 2 and 3 cover the major part of the country away from the coastline.

Where is the hottest place in Australia?

Oodnadatta in South Australia takes out the prize for having recorded the hottest temperature in Australia. On January 2nd, 1960, the daytime temperatures soared to 50.7 degrees Celsius.

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.

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