southern australia in September

Jan 30th, 2004, 11:46 AM
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southern australia in September

My daughter is planning to spend the months of July, August and September in Australia (Adelaide) studying. Studying in July and August and touring in September.
What's the weather like in southern Australia during this time of the year?? Is September a good time to for touring??

Thanks in advance.
sssteve is offline  
Jan 30th, 2004, 12:30 PM
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Where will your daughter be staying? In a private home? In a university residence?

The heating arrangements in Australian homes are, for the most part, dismal. Australia is one of those places that doesn't really admit that it gets a winter. I originally come from Southern Africa, and I can attest to the fact that South Africa is the same as Australia in that regard.

I've lived in the following places for the following durations:

Southern Africa : 24 years

Canada : 23 years

U.S.A. : 2.5 years

Australia : 2.5 years

So now you know how old I am.

Strange as this may sound, Calgary in some ways is the most comfortable place I've lived for the simple reason that it is not in denial about winter. For most of this week our low temperature has been -30 deg C and our HIGH has been -28 deg C! Yet just a couple of nights ago my husband and I commented to each other how much more comfortable we were now, in our Calgary home, than we had been in our South African home, our Australian home, or even our Houston home. Our Calgary home is well heated. It's very well insulated. Many of its windows have triple glazing and, at a minimum, they have double glazing. My typical indoor winter attire is a pair of khaki pants, a long-sleeved, cotton turtleneck top, and a pair of leather loafers.

In our Melbourne home, in contrast, we often wore long underwear and sweaters and sheepskin lined slippers in winter -- indoors.

I've never been to Adelaide, but I understand Adelaide's climate is similar to Melbourne's.

The temperature in Melbourne never dropped below freezing. Some winter days were sunny, quite warm and pleasant. Many winter days, however, were drizzly, just a few degrees above freezing, and windy.

September is early spring. Some September days on Australia's southern coast can be delightful. But spring weather is quite unstable, and true summer weather sometimes arrives as late as Christmas / New Year.

Where will your daughter be touring? The further north she tours the warmer it'll be. If she goes to Queensland it'll be really warm. If there is any chance at all for her to visit Far North Queensland (around Cairns) and see the Great Barrier Reef and the tropical rainforest, that would be a fantastic experience.

As for her study time in Adelaide, I recommend long underwear, wool pants, corduroy pants, sweaters, fleece jackets, a waterproof jacket and an umbrella. The thigh-length parkas with waterproof exteriors and fleece interiors that one can buy from Lands' End, LL Bean or Eddie Bauer (which are considered to be fall / spring jackets here in Calgary) make good winter jackets in the southern part of Australia. At night, your daughter will need flannel pajamas, a warm robe and sheepskin slippers. (Excellent sheepskin slippers are available in Australia.)

Notwithstanding everything I've said, which may sound negative, I love Australia. It has such friendly people and beautiful, varied scenery. That said, it helps to be well prepared for the living conditions.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jan 30th, 2004, 07:48 PM
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it may come as a shock to you but most Aussie homes have central heating these days. Even outdoors in winter in Melbourne, jeans, windcheater and parka are usually sufficient, and as for wearing long underwear indoors! You must have been living in artic conditions!
The weather in September in the south will be cool to cold, probably windy and possibly wet, but still reasonably OK for sightseeing. Places like the Grampians national park and the Barossa Valley will be at their best.
If your daughter has time to visit WA, this is the best time to see their fantastic range of wildflowers.
Australia is so big that you can always find somewhere with good weather conditions regardless of the month.
Hope your daughter enjoys her stay here.
marg is offline  
Jan 30th, 2004, 09:49 PM
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Marg, we lived in Canterbury, a suburb of Melbourne, from July 1997 to January 2000. We lived in a large brick house that was about 20 years old. Most of the other houses on the street dated back to the Edwardian era and looked very charming, but did not have good heating arrangements.

Our own house had central heating supplied by a natural gas furnace. We found that, in winter, the central heating was never enough on its own. We supplemented it with electric heaters. Even that often wasn't enough, so that we felt compelled to dress much more warmly indoors than we do here in Calgary when it's -30 deg C outside, as it has been much of this week.

As I'm typing this message, it's -28 deg C outside, and I'm wearing what I regard as normal indoor clothing, normal shoes, normal slacks, cotton turtleneck top.

I brought a pair of uggs back with me from Australia. I don't know if that's the spelling. (For those who don't know, they're sheepskin slippers.) I haven't worn them since I returned to Calgary, and they've languished in the back of my closet.

My husband was in Sydney and Melbourne for 3-1/2 weeks in November / December 2003. For the Melbourne portion of his trip, he stayed with friends of ours who lived in Canterbury, a few blocks from our old house. It was a cool late November / early December, and he said he found their house cold, and wore a sweater inside the whole time he was there.

Now granted, Canterbury is an older area. My husband has a cousin who lives in Lower Templestowe, in a newer house, and we found her house warmer than our Canterbury house whenever we visited her for a meal.

I myself have had the experience of visiting friends in Sydney in winter, and feeling quite cold in their house too, i.e., having to wear more sweaters, etc., than I would have had to do in a Calgary house in winter. (That would have been in the southern hemisphere winter of 1999.)

I don't know where Sssteve is from, but my feeling was that if he was from a cold part of North America that was really geared up for cold weather, a city in which the homes, schools, offices, stores, etc., were well heated, his daughter might find the Australian standards of heating not up to those in her North American city, particularly if she happened to land in a neighbourhood predominated by Edwardian era houses.

My experience of most North Americans who have not been to the southern hemisphere themselves is that many of them do not appreciate how far south Australia and New Zealand stretch. They don't realise that Melbourne is at the equivalent latitude of San Francisco, and they don't realise that Christchurch is at the equivalent latitude of Halifax, Nova Scotia.

But you are absolutely right that, because of Australia's enormous size, there always is some part of Australia that is enjoying good weather.

I felt Sssteve's daughter should be forewarned of this possibility, as I imagine it would be quite a shock to arrive there unprepared and find herself in a scenario such as I've described. If her accommodation turns out to be warmer than I've described, well then that will be a pleasant surprise.

Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jan 30th, 2004, 09:50 PM
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At this point, we don't know where exactly she will be staying. The process has just started. She is a "space junkie" (also an aeronautical and space engineer) and has been accepted by the "International Space University" which runs summer sessions in different places. Since it's in the summer, I wouldn't be surprised if it is held in on one of the local campuses. In any case, she has no idea of where to tour and what to see in Australia. That's still in the earliest planning stage. Her husband will join her in Adelaide in late August. So, any advice about where to go and what to see for a 2 week tour would be greatly appreciated.

Judy - we loved Calgary. We were there for the stampede about 5 years ago!
sssteve is offline  
Jan 30th, 2004, 10:14 PM
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Hi Sssteve,

Australia is such a big country, about the size of the U.S.A.'s lower 48. Every region of Australia is beautiful in its own way, and deserves to be seen. Unfortunately, visitors who will have only two weeks to tour will be forced to make some choices.

The places Marg mentioned are all very beautiful and interesting, and they certainly would be valid choices. Those in the states of South Australia and Victoria (Barossa Valley and Grampians) would be logical from the point of view that they would be closest to your daughter's starting point of Adelaide.

The most popular places for overseas travellers to visit -- and I'm not for one minute suggesting that your daughter and son-in-law need to go to the most popular places -- are Sydney and Far North Queensland (FNQ), around Cairns.

Although no one HAS to go to Sydney, I must say it is a gorgeous city. Its harbour and its other waterways are very special indeed.

The state of Queensland gives one access to the Great Barrier Reef. The GBR often is referred to as the 8th wonder of the world, with good reason IMO. It's a beautiful and fascinating phenomenon.

The tropical rainforests in FNQ also are beautiful and fascinating. The tropical rainforest ecosystem is an amazing thing.

FNQ offers a variety of scenery in a relatively compact space. The fairly narrow coastal plane, at sea level or not much above sea level, receives a high rainfall, and has the rainforest vegetation and sugar cane fields.

Not very far inland, one climbs an escarpment to the top of the Atherton Tableland. The rainfall drops off sharply as one moves inland, and the vegetation quickly changes to create a starker, more barren landscape.

So it's possible, in a relatively short drive, to go from the rainforest to the "Outback."

Well, enough of this introduction to the popular places.

I really recommend your daughter and son-in-law get a guidebook, e.g., Lonely Planet, and look through it for inspiration.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jan 31st, 2004, 04:43 AM
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Thanks to Judy for all that information!

I've checked where my daughter will be staying in Adelaide - either at the U. of Sthrn Australia, Adelaide U., or Flinders University.

My daughter just told me that they will have 3 weeks, and they are considering spending a week of it in New Zealand. They're big fans of the movie "The lord of the Rings)

Which is more expensive - Australia or New Zealand??

And of course they will get a good guidebook. Daddy will buy it!
sssteve is offline  
Jan 31st, 2004, 08:32 AM
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Hi Sssteve,

So now it looks as if you'll be buying two guidebooks.

I've never been to New Zealand (other than to refuel in Auckland, which I don't count). But there are many experienced NZ travellers around here who will be able to provide detailed advice about it.

I've heard so many good things about New Zealand, it definitely has been on my travel wish list. The Lord of the Rings certainly confirmed that desire. I've joined the countless other people who want to see Middle Earth.

Although I've never been to New Zealand, I looked at the map yesterday and compared its size with the U.S. I found that the length of NZ (including both main islands) was about the length of the U.S. west coast, from the Canadian border to the Mexican border.

If your daughter and SIL have 3 weeks to tour, and they want to see parts of Australia and NZ, I'm guessing they'll devote 2 weeks to Australia and 1 week to NZ. If one has only one week to see NZ, I think it's better to attempt to see only one island. Several people who know NZ have told me that, if one can see only one island, South Island is preferable to North Island. But I'm only passing on hearsay. As I mentioned, I've never been to New Zealand.

Again, basing my statements only by observations of a map, the South Island of Christchurch is as far from the equator as Halifax, Nova Scotia is. The southern tip of South Island is as far from the equator as Montreal is.

Since southern hemisphere seasons happen at opposite times of the year from northern hemisphere seasons, September in Christchurch would be something like March in Halifax.

When I described that as early spring, a Fodorite who is a resident of NZ said it was really late winter, not early spring.

That said, there are Fodorites who have repeatedly travelled to NZ in September, and enjoyed it very much.

I just think it's good to be aware of what season it is, and to be suitably prepared.

When you're ready to ask detailed questions about NZ, it probably would be good for you to start a new discussion thread with a NZ title.

To give you some appreciation of how many latitudes Australia spans, here are some Australian and American places that are at equivalent latitudes:

Melbourne = San Francisco
Adelaide = Los Angeles
Perth = San Diego
Sydney = Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia
Brisbane = Miami, Florida
Cairns = Belize (s. of Mexico)
Cape York (n. tip of Queensland) = Panama Canal
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Feb 1st, 2004, 10:23 AM
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Thanks a bunch Judy.

As soon as my daughter figures out what she really wants to do, I'll be back with more questions!!
sssteve is offline  

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