Kimberley Climate And Temperatures

The Kimberley climate and temperatures are defined by a distinct wet season and dry season.

It's the tropical monsoon climate that you find across Australia's North.

So what I tell you on this page can be applied to all of northern Australia, just keep a few general rules in mind:

The further away from the coast you go the more extreme the temperatures become, hot days will be hotter, and cold nights colder. On the other hand the humidity decreases, which makes heat more bearable.

The day/night differences of the temperatures in Kununurra (as shown below) are more extreme than say in Darwin or Broome.

Ok, back to the Kimberley climate and temperatures:

I get many questions about the Kimberley weather in summer and winter. Well, it's best not to think in terms of summer and winter. The Kimberley climate has only two seasons, like the rest of northern Australia, a wet season and a dry season.

It's always warm, or hot. And sometimes very hot. The dry season is dry, the wet season can be wet, yes, you guessed that much...

At some times of the year the Kimberley climate makes the weather reasonably predictable, (this is true for the dry season,) for other months you just can't tell, (mostly the wet season, every one is different...)

If you visit the Kimberley it's important for you to know what weather and temperatures to expect, and a general: "That's the dry season and the average temperatures are..." doesn't tell the whole story. But the whole story of the Kimberley climate is spelled out below.

Let me take you through a year of our Kimberley climate, month by month. How is the weather, what's good and bad about it, what do we like, and what does it mean to you as a visitor?

Kimberley Climate and Temperatures
May/June - Start of the dry season

Why do I start in the middle of the year? Well, this is the time of the year when things start happening up here, because the Kimberley climate allows them to happen.

By May the north Australian wet season rains have all but finished. There might be the odd rogue shower, but it won't dump a lot of water on you. The rivers have gone down, the tracks have dried up, the roads are open again. Tourist numbers in the Kimberley and northern Australia in general start to increase.

Kimberley climate: temperatures in May/June

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What the Kimberley climate means for you

This is a great time of the year to visit tropical Australia. The land is still lush and green from the wet season, and most waterfalls are still glorious, tourist numbers are not too high yet.

On the downside some days in May are still hot and humid, sticky and muggy. People arriving here straight from a cold climate might find that unpleasant. Also, nobody told the mosquitoes the wet season is over... They'll hang around for a little while longer.

On some tracks there is still a risk of getting bogged in a mud hole. It depends how big the wet season was, on the date of the last rains, and the soil in the area. If you plan to drive in remote areas enquire about the state of the roads. By June you should be right.

Why we love this time of the year

As I said, this is the time of the year when things start happening. We love it when the rains finally stop and we can go places again... most of us are pretty adventurous, or we wouldn't live here.

We know the area, and the tracks, and we'll be out there to enjoy the waterfalls and throw a line in the river long before the visitor centre tells you it's safe to go ;-)

(If you are confident in your four wheel driving skills you might want to do the same... But please act responsibly, don't cause any big rescue operations and don't ruin our tracks.)

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Kimberley Climate and Temperatures
July/August - Peak tourist season

This is generally touted as the best time of the year to visit northern Australia. The Kimberley climate means the weather now is highly predictable, clear blue skies day after day after day... You could plan outdoor events years ahead...

The temperatures are pleasantly warm during the day, and fresh at night. (The average minimum temperature is 15°C/59F but the temperatures can occasionally drop a lot lower than that.)

Kimberley climate: temperatures in July/August

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What the Kimberley climate means for you

Everything is open, there are no restrictions on travel in remote areas. You don't need to worry about rain EVER.

What you do need to worry about is booking ahead! The middle of the dry season is the peak of the tourist season and everything is packed.

Tourist numbers increase every year and I'm surprised how more and more visitors from overseas show up in the most hidden corners and at the most secret waterfalls... Be prepared to share all the sights with lots of other people.

One word for campers. The further inland you go the colder the nights can be. At places like Wolfe Creek or the Bungle Bungles they can drop below zero! Ok, rarely, but it gets cold there, trust me... I hope you have a warm sleeping bag, especially if that cold easterly is blowing...

Why we love this time of the year

The town is so alive! (That's Kununurra in the East Kimberley, my home town, but it's the same for other towns, like Broome.) The pub is always full and bands are playing every weekend. Where else in the world can you combine the benefits of living in a small country town with the joy of meeting nice people from all over the world?

Apart from that it's the best time for camping. No insects around, not even mosquitoes. Cooking on the camp fire on a cold night is much more pleasant than trying to keep the bugs out of the stew on a humid wet season evening...

(Even though you'll hear us complaining about the "freezing" nights...)

And of course, we can go anywhere... If we have the time, that is. For most people this is also the time of the year where the business is thriving and money is made. Looking after our visitors always comes first...

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Kimberley Climate and Temperatures
September/October - The last of the dry season

It's warming up and the tourists are fleeing northern Australia already. Ok, not really, but the drop in numbers is noticeable. As long as you can handle the warmer weather this is still a good time to visit the Kimberley.

Roads are still open, in October you might get the odd shower, but no substantial rains yet. The humidity is going up slightly, but not that much. It's mostly the temperatures that increase.

Kimberley climate: temperatures in September/October

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What the Kimberley climate means for you

If you plan to do walks or other physical activities schedule them for the mornings and evenings, it does get hot during the middle of the day. The temperature at 9 am is about 5 degrees below the average daily maximum, after 10 am it's high time to look for a swimming spot... The sun rises before 5am, so there is lots of time to do things...

But the evenings provide relief, they are actually very pleasant, and insect numbers are still low. No hint of a wet season yet...

If you're camping you can leave the warm sleeping bag in the car, a sheet or thin blanket will do. In October it pays to look at the weather forecast before venturing too far into uncharted wilderness... Or just to find out if you need to put up the tent...

Why we love this time of the year

Tourists are like the rains, we love them when they arrive, and 6 months later it's good to get a break... For many people it will be the first time in months that they get a day off. It's also nice to drive to the post office or supermarket and be able to park the car near the door, just like that.

The swimming holes and fishing spots are not so crowded any more (keep in mind that we will probably consider two other cars a crowd...), and we have time for swimming and fishing again. As far as the heat goes, we just ignore it. You can do the same.

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Kimberley Climate and Temperatures
November/December - Build up time

It's called the build up for the wet season.

By November the land looks parched and burned, and everybody is looking towards the sky. When will it rain? Some years the rain comes early, some years you think it will never happen.

Often you see big storm clouds piling up on the horizon in the afternoon, green and purple and threatening they just sit there... or they move towards you, you duck under cover somewhere, the wind starts blowing, and then the storm changes its mind in the last second and does a U-turn and... Nothing!

When it does rain it's very localised: the drive way gets soaked, the sun is shining in the back yard... or it rains at the neighbour's place but not here...

Seems we're always the last to get rain... (Everybody thinks that.)

Kimberley climate: temperatures in November/December

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What the Kimberley climate means for you

This can be a cruel time of the year. The heat is oppressive (we still try to ignore it, with some success...), the evenings are sticky... The daily max can be 10 degrees above the average! If the rain is late there is no relief from the heat. Swimming holes and waterfalls have dried up, or receded to stagnant, smelly pools, (except of course for our wonderful permanent springs...)

If it does rain it means that unsealed roads (and most of the roads in the Kimberley are unsealed) will have to be closed, at least temporarily.

But the highway should be open. The land is dry and can absorb staggering amounts of water before the rivers rise and flooding occurs. You probably won't get stuck on your way through, but travel in the remoter parts is restricted. Having said that, check the state of the roads before you go anywhere, nothing is certain this time of the year...

Why we love this time of the year

If the rains are early it's magic. It's amazing how the land can change in a matter of days. Fresh water flows, everything is lush and green, animals are frantic mating and breeding, wildflowers bloom... And the lightening show! There's nothing quite like sitting on the roof with a beer and watching the storms roll in... Coming to think of it, there is: sitting at the beach or the jetty...

The first real rain (read massive but short lived deluge, because that's what tropical thunderstorms are,) makes everybody go silly, running around getting soaked, standing under the waterfall of the roof gutter, having mud fights... hey, we haven't seen mud for months, only dust!

How could you not love the first rains?

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Kimberley Climate and Temperatures
January/February - Cyclone season

Cyclone season...

This part of the year is wet, wet, wet... Cyclones in Australia do occur during all of the wet season, but this is their prime time. Even if a cyclone doesn't actually hit the coast it will bring lots and lots of rain. And if it's not a fully fledged cyclone but "only" a tropical low it will do just the same.

The monsoon has reached us, too. It hits Australia later than Asia, and is not as pronounced, but rain is rain, and the soil is already saturated. (Except in the years when it just doesn't rain... that happens, too.)

The humidity is extreme. The dishes in the cupboard look as if they haven't been dried, the clothes that we don't wear smell stale, we use ExitMould for deodorant and wardrobe desiccators are the hottest selling item... Not sure why we love this time of the year, but we do. See below.

Kimberley climate: temperatures in January/February

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What the Kimberley climate means for you

Travel is very restricted. Even the highways get flooded and cut off. If you are driving don't plan ahead too far, who knows if the roads will be open next week?

Be aware that a lot of shops, art galleries etc. will be closed. Especially in January towns can resemble ghost towns... This is the time of the year with the lowest tourist numbers, so that's when the shop owners take their well deserved break.

On the other hand the wet season is the time where the land is at its most spectacular! Many of the aerial shots you see of famous Kimberley waterfalls are only available as aerial shots. When the falls are flowing the road is closed, period. So the only way to see these falls is a scenic flight in the wet season...

If you are a nature enthusiast then it's a magic time of the year. You can't go far with all the roads closed, but you don't have to, everything is right there... just take your umbrella!

Why we love this time of the year

The bush is so alive! Take a walk anywhere and be amazed... There are new wildflowers to discover, young birds and lizards to observe, deafening frog concerts to listen to in the evenings...

Many waterfalls are close enough to home, the tracks are rocky enough, and we can still get there and laze all day...

Oh, and the waters are warm and the barramundi are biting... Or maybe it's just that everybody has a lot of time for fishing. The wet season is a frantic time of the year for the bush, but a quiet time for humans. We can't go far, so we sit on the veranda, listen to the rain on the roof, and the frogs in the puddles next to the road...

It's a quiet, relaxed and restorative time. We have meaningful discussions as the beer cans pile up on the table, well, they started out meaningful... you could probably argue about the restorative effect as well, anyway, we love it.

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Kimberley Climate and Temperatures
March/April - The tail end of the wet season

It's the tail end of the wet season. The sun is shining again, turning the days into steam baths... But the temperatures are nowhere near what they were before the rains. The average doesn't seem to have changed drastically, but the temperatures are now more consistent, they don't climb above 40°C/105F any more. It still rains occasionally, or even a lot if we get a late cyclone...

Towards April the rivers go down and roads start to dry up. Many of the bush fruits and nuts mature, insects are still plentiful as everybody with veranda lights can tell you. Birds are busy raising their second clutch, soon the bounty will be history...

Kimberley weather? Unpredictable. We could have a very late cyclone and still be cut off from the world in May... (As happened after cyclone Steve in 2000. 2006 was similar.) Or maybe it wasn't much of a wet season, it's still hot, but the roads are all open again already...

You can never tell ahead what a wet season will bring...

Kimberley climate temperatures:

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What the Kimberley climate means for you

You can't plan ahead. Probably most unsealed roads are still closed, but the highways are open. Gradually more and more roads will open up, at the same rate as the waterfalls dry up and the bush goes back to sleep.

The process is more gradual than the start of the wet season, when the scenery changed within days. Now we're talking about months, as the green slowly disappears.

If you plan to visit us now, make sure you bring enough time and be flexible with your plans. I can't tell you what you will or won't be able to do...

Why we love this time of the year

If it's still wet we love it the same way we loved the previous months. And if our world starts to dry then we love it like we'll love the next months...

The town fills up slowly, everybody has had their holidays and is well rested. We make plans for the next season, get ready for it and look forward to the first wave of tourists...

Watch out, here they come!

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