When to visit Red Centre: Uluru, Kata Tjuta & Alice Springs
The Red Centre’s semi-arid climate is one of extremes. In summer (December to February), temperatures range between 20ºC and 35ºC and flies are an almost constant nuisance. Spring and autumn are pleasant, while in winter (June to August), night time temperatures can sometimes fall below freezing. Rain, when it comes, arrives in heavy bursts, but you can expect dry conditions throughout most of the year. Wildflower season reaches its peak between September and October.
Climate for this destination
With its monolithic beauty matched only by its fabled cultural significance, Uluru is one of the world’s must-see natural wonders. However, it’s nearly a 300 miles’ drive away from the nearest township, Alice Springs, and set among countless acres of sweeping arid outback; climate becomes especially important in what is essentially a desert. Those making the pilgrimage, then, are going to want the best weather for those perfect sunrises and raking sunsets.
What time of year?
If you plan on making an atmospheric base walk, getting up close to the mighty red sandstone, then you should look to the cooler months of the year in August to September. You’ll enjoy a temperate average high of 20°C, as opposed to a sweltering 38 °C in the January and December summer months, meaning comparatively pleasant hikes. The heat also brings out the worst in angry flies and bugs, the bane of any afternoon’s trek.
You’ll also experience the least amount of rainy days in the Australian winter with an average of just one every August as desert storms can ruin trips. Come prepared, however, for colder nights as campers might prefer the slightly warmer months of April and May.
What time of day?
In terms of times of day, the aforementioned sunrises and sunsets are without a doubt the best time to see the rock. The latter is particularly rewarding when Ayers Rock is set aglow beneath the glorious blue skyscape of Australia’s Northern Territory. You’ll also avoid any morning mists. Check online in advance for times.
Interestingly, the local Aboriginal peoples recognise five seasons with the August to September shoulder period termed Piriyakutul. Named after the warm northwesterly wind, it’s the time when plants flower and animals breed making it traditionally a prime time to hunt kangaroo or, to give them their Aboriginal name, malu. This means excellent opportunities to capture a photo of Australia’s best-loved marsupial and the surprisingly rich desert flora.