In Australia seasons are reversed to those in the Northern hemisphere: winter is June to August. Spring is September to November. Summer is December to February. Autumn is March to May. And if that isn’t confusing enough, the Jawoyn people of the Northern Territory divide their weather into six seasons. The Northern Territory is the least surfed out of all five of the Australian states, but those six weather patterns give you some idea as to how the rest of the country works – swinging from very wet to very dry with shades in between. And it’s those in between the extreme periods that surfers shoot for, depending on how close they are to the equator, or the Tropic of Capricorn, or the South Pole.
In general, wind blows from the ocean toward shore when the land is warmer than the sea. And then the reverse is true when the land cools down, and wind blows from land toward the sea. Surfers generally prefer the latter condition, so winds are generally unfavorable during the Australian spring and into the summer, when the land is heating up again, and the winds are blowing from ocean onto land. However, like most the USA, early morning winds are generally favorable year round.
Favorable winds begin in the Australian autumn, from March to May, and continue through winter when the land is cooling off and winds blow from land to sea.
For Queensland and the Gold Coast, the Dry is June through September and then rainfall increases from October, with March the rainiest month. December is the hottest month on the Gold Coast, which also coincides with the summer Christmas holidays. Summer has persistent east swell but can be tainted by the northeast onshores, which are up by 10:30 nearly everyday. Corners protected from the northerly winds number about six, and the surfers crowded into these corners number a lot more than that. The good news is that northeast winds only usually last from September through late November.
If you go by the ASP World Tour schedule, February and March is the best time to be on the Gold Coast, because that is when they hold their annual event at Superbank. The hot tip on Queensland is March through May, when the pro tour is gone and school is back in session.
The east coast of Australia from the Sunshine coast down to Sydney and beyond is effected by two main weather patterns during the summer (Nov-Feb) The northerly is a hot wind blowing from out of the Coral Sea which sucks all the moisture out of the land and sends the mercury rising. The northerly wrecks most spots in Queensland.
The southerly is a cool, moist wind that comes from the lower latitudes. The southerly is better for the Gold Coast, as Snapper Rocks and the Superbank are offshore, as is Noosa.
Cyclones do come in from the Coral Sea in La Niña years and down from the North in El Niños. In either case, you're generally safe from impact
down where the surf can get in, out of the shelter of the Great Barrier Reef. Still, it can get very wet some years, but then you just drive down into NSW and get the waves without the weather!
The New South Wales coast from Tweed Heads through Sydney and down to the Victoria border is 700 miles as the crow flies, but much longer than that as the Combi drives. This coast gets swell year around, with the north coast taking in cyclone swells from November through March and sometimes into April, while the coast south of Sydney gets swell from low pressure systems in the Tasman Sea in winter, and strong elongated highs in summer with barometric pressures of upwards of 1045 KPA. In the right spot these will give solid head high waves on the points.
Again, if you go by the schedule of the ASP World “Dream” Tour, right around Easter is the best time to be in the Bell’s Beach area. What is springtime to Americans is autumn to Australians. Fall is considered the best time for Bell’s Beach and all of the south-facing areas of the Great Australian Bight, as the months from March to May are on the cusp between the flatness of summer and the harsh coldness of winter. From March into April, the Southern Ocean is rumbling to life while the inner desert is cooling off and winds blow out to sea and offshore at many of the spots from Cape Howe to Albany. Winter is often too big and harsh along this long stretch of coast, as the Southern Ocean is in full roar, and it feels like the Antarctic ice pack is just over the horizon.
The southwest corner of Australia is temperate as it is pretty far south and gets regular rainfall- from 12 to 55 inches. At one time this corner was heavily forested and now supports agriculture. Unlike the currents that sweep the west coasts of South Africa and Peru, the Leeuwin Current is a warm water current that flows from north to south and makes the southwest coast of Western Australia one of the most biodiverse areas in the world, with the most southerly coral reefs. That diversity also extends to the surf, as Western Australia is one of the most wave-lashed coasts in the world.
In Western Australia, the best conditions are from September to May but you are not guaranteed swell. In winter when there is swell, but the onshore winds can be relentless. Almost all surfing in Western Australia is done before 10 AM as it always blows out. The days that blow offshore all day, you can count on one hand. The points in WA do not offer the protection like the east coast set ups, only two are OK when the winds are onshore: Jake's in Kalbarri and south point at Cowarumup bay north of Margaret River.
What about west Australia – north of perth, up torwards The Bluff and Gnaraloo – warm water and favorable wind??? Good area for 4x4 exploration