kids playing at ellis beach

Discover Tropical Winters

Average Cairns temperatures: 17.5ºC (min) / 26.2ºC (max)

What winter?

Welcome to the place where your typical idea of winter doesn’t really exist. To locals, 20ºC warrants a jacket, and jeans make their way out of the wardrobe; you’ll often hear the crew announce that wetsuits are available to help keep warm in the “chilly” 24ºC waters on the Great Barrier Reef.

Maximum temperatures remain mostly within the mid-twenties, with many brilliant sunny days perfect for exploring the region from the coast and seas to remote areas.

You may encounter a few nights where the mercury dips into the single digits, especially on the Atherton Tablelands where you’ll find a more mild climate due to its elevation. Romantic bed and breakfasts with cosy fireplaces are peppered throughout these highlands, perfect for those “tropicool” nights.

Small tent “villages” spring up around the abundant number of campgrounds as cooler and drier days make for ideal camping weather. Compasses are pointed due north and many take to the dusty road to tackle one of Australia’s most iconic 4WD journeys to the tip of Cape York Peninsula, or west to explore the ancient geological wonders along The Savannah Way.

Twin Falls Cape York

An adventure like no other

Head into frontier country on your journey to “The Tip”. More 4WDs venture through this area than anywhere else in the country and your adventure north is as important as your final destination.

Conquer some of Australia’s most challenging 4WD crossings or cross breathtaking waterfalls off your list as you traverse through national parks, historic townships and stations before arriving at the most northerly point of mainland Australia.

Cape York

Outdoor luxury

One of the things that everyone loves about the tropics is that you can enjoy the outdoorsy lifestyle any time of year.

While other places are huddled inside around heaters, in Tropical North Queensland you can indulge in cocktails by the beach or laze by the pool at a luxury resort.

Live the tropical life

mission beach

Life’s a beach

There are not many places in the world that winter is synonymous with beach days but in Tropical North Queensland you’ll find this time of year boasts prime beach weather.

Water and outside temperatures both hover around the mid-twenties (Celsius) making the sandy shores the perfect place to hang out on a warm, sunny winter day.

Beaches

Thorsborne Trail - Hinchinbrook Islan

Time to explore

Surrounded by National Parks, Marine Parks and World Heritage Areas on all sides, adventures are endless in Tropical North Queensland.

With milder temperatures – locals will say “cold”, you’ll say “perfect” – winter provides the ideal time for camping, hiking or Great Barrier Reef adventures.

The ultimate holiday adventure

Dwarf Minke Whale

Wildlife wanting warmth

Throughout June and July, the Ribbon Reefs, north of Cairns and Port Douglas, becomes the temporary refuge for the only known aggregate of Dwarf Minke Whales in the world.

Humpback whales can also be sighted as they make their way north through a channel between the coast and Great Barrier Reef offering a safe shelter for mothers and calves.

Great Barrier Reef

Tips

  • Due to lower humidity and clearer nights, winter is a great time to stargaze. Head out to Burketown in the Gulf Savannah to learn about the stars on Australia’s largest salt pans with the Gangalidda-Garawa Traditional Custodians.

  • Through winter, Saltwater Crocodiles sun themselves on banks for warmth. Keep an eye out for these ancient dinosaurs as you explore the region.

  • If you’re partial to wetting a line, Tropical North Queensland in winter is the place for you. Head out to Gulf Savannah, fish your way up Cape York Peninsula or try your hand at catching the prized barramundi.

  • Each July, Cairns hosts the annual Cairns Indigenous Art Fair. While the art fair and market might be the main drawcard, you’ll find workshops, fashion shows and satellite events across Cairns.

Winter, tropical style.

The must-do list to make the most of your tropical winter

Coconut Trees
Tropical Lifestyle & Culture
Guide to Cairns & Port Douglas

A getaway is looming and you’re longing for a tropical escape – Cairns and Port Douglas are both popular holiday havens boasting a wealth of experiences. Read this guide to help plan your trip to these two seaside locales.

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Gulf Savannah & Outback
Beneath the Milkyway with Aboriginal Traditional Custodians

Moungibi (Burketown), a small town in the Gulf of Carpentaria with a population of fewer than 300 people, may surprise you with its depth of experiences – Indigenous-owned & operated Yagurli Tours offers a collection of tours run by the Gangalidda-Garawa Traditional Custodians.

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Local’s guide to Palm Cove – Australia’s most beautiful beach village

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Great places to go camping near Cairns

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Things to do in Port Douglas

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Cape York
Cape York is calling: Planning a trip to The Tip

Ready to tackle one of Australia’s most remote landscapes, Cape York? Just you, a car and 1,200km of untamed, World Heritage-listed, 180 million year-old rugged rainforest beauty – aka The Tip.

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Mission Beach & Cassowary Coast
Guide to the natural attractions around Mission Beach

Snuggly tucked along the Cassowary Coast, Mission Beach and its 14 kms of golden beaches are one of Australia’s best-kept secrets. Here are all the reasons why.

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Gulf Savannah & Outback
Why the Undara Lava Tubes should be on your must-see list

Discover a natural gem in the Gulf Savannah of Tropical North Queensland – and enjoy the best breakfast you’ve ever eaten, too!

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Gulf Savannah & Outback
Savannah Way – An Outback Adventure through Gulf Country
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Walkabout Cultural Adventures
Indigenous Culture
15 ways to connect with Indigenous culture

Tropical North Queensland is the only region in Australia with two distinct Indigenous cultures, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. Connect with these ancient cultures 60,000 years in the making.

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What's on

Cultural, sporting and much more. Here are some events to check out over winter.