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Moving from the colder regions of NZ to sunny Brisbane will take some getting used to. But if you’re looking for the freedom of sunshine-filled days and beach weather, Brisbane can give you this almost all year round.

The annual mean minimum temperature in Brisbane is a mild 16.6 °C, and the mean maximum is 26.6 °C, making it Australia’s second hottest capital city (Darwin is the hottest). While the warm, humid climate, tempered with sea breezes is lovely for a holiday, acclimatising to this seaside city after a lifetime of cool NZ weather may take a little time.

Prepare yourself by understanding a little more about the climate and its influence on the local lifestyle.

Seasons in Brisbane

The city of Brisbane is located in the sub-tropical climate zone and this means that its residents can contentedly enjoy warm weather for most of the year. According to the records kept by the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM), the temperatures in Brisbane have not dropped below 6°C even in the winter!

Like most places in the sub-tropics, the variation between seasons in Brisbane is not very noticeable. But each season does have its own characteristic features.

Summer (between December and February)

This season sees temperatures between 21°C - 29.8°C. It is also the season when you can expect heavy rainfall and thunderstorms. On occasion, the city has had floods as a result of torrential rainfall.

Autumn (between March and May)

With autumn, sweltering hot days come to an end and temperatures will drop to between 15°C and 25°C. The humidity levels will also fall and the city will see much fewer showers than in the summer season.

Winters (from June to August) 

Winters in Brisbane are quite dry, with temperatures ranging between 11°C and 21°C. This season is marked by cool, crisp weather early in the morning and at night. It is quite rare for even overnight temperatures to drop below 9°C.

Spring (September and November)

A Brisbane spring is quite similar to autumn. Sunny days see temperatures ranging from 15°C to 25°C. Delightfully cool sea breezes make sunny days more pleasant.

Summer storms in Brisbane

Summer storms are common in Brisbane, other areas of northern Australia and across the state of Queensland. In Brisbane, humidity in the summer is high and will climb further on those days when storms are brewing. Storms tend to occur late in the afternoons and are marked by heavy rains often accompanied by thunder and lightning. The more severe storms will also bring large hailstones, high-speed winds and torrential rainfall.

In Nov 2014, Brisbane experienced what was later called “the worst storm in a decade.” This storm hit the CBD area worst with large hailstones breaking the windows of skyscrapers and the torrential rain causing flash floods. In the suburbs, wind speeds were recorded at 141 km/hr. Cars were upturned, trees uprooted and the storm even flipped some planes at Brisbane Airport.

Brisbane is also located within the boundaries of the Tropical Cyclone risk area, but cyclones rarely occur here. The last one to hit the city was Cyclone Debbie in the March of 2017. The city is also generally sheltered from dust storms blowing in from the desert, with the last one was in September 2009.

Life in Sunny Brisbane

The climate of the city that you live in influences a great deal of your lifestyle. Your wardrobe, the design of your home and even your daily activities will be different to when you lived in NZ. Living in Brisbane gives you plenty of opportunities for outdoor fun and seaside adventures.

Upgrade your wardrobe

A Brisbanite’s wardrobe needs to be sun-smart. This means you should wear sunglasses and hats to protect yourself from heavy sunshine. Don’t forget your sunscreen either (SPF30+).

Stock your wardrobe with plenty of light clothing, preferably made with cotton. Cotton fabrics are breathable and help you stay cool. Light colours are also recommended.

In the summers, frequent downpours are normal and generally occur in late afternoons. An umbrella will come in handy at this time. Stashing a raincoat in your car or office is probably a good idea. These downpours can get quite heavy.

Winter is the weather for long-sleeved shirts but temperatures don’t really fall that much so scarves and light jackets are adequate to keep you warm. You can put all your heavy winter wear in storage.

If you’re going on hikes or walks in the wilderness, please do cover up as Australia is home to a number of unique insects and reptiles. Sensible shoes and socks are also recommended.

Homes in Brisbane

Residential architecture around the world developed to meet the local climatic conditions and the Queenslander architectural style is no different. Traditionally, most residents lived in detached houses with a garden around the house. Today, young professionals and students prefer finding apartments closer to the CBD. If you’re living in one of these, you should consider installing air conditioners or fans. To shade your windows from direct sunlight, awnings are often placed above window frames. Closing blinds and curtains to keep the sun out during the afternoons also helps. Choosing homes with plenty of ventilation will prevent having to live with stuffy interiors.

If you’re planning to live in the suburbs, you will be able to spot homes with typical Queenslander architecture. These homes are typically built with high ceilings to help keep the rooms cool. Hot air rises, and thanks to these ceilings, the floor level is kept cool. Whirly birds (ventilators) are placed on roofs to help draw the hot air out. To withstand torrential rainfall in the summer, steel corrugate sheets are used in roofing. Even if a cyclone damages it, the material can be repurposed.

This architectural style even used the placement of doors and windows to encourage an uninterrupted flow of air through the house. It is not uncommon for these homes to also have daybeds or tables and chairs set up on the porch for people to enjoy the cool breeze.

This is one aspect that has also now made its way to high rise building architecture. Where balconies were once small, today they’ve evolved to become wide extensions of the living space.

Outdoor exercise, activities and adventures

Thanks to the weather, people in Brisbane can enjoy daily exercise and outdoor activities. There are plenty of provisions made within the city for pedestrians, runners and cyclists.

However, afternoon sunshine in subtropical climates can be unforgiving so strenuous outdoor activity is generally best done early in the morning or in the evening when the sun isn’t as harsh.  

If you don’t own a cycle, you can rent one from CityCyle. This is an economical and fun way to get around the city. There are also cycling clubs that you can go join to go on longer trips outside the city.

On good days, exploring the city via the Brisbane River is not unheard of. Kayaking and Stand Up Paddle boarding on the river are both water activities that residents and tourists enjoy.

If you’re looking for exercise that doesn’t feel like exercise, there are plenty of scenic walks that you can take in and around Brisbane. Whether it is along the South Bank or along the Southern Bayside promenade, you can get to know the city better and burn some calories at the same time. A particularly exciting walk is exploring the ancient Gondwana rainforest, with 9 suspension bridges that swing amongst the trees at Lamington National Park.

In the summer months, rains and storms generally begin late in the afternoon. So plan to get your exercise out of the way early in the morning when the weather is bearable.

Wildlife, hiking and abseiling

Hiking in the winter can be very pleasant thanks to the cool, crisp weather. It isn’t cold enough to warrant heavy winter wear but the overwhelming heat of summer is over. There are plenty of hikes close to the city where both beginners and pros can get to waterfalls and caves, explore the rock formations created by Mt. Warning volcano, and wander through eucalyptus forests for a chance of spotting koalas in the trees!

Brisbane has a number of reserves and natural attractions that are amazing. The Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is worth checking out. It’s based along the upper areas of The Brisbane River and ideal for a closer look at those koalas you’ve always wanted to see.

Seaside recreation

In Brisbane, it’s beach weather almost throughout the entire year and warm ocean currents make it perfect for seaside activities. You can catch a wave in one the of the many beaches within driving distance from the city. Boating and fishing are popular among the locals but the many beaches offer a wide range of recreational pursuits.

For surfing, the Noosa area is popular with beginners and pros alike, so it can get quite crowded. Sunshine beach, Noosa beach and North Shore have swells of about two metres but those at Noosa First point, Tea Tree and Granite Bay reach over the three metre mark. Main Beach located along the Gold Coast has plenty of surf schools for the uninitiated.

Stand Up Paddle Boarding (or SUP) is another popular water sport and Brisbane not only has great SUP locations but also places you can rent gear and learn. Popular spots for SUP are Redcliffe, Kangaroo Point and Brighton for beginners. The Caboolture River gives pros a peaceful place to enjoy paddle boarding without the crowds.

Bayside suburbs of Wynnum and Manly, Shorncliffe and Sandgate are popular for kitesurfing and windsurfing, jet skiing and angling.

Islands like Birbie offer a quiet escape for nature enthusiasts. Not only can you enjoy fishing here, but you can also take a cruise to Pumicestone Passage and try spotting turtles, dolphins, and dugongs.

Between June and October, Humpback whales swim past the South East Queensland Coast on their way to the waters around Queensland. So whale watching should be on your list during this period.

FAQ

What is the average rainfall in the summer?

You can expect storms and heavy rain in the summer months (between November and March). The average rainfall in this season is 426.6 mm according to the official Australian website for Tourism.

Does Brisbane have droughts or floods?

Drought conditions did occur in Brisbane and surrounding regions between 2001 and 2010. During this time, water restrictions were imposed on residents to control gardening and outdoor water usage. In 2011, there were heavy rains which ended the drought.

What is the humidity like in Brisbane?

As the city is by the coast, humidity is high in Brisbane. In the winter, the humidity is about 50% but it goes up to 65 % or 70 % in the summer months. February is Brisbane’s most humid month and September is its least humid month.

Does it snow in Brisbane?

No, it does not snow in Brisbane. The lowest recorded temperature in Brisbane is -0.1°C at the airport station on 19 July 2007. But a region west of Brisbane, Ipswich, has recorded a temp of -5°C with ground frost.

What is a UV Index Forecast?

The Ultra Violet Index Forecast tells you the intensity of daily solar UV radiation. This forecast will be in the local weather reports and you should buy some sunscreen (SPF30+) to protect yourself from it. Wearing sunglasses, hats and other accessories to protect yourself from the sun is also recommended.

Is the sea warm near Brisbane?                                    

Yes, it is. The average temperatures of the sea can range from 21°C in July to 27°C in February.

Which are the coldest and hottest months in Brisbane?

On average, January is the hottest month and the coldest month is July. The wettest month is generally February.

Do they have daylight savings in Brisbane?

The Queensland time zone is AEST or Australian Eastern Standard Time, UTC +10. Daylight savings is not observed here.

What is the BoM Weather Radar viewer?

This gives you information about any storms that are brewing and how big the storm is likely to be. This is especially useful in the summers when storms can arrive in the blink of an eye. The information is updated by the Bureau of Meteorology.

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