Darwin Weather - keep up to date with Darwin weather on the ground please click here for more information and forecast.  

Cycle of Seasons

The ebb and flow of nature in the Top End is largely dictated by an annual monsoon cycle that has been in place for around 8,000 years. Ordinarily referred to as 'the wet' (November to April) and 'the dry' (May to October), for local Aboriginal people the seasons have always been more complex.

For indigenous people, what characterises a season is not just about rainfall and sunshine, but which plants or fruits are flowering, which animals are having offspring, which are on the move or which are best to eat. Having an intimate understanding of the changes in season is crucial to the traditional lives of Aboriginal people as they travel through their country.

The indigenous people of the Top End recognise six seasons.

January and February make up the bulk of the Top End’s tropical summer, considered by many as its most beautiful time of year. A predictable daily ritual of sunshine and afternoon storms refreshes the landscape and encourages an explosion in animal and plant life. Rivers flow, plains flood and waterfalls roar - these are particularly dazzling sights from above in a light aircraft or helicopter.

As the heavy rains begin to ease in March and April, rivers subside and the transition from wet to dry begins. Fish, a main food source for the indigenous people, are plentiful in the rivers and billabongs as they feed frenetically in the run-off from the floodplains. This is considered the prime fishing time for anglers who flock to huge tidal rivers around Darwin, Kakadu and Katherine to catch barramundi, many over a metre long.

Relatively cool weather arrives in May, and until July, nights are crisp and the mornings are misty with temperatures ranging from 17-23 degrees Celsius during the night and a very pleasant 29-32 degrees during the day. The early fires typical of this time of year stir the animals, marking the beginning of hunting season for the Aboriginal people. The clear skies of this dry season herald the onset of outdoor activity and festivity in the Top End, where celebrations like the Darwin Festival feature performances staged in parks, under canopies of palm trees and the clear night sky.

Birds in their millions converge on waterholes and rivers during August and September as the reduction in rainfall forces waterholes to contract. This makes observing them easy for birdwatchers who come to witness up to a third of Australia’s bird species congregated in one place. Hunting for animals that flock to the scattered water sources is a traditional Aboriginal activity at this time.

From October to December, dark threatening clouds roll across the sky, but rarely deliver rain. This is the season of spectacular electrical storms, a phenomenon that is eagerly anticipated by locals who watch the show from beachside restaurants and outdoor pubs. This is the time when termites begin building their nests, the rare and unusual formations that spring from the landscape at places like Litchfield National Park.

Does the Wet affect tours and accessibility?

Tours and attractions operate year round in the Top End with the majority of locations across the region, including Litchfield Park and Kakadu National Park, being open throughout the year. However, due to restricted road access, some destinations can close seasonally between December and May.

Major attractions like Wangi Falls in Litchfield National Park are normally accessible all year round, but may also close periodically due to excessive rainfall which can cause dangerous conditions.

Walking in the Top End

There are many opportunities to experience the real feel of the Top End when taking to the walking trails. If you are planning to explore the Top End on foot, there are a number of points to consider:

• carry plenty of drinking water

• take notice of the signs at all times

• keep to the walking trails

• adhere to advice from guides

• carry protection - a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, insect repellent

• carry a map of the area

• wear good solid walking shoes and appropriate clothing

• talk to a local about guided walking tours.

For further information call Tourism Top End 1300 138 886.

Swimming in the Top End

In the Top End, many people live and participate in recreation activities in and near waterways, however, crocodiles are common in our waterways. If a waterway is not designated safe for swimming then it may be inhabited by crocodiles. If you do not see a designated safe swimming sign, you should not take the risk of entering the water.

Not all waterways in the Top End can be sign posted, therefore do not assume that without a sign there is no danger. If there is no sign, then the area may not be safe or free from crocodiles. So remember, if there is no sign, do not swim in the area.  All fatal crocodile attacks in the NT in the past 20 years have occurred when people have entered the water outside of designated swimming areas.

For information on where you can safely swim in the Top End and how to be croc wise, please click here.

Weather and Other Emergencies 

Secure NT is your gateway to information on preparing for and getting through emergency situations in the Northern Territory, including cyclones, flooding, and bushfires.

Fossicking in the Top End

Renowned for its abundance, quality and variety of gems and minerals, Australia's Northern Territory is a vast land of hidden treasures just waiting to be discovered! Whether you are on your own, with friends or family, fossicking is a unique and fun way to see and explore some of the most scenic outback landscapes the Northern Territory has to offer.

Fossickers have unearthed an array of gems and minerals across the Territory, including agate, amethyst, apatite, epidote, beryl, garnet, gold, jasper, magnetite, mica, microcline, pyrite, quartz, ribbonstone, tourmaline and zircon. 

A number of dedicated fossicking areas are located throughout the Top End to encourage more people to seek out these hidden treasures - why not join the growing number of people who have discovered how addictive fossicking can be!

Before you embark on your next fossicking adventure in the Top End please take the time to read through the information, including factsheets and useful links to other information of interest, provided for you on this website. By familiarising yourself with the relevant requirements you will ensure that your experience is a happy and enjoyable one!