One of the more flexible months in terms of travel options on the annual calendar, September strikes a nice balance between easing the thaw of winter while delaying some of the sweltering conditions that can hit certain parts of Australia later on in the year.
It’s the official beginning of Spring in Oz, and while the season takes a little while to fully kick in, many of its signature benefits – such as typically lower rainfall, warmer temperatures and a general lack of school holidays for the majority of the month – open up a wide range of potential destinations for travel.
As a result, there are few better months of the year in which to head both north and inland on the continent for a travel experience that otherwise may have climate factors make uncomfortable in other periods.
But with so much potential choice, where, then, are some of the top places in Australia to travel in September? Here are 6 awesome Aussie destinations for a September getaway.
6. Coober Pedy, South Australia
Average temperatures: 24.5 degrees Celsius – 10.1 degrees Celsiu
Must see & do: Visit Umoona Opal Mine; stay in an underground dugout at the Desert Cave Hotel; visit the Breakaways (and possibly Painted Desert); visit the Old Timer’s Mine; buy an opal or three
This isolated mining town situated smack-bang in the middle of the South Australian outback is renowned for its scorching hot temperatures that force many of its residents to seek refuge in homes underground; however it’s also got enough of its own distinct sightseeing attributes and cultural quirks to make for one of Australia’s more unique visits.
The town, which lies around a 9-hour drive roughly to the north of Adelaide, was built on the back of the mining industry and dubs itself the “Opal Capital of the World” due to its penchant for the gorgeous gemstones. Hitting the road on four wheels from the South Australian capital to this remote hotspot is one of Australia’s iconic road trips, for a variety of reasons.
The aforementioned dugout living is one of the first and most obvious calling cards of the town – over half of its population lives in subterranean domiciles – and serves as the main curio for many travellers, with interested visitors able to take part in guided tours to see one of these homes for themselves. They’re surprisingly well-equipped as well as comfortable, maintaining a temperature around the 24 degree Celsius mark despite the ability of above-ground temps to soar as high as 50°C in the hottest months.
Those wanting to take things a step further can even book their own underground accommodation; Coober Pedy’s Desert Cave Hotel gives visitors the chance to sample a bite of this unconventional lifestyle by renting one of their 19 dugout rooms.
“Hitting the road on four wheels from the South Australian capital to this remote hotspot is one of Australia’s iconic road trips.”
Of course, visiting during September goes a great way to alleviating the need to become a veritable mole and escape below the earth, as daily maximum temps are far more reasonable during early Spring; expect daily averages of the mid-to-high 20’s that bring wonderfully clear skies along with them.
Mining is another inescapable focal point of any trip to Coober Pedy, and as a result it’s hard to resist the temptation of leaving without buying at least one of the town’s signature opals; it features the world’s largest display of the gems, with many of them surprisingly reasonably-priced, too.
A more in-depth look at the town’s mining history and present-day activities can be had courtesy of the excellent Umoona Opal Mine (which made our South Australian Bucket List of Top 100 SA Experiences), that serves as a comprehensive tribute to the region’s history, industry, indigenous culture and innovative construction techniques. Visitors have the ability to wander through the mine’s curated sections and absorb the detailed information at their own pace, while there’s also some wonderfully-produced material chronicling the Aboriginal perspective on the region and its opals.
Capping things off on a Coober Pedy visit is the sheer expansiveness (and emptiness) of the surrounding terrain itself. Exemplified by the multicoloured beauty of the Breakaways Conservation Park roughly 32km to the north of Coober Pedy, the earth here serves as a reminder of the terrains geological origins, and is particularly spectacular at sunset as the colours are amplified further.
It’s a landscape akin to another world, and quite different from most other visitable locations throughout Australia. While it’s drivable, those looking to simply enjoy the scenery without negotiating the terrain can book a tour of the Breakaways (as well as other local musts) through Radeka Down Under, who offer daily runs to multiple Coober Pedy highlights.
Of course, seeing everything Coober Pedy has to offer takes more than a single day, yet if you’re wanting to visit a destination quite unlike anywhere else in the country then it’s well worth the investment of both time and money.
5. Kalbarri, Western Australia
Average temperatures: 24.0 degrees Celsius – 10.9 degrees Celsius
Must see & do: See Nature’s Window; walk the Z Bend; do the Loop Walk; visit Rainbow Jungle; drive to the Pink Lake; see a sunset at Red Bluff
Featuring a lovely and mixed juxtaposition of landscapes, this picturesque Western Australian coastal area where the Murchison River and Indian Oceans meet blends together multiple striking elements that make it well worth a visit. An outdoor-oriented destination with plenty to offer the adventurous traveller that doesn’t mind putting in some effort to get out and explore on foot, September’s status as a cooler month plays significantly into the Kalbarri’s advantage.
Chief among its draw cards for travellers is its vividly colourful namesake Kalbarri National Park; a spectacular mix of fiery gorges and distinctively unique rock formations, the comfortable September climate makes some of its excellent, more extended walking tracks far more viable. Given that both its coastal section as well as its inner, gorge-oriented tracks are must-do prospects, the extra energy and reduced fatigue can come in particularly handy for making the most of a visit here.
Kalbarri National Park is home to a number of significant natural highlights, including most famously the iconic “Nature’s Window” which frames a wonderful little portrait of the gorge-dissecting river beyond, while the park also features a landscape that has been carved by the combination of weather and time to form some other remarkable shapes as well.
Blending together ochre colours of the distinctly Aussie earth with pockets of greenery and dissected by the blue of the Murchison River itself, the Kalbarri National Park provides a number of outstanding lookouts and vantage points from which to soak this spectacle all in. It’s renowned Z-Bend route in particular, which offers a spectacular panorama of gorge, river and red gum, provides a great overview of the scenery on offer.
“The comfortable September climate makes some of its excellent, more extended walking tracks far more viable.”
Stick to the coast and town’s surrounds, meanwhile, and Kalbarri offers plenty of additional potentials, as its waters are home to a high population of marine life – expect to spot plenty of dolphins during your time here.
The signature Chinaman’s Beach is likewise clean, picturesque and offers some quality swimming, fishing and snorkelling, while Rainbow Jungle is an excellent and surprisingly comprehensive avian attraction teeming with bird life. Add in the unique phenomenon of the Pink Lake (a.k.a Hutt Lagoon) that appears a bright, fluorescent colour just a reasonable drive away, and you’ve got a portion of the country worthy of a true artist’s palette.
Plus, of course, there’s the long-running local spectacle of pelican feeding, in which dozens of the massive birds are treated on the river foreshore during regular morning feeding sessions. That’s about as action-packed as the area around the town itself gets, as Kalbarri is a laid-back, peaceful place in which lazing around and enjoying its picturesque riverside location are its major points of focus, which makes for some idyllic recovery after a day of land-based exploration.
Drop a line in the water, grab a kayak and have a leisurely paddle, hit the water for a surf, or simply soak in the sun, and you’ll have an enjoyable enough itinerary to last for a multi-day visit.
Situated roughly 600km from Western Australian capital Perth, Kalbarri is another destination that requires time and effort to visit, yet is also home to some of WA’s most unique scenery while being truly escapist in its own right.
4. Byron Bay, New South Wales
Average temperatures: 22.2 degrees Celsius – 14.3 degrees Celsius
“Byron” has come a long way since its original orientation as merely a quaint hippie town to become one of its region’s signature getaway spots. Location plays a large part in its appeal – it’s conveniently close to the Queensland border, and as a result draws in plenty of day trippers from the larger Gold Coast over the border – and its continued development now sees it as home to a number of chic cafes, restaurants, bars and accommodation.
There’s a reason many are drawn to Byron Bay (and that’s more than just surfers, as well); the town boasts a wonderful blend of weather and beach, and its current level of commercialisation is still low enough for it to maintain a laid-back atmosphere – particularly during the first couple of weeks of September before the holiday season hits.
The town is famous for being the easternmost point of mainland Australia; an unremarkable fact in its own right, yet one which is capped off by a signature landmark: its iconic lighthouse which sits perched atop sea cliffs in a picturesque spot overlooking the ocean. The lighthouse walk – which can be done either from the base of the hill (strenuous) or via a drive-then-walk combination (for the lazier among us) – grants wonderful views of the open ocean crashing against the rocks below, and hang gliders can often be spotted circling the skies above. Spanning a leisurely 3.7km loop, it’s doable for all ages and easily Byron’s must-do activity for first-time visitors.
In terms of nature, Byron Bay is also a standout destination for multiple reasons. Byron Bay’s beaches are of a universally high quality – in fact, its main beach was recently ranked #8 in our Australian Top 10 Beaches poll by the public due in large part to its expansive walking areas, immaculate shores and great surf breaks all within easy walking distance from the town centre. This beachfront bent makes it a haven for surfers, swimmings, snorkelers and anyone else who enjoys an aquatic focus on their Aussie holiday.
“Byron Bay’s current level of commercialisation is still low enough for it to maintain a laid-back atmosphere – particularly before the school holiday season hits.”
Head away from the coast, meanwhile, and Byron Bay still shines, with a lovely Hinterland area that offers plenty of alternative activities for travellers to take part in. This area of lush greenery is a prime area for exploration, and the likes of horse riding, rainforest walks and even hot air ballooning are all viable ways to see its natural highlights. With a rich farming history and several quaint villages, there are also numerous opportunities to indulge the palate on a variety of fresh local produce.
Byron has long been a popular port of call for the international and backpacker markets in particular; a number of bars, clubs and other nightlife spots have helped it become something of an underground hit with young people of all demographics looking to enjoy a night out in recent years.
The majority of Byron’s nightlife is situated around the central hub between Jonson and Bay streets, with the compact size of the town making bar-hopping on foot an easy and convenient process. In terms of places to choose from, Byron Bay’s nightlife scene all starts with the Beach Hotel perhaps Byron’s most iconic nightlife spot, it sits in a great location just across from the beach and is one of the biggest drawcards for bigger-named musical acts and live bands.
Alternatively, pay a visit to “The Rails” (a former railway station that functions as a bar), Cocomangas in the middle of town replete with a spacious dance floor that pumps out a mix of Top 40 / R&B, or Cheeky Monkeys for some riotous, backpacker-style fun (inhibitions optional).
Add in plenty of options for other aquatic adventures such as sea kayaking, taking part in surfing lessons, or even take a whale watching tour to see the gentle giants of the ocean up close, as September falls in the heart of Byron Bay’s annual whale season.
In all, Byron Bay is a great all-round destination for most demographics that combines the best of nature, climate, seaside atmosphere and a lack of crowding to make for an ideal relaxed escape. Whether you’re travelling here from north or south, Byron has plenty to lure in travellers, it doesn’t take much to appreciate Byron’s blend of laid-back nature and modern convenience.
3. Grampians National Park, Victoria
Average temperatures: 16.6 degrees Celsius – 6.0 degrees Celsius
Must see & do: The view from the Balconies & the Pinnacle; see MacKenzie Falls; visit Halls Gap Zoo; dine at The Views Restaurant; stop over at Ballarat.
For those looking for a cooler climate alternative to some of the otherwise warm spots on this list, Victoria‘s signature – and quite breathtaking – national park is a wonderful destination in which to embrace the onset of springtime. The Grampians National Park is diverse natural beauty incarnate, offering one of the greatest numbers of spectacular lookouts of any locale in the country – it’s a destination where bringing better than a camera-phone along for the ride is nearly mandatory.
The park’s various canyons, gorges, peaks and valleys all provide different aspects from which to take in the rugged Australian bush land within; both natural scenery and indigenous Aboriginal rock art, the sandstone mountains of the Grampians have been featured in art, literature and film – a testament to their rugged beauty.
September in the Grampians adds an additional splash of colour to all of the above, as well, as it’s home to a gorgeous display of springtime wildflowers dotted within a mixture of woodlands, forest and heathlands. The combination of whites, pinks and purples brighten up the standard greens and browns of an Aussie bush landscape, and as such walking during this period makes the park a veritable photographer’s dream. While there’s always the chance of the occasional spring shower during this time, any rainfall is seldom heavy, and coming equipped with a light spray jacket should be sufficient to keep conditions enjoyable.
“September in the Grampians adds an additional splash of colour, as it’s home to a gorgeous display of springtime wildflowers.”
The collection of ridges that make up the Grampians provide both wide and far-reaching panoramas to take in, and the visual diversity on offer within the boundaries of the national park is impressive; it’s a mixture of tumbling waterfalls, deep gorges and even offers the potential for fine dining that provide an all-around natural destination that’s impressive in its scope.
Perhaps the most famous landmarks in the Grampians National Park are the Balconies (formerly known as the Jaws of Death but changed in order to, you know, avoid making tourists think they’re likely to die) – jutting, rocky outcroppings that are easily accessible via a short and easy walk from a nearby carpark.
The landscape visible from this lookout is dramatic, with a panorama overlooking the Victoria Range, Lake Wartook and more that’s a favourite spot of nature photographers Australia-wide. This pair of sandstone rocks that jut out of the side of a cliff face live up to their name, providing a platform from which to take in a wonderful outlook that’s home to some of the most beautiful sunsets in the country.
The Pinnacle is slightly lesser-known but arguably even more visually striking in its offerings; around a 2.1km walk from the nearby car park, it’s truly worth the effort as the panorama granted that encompasses Halls Gap, the nearby lake and overall view of the ranges is breathtaking. It’s a fairly challenging walk and involves quite a climb, but in terms of ultimate Grampians vantage points, this one ranks tops.
Indigenous history also plays a large role as a drawcard here, as the Grampians National Park is home to a surprisingly extensive array of Aboriginal rock art, earning a National Heritage listing as a result. Ancient depictions of the likes of humans, animals, birds and more can be found adorning the walls of these sites, and carry along with them a strong sense of spirituality that’s easy for all nationalities to appreciate.
Those who enjoy their walking and hiking will be in their element in the Grampians, as it’s home to a large number of quality walking trails both short and long, many of which result in some truly breathtaking natural phenomena along the way. The cascading, tumbling waters of Mackenzie Falls are one of the most obvious, as these powerful falls are one of the largest and most easily accessible of their kind in the national park, and quite striking up close. Various other lookouts such as Reefs, Boroka, Broken Falls and more also provide a significant visual payoff for a relatively small amount of effort, and as such hikers of all fitness levels can find themselves a suitable track here.
Visitors wanting a break from foot-based exploration can also take an enjoyable spell at The Views Restaurant at Halls Gap, which provides some quality food in a pleasant setting – and comes complete with resident kangaroos that add to the ambience. Families, meanwhile, can get a dose of animal-oriented entertainment at the excellent Halls Gap Zoo, which features a surprisingly diverse number of animal species and is quite a lot bigger than one might first expect.
The Grampians’ possibility as a day or two-day trip from Melbourne (takes roughly 3 hours drive from the capital), as well as a popular guided tour destination makes it highly accessible as well, and the ability to take a route via Ballarat to take in some Australian gold-mining history along the way allows for an extended and enjoyable September road trip in Victoria.
2. Kununurra, Western Australia
Average temperatures: 36.4 degrees Celsius – 20.8 degrees Celsius
Must see & do: Lake Argyle, Emma Gorge, stay at El Questro Wilderness Park, visit Hoochery Distillery, walk through Mirima National Park, cruise the Ord River
While the greater Kimberley region of Western Australia has its thermometer perpetually situated anywhere between “warm” and “oh God, it’s hot”, the beginning parts of September are still a very viable travel period to visit this far-flung and gorgeous part of the country. Average temperatures are still high during this season, however, they’re far from unbearably so, and the period’s bent towards low levels of humidity during the start of the month means it’s largely an enjoyable rather than uncomfortable degree of heat for travellers.
The entire region is worth exploring for those with extended time, however focusing around the hub of Kununurra in the Kimberley’s far east and using it as a springboard for a range of potential intriguing travel spots and natural features provide both escapism and flexibility. Long a harsh and distant destination limited mainly to the stuff of travel dreams, the town has developed over time to have more of an infrastructure for travellers wanting to embrace the Kimberley’s wonders firsthand.
The town sits in an isolated location close to the state’s border with the Northern Territory, its remoteness its main drawcard, with the trip there on four wheels particularly time-consuming but an enjoyable adventure in and of itself. September in Kununurra falls before the onset of the wet season, as well, meaning that roads to the region’s attractions are largely open and rainfall typically remains minimal.
“The town has developed over time to have more of an infrastructure for travellers wanting to embrace the Kimberley’s wonders firsthand.”
Kununurra itself is functional and rich in character if unspectacular – its signature highlight is the surprisingly excellent Hoochery Distillery (the oldest of its ilk in Western Australia) that’s both a delight for rum drinkers as well as a spot at which to enjoy a quality meal in the presence of eternally-friendly staff. The rest of the town-adjacent entertainment is largely limited to taking things easy; enjoying a drink, browsing its galleries, driving the short distance to Lake Kununurra itself for a dip, or making the walk to the top of Kelly’s Knob for a nice overview of Kununurra or to soak in a gorgeous sunset.
Of course, few people would travel the vast distances required simply to spend a few days in an outback town, however charming, and it’s in the many gorgeous surrounding natural offerings that Kununurra shines. The town offers plenty of potential adventures to in which explore this gorge-and-water pocketed landscape, and while several of its attractions require an all-terrain vehicle to explore in full, many of them are accessible with a traditional 2WD car as well.
The most obvious highlight is the enormous expanse of Lake Argyle; a massive, man-made freshwater lake that is the main reason for Kununurra’s existence, and which has turned into a major attraction in its own right. Both its scale and degree of isolation are impressive – the lake’s edge is some 70km from Kununurra proper – as is the dramatic visual landscape it presents.
Exploring and enjoying Lake Argyle and its surrounds can be done in a variety of fashions; there are a number of bushwalking tracks and trails that provide great overviews of the lake and its local wildlife; watersports such as canoeing, waterskiing and sailing provide fun and scenic ways to enjoy its waters; and scenic cruises conducted by Lake Argyle Cruises allow for taking in the lake from a wholly different angle.
Closer to town, those wanting a decent and enjoyable walk with some rewarding scenery that’s not too taxing can venture into Mirima National park, which lies only a couple of kilometres out of town. It’s a compact national park compared to some of the region’s other more famous offerings, yet its display of colourful sandstone interspersed with greenery is emblematic of the region as a whole. Park your car, grab your bottles of water, and take the relatively brief and leisurely walk to the park’s signature lookout point while stopping to admire the scenery along the way.
Emma Gorge is another must-visit highlight that brings with it a number of wonderful rewards in return for a semi-challenging hike along a well-marked yet rock-dotted track. There’s a bit of climbing and clambering involved, but the gorgeous scenery towards the end – including two marvellous natural plunge pools – is an amazing combination of turquoise waters and rocky reds. September’s warmer temperatures go a long way to making the otherwise-chilly waters refreshing as opposed to shocking, too.
Of course, this only scratches the surface of what the greater Kimberley has to offer, and given that it’s likely a once-in-a-lifetime proposition as a travel destination for most visitors an extended visit to the region spanning multiple weeks is ideal.
Those looking to visit Kununurra can access the town via commercial airline by way of Broome, Darwin or Perth, or by an extended road trip with travel times clocking in at around 11 hours from Broome, or 10 hours from Darwin.
1. Airlie Beach / Whitsundays, Queensland
Average temperatures: 26 degrees Celsius – 19.2 degrees Celsius
Must see & do: visit Whitehaven Beach and the Hill Inlet lookout; cruise and dive the Outer Reef; take a reef scenic flight over Heart Island; visit Hamilton, Daydream or Long Islands; go jet skiing; take a sailing cruise; Daydream Island’s “Living Reef”
Widely considered the most beautiful string of islands available without leaving domestic waters – and up there with those outside – the Whitsundays have long fared as one of the country’s premier travel destinations, and there are few better times of the year to venture forth and enjoy their sun, sand and sea than September. Queensland‘s famed archipelago is the stuff travel postcards are made of, full of all the vivid blues and shining golds that one might expect of a premier tropical getaway spot, and the ninth month’s weather conditions and reasonable pricing make it a top choice.
There’s a certain stigma around the Whitsundays being a premium-only travel destination reserved for special occasions, and while there’s certainly the opportunity to indulge in an upmarket island stay, this does not have to be the case. Airlie Beach serves a worthy mainland-based hub from which to embark on day trips, or spend one or two nights on individual islands as you see fit, and visiting in the early part of September, in particular, sees on-shore accommodation prices at some of their most wallet-pleasing.
Of course, when someone’s planning a trip to an almost entirely outdoor-focused destination such as the Whitsundays, one of the primary concerns is obviously going to be the weather, and it’s in this regard that September delivers. While it can be argued that later in the year and its increased warmth can be an advantage, you’ll be paying a sharp spike in prices as a result – in this regard, September in the Whitsundays region walks a nice line between being the “best of both worlds”.
“September serves as an ideal “all-rounder” month that balances all these aspects [price, weather, stingers] perhaps better than any other alternative.”
It’s still comfortably warm for all except the fussiest travellers, with average monthly maximums of 26°C (78.8°F) and minimums only dropping to a very tolerable 19.2°C (66.6°F), yet it doesn’t quite reach the tropical atmosphere of the summer months that bring with them higher temperatures (along with increased humidity). Combine this with one of the lowest levels of rainfall of any month in the year as well as avoiding the dreaded annual stinger season (which varies, but typically kicks in from October onwards), and September serves as an ideal “all-rounder” month that balances all these aspects perhaps better than any other alternative.
In addition, enjoying the water is one of the key draw cards of the Whitsundays, and September provides reasonably comfortable water temperatures that hover around 25°C which is fine for swimming but may require at least a short-length wetsuit if you’re looking to go a little deeper – if you’re particularly sensitive to cooler waters, you may want to aim for the end of the month and absorb the higher prices to time your visit in this case.
Regardless of which part of the month one chooses to visit, there are few more overall striking parts of the country that also bring with them such a wealth of things to do. The Whitsundays have been commercially developed without going overboard, and for travellers a number of potential day tours, cruises, walking spots and snorkel/dive spots to visit is comprehensive.
From Hamilton to Hook and everywhere in between, travellers to the Whitsundays can expect a bevvy of marine and Beach-based entertainment and leisure options along with a healthy dose of relaxation amongst picture-perfect surroundings. This is a luxurious destination that offers a climate and atmosphere similar to that of international destinations such as Fiji and Bora Bora without much of their excess humidity.
The region’s appeal all starts with its location on the Great Barrier Reef, which lies on the chain’s doorstep and presents obvious natural wonders to witness both on and above the water. Several of the islands have fringing reefs that make for easy and leisurely snorkelling for the inexperienced and offer convenience in their own way, however in order to experience the reef at its most pure and unadulterated form heading to the Outer Reef is the optimal choice. Day trips to the reef depart both from the mainland as well as with on-island pickups, with operator Cruise Whitsundays chief among them.
A pair of reef pontoons moored at Hardy (ReefWorld) and Knuckle Reefs operate as floating “activity platforms” from which to enjoy the reef in more open waters, where the coral colours are more striking and the fish more plentiful. These pontoons serve as fully-fledged bases of operation with the luxury of being surrounded by pure reef – it’s an interesting contrast of environments as all the conveniences you’ll need such as seating, tables, shade and showers are here coexisting right alongside a true natural showcase; it’s both convenient and it works.
The 1B to the reef’s 1A in terms of must-see Whitsundays attractions is Whitsunday Island’s Whitehaven Beach; continually voted amongst the best in the country, the beach and its pure, white sands rank towards the pointy end of any Queensland bucket list.
It’s Hill Inlet lookout offers gorgeous panoramas in Australia, too, with only a short walk up required to soak it all in. Numerous options for getting to Whitehaven exist, ranging from high-speed trips with Ocean Rafting to leisurely Cruise Whitsundays sailing journeys.
Add in the diverse offerings of swanky Hamilton Island, the exclusive and gorgeous Hayman Island and its signature One&Only resort, Daydream Island‘s excellent Living Reef attraction for the kids and even the more budget-friendly accommodations of Long Island, and choice is one of the Whitsundays’ strongest suits.
Coupling the comfortable weather/temperatures and near-constant sunshine with relatively stinger-free waters and an absence of a school holiday rush, it’s easy to see why September stands tall as one of the best times to pay the Whitsundays a visit.
In addition, if you’re looking for all the top things to see and do in and around Australia including activities, attractions and more, be sure to check out our main Experiences section to browse and book online!