When to visit
The “Top End” of Australia has extreme variations in weather throughout the year.
April – May is the time of year where the last storms release their fury and humidity will begin to drop once again. The bulk of the tourists have not arrived for the peak of the dry season yet, which means we can enjoy uncrowded bird watching and photographic opportunities, while surface water is still prominent. Waterfowl chicks can be seen with their parents furiously feeding through water running off the floodplains, alongside waterbirds flaunting their breeding plumage to one another.
The majority of tourists visit from June – August to enjoy the lower humidity, warm days of around 29°C (≈84°F) and cooler nights of around 12°C (≈53°F). A couple days of rain are always an expected surprise during this ”dry season”.
It is a comfortable time of year to explore the Top End and East Kimberley Regions on our longer tours. We visit drier inland gorges and bushland, looking for Gouldian and other finch species, as well as Purple-crowned Fairy-wrens.
The endemic Chestnut-quilled Rock Pigeons in Kakadu are plump from feeding on the spinifex seeds in the stone country. On our 10 day tour we take a boat trip to a remote island in Lake Argyle in search of the striking Yellow Chat.
In September the temperature begins to rise and becomes very hot around the end of October and throughout November. The inland daytime temperatures can rise to 35-45°C (over 113°F). Rain and electrical storms are likely to occur during this hotter “build up” period, driving the humidity upwards, but can also bring relief from the hot searing sun and brilliant photographic opportunities.
This is one of the prime times for bird watching in the Top End. Although it’s hot, you’ll often be rewarded by great viewing opportunities of birds coming into drink and feed.
Masses of water birds can be seen noisily congregating around shrinking water bodies.
A small inland water hole or creek is a perfect place to sit and wait for thirsty parrots and finches to come in for a drink.
Getting up close on a river and wetland cruise is a great way to spot elusive birds like Great-billed Heron and Black Bittern. Monsoon forests and rock shelters provide cooler relief and viewing spots for Rainbow Pitta, Fruit Doves, Shrike-thrush, Owls and wallabies.
December – March is the “monsoon season” when afternoon downpours of rain and potential cyclone (hurricane/typhoon) activity occurs. This is the best time of year to view migratory shorebirds along Darwin’s coastline.
Widespread flooding means that lowland birds begin to spread out and become sparser. With the abundance of food and water, it conditions them to go off to breed. It can be a good time to the higher and drier escarpment country in search of the endemic Banded Fruit-dove and White-lined Honeyeater.