During the summer months, while the rest of the country starts to warm up and enjoy the Australian summer sun, something special happens in Tropical North Queensland. Spectacular warm rains become a daily occurrence and this time of year is known as the Wet Season.
With a name like the Wet Season, it’s not surprising that this time of year gets a bit of a bad rap. And while it might be a little wetter than usual – this is when the majority of Tropical North Queensland’s rainfall will occur – it’s actually a remarkable time of year where nature truly comes alive, offering unique experiences that cannot be had anywhere else.
While wet weather might put some off, there is so much to see and do that it’s not worth putting off a trip of a lifetime just because of a little rain.
When is the Wet Season and what is it like?
Though the timing may vary slightly each year, the Wet Season typically runs over the summer months from November to March. During this time, the weather stays warm, the sun still shines (for most of the day), but a significant amount of rain falls each day. And with the rain comes humidity.
The Wet Season is a vital part of the weather cycle in Tropical North Queensland as this is when the rainforest and wildlife is revitalised after the drier months. Incredible tones of green start to sprinkle the land as the forests soak in the much-awaited rains and this provides an abundance of food for the wildlife.
The monthly rainfall during the wet season can be over 400mm, and while this may seem like a lot, one thing to keep in mind is that when the rain falls, majority of it tends to fall fast and usually during the late afternoon or at night, giving you plenty of time to enjoy the warmth and sunshine of the day.
What you can do and see during the Wet Season
If you’re thinking about visiting Tropical North Queensland during the Wet Season, here are some of the experiences you can have.
The rainforest comes alive
While it might be the world’s oldest rainforest, the Wet Tropics looks as spritely as ever once the Wet Season is upon it. Bursting with life, the rainforests of the region transform into luscious green tropical paradises with more shades of green than you knew existed.
The unique landscape, flora, and fauna of the Wet Tropics is always a sight to see, but during the Wet Season, a spell is cast over the land, mist hovers on the forest floors, and the dreamlike landscape is begging to be explored.
While it might rain more frequently at this time of year, the Wet Tropics is still easy to visit. The thick glistening canopy of the rainforest provides shelter, and many of the most incredible areas to visit have elevated boardwalks so you don’t need to worry about trying to wade through mud on your ventures.
With 5 different precincts, an endless variety of landscapes, plants, and animals that can only be found in this part of the world, the Wet Tropics is worth your time. You can discover some of the secrets of the Wet Tropics here.
The wildlife emerges
The summertime sees many animals come out of hiding. As the land becomes more bountiful, animals are drawn out to take advantage of the abundance of food and the warmer weather.
This is perfect for the animal lovers out there who want to do some wildlife spotting. If you venture into the Wet Tropics rainforest, chances are high you will see all sorts of friendly animals, from green tree frogs to wallabies, bush turkeys to cassowaries, and many other animals you may never have even heard of.
Even if you don’t make your way into the rainforest, you’re most likely still going to encounter an animal experience in one way or another. The soundtrack of summer, especially during the rain, is the croaking of the local frogs. The Wet Season coincides with frog mating season, so chances are, if you don’t spot any wildlife, you’re certainly going to hear them.
If you’re ever going to chase waterfalls, there are not many places in the world that can compete with both the quantity and quality of the waterfalls on offer in TNQ. And at any time of year, they are a spectacular sight to see. However, if you want to witness the true power and wonder of a water, the peak season to spot them is of course the Wet Season.
The heavy rainfall turns the gentle streams and trickles into thunderous cascades. Many once dry crevices will be transformed into stunning falls. And the best part is that you don’t even need to venture too far into the forests to catch a glimpse of an incredible waterfall.
Some of the most popular falls to see include Millaa Millaa falls and Josephine Falls, and you can even see some record-breaking waterfalls including Australia’s widest single drop waterfall Millstream Falls and Australia’s highest, Wallaman Falls. Many of these spectacular falls are within an hour or two of the Cairns region.
As the waterfalls flow heavily, the natural rockpools fill and the rivers become the action lover’s playground. Cool off from the humidity and summer temperatures in the natural rockpools, or if you are looking for adventure, you can try activities like rafting and river drift snorkelling.
The seas are smooth
If you’ve ever wanted to get out on the water and perhaps see the Great Barrier Reef for yourself, the Wet Season is a great time to do so, especially if you’re prone to seasickness. This is because during the summer months, the water is calmer thanks to the winter trade winds dying down.
You can enjoy smooth sailing to the outer reefs where you can try your hand at snorkelling and diving. If you head out in the first half of the day, you should be able to make it back before the rains begin in the afternoon – though when you’re already out on the water, a little rain doesn’t hurt.
Along with less wind, the summertime brings higher temperatures, and that includes the temperature of the water. Water temperatures in Queensland sit at an average of 28 degrees Celsius making it extremely comfortable for swimming. But one thing to keep in mind that the warming of the water coincides with stinger season, so if you want to be safe in the sea and avoid getting stung, you need to wear a stinger suit.
You can discover the reef and waters in a wide variety of ways, find out more here.
The Reef spawns and the turtles hatch
As spring ends and summer begins, another special season commences at the Great Barrier Reef – Coral Spawning season.
This is when the coral polyps of the Great Barrier Reef simultaneously release sperm and egg bundles (spawn) into the water for external fertilisation.
Usually occurring sometime between November and December, experts can predict a rough time frame of when coral spawning may occur, but there is a still a little bit of a mystery around when it will happen because conditions must be just right, and the exact triggers of coral spawning are unknown.
Coral spawning happens at night and once the water temperature has been above 26 degrees Celsius for the month prior. After the release of the spawn bundles, they slowly rise to the surface of the water where the fertilisation process begins.
If the fertilisation process is successful, the larvae produced will swim around to find somewhere suitable to transform into a coral polyp. Finding the right place can take the larvae anywhere from two weeks to a couple of months. Coral spawning is a vital process that helps the Great Barrier Reef to continue to thrive.
You can experience the coral spawning season is by snorkelling or diving. A number of tour groups offer night reef diving tours where you might be able to see this phenomenon in person – a truly once in a lifetime experience.
When it comes to the Coral Sea and the Wet Season, the reproduction doesn’t end with coral spawning. November to February is turtle nesting and hatching season, so if you visit during this time of year, you may also be witness to the lifecycle of the sea turtle.
Tropical fruits are at their best
As the forests are refreshed, it’s no surprise that the Wet Season is also the best time of year to get your hands on the luscious tropical fruits that Queensland is known for.
Trees are sprinkled with the bright colours of ripe tropical fruit and this time of year is also nicknamed mango season. The markets are full of the best and freshest produce – everything from the delightfully sweet mangoes to pineapples, bananas, avocados, lychees, watermelons, and papayas. Unless you’re lucky enough to live local, you won’t have experienced the freshness of the fruit in this part of the world. You’ll find yourself snacking on fresh tropical fruit every chance you get during your time in TNQ.
The rain is a spectacular sight to see
While we’re sure you’ve seen rain before, unless you’ve spent a lot of time in tropical climates, you won’t have seen rain like this before.
The rain may literally bucket down during the Wet Season, but it’s something worth embracing. After a warm and humid day, the heavy rains can bring much relief while the scent of the rain fills your nostrils and provides a soundtrack that can put anyone to sleep – in a good way.
While you may prefer to stay dry, the pitter patter of the rain on the world around you creates a unique soothing atmosphere and will stop you in your tracks and make you watch in awe.
Where to stay during the Wet Season
If you’re planning on visiting Tropical North Queensland during the Wet Season, you’re going to need a sanctuary to escape from the rain, and that’s where the Reef House in Palm Cove comes in.
Palm Cove is a relaxing seaside village that offers you the perfect place to base yourself, where you can easily take advantage of all that TNQ has to offer, while also allowing you to avoid the hustle and bustle of nearby Cairns. And the Reef House is a Palm Cove institution. The beachfront colonial style property of the Reef House offers its guest first class accommodation and a unique experience that is rich with the traditions that have been built over the long-standing history of the Reef House.
There’s no better place to be your oasis during the Wet Season.