There are bound to be many differences between Northern and South Australia as there are about 3,700 kilometers (2,299 miles) between Darwin in Australia’s Top End and Hobart in the southern island state of Tasmania — roughly the same distance between London and Cairo or Mogadishu and Mumbai. Here are 10 of them.
The most obvious distinction between Australia’s tropical north and its chilly south is the climate. With temperatures averaging above 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) 12 months out of the year, the tropics have a wet season around Christmas and a dry season in the middle of the year. The traditional seasons in the more arid South are summer (December to February), autumn (March to May), winter (June to August), and spring (September to November).
If you drew a line just above Brisbane and divided Australia into north and south, roughly 90% of the people would live south of the line. Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, and Hobart are almost all of Australia’s major cities, while Townsville (population 195,000), Cairns (165,000), and Darwin are the largest towns in the northern segment (150,000).
Food and beverages
The weather has an impact on more than just your ability to tan; it also has an impact on what you eat. Although wonderful fresh produce is available throughout Australia, the cuisine in northern Australia focuses on seafood and tropical fruits and vegetables (mangos, avocados, bananas, and the like), whereas the colder weather and larger cities in the south support a more sophisticated food and drink scene. Up north, for example, there isn’t much red wine, soft cheese, or specialty coffee.
Zone of time
Another thing that divides Australia’s two halves, especially during summer, is the clock. Queensland and Western Australia, which cover large parts of northern Australia, do not observe daylight savings time; in summer, Queensland’s clocks lag an hour behind those of New South Wales (including Sydney) and Victoria (Melbourne), and Western Australia’s clocks lag by three hours (and then two in winter). All year, the Northern Territory is also half an hour behind Queensland.
As in most places around the world, more sparsely populated areas are typically home to the warmest welcomes; northern Australia makes up for its lack of population with friendliness. Do you want proof? During peak hours, try to spot a smile on a train approaching Melbourne’s Flinders St Station or Sydney’s Central Station.
Southerners will rightly argue that their region is Australia’s cultural powerhouse, thanks to truly global cities like Sydney and Melbourne. The Sydney Opera House, Melbourne’s National Gallery of Victoria, and Hobart’s must-see Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) are among the country’s most popular tourist attractions.
Australia is endowed with world-class beaches — more than 10,000, in fact, which means you could visit a new stretch of sand every day for nearly three decades before doubling up — but they look very different in the tropical north versus the windswept south. The wild landscapes of Western Australia’s Kimberley and the Northern Territory’s Arnhem Land, as well as North Queensland’s white sand beaches and swaying palm trees, are completely unlike the Great Ocean Road in Victoria or Sydney’s fabled city swimming holes.
There is an intangible quality that divides the country. Looking for a place to sip a schooner of XXXX Gold while watching rugby league in 30-degree Celsius (86-degree Fahrenheit) temperatures while feasting on a mango-and-seafood-infused meal? Northern Australia beckons. Alternatively, you could go to a boutique whisky bar and enjoy some artisanal camembert and quince paste in front of the fireplace. If so, head south. These distinctions are precisely why every traveller should book a trip to Australia to experience the vibe for themselves.
The animals that scurry across those landscapes are another distinguishing feature of either region. Keep an eye out for crocodiles whenever you go swimming in northern Australia, which also has unique wildlife like cassowaries and clownfish (like Nemo! ), whereas southern Australia has an abundance of iconic Aussie animals like kangaroos, emus, and koalas, as well as ecotourism experiences like little penguins on Phillip Island and sea lions on Kangaroo Island.
The cultural differences do not stop there, with a number of words separating Australia’s various regions. Togs in the north are known as cossies or bathers in the south. In Queensland, a corner shop is equivalent to a milk bar in Melbourne. Nosebleed or bloody nose? Scallops or potato cake? Do you call that round slice of processed meat Devon, Windsor, Fritz, German, Belgian, or any other number of regional names? It all depends on where you are in Australia.