Cape York is a fantastic place to travel – and you can count on the weather being kind to you for most of the year. But you do need to keep a close eye on the weather – a little bit of rain can make the roads and creeks impassable.
How about this for a “winter” forecast? Sunny, fine, top of 28 degrees. Overnight temps in the high teens, but it does get cold on the high country round Atherton in July. It gets hotter, and humid too, as we get into the summer months, but the sea breezes take the edge off that along the coast.
The best (and busiest) time to travel is during the dry, May to the end of October. We’re in the build-up to the wet season now, when temps and humidity climb. Not everyone’s cup of tea but still pretty good exploring weather. The wet season gets going around the end of December, and once the monsoon comes, travel to remote areas by road is impossible. You can still get in by air or sea but your movements will be limited once you hit the wet, boggy ground.
The wet is also cyclone season. Cyclones form over the warm tropical seas, sometimes coming ashore with powerful winds and incredible rain. They can do terrible damage, but they’re part of the weather pattern that makes and shapes our tropical home.
All of FNQ is within the tropics, so our weather is generally tropical. But it’s a big patch – slightly bigger than Victoria, so the weather does vary from one place to another. Altitude, proximity to the sea, topography, all make for local effects on the broader tropical weather patterns.
Cape York Peninsula has its own distinctive weather patterns. The Peninsula is said to begin around the town of Laura. Draw a line on the map east to west through Laura – north of that line is Cape York Peninsula. It gets skinnier as you head north, so sea-breezes from each side meet roughly in the middle, and that can generate rain and thunderstorms when other conditions are right.
You’d think that having the sea on both sides of a narrow land area might mean more risk of cyclones on Cape York. But apparently not.
Listen to veteran Cairns weather forecaster Leo Farrell explain Cape York weather.