Why is Canberra so Cold?

Canberra tends to be much colder than other cities in Australia over Winter. But why is Canberra so cold?

Why is Canberra So Cold in Winter?

There are three main reasons why Canberra is so cold:

  • Altitude – Canberra is 577m above sea level.
  • Distance from the Coast – Canberra is located 100km from the nearest coast.
  • Location – Canberra is located in the Southern portion of Australia furthest away from the Equator.

Canberra is located within the Great Dividing Range and sits 577m above sea level. By Australian Standards this is quite high. Canberra also sits more than 100km away from the Coast. So it doesn’t benefit from a moderate coastal climate. Every other city in Australia is located next to the coast which moderates the temperature. Canberra is also located near higher mountains pushing cold air into the capital.

In terms of location, Canberra is located in the southern part of Australia, further away from the equator. The further north you travel in Australia, the warmer it gets.

Canberra isn’t the coldest area in Australia but it is the coldest city. Even though Hobart is further south, the temperature won’t drop below zero.

How Cold does it Get in Canberra

Compared to Europe and North America, Canberra isn’t actually that cold in Winter. The temperature will drop below 0° Celsius during Winter in Canberra. This is only overnight. During the day the temperature will usually average around 10-12° Celcius.

What is the Weather Like During Winter

For many Canberrans winter is actually their favourite time of year. While the temperature does drop, so does the wind. During Winter you’ll be treated to bright blue clear skies and crisp, clean winter air. While there are definitely windy days there are also many days where there is very little to no wind which makes walking around the city very pleasant.

Because there isn’t any snow, exercise activities such as walking, running and cycling can be done year round.

At night the temperature will drop below zero. When the temperature does get quite low and when the sky is clear you can almost guarantee there will be a frost the next morning. If you’ve parked outside you’ll need to spend a little extra time defrosting your car windows.

Parts of Canberra will also be blanketed in a fog during the cooler months. This is usually only in a number of areas around Canberra and only lasts for the morning. Unfortunately fog does often blanket the Airport. This can cause flight delays if planes can’t land.

During winter the puffer jacket is very common sight. Not the big heavy ones you see in Europe, but the light weight puffers. It’s often joked that it’s the unofficial winter uniform of the public service. But if really is the most useful winter clothing item.

The Lightweight Puffer Jacket is a very common sight during Winter in Canberra

The Weather is one of Canberra’s greatest assets. If you like Seasons you’ll like Canberra. The summers can be hot (sometimes much too hot) and Winter is crisp but not freezing. You also get a lovely Autumn and Spring. If you’re from Queensland you’re definitely going to find Canberra cold but most people adjust pretty quickly once they buy the right winter wardrobe.

Does it Snow in Canberra?

Snow can fall in Canberra but it won’t settle on the ground. Snow is not a common occurrence. From the Tuggeranong Valley you’ll be able to look out over the Brindabella Mountain Range and a slight smattering of snow is common sight during winter on the top of the peaks. Canberra is the closest major city to the NSW snow fields and there are a number of locations around Canberra that can see snow settle.


I grew up in Canberra and apart from a brief stint overseas I've spent my entire life here. I've watched Canberra grow from a sleepy town into a thriving city. I want to share the best Canberra has to offer through LoveCanberra.

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