Best autumn destinations in Australia to add to your list from March to May

You don’t have to head too far to take advantage of the best autumn has to offer.

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Update on Australian autumn destinations

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, most events across Australia will be cancelled, even those a few months in advance.

Are you hightailing it out of here between March and May this year? We’ve found eight places in Australia that are best seen, heard and experienced this season.

Think balmy light and music festivals in the north and gripping racing carnivals in the south. Or, if you're not seeking anything specific, head further inland to get out in nature and witness the changing of the season.


Autumn leaves in Victoria. Image: Parks Victoria/Supplied

1. Melbourne

Why you should go in autumn:

  • The autumn leaves are pretty spectacular and some of the best places to see them are in the high country, spa country, Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges. But if you don't want to venture far, the city's botanical gardens also welcome a change of colour.
  • Join your fellow fashionistas at Australia's largest fashion event, the Melbourne Fashion Festival, with 10 days of fashion and entertainment all around the city. 11-20 March 2021.
  • Get your foodie on at the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival when the city opens its restaurants, laneways and rooftops to showcase the culinary delights of Melbourne. 12-31 March 2021.
  • The Melbourne International Comedy Festival will have you giggling with a choice of over 400 side-splittingly funny shows in town. 24 March - 18 April 2021.
  • Get your bets in for the Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival which includes some of the most prestigious races on the calendar like the All-Star Mile race day. Fridays and Saturdays in March 2021.

What the weather is like: It's the ideal time to visit after the city's warmest and wettest months. Expect drier and slightly cooler temperatures with average highs of between 18℃ and 25℃.

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2. Sydney

Why you should go in autumn:

  • Sydney’s Autumn Racing Carnival is the city's largest horse-racing event. It consists of the exciting Golden Slipper Carnival at Rosehill Gardens and The Championships at Randwick Racecourse. 13 March - 17 April 2021.
  • The Royal Easter Show is a two-week agricultural affair celebrating Australian culture with agricultural competitions, carnival fun, animal experiences, live entertainment and shopping. 1-12 April 2021.
  • Sydney is set to become the nation's style capital when Australia's most innovative fashion designers and red carpet celebrities descend for Afterpay Australian Fashion Week. 31 May - 4 June 2021.

What the weather is like: Temperature and humidity start to drop with average temperatures between 14°C and 22°C.

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3. Blue Mountains

Why you should go in autumn:

  • This is the true walking season in the Blue Mountains and a perfect time to explore the waterfalls, forested valleys and cliffs of the region along the many walking trails.
  • Mother Nature really puts on a show in autumn when all the gardens become a sea of brilliant red, yellow and orange. Check out Mount Wilson, the Blue Mountains Botanic Gardens and Everglades House and Garden for some of the best displays.
  • With three days of folk, roots and blues music, the Blue Mountains Music Festival allows you to enjoy your favourite bands in an intimate and relaxed atmosphere. Cancelled for 2021.
  • Featuring a focus on fresh, sustainable and regional produce, the Leura Harvest Festival will have up to 75 stalls selling seasonal food and sharing local expertise. You can also expect a number of fun events like the popular Scarecrow Competition and the Great Australian Chocolate Cake Competition. TBC for 2021.

What the weather is like: The days start to cool down and there are fewer rainy days than in summer.

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4. Armidale

Why you should go in autumn:

  • The Armidale Show is one of Australia's oldest country shows and brings fun for every member of the family in autumn. There are fairground rides, livestock competitions, ute shows and fireworks to cap off the evening. 5-6 March 2021.
  • There's no better way to celebrate the season at the aptly named Autumn Festival. It features a street parade, live performances, market stalls and more. This year's theme is "Revelling in the 20s" so don your flappers and get ready to celebrate those autumn colours. TBC.

What the weather is like: Arguably the most beautiful time of year, expect highs of 24℃ in March and chillier days in May, dropping down to 16℃ during the day.

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5. Brisbane

Why you should go in autumn:

  • Hosting the biggest international country and roots festival in the Southern Hemisphere, CMC Rocks Queensland is set to deliver an exciting array of country music superstars. Cancelled for 2021.
  • Brisbane's own comedy festival is celebrating its 11th anniversary, promising an even bigger line-up with local and international acts. 16 July - 8 August 2021.
  • Enjoy the last of the sunny beach weather at the Redcliffe Festival of Sails. Spend Good Friday taking in a slew of activities including the Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race, live entertainment, markets and an Easter egg hunt, which is perfect for the kids. 2 April 2021.
  • Eat and drink to your heart's content at the Brisbane Food & Wine Expo. It's a chance to taste the best new produce and even get a few handy cooking tips while you're there. TBC for 2021

What the weather is like: Expect highs of 24°C and lows of 14°C, meaning pleasant days and cool nights.

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6. Canberra

Why you should go in autumn:

  • Witness the Parliamentary Triangle come to life after dark at Enlighten Festival. Expect thought-provoking large-scale projections on some of the most iconic national attractions like Parliament House and the National Portrait Gallery. 26 February - 14 March 2021.
  • Celebrate as Canberra turns 107 with a full program perfect for the whole family on Canberra Day. 8 March 2021.
  • Wake up to the view of hot air balloons drifting across the sky during the Canberra Balloon Spectacular. Passengers can experience sunrise from up high and spectators will get to enjoy the spectacle with live music on the lawns of Old Parliament House. 6-14 March 2021.
  • Anzac Day is celebrated in every corner of the country but the Anzac Day Dawn Service held at the Australian War Memorial is an extra special event to behold. 25 April 2021.

What the weather is like: Temperatures drop to an average of 7°C to 20°C and the city’s gardens and parks put on a beautiful display of colour.

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Parrtjima Festival 2019.

Image: Parrtjima

7. Alice Springs

Why you should go in autumn:

  • Parrtjima is a free light festival set against the stunning backdrop of the MacDonnell Ranges. You can engulf yourself in the rich history of the region, interact with local artists, attend guest talks and storytelling sessions and celebrate indigenous art. This year's theme is Lifting Our Spirits. 9-18 April 2021.
  • The Alice Springs Cup Carnival features four action-packed weeks of racing with something for everyone including fashion, luncheons and horse sales. 30 April - 2 May 2021.
  • Australia's first ever open-air heavy metal festival, Blacken, will feature dozens of bands from every corner of the country for three days of music and community-spirited heavy metal culture. TBA.

What the weather is like: Expect warm days and cool nights where average temperatures range from 12°C-27°C.

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8. Adelaide

Why you should go in autumn:

  • Adelaide Festival marks the start of the season with a slew of internationally acclaimed theatre productions, world-class musicians, moving dance pieces and dramatic visual arts displays. 26 February - 14 March 2021.
  • Tasting Australia celebrates the region’s most irresistible local produce. You can taste wines, enjoy a long lunch created by world-class chefs and learn how to do it on your own in a masterclass. 30 April - 9 May 2021.
  • We think it's fair to say that you'll find no shortage of festivals in Adelaide over autumn – and one of the most renowned is WOMADelaide. It's a four-day open-air festival of music, arts and dance. 5-8 March 2021.
  • Adelaide Hills blushes in golds, oranges and reds over autumn as the season changes its landscape in dramatic form. If you don't go for the award-winning wines and local produce, go for the leaves. They're absolutely worth it.

What the weather is like: The city and surrounds take on a red, orange and golden hue and the weather is pleasant with very little rainfall.

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