What to Wear when Travelling in Australia
Jeans & T-shirt. Skirt & blouse. Technical pants & T-Shirts. What shall I wear? An obvious question we all ask ourselves all the times before packing. What to wear when when travelling in Australia is challenging, especially for the first time traveller, who does not know much about the country and its environment.
Travelling around Australia means crossing different climate zones with varying conditions of weather and temperatures. You can be travelling from desertic areas of the Australian Outback with hot and dry weather to the mild Mediterranean climate of the South-West regions, too hot and humid areas of the Tropical North.
And this happens within a few hours flight. To enjoy Australia’s great outdoors and its diverse environment, you have to be active and quickly adjust to weather changes. And the weather can suddenly change in Australia with big temps drop overnight. So it’s good to be prepared and know when it’s the best time to visit Australia and pack efficiently.
How to choose what to wear in Australia for travel
To get active in the outdoors, you will need comfortable, light-weight travel wear that offers maximal freedom with any movements and high comfort in any situation and weather.
I always travel long-term in Australia and know how important it is to travel light and at the same time to wear proper clothes that make you feel warm, dry and protected in all weather conditions.
What not to wear in Australia
There are a few things that you should not wear when travelling abroad and especially in Australia:
- Tight Jeans and Leggings, especially on a long-haul flight.
- Synthetic fabrics for all kind of clothing, they are not breathable.
- Dark colours, avoid black, blue and brown and prefer all pastel colours, beige, etc.
- Singlets at the beach, the Australia sun is strong, cover your shoulders and arms.
- Flip flops (thongs) in the bush or on walking trails.
On my solo travels in Australia, I have learned many things about the most suitable wear, so I put together these tips to help you get started with the essential things when packing for your Australia trip.
What to wear in Australia in Summer
Australian summer starts around the beginning to middle of December and lasts till the end of February, but March can have hot days. Depending on which region you travel to, the weather changes a lot. In the southern regions from west to east, the weather can be quite hot and dry so you will need to wear shorts with T-shirts, possibly in light colours.
I would recommend wearing long sleeves if you are sensitive to the sun. In Australia, you must protect your skin from the high UVs in the sun-rays.
At the beach, always wear a wide-brimmed hat and cover your shoulders and arms to avoid sun-burning. Make sure you protect your eyes from the intense sunlight with the right sunglasses.
In Northern Tropical Australia during summer, it will be raining a lot and, it will be hot and sticky with temps around 35-45°C, not the best time for a visit. If it happens to travel to North Queensland, Darwin, or Nort Western Australia, be sure you pack functional light-wear to minimise the high humidity’s side-effects in the air.
The perfect outfit for travelling in Australia during Summer
There are a few must-have garments that belong to your packing list for Australia. Here are my tips:
- Shorts above the knee or just underneath. Choose some with multiple pockets. I have chosen these shorts with extra side-pockets of a light and breathable fabric. See them here.
- A short sleeve-shirt or T-Shirt. I love the ones from Odlo; they are the best for body comfort.
- A wide-brim hat, I would suggest you get one in Australia as they are specially designed with an extension to protect your shoulders from the intense sun rays. Click on my favourite summer hat.
Read on to learn about the benefits of multi-functional wear.
What clothes to pack for Australia
I know how difficult it is to choose what to pack for Australia. Whether you travel to Australia, climate zones and weather conditions can change abruptly, even in peak summertime. So my best tip is to pack functional clothes that are multifunctional and can easily adjust to weather and temperature changes. Technical clothing that you can wear anywhere at all times.
Wear versatile travel clothes
By choosing the right travel clothes, will feel comfortable in all situations. From bush-walking to dining out, from camping in the dusty red outback to sunbathing in the tropical beaches, you will need to have the right travel dress that is versatile and easily combined with other garments used in different situations. So pick travel garments that can be used for various purposes and conditions.
Prefer functional clothing to jeans
I love technical wear. It’s my favourite clothing for travel because of the ultra-lightweight. It allows you to stay dry; it adjusts to your body temperature; it keeps you dry and warm and comfortable with all-weather conditions. Most fabrics are technologically advanced; they are waterproof, breathable and moisture-wicking, i.e. they allow the body’s moisture to pass through.
Moreover, functional wear is easy-care and durable; you can wear technical clothing for years and years. When I am on the road, I use functional wear because of the highest comfort for travel, and I often wear travel clothes in everyday-life.
Choose clothing that allows the layering principle
This means trying to use a piece of garment in as many different situations. Either as a lower, a mid or an outer layer. I always pack these high comfort technical garments in my travel bag:
- 3 singlets (light colours)
- 3 T-Shirt (light colours)
- 1 long-sleeve shirt + 1 short-sleeve shirts
- 2 fleece jumpers, one with sleeves and one without
- 2 pairs of trousers (pants), 2 pair of shorts
- 1 rain & wind jacket (foldable)
- 1 waterproof jacket
You can click to learn about the single items on my Amazon shop gallery. I keep updating it every month, so come back to see the additions.
What to wear in Australia during Winter
Australia is one of those countries where winter weather conditions can set in even in summer. Moreover, in most Australian regions, you get cool nights and warm days throughout the year. And one thing you must remember is that wind will be your travel companion, especially when you travel in coastal areas.
You should first pack for travelling in Australia during winter and summer too is rain and wind-jacket! I chose largely and can put an overlay on top of a fleece or a lighter jacket or shell.
Here you can see some great wind jackets for your shopping on Amazon.
Footwear – why 3 pair of shoes is the right number for travel
Footwear is essential when travelling in Australia as you will be walking a lot in all kind of weather and landscapes. You will constantly be outdoor. Therefore comfortable and suitable shoes are a must. The same principle is valid here. Pack possibly not more than 3 pairs of shoes that can be used in different situations. Like the example here below:
- Technical Boots for outdoor activities, walking, hiking, in different environment+ climate.
- Technical Sandals or sneakers for leisure activities, city walking.
- Flip flops, an institution in Australia! You can use them every day and everywhere if you feel comfortable with them. And they can be used indoor too. But avoid using them in public, on trains, aeroplanes, buses, public toilets, eateries, etc., where you can get infections.
Underwear and Sleepwear – discover multi-functional garments
You may think what? They are also essential garments as well as travel trousers, travel jackets and anything else. If you plan to be physically active in the outdoors, you need underwear that keeps you dry when you sweat.
Sleepwear is also essential, no matter what you use: either a pair of leggings and a top, a shirt or a pyjama. In Australia, temperatures drop dramatically in Outback areas and the forest. I tried to wear leggings and a top on my last trip, but it was no good in the Outback. I remember waking up feeling cold. In Melbourne, I discovered a functional Body Map that is ideal for running or using as a base layer. And then I turned my body map into a fantastic piece of travel sleepwear too.
Choose and pack travel wear with purpose
Make a list of things and outdoor activities planned and make a shortlist of categories along the time allocated. Here it is a simple example:
- Outdoor 60%
- Entertainment 20%
- City Sightseeing 20%
This list will help you to identify what to pack for Australia quickly. It will also show you how to take advantage of multi-functional garments while combining clothing altogether and use them in different situations.
By choosing wisely what clothes to wear in Australia, it will be easy to know how to pack your luggage.
Finding a balance between choosing the right travel clothing and packing light is also crucial. While it takes time to create your packing ritual, travelling is the best way to put into practice ideas and develop new packing habits that work well and fit your travel style.
I’ve also put together this list of packing tips for Australia.
Pin it for later!
Related Article: Australia Travel Tips
First published in 2015, last updated in Jan 2022
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July 12, 2013 @ 9:09 am
Thanks for a great article. It is really important for visitors (and locals) to realise that Australia has many contrasting climates and seasons, so you DO actually need to bring warm clothes!
Winter (Jun – Aug) anywhere south of the Tropic of Capricorn gets really cold, and you will still need a jumper for night time in the northern parts of Australia. Summer mostly gets really hot, but I still have fond memories of almost getting hypothermia in Melbourne in mid-summer. The southern states have ‘changes’ which come through which can drop the daytime temperature significantly.
So the recommendation to pack good quality layers is a good one.
July 15, 2013 @ 7:47 am
I agree. I experienced a sudden temperatures drop on Kangaroo Island in April. After a sunny, warm day I got up the following day with 5°C. As bushwalking was planned I was thankful to have packed high quality outdoor wear to keep me warm. Nonetheless my hands were my ice-cold and I could hardly take photos! I wish I could have worn warm gloves on that day! 🙂
July 16, 2013 @ 2:01 pm
Thanks a lot for this wonderful article. I really think these are useful tips. I will save them up to refer back when I travel to Australia next time.
August 17, 2013 @ 10:42 am
Agree with all … but, most importantly, do not forget the hat!
August 20, 2013 @ 12:27 pm
Oh Thanks for the hat, Keith! It’s really important in Australia, cheers! 🙂
May 19, 2014 @ 11:24 pm
Hello, great tips.
what about wet suit ? its big and heavy should i pack that too? im planning on doing a lot of diving and surfing
May 23, 2014 @ 8:27 am
Hi Fernando! I would not pack a wet suit, as you will be able to hire it. However I don’t know the cost for hiring it. If you are just doing a diving/surfing holiday maybe it’s worth packing it, as the cost for hiring it sums up.
June 5, 2016 @ 9:12 pm
I’m coming to Australia this month. This site was really helpful in enabling me choose my clothing. Thanks.
June 28, 2016 @ 2:43 am
Hi Milly, glad to hear you enjoyed this blog post about what to wear in Australia and found Rocky Travel helpful for your Australia trip planning! If you have any questions feel free to email me. 🙂
July 30, 2017 @ 4:05 am
Flip flops is such a funny name for thongs. Australians wear thongs everywhere, no one worries about ‘infections’ what would be the point of them if we didn’t wear them to bathrooms, public transport etc. Otherwise great article!