Australia is huge, so there's a lot of weather and climate variation across the country. Summer tends to be hot everywhere. February is slightly cooler than January in most places, but not noticeably so.
While average highs in coastal cities like Sydney and Melbourne don't look extremely high on paper, at around 78° F (25° C), it's not unusual for them to experience heatwaves with temperatures of more than 100° F (37° C). Coastal cities are also much more humid than inland ones, so this can make relatively lower temperatures feel more uncomfortable. But, coastal cities have the benefit of beautiful beaches to retreat to.
In an Australian winter, the further south you go the cooler the temperatures tend to be, but this isn't necessarily the case in summer. Inland Victoria and South Australia have some of the hottest temperatures in the country in February. But, to avoid the heat in February, the southern island of Tasmania is a good option as it's usually cooler than the mainland. The average February high in the capital of Tasmania, Hobart, is just 70° F (21° C).
Avoid the desert/outback in February unless you're well prepared for the heat and are prepared to stay out of the sun. While you could fly to Alice Springs or Uluru and have a pleasant time in February, a cross-country road trip through the outback in February could be dangerous. The average February high in Alice Springs is 95° F (35° C), while in the South Australia town of Coober Pedy, many people live underground to avoid temperatures that regularly reach 107° F (46° C) in the summer.
The further north you go, the wetter it's likely to be in February. Darwin and Brisbane, as well as other parts of Northern Queensland, see a lot of rain in February (although not quite as much as January). Flooding often occurs in Queensland in the summer. While southern cities like Sydney and Melbourne can experience rain in the summer, statistically this is a drier time for them.
Crowds and Costs
February is peak tourism season in many parts of Australia, as a lot of travelers from the Northern Hemisphere like to escape their winter. But, it's not such a busy month for domestic travel, as Australians tend to take their summer holidays over the Christmas and New Year period, and schools go back at the end of January. Although it's a good idea to book flights, other transportation, and accommodation as far in advance as possible in February, these won't be such a squeeze as when traveling in January.
A favorite Australian pastime is hitting up the beach, and popular beaches in places like Sydney, the Gold Coast, Noosa, and Byron Bay will still be crowded at times in February. But, highly popular places like Sydney's Bondi Beach are likely to be more crowded on the weekends in February than weekdays, as local residents will be back at work.
Where to Go
In February most travelers will be more comfortable sticking to the coastline of New South Wales (including Sydney) and Victoria (including Melbourne), or in Tasmania. Perth, in Western Australia, is hot in February but there's little rain, and fantastic beaches in the area. Although these places can get very hot, there are plenty of ways to find relief, such as at the beaches or at air-conditioned indoor attractions during a heatwave.
To venture to the 'Red Centre' to see Uluru and other outback attractions, it's safer to fly there than go overland. Darwin and Northern Queensland aren't ideal destinations in February due to rainfall.
If you do want to venture to northern areas in February, be aware that you won't be able to swim in the sea in many places because of the presence of deadly box jellyfish. In north Queensland and northern Western Australia, they linger from November to May. Box jellyfish can kill an adult within minutes, and other dangerous but less deadly jellyfish are also present.
What to Do
February is prime beach time in many parts of Australia (but, as mentioned above, avoid the sea further north because of the extreme risk of box jellyfish). City beaches in Sydney (Bondi, Manly) and Melbourne (St. Kilda) are convenient if you're staying in the city, as they're easy to get to and attractive. You can go to a museum in the morning, then laze on the beach in the afternoon. New South Wales and Victoria have long and beautiful coastlines, so if you'd prefer a more remote or small-town beach destination, there are many options, including the New South Wales Central Coast and North Coast.
Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy hiking or gentle sightseeing in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, the highlands of inland New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory/Canberra, and Tasmania. For rugged, long-distance trekking, Tasmania is a good option and almost half of the island is protected land. While conditions are warmest in the summer, be aware that Tasmania has experienced devastating bush fires in recent years, so stay informed of conditions while you're on the ground.
If you want to enjoy big-city attractions with a bit of air conditioning, the museums, galleries, shops and restaurants, theme parks, zoos, and aquariums of Australia's cities are top-notch. Families might want to head to the Gold Coast, which has lots of amusement parks, including water parks, that kids will enjoy.
Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Sydney's Mardi Gras is a huge festival that lasts for most of the month, with a glittering parade through the central city that brings everyone together.
Chinese New Year. Australia, especially Sydney, has quite a large Chinese population and Chinese New Year is celebrated with fervour. Sydney's Chinatown is a good place to check out the festivities. The festival often falls in February, although it's sometimes in late January.
Traveling to Australia in February? Check out these great itineraries
Highlights of Sydney: Bondi Beach, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House, and More - 5 Days. This five-day itinerary provides an active adventure through Australia's biggest city.
Self-Drive Tour: Melbourne, Healsville, Blue Mountains, Sydney, and More - 14 Days. On this two-week self-drive journey through south-eastern Australia, visit two major cities and make plenty of scenic stops in between.