Australia's autumn spans from March to May, and in March visitors should expect temperatures to be on the warmer side, especially earlier in the month, but cooler than in the summer.
Southern cities like Sydney and Melbourne have average highs in the mid-70s F (23-25° C), Adelaide is still a bit warmer with temperatures in the high 70s F (26° C), while northern, western, and desert cities are still pretty hot: average highs are 89° F (32° C) in Alice Springs, 84° F (29° C) in Perth, 82° F (28° C) in Brisbane, and 89° F (32° C) in Darwin. In contrast, the Tasmanian capital of Hobart, south of mainland Australia, has a March high of just 68° F (20° C). This means that whatever kind of weather you're seeking—tropical heat to temperate—you'll find it somewhere in March.
Rainfall also varies a lot across the country in March. While southern cities like Adelaide and Melbourne don't get a lot of rain in March, or throughout the autumn, in northern cities this is the tail end of the wet season, and there may be cyclones. In Darwin and northern Queensland you can still expect very high rainfall, and flooding is common, so it's best to avoid these areas in March. Brisbane, in southern Queensland, is also quite wet. Sydney gets most of its annual rainfall in the autumn and early winter, so expect showers here.
Crowds and Costs
March is a popular time to travel to Australia and it is still considered peak season. However, prices and accommodation availability won't be quite as tight as during the peak months of the summer. An important consideration is whether Easter falls in March or April. Schools take holidays around Easter, so you can expect more Australian families traveling, or at least getting out and about in their own areas, at this time. Popular theme parks at the Gold Coast can be quite busy, and when the warm weather holds, beaches can also be busy well into March, although less so than in the summer.
Where to Go
As in the summer months, most travelers will feel more comfortable sticking to the coastline of New South Wales (including Sydney) and Victoria (including Melbourne), the Australian Capital Territory (Canberra), or in Tasmania. Western Australia, particularly towns in the south like Perth, are still hot in March but this is a good time to head out west.
To visit the outback, such as famous Uluru and the town of Alice Springs, flying there from the south-west in March is more sensible than going overland. Conditions are still very hot in the desert in March, and northern access towns like Darwin are very wet.
If you do want to venture to northern areas in March, including northern Western Australia and north Queensland, be aware that deadly box jellyfish are present in the sea until about May. You won't be able to swim in the sea. These creatures can kill an adult within minutes.
What to Do
Travelers seeking a beach vacation can still find this in Australia in March, even though it's technically autumn. Sydney might have the odd cooler day, but conditions will still generally be good for swimming and beach time in March. On the Central Coast and North Coast of New South Wales, and southern parts of Queensland like Brisbane and the Gold Coast, there are many beautiful beaches.
Outdoor enthusiasts may appreciate the slightly cooler temperatures of March, and hiking in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, the mountains of southern NSW and the ACT, and Tasmania can be rewarding at this time of year.
Conditions are also good for city sightseeing in March, and there are many excellent museums, galleries, zoos, aquariums, theme parks, gardens, and restaurants in the major cities, especially Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Adelaide. The bush capital, Canberra, also shouldn't be overlooked, as it has some of the best galleries and museums in the country, and while it can be scorching hot in summer, temperatures are more pleasant in March.
March is also a good time to do certain road trips (i.e., those that don't require traveling through the desert). The Great Ocean Road south of Melbourne is a scenic option at any time of year, but temperatures for driving will be good in March.
Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. The Sydney Mardi Gras starts in February but often extends into March. It's a huge, colorful celebration of queer pride.
Moomba Festival, Melbourne. This festival offers family-friendly events and entertainment along the Yarra River, and is held in early March.
Traveling to Australia in March? Check out these great itineraries
Southeast Australia Self Drive - 22 Days. Explore southeast Australia on this combination self-drive and flying tour, with a comprehensive 22-day itinerary that takes in many of Australia's best sights and experiences.
Gold Coast and Byron Bay - 7 Days. Enjoy the sun, surf, and sand on this week-long tour of Australia's famous Gold Coast and Byron Bay.