I would recommend anything from Central Australia and points North at that time of year, Brisbane and points North if you're thinking of the East Coast. It's the most comfortable time of year to be travelling in that area. South of there will be wintry and cold. Then again, because you'll be comfortable, the pictures you get won't be of spectacular waterfalls (dry season) or dramatic weather. Your choice.
PS: August is just the end of Winter in Australia and the weather is getting just a hint of the Spring instability at that time, so may be changeable at short notice.
Wow, thanks everyone for the responses so far! You've already given me some great ideas that I hadn't thought about. As people have already mentioned, I think Northern WA and the NT would be good bets, just trying to figure out if I could afford (money or time) northern Queensland as well. I love the idea of photographing the night sky at this time as well, not that I've done a lot of it. Decisions, decisions....
Is Melbourne (or SA, or Tasmania, or even southern WA) worth it in August? ;) Or should I wait for a return trip at a better time of year?
PS. My 1000th post! Finally!
Melbourne isn't a 'beach' city so for me it's a wonderful visit any time of year although I find summers there a bit too much. I'm from Canada so the winter there would be early spring here, give or take. Melb is a great people watching/ street shooting city with a very cafe feel. So if that kind of vibe appeals to you, it'll be a good time. Not sure what it'd be like in the winter but if you have an opportunity to go to Kangaroo Island in South Australia, GO.
Melbourne will be wet and grey but not cold by your standards (lows of maybe 5C). Since you have the pick of the country, I wouldn't go there in August. It's pretty nice around October/November though, especially if you like cosmopolitan cities.
You could do the ski areas between Vic and NSW but they're seriously crap compared to Whistler etc. I'm from Adelaide and I wouldn't bother being here in August - it's the coldest, wettest month, without even being spectacularly so. Kangaroo Island is good but there's a very good chance it will rain constantly in winter.
Do the tropical thing, whether it's east or west doesn't really matter. West is much more remote and with more-lumpy ground, east has more support for scubadiving, reefs, etc.
Lows of 5C? Overnight maybe!! It's not that cold in August - more like mid teens and up. Melbourne's a great city for life and architecture though, at any time of year....
Katherine Gorge and Kakadu National Park
Only because they are the only places I have been in northern Oz. Both were wonderful and the rock art amazing. We left just as the Wet arrived, so it was a different time of year.
For many years we had a subscription of Australian Geographic -- many articles on the large number of small parks and their beauty. A lifetime's worth of places to explore!
Where ever you end up, enjoy!
I agree with Marc and Mike, but not with Mick. ;) The Great Ocean Road is spectacular, and well worth the drive. Melbourne is less touristy than Sydney and nowhere near as cold as Sydneysiders or others would have you believe.
Central Australia is a fantastic place with a good base being Alice Springs. It will be chilly though with biting winds and below 0 temperatures overnight, but the sun will more than likely be shining! There is plenty to do and you won't be bored even after 4 weeks.
Beware of Zillions of tourists though during winter.
I actually really like the Australian "high" country in winter, largely because it looks very different from the European and US alpine country. I wouldn't necessarily rush there for the skiing, but I do love the mix of Australian bush and a bit of snow. Then again, maybe it's just me - my wife isn't such a big fan!
Originally Posted by polyglot
Thinking about central and Northern Australia be aware that distances are vast if traveling on land. This makes for a an awe insprising 'feel', but can burn a lot of time and money. I really would not be doing this alone. It's shockingly easy to get stuck 'nowhere' for days on end. eg. a tiny amount of rain 500km away can flood the road your'e on to totally impassable in a few minutes. A lot of 'highways' are'nt sealed.
If you plan ahead reasonably well there are very cheap flights on all the mining routes. eg, Brisbane to Mackay for as little as $59 if you're lucky. Mackay is the gateway to the Whitsundays, nice but touristy. (and, of course, coal central...)
Transport into central Australia is best done on the railway that runs north-south (Adelaide/Darwin/Adelaide). You will get to see vast areas of central Australia, but photo ops will be limited as the train moves constantly.
If you fly into places, (Alic Springs say) you will need some type of transport. The bigger attractions (er, Ayres rock say) will of course have tourist transport, but you will be stuck with the happy snappers, the light will always be wrong/flat/etc.
Organised tours will be safest.
In NZ on the other hand, even in rainy cold august, you can hire a cheap car (say 10 yr old corolla or the like) and tour the whole country on your own. Normal tourist saftey for a 'western' country of course, but stay in country pubs, small town motels etc. I rode motorbike there for years, our strategy was 'if it's raining in the east, go west, raining in the west, go east. Hardly ever more than 1/2 a day coast to coast.
Feel free to ask for more (I can be positive, really<grin>).