One of the consequences of living in Australia is there is less daylight on summer evenings compared to the United Kingdom. The reason for this is largely due to latitude. Most southern Australian cities are around 31-35 degrees south of the equator, compared to London at 52 degrees north (and Scotland close to 60 degrees north).
The result of this is that although the amount of daylight is the same over the year, days in winter are longer, and summer days shorter, than is the case in countries like Britain or Canada. In London or Vancouver, summer days are around 16 hours long, while winter days last only 8 hours. In Sydney and Perth, summer days are only around 14 hours long, although winter days last for 10 hours.
In tropical Australia, the length of the day is close to 12 hours all year around.
Geoscience Australia publishes a site allowing calculation of sunrise and sunset times in Australia.
Sunset times in Summer
On 21 December, the sun rises and sets at the following approximate times in the major Australian cities:
- Adelaide 0558 / 2028 (daylight saving)
- Brisbane 0450 / 1842
- Cairns 0541 / 1849
- Canberra 0545 / 2017 (daylight saving)
- Darwin 0619 / 1910
- Hobart 0529 / 2050 (daylight saving)
- Melbourne 0555 / 2042 (daylight saving)
- Perth 0607 / 2022 (daylight saving)
- Sydney 0541 / 2005 (daylight saving)
By comparison with the southern cities, Brisbane has an exceptionally short summer evening. There are a few reasons for this:
- Brisbane is closer to the equator
- the city is further to the east than others in eastern Australia, so the sun rises (and sets) earlier.
- the Queensland government refuses to adopt daylight saving time.
Daylight Savings Time (DST)
- Time zones are a state/territory matter in Australia.
- The effect of DST is to facilitate everyone starting and finishing their day earlier relative to the sun.
- DST is relatively uncontroversial in south-eastern Australia, although this could always change.
- Most of Queensland is tropical and hence does not want DST.
- It would be possible for Queensland to create a separate time-zone for Brisbane, but the government refuses to do this.
- Many Queenslanders, even in Brisbane, prefer to have daylight before the working day, rather than afterwards.
- Western Australia is operating DST on a temporary basis, but may stop doing do after a referendum in 2009.
Moving to Brisbane ... ?
- If you decide to move to Brisbane, you do need to accept the short Queensland evenings. If you end up working 9-5 you will not have much daylight after you arrive home.
- Some people can make arrangements with their employer to start and finish sooner in summer (especially if employer serves NSW customers). However, many Queensland employers are not flexible on a 9-5 working day.
- Even if you can make arrangements with your employer, your children's school or other services may not be able to accommodate.
- The concept of working "summer hours" - ie, starting and finishing sooner in summer, although popular in Canada and the United States, is not common in Australia (and especially not in Queensland).
- If this is going to be a huge problem for you, perhaps Melbourne or Adelaide might be more appropriate for your lifestyle?