Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Australian Time Zones & Daylight Savings Explained: A Country Divided By Time

Clocks have just changed in (most of) Australia, so it's probably a good opportunity to cover time. Ladies and gents, buckle in: it's time to go to time!

Australian Time Zones

Australia has 7* main states/territories - think of them divided into 3 vertical areas:

- UTC** +8hrs Western Australia
- UTC +9.5hrs Northern Territory + South Australia
- UTC +10hrs Queensland + New South Wales + Victoria + Tasmania

Why are Northern Territory and South Australia +9.5 instead of +9?
Where is the +9hrs time zone hiding?
Sorry friends, that's a long and tedious story for another day.*

Daylight Savings in Australia

YES -> New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia
NO -> Queensland, Northern Territory, Western Australia

The YES states move clocks forward +1hr in spring (October), and back -1hr in autumn (April). So:

  • Queensland is +10hrs but stubbornly refuses to do daylight savings because it scares the pineapples
  • South Australia is +9.5hrs but does do daylight savings, because they're effeminate wine-drinking poufters like NSW and VIC

This creates the bizarre situation in summer where Brisbane (QLD) is 1 full time zone ahead of Adelaide, but Adelaide (SA) is 30mins ahead of Brisbane.

So if the sun rises at 6am in Brisbane, it rises 1hr later at 6:30am in Adelaide. It's like a magic trick! A really stupid, stupid magic trick.

Let's not forget the obvious issues too. Driving north from South Australia to Northern Territory means putting your clock back 1hr, and going from NSW to QLD means putting your clock back to 1956. (Oh, it's an old joke but I couldn't resist.)

Western Australia meanwhile has an entire time zone to itself and doesn't give a flying fox's arse what time it is on the East coast, or in fact anything about the East coast. To be fair they don't need daylight savings with it being so dark down in the mines.

Tasmania has a post-it note saying not to call New Zealand after 3pm (unless it's Snapchat).

And of course, The Weird Exceptions
And there you have it, time in Australialand. Confusing? Not really.

Next week: Australian public holidays! Because in case this post wasn't clear, Australia is barely even the same country.

* What's the difference between a state and a territory? Why isn't Northern Territory in line with South Australia? Do they really trade in bananas in Queensland? All these and more questions are part of Australia's Rich and Bizarre Colonial History***, which may or may not be covered in future blog posts.

** UTC is GMT, in case you hadn't worked it out. Most British people think that Britain invented time, and therefore all nations say "GMT" in submissive respect to the Throne Of Time in Greenwich, which naturally everyone has heard of. If you're not British, you know this isn't true. If you are British, pretend you didn't read this and keep clinging to miles and inches and furlongs like it's 1853.

*** According to Australian education, nothing actually happened before white people arrived.


  1. I enjoyed this. Although, because I am an awful pedant and take an interest in such things, I must point out that UTC is not GMT. They are obviously very close for most practical uses, but they are not the same. Don't get me started on UT0, UT1 etc...

    1. Your comment brings me joy because you're more of a pedant than I am.

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