Depending on who you ask, it’s either the most wonderful time of the year or the bane of their existence.
As most Australians sleep through Saturday night and into Sunday morning, time will skip ahead one hour – but only in some states and territories.
Daylight saving – not “savings” as per common misconception – repositions an hour of daylight from earlier in the day so that the sun shines later into the night throughout summer.
However, the clock change creates a bizarre patchwork of time zones across the country, laying bare just how divided Australia has become over the evergreen issue.
Sydney and Melbourne will remain in sync but Brisbane will be left behind. Perth, which is ordinarily hours behind the east coast, will lag even further, while communities on the Queensland-New South Wales border will begin their annual six-month headache.
When does daylight saving actually start?
Time will jump forward an hour when the clock strikes 2am in the early hours of Sunday morning, 1 October.
One minute the time will read 1:59am. Sixty seconds later it will be 3am.
Wait, so do we gain or lose an hour in October in Australia?
Australians living in states and territories observing daylight saving will effectively lose an hour.
The hour lost brings plenty of gain: extra evening sunlight for the next half-year.
But for those who do view it through this transactional lens, the “lost” hour will be returned when daylight saving ends.
When does daylight saving end?
On 7 April 2024. In the early hours, when the clock strikes 3am, clocks will turn back to repeat the hour of 2am. One minute the time will read 2:59am, 60 seconds later it will be 2am again.
Which states and territories observe daylight saving?
Daylight saving is in place in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Australian Capital Territory
There is no daylight saving in Queensland, Western Australia and Northern Territory
Nowhere has daylight saving proved more controversial than in Queensland. The state has observed it on and off, but after a trial in the late 80s and early 90s to consider reinstating it, a referendum to adopt it was defeated.
Former Queensland premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen argued daylight saving faded curtains and confused milking cows.
More generally, residents in the northern and tropical parts of Australia, with particularly harsh summers, prefer sunset to occur earlier in the day.
But with all of the vast state of Queensland observing one time zone, this means residents in the south-east, who cross between the Gold Coast and Tweed Heads border each day, skip time zones multiple times a day.
Some researchers claim that changing your body clock can have negative health effects and risk heart attacks.
Early risers also find that in the first and last months of daylight saving, they can be waking up in the dark.
What are the benefits of daylight saving?
Beyond making the post-work swim a reality, daylight saving boasts many benefits.
It can save energy. Researchers believe that energy usage and reliance on natural light favoured the morning over the evening transition from dark to light, and with more people staying out before a later sunset, a spike in post-work energy use was flattened.
So much so that in 2010 in the UK there was a campaign to move the clocks ahead one hour, year round, meaning effectively two hours of daylight saving during summer and an hour extra of daylight during winter.
In terms of carbon emissions, British proponents cited modelling that about 450,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide would be saved from entering the atmosphere from the UK alone, as a direct result of people switching on lights at home an hour later.
Researchers believed that energy usage and reliance on natural light favoured the morning over the evening transition from dark to light, and with more people staying out before a later sunset, a spike in post-work energy use and demand on the grid was flattened.
During the second world war, when facing an energy crisis brought on by a shortage of coalminers who had gone to fight on the frontlines, the UK temporarily set its clocks ahead an extra hour to save energy. Australia also adjusted its clocks during wartime.
The British campaign for extra daylight saving – which was ultimately torpedoed by a handful of MPs seeking bogus amendments – also estimated that road deaths would be reduced by about 80 in the UK annually if “double daylight time” was adopted.
Studies have also found economic benefit with daylight saving. People tend to stay out later, and the increased foot traffic and retail activity boosts the economy. A University of Queensland study from 2021 found the state’s opposition to daylight saving costs its economy $4bn in lost productivity each year.
The British campaign for double daylight saving also noted the extra hour makes our streets more equitable at night. An extra hour of sunlight can make women and more vulnerable members of society feel more comfortable staying later at things such as after-work drinks, or going for a run at a time that suits them.
All of these make for a physically more active and mentally healthier society.
Will I have to change the time manually on my phone?
No. You don’t have to manually change the time in your smart devices, as the dates for daylight saving are automatic, in the same way that after an international flight your phone will be in sync with the local time zone at your destination.
Do I need to change calendar appointments in my phone?
No. A phone’s internal clock automatically updates to reflect the new time zone, but calendar events remain unchanged.