When does daylight saving end in Australia in 2021?

Katherine Chatfield
·6-min read

The end of daylight saving in Australia is fast approaching.

While the event has long been controversial, here is a breakdown of why the clocks change twice a year - and the pros and cons that come along with it.

When will daylight saving end this year?

In 2021, daylight saving ends on Sunday 4, April, at 3am (EST). This means if you live in a state which adheres to daylight saving, you need to put your clocks back by one hour.

Daylight saving started on October 4 at 2am, with people putting their clocks forward by one hour.

Electric Time technician Dan LaMoore adjusts a clock hand in Vietnam. Source: AAP
The end of daylight saving in Australia is fast approaching. Source: AAP

What is daylight saving?

Daylight saving (DST) means the clocks move forward by one hour. This happens in summer.

When autumn comes, the clocks move back one hour, so it becomes dark earlier during the winter months.

What is the history of daylight saving?

The idea of daylight saving was first suggested in 1895 by a New Zealander.

George Hudson was an entomologist (someone who studies insects). He worked shifts and enjoyed being able to collect insects after work when he finished early. He put forward a proposal but a bill wasn’t passed.

Then, in 1905, an English builder also suggested the idea, after noticing how many Britons slept through the early part of a summer day.

He submitted a proposal to the House of Commons, and although the law wasn’t passed in the UK, the city of Port Arthur in Canada liked the idea and took it up.

They were the first place in the world to move their clocks forward an hour, in July 1908.

Australia first introduced daylight saving in 1916, during World War I, as an attempt to save power. After the war, daylight saving was stopped, but came back in to play for World War II.

In 1968, Tasmania adopted the process again. NSW, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and the ACT all started daylight saving in 1971.

First world war USA American propaganda poster, 'Saving Daylight'. Source: Getty
Australia first introduced daylight saving in 1916, during World War I. Source: Getty

Which parts of Australia have daylight saving?

New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT all observe daylight saving.

Queensland stopped daylight saving in 1972. The Northern Territory has never used it.

Western Australia has experimented with daylight saving over the years but currently don’t observe it. The last time they used it was between 2006 and 2009.

The west's chances of taking up daylight savings again may increase with the Daylight Saving Party looking likely to win a seat in the WA Senate following the March state election.

This means Australia has three time zones during winter, and five during summer. The difference between Queensland and NSW changes by one hour. South Australia changes from being 30 minutes behind Queensland, to 30 minutes ahead.

In 2007, the Australian states that observe daylight saving agreed to the same start and end dates. Today in these states, daylight saving starts on the first Sunday in October, and ends on the first Sunday in April.

Crop and livestock farmer Wayne Dunford hand feeds his cattle with bales of hay. Source: AAP
There’s a myth that farmers like daylight saving because it gives them an extra hour of light to work. Source: AAP

Does daylight saving help farmers?

No. There’s a myth that farmers like daylight saving because it gives them an extra hour of light to work.

But this isn’t true.

When daylight saving was first introduced, farmers lobbied to get it abolished. It means they lose an hour of light in the morning, which made it hard to get their crops to market in time.

Today, many farmers say their cows and other livestock find it hard to adjust to the time difference.

Cows like routine and it might mean they produce less milk in the morning. However, other farmers say that because cows produce their milk over a 24-hour period, it simply means they get more milk from the afternoon milking.

Are there any other pros and cons to daylight saving?

Fewer wild animals are killed by cars during daylight savings, according to research.

However, there’s also a small increase in fatal car crashes in the few days after daylight saving begins, with studies suggesting this is because drivers are more tired than usual.

Some local communities report a decrease in crime when there are more daylight hours.

Farmer harvests oranges on a farm near Leeton, NSW, Thursday. Source: AAP
Many believe farmers benefit from daylight saving. Source: AAP

Does daylight saving impact our sleep?

Yes. Daylight saving can affect your internal body clock, also known as your circadian rhythm.

Because mornings are darker and evenings are lighter during daylight saving, it can ‘delay’ your sleep cycle, making you feel tired in the morning and more alert in the evening.

“Our circadian rhythms are timed to match the environmental cycle of light and darkness,” says the Sleep Health Foundation.

Daylight saving throws our circadian rhythms out of sync because we are suddenly required to wake at a time when the body clock is still programmed for sleep.

However, if you adjust your bedtime earlier for three or four nights before the Spring daylight savings transition, you will reduce the risk of sleep loss, and be less susceptible to sleepiness the following day.”

Studies show that daylight saving can alter people’s circadian rhythms so dramatically that it stops our bodies from working at peak efficiency.

This can result in long-term health problems because our bodies aren’t quite in the time zone they should be between October and April.

Other research shows that the transition to daylight saving increases heart attacks and strokes, with a marked jump in cases in the few days after the clocks go forward.

Generally, the first few days after daylight saving (when we “lose” an hour of sleep) is harder to adjust to than the end of daylight saving in the autumn, when we “gain” an hour of sleep.

As well as “gaining” an hour of sleep on the first night the clocks go back, the end of daylight saving means it’s dark earlier, so people are encouraged to go to bed earlier.

A woman shown sleeping in bed.
Changes of daylight saving time can impacting on our sleep patterns. Source: Getty Images

Why is daylight saving controversial?

Because there isn’t a solution that suits everyone.

In general, it benefits those who live further away from the equator as it gives people extra light when they need it.

The majority of EU citizens want daylight saving to last the whole year, as there’s so much of a difference between the summer and winter light, and what this means for quality of life. The EU is reportedly seriously considering this.

In Australia, people are more divided.

There has been a push to introduce daylight saving in Queensland to bring it in line with most of the other states.

There’s support for it on the Gold Coast, where some people live across the border in NSW and have to deal with two time zones for half the year.

Many people in Brisbane think lighter evenings would boost tourism, as it means people can sit outside for longer in bars and restaurants.

However, those who live regionally are mostly against introducing daylight savings.

The sun already rises and sets up to an hour later than other parts of Queensland in the far North and West of the state.

People also think daylight saving would disadvantage the large amount of rural workers in Queensland who need the early morning daylight to work.

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