The Holocene history of the northwest Australian monsoon is considered in the light of new stratigraphic findings from the southern margin of the monsoon regime. A discussion of the present-day climatology of northwestern Australia and synoptic controls on precipitation in the areas at the southern margin of the monsoon regime is given as background information for the interpretation of stratigraphic findings from swamp and alluvial sequences. The stratigraphic findings point to little change in the intensity of the northwest Australian monsoon since ca. 6.5 ka. A more tentative inference drawn from the field evidence is that the monsoon activity may well have been reduced in this region during the Early Holocene; during this time insolation levels were also reduced. The possible relationship of the northwest Australian monsoon to insolation levels is explored. It is clear that monsoon behavior cannot be accounted for as a simple linear response of monsoon intensity to variations in insolation. Possible controls are discussed with particular emphasis on the plausibility of changes in the damping of convective motions providing the mechanism. Gill's model of heat-induced circulation is used to provide some evidence in favour of this conjecture.