Summer seems to arrive slow this year. So far the weather was not really inviting us to spend time on the beach. We had our couple of nice and warm days but not a long stretch of the kind of summer weather that makes you feel like you want to go to the beach. But that is Melbourne. The weather here is always a surprise. With Christmas around the corner though, summer finally seems to arrive, with more than one day of warm weather, with what seems to be beach weather.
We can’t complain though. While some of you are stuck inside due to -28C outside we still can head outside, wearing a T-shirt. And this huge difference we feel now between the Northern and Southern Hemisphere is what makes Christmas Down Under so special to me. It’s probably the time of the year I compare Switzerland and Australia with each other the most. Summer here is so very different to summer back in Switzerland. How? Well, let me explain it to you by sharing a post I wrote about a year ago as a Blast From The Past…
It’s hot today. We actually already had a couple of pretty hot days this spring. The rest of this week seems to get really hot though and that means: Summer has finally arrived!
But don’t be fooled! Our corner of Australia does more or less what it wants when it comes down to weather. It’s something I’ve learned pretty quickly. I was used to pack away the winter clothes once summer arrived, although we had the occasional days where it actually snowed a little bit on top of the mountains, sometimes even down to the village, but it never got to the point where you felt you had to take the entire gear down from the attic.
I would never put away winter clothes here in summer. Not even during a heatwave.
Summer is crazy here. It’s crazy beautiful, crazy fun and sometimes crazy hot. And there are crazy temperature changes. It’s not unusual that temperatures drop from mid 30ies (that’s in the high 80ies to mid 90ies) right down to a chilly 15C (about 60F). Yep. And that in 20minutes. Doesn’t give you much time to adjust.
While summer back home used to look lusciously green, down here it very quickly gets dry brown. Or yellow. The green grass we get in winter and spring turns rapidly dry after the first one or two hot days. Something I found weird in the beginning. Even if we had days of rain, the grass will not recover. The roots are done and everything is quickly burned by the sun.
That’s another huge difference between summer in Switzerland. The sun. It’s really strong. While I can easily sit in the sun for a while in the Northern Hemisphere summer without burning, I catch a sunburn here pretty quickly. And you can actually feel it. No excuse. No excuse for people to claim they didn’t realize that they got sunburned. Here you really need to Slip-Slap-Slop (the Australian Skin Cancer Council’s motto in regards to putting on sunscreen). And you have to repeat. You know how it feels when you put a magnifying glass above your skin? How the sun burns? That’s about how it feels.
Still, spending time outside is fantastic here. Usually you get a nice breeze from the ocean and as long as you can find some shade somewhere and take care of your skin (including your head) you should be fine.
Of course summer down here for me means spending it on the beach, in a park or doing a hike somewhere. Watch out though, the snakes come out when it gets warmer too…
But summer Down Under also means tennis! Nope, I’m not playing really but I love to watch and we do have some pretty awesome tournaments coming up, heading straight into the Australian Open. A fantastic event that’s totally worth a visit.
Summer means the scent of BBQs all the time. Nothing better than to throw some shrimps on the barbie, or as other English speaking people would say: Put some prawns on the grill. It means seeing people walk around with barely no clothes on, all only wearing flipflops (or thongs as they call them here… so if someone invites you to come over and re dress codes mentions that casual with only thongs is fine, don’t feel weird…).
Summer in Australia also means the following:
- The best parking spot is determined by shade and not by distance… (usually they are FAR away…)
- Hot water comes out of both taps (yep, been there…)…
- You learn that a seat belt buckle makes a pretty good branding iron (one of the things you only experience once, then you just know…)
- The temperature drops below 32C and you feel chilly (something I would have never thought is possible, but believe me it actually happens…)
- You discover that in January and February it only takes two fingers to steer a car… (you just don’t want to risk burning the others too…)
- You discover that you can actually get sunburned through your windscreen… (maybe it’s just cooking…)
- You develop a fear of metal door handles… (or metal equipment on playgrounds… wonder who was the genius who decided to actually use metal material or black stuff on playgrounds in Australia…)
- You break a sweat the instance you step outside before 7am on certain days (it actually feels like walking into a hairdryer…)
- Your biggest bicycle accident fear is “What if I get knocked out and end up lying on the road and getting cooked?”… (relax, someone will run you over before you get cooked…)
- You realize asphalt has a liquid state… (Yes! It gets so hot, it melts…)
- Farmers are feeding their chickens crushed ice to prevent them from laying hard boiled eggs (Not sure if I would do that… breakfast ready made wouldn’t be such a bad thing…)
- The trees are whistling for dogs (…)
- While walking back barefoot to your car from any event, you do a tightrope act on the white lines in the car park (I am still waiting for the day the heat actually prevents people to walk around barefoot everywhere…)
- You catch a cold from having the aircon on full blast all night long (Been there…)
- You learn that Westfield Shopping Center’s aren’t just Shopping Center’s, they are temples to worship Air-Conditioning (if they actually turn the aircon on…)
- Sticking your head in the freezer and taking deep breaths is considered normal (It took me ages until I mentioned it to a new found Aussie friend and was surprised that she was not surprised…)
- A cup full of ice is considered a great snack (better than ice cream… it does not melt as fast… or it does not make such a mess when it melts…)
- A black out is life threatening because your aircon and your fans no longer work (as long as you remember your car in the car park and you make sure it has enough gas you can always escape to the car…)
- No one cares if you walk around with no shoes on (I do! I do! Do what you want at home but please put on shoes when you go to the supermarket…)
- You keep anything in the fridge, including potatoes, bread and clothing (yep…)
- People have enough left over beer cans to make a boat and compete in a regatta… (I did not know that but I am pretty sure they do…)
- The effort of toweling yourself off after a shower means you need another shower right away… (who needs a towel if the water drops just evaporate in no time?)
- You will wait patiently until the day it starts raining to go on a run (or you call it a bikram run…)
- You worry your ceiling fan is spinning so fast it will fly off and kill you (maybe your house just lifts off and brings you to a cooler place… like Antarctica or so… it is just around the corner…)
There’s one thing you should definitely never do in summer in Australia. Well, actually you should never do it anywhere: Leave your child or pet in the car.
I guess spending the summer Aussie style is now part of my world. If you’re interested to read about how the other seasons feel to me in comparison to how it used to be in Switzerland, you can check out the posts about winter in Switzerland and in Australia, about spring in Switzerland and in Australia.