As I sit and write this “hot off the press” post for your enjoyment, I obsessively check the temperature. This is a bit of a personal hobby of mine that I picked up from my bestie. She adopted it while living in a foreign climate for a semester of her uni. I guess being Moscow born and Melbourne raised, it’s a logical step for me to develop a fondness for temperature watching. Or maybe I just need to get out more. In any case, the Melbourne Observations page of the Bureau of Meteorology website is one of my favorite tabs on any computer I occupy.
I can confidently report that it’s been above 30 degrees Celsius (86 F) for a solid three hours now and that last night the temperature didn’t drop below 22 degrees C (72 F).
We’re promised a late cool change here in Melbourne today but it’s not here yet. Will it come while I’m still at work? Maybe it will come during my dash over to this evening’s barre class? Am I crazy trying to exercise during this excessive heat wave? I mean, it’s not even summer yet and it’s just so hot!
Actually, I’m not that hot, I have to admit. I’m not really that panicked about the heat either and I’m certainly not surprised that it gets hot in Melbourne. I am, however, always amazed by the amount of daily banter that goes on about the weather. This morning I woke to my Edinburgh friends’ group chat messages absolutely going off as my pals in Eds were all complaining about the cold over there. Naturally, I jumped on board and told them the forecast for Melbourne. It’s due to hit a high of 38 C (100 F), followed by some rain and then more heat before a late night cool change with storms and rain for the rest of the week with temperatures averaging 19 C (66 F). We all had a laugh at wanting to be on the beach with Aperol Spritzers and noted that the grass is always greener.
As I tried to get on with my day in Melbourne, people just couldn’t get over the fact that it was hot. On the tram, in my morning coffee shop and everyone I spoke to at work (phone and in person) all made mention of the apparent heat. It’s as if people forgot that summer is a thing and just can’t seem to believe the sheer horror of it when it comes! I mean, if Game of Thrones was set in Oz, the catch cry would definitely be, “The summer is coming!”
Personally, I like summer at the start. I like the extreme hot days and how they turn every activity into an exercise in survival skills. Getting to work involves a new strategy like leaving at least an hour early because getting stuck on an overcrowded, non-air conditioned tram while pressed up against some burly gent in a wife-beater (Aussie slang for a Bonds Chesty, vest or tank top) is about as pleasant as licking your own feet at the end of a 40 degree C (104 F) day. Same logic applies to the commute home or to any kind of post-work activity. One must avoid peak hour public transport at all costs because that one time you chance it, will be the time the tram/train tracks melt and the delays will be in excess of 3 hours. No really, this happens at least once a summer but at my estimates more like once a week during the summer months here in Melbourne.
During these extreme heat days when survival becomes priority I also won’t consider leaving the great indoors without my water bottle, sunnies (sunglasses) and sunscreen. Leaving the house without the above three is definitely living life on the wild side as even our overcast summer days have the capacity to burn your skin, give you cancer and kill you! Or at least our government makes sure to advertise this point obsessively from November to March every year. That and ads against drink driving during the festive season are really some of Australia’s scariest campaigns. Here’s a great example. Ha! And just to think, tourists fear that it’s our spiders, snakes and sharks that are gonna kill them. Actually, it doesn’t even have to be summer in Melbourne for sunburn to strike. I actually got one of my worst burns of all time while enjoying a holiday pint outdoors in the Tasmanian capital of Hobart … in the middle of winter!!! I was out there for no more than an hour and one side of my face literally burned to pealing point. In their defense, the Tasmanians don’t actually have much of an ozone layer above their state and that stage of the environment is no laughing matter.
Neither is it a joke how much worse hangovers seem to be in the summer. As we all wait out the afternoon heat and avoid the peak hour commute, we tend to pop down to the local boozer for a quickie. Then before you know it, the forecast for the cool change has been updated to come across in the early hours of tomorrow and you’re accidentally pissed on a Tuesday night. Then you’re on your way into work again but this time you’re late. Well, not really late, but travelling the same time as everyone else and the tram is hot and the gent in the wife-beater also stinks of last night’s emergency relief pints and you know this day is not going to be your most productive.
By the time you get into the office (if you’re lucky enough to have a job that implies air conditioning), you experience relief from the morning heat but that only amplifies your hangover as 6 pints of beer/ 1.5 bottles of white wine surprisingly aren’t what your body meant when it gave you signs that it was dehydrated. Then it gets worse:
You hear Sheryl from HR talking about the fact that it’s only two weeks til Christmas and you realize that you’ve done no gift shopping and not booked your cat to stay over at the cattery because Aunt May is allergic and for some reason has to stay at your place.
Wait. No, that’s not right! I don’t have a cat or an Aunt May and it’s FOUR weeks til Christmas. Excuse me. That was the heat talking.
The hysteria continues day in, day out as the mercury rises and the festive holidays approach. All of the summers merge into one hazy memory. Then in January and February it only gets hotter, until that one day in March when someone says, “I can’t believe how cold it is!”
For a full taste of the Melbourne summer, you need to be here from the end of November until mid-March and then we’ll exchange survival tips. Until then, here’s my quick list for surviving a Melbourne summer.
- Carry water
- Don’t trust public transport
- Have a stash of Fizzy Make Feel Good (FMFG) ingredients in your work drawer. FMFG is one Berocca (or your country’s equivalent to a fizzy tablet that dissolves in water and gives you vitamin B complex and C), one dissolvable aspirin and one Hydralyte in a pint of water. And your hangover is a thing of the past. You’re welcome!
- Bring sunnies even if you’re going out for a quiet Thursday night pint after work. The heat crazies can hit you at anytime and you might end up at Revolver (a super sleazy late night club in Melbourne that’s home to a lot of regret and some dance music) till the sun comes up.
- Use the highest SPF available to humanity and reapply as directed. Nothing ages skin like good times in the burny sun!
- Bring a cardie (cardigan) because while it might be 40 degrees C (104 F) at 11am, by 1pm it might be hailing and 17 degrees C (62 F). Melbourne is just that quirky/ random / much of a jerk when it comes to outfit planning.
- Give yourself extra time to do everything. As your brain is running like an overheated engine struggling to get up a hill, so is the brain of everyone else you’ll interact with so allow time for everything to take twice as long and try not to get fired up about the delays.
- Enjoy the summer, coz you’ll surely be complaining about it once it’s gone.