A sunburnt country

“I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror –
The wide brown land for me!”
Dorothea Mackellar, The Poems of Dorothea Mackellar

I remember one of the first lessons in my Year 5 English classes was how the English like to talk about the weather: “Nice weather today, isn’t it?” And you can only imagine my surprise when years and years later I arrived in London making my way to my accommodation, sitting at the bust stop when this elderly lady suddenly said, “The weather is supposed to be better tomorrow.” I nearly fell of the seat. She was a delight to talk to her, even though brief and only about the weather.
So when I arrived in Australia sixteen years ago, I quickly figured – the subject of weather had been passed on by English immigrants. It’s a constant around here. People love talking, and yes I have to admit whingeing, about mother nature!
So let’s talk about the weather and the impact is has on daily life here in Australia. Last week we arrived back home from our annual camping trip to the Murray River, about 350 kms north-west from Melbourne. Sweltering through a week of 40 + degrees Celsius it was nice returning to the somewhat cooler zone. By then the Australian CFA (Country Fire Authority) was fighting bushfires more or less all over the place. Tasmania has lost over a hundred homes, fires here in Victoria are under control, a fire as close as 30 kms from here destroyed an historic million-dollar horse-breeding homestead, New south Wales and Queensland are still battling blazes. I’ve learned over the years that a fire is easily ignited by the lightning, campfire left burning, a tossed cigarette, a glass bottle which focuses the sun’s rays, a faulty power line, flying embers or – I don’t like to say it – by “thrill seekers” starting a fire on purpose. The current heatwave on successive days combined with strong winds makes it even harder to get the fire under control.

So let me say thanks to our fire-fighters here in Australia, and I believe we have some from New Zealand as well, we appreciate your efforts and work every day – during a fire or no fire, keeping us safe and teaching us to understand what to do in an emergency.

And to put the above a bit in perspective:
– Narelle, a cyclone which has been downgraded to category 3 as I write this, is currently moving towards the west coast.
– This time, two years ago, parts of Australia were severely flooded – including this town.

How’s the weather at your place today?

Fires at Forcett/Copping on 4 January (Wikipedia)

Fires at Forcett/Copping on 4 January (Wikipedia)

Advertisements

About Iris B

Iris Blobel was born and raised in Germany and only immigrated to Australia in the late 1990s. Having had the travel bug most of her life, Iris spent quite some time living in Scotland, London as well as Canada where she actually had met her future husband. Her love for putting her stories onto paper has only recently emerged, but now her laptop is a constant companion. Iris resides west of Melbourne with her husband and her beautiful two daughters as well as her dog. Next to her job at a private school she also presents a German Program at the local Community Radio
This entry was posted in Australia, Life, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to A sunburnt country

  1. Oh, I have to laugh,Iris! And thanks for the lead-off and inspiration for my post for this week.I , too, will talk about “talking about” the weather comes Friday. I hope you join me and get a kick out of it!
    Once again, we are having a ‘roller-coaster’ winter.We have had incredibly warm temps, with only a couple of freezes and one snow,(that did not last). We have had 2 days to a week of cold temperatures, (lows 20’s-30’s F) only to go back to very warm (highs in the high 60’s to near 80F).
    I dreampt last night that I ran into Italian friends of mine.They live on the Adriatic coast, but in my dream, they had moved near me.I was taken by surprise, as you can imagine,(this morning I’m laughing).It was all very ‘natural’, not only were the couple very realistic, but even their sons were life-like…and the conversation went straight to “watch out and prepare, from January until April we can get bad ice storms”! In reality, with all that we would have to talk about, in my dream,I was talking about the weather!

    Like

    • Iris B says:

      Now, dreaming about talking about the weather is scary 🙂 ! I look forward to reading your post on Friday (or the weekend as it will be for me). It still amazes me how much this topic is part of everyone’s conversation. Some say it’s because people are nice and kind and want to have a little chit chat … even the check-out staff ask you about the weather.
      Rollercoaster is about right – freezing my bum off yesterday and expecting mid-30s again today. I’m too old to cope with that 😉

      Like

  2. jeff7salter says:

    Gosh, Iris, I’m amazed at the climate extremes you deal with ‘down under’. In the movies, Australia always looks hot & dry & dusty. Never pictured the cyclones and wildfires and floods.
    Find some high, dry ground and take care of yourself, Hon.
    Here, we’ve had a very mild autumn and quirky ‘winter’ so far — with many days (mid-January) reaching the middle 60s (F). I remember one Jan. here where the AVERAGE temp for the entire month (acc. to the utility bill) was around 20 degrees. Quite a change.
    But everybody says we’re gonna get our cold winter, soon, with a vengeance.

    Like

    • Iris B says:

      Oh Jeff, we’ve got it all, but I suppose many people overseas forget that we are indeed a big country (I suppose like the USA) and not only span over a few timezones but also climate zones. The tropical north, the dry and dusty middle, the coast east and west, the “cold” and European south, we even have the alps and Tassie is a completely different matter at all. When I moved here I had noooo idea it could be so cold, people keep telling me as a European I should be used to it, but it’s the winds coming straight from the antarctic that are a killer. Also, I can’t remember ever experiencing such weather changes like here, one moment it’s mid- 30s, half an hour later you need to have your jumper on because it’s cooled down so drastically – “the front’s arrived” the Aussies say. Having said that, nobody really cared that much about the weather “back home.”
      Hope, that when winter arrives at your place, it’ll be “gentle” 😉

      Like

      • jeff7salter says:

        well, it may have arrived tonight. Sleet this evening and down in the 30s (F).

        Like

      • Iris B says:

        Eeeek thats cold !!!!! stay warm 🙂

        Like

      • I lived in the Denver area for 11 years,Iris. It is build just before you get tot he Rocky Mountains and you never know what is going to come over those mountains. a 40F degree drop is normal, but sometimes it would be more drastic. We never used our central air conditioner.If it was too hot, we’d stay out of our upstairs until later.We had an east-0west exposure and could see glaciers from my bedroom window.If we opened the windows and bedroom doors, we’d have a lovely flow-though all night,(which we could only do with the low humidity there). We learned to dress in layers and ALWAYS had jackets,( and part of the year, coats) , in the cars because of the inevitable temperature drops,(which were sometimes quite sudden). The first time after I moved back east here and found myself going out for the evening without taking a coat along I was surprised at myself! It must be that way for you. An Australian friend told me that it sounded strange to her to hear people in America say that they are going south for the winter, when Australians try to go north for the winter!

        Like

  3. Nell Dixon says:

    It’s snowing here today in England, Iris. I think it’s because we can can have so many kinds of weather in one day that we love to talk about it.

    Like

    • Iris B says:

      True, but I also think it’s in the English’s nature to be friendly and have a little chit chat wherever they go. I liked it!
      Thanks for stopping by, Nell!

      Like

  4. It’s been an unseasonably warm writer here in southwest Michigan, too. Today we woke up to snow and slippery roads, but it’s already melted. Makes me wonder if we’ll have a cold spring and summer!

    Like

    • Iris B says:

      You never know with the seasons anymore, do you, Patty. We always said Winter was Dec/Jan … from what I hear from Mum, it’s more like Feb/early March nowadays. Same goes with our summer down under.
      Thanks for stopping by Patty !!

      Like

  5. Wow. Lots going on in your area. Nice that others are coming in to assist with the fires. We always get help from other areas when we lose power and property to hurricanes. I love people helping people.

    Here, it was 75 today and muggy. No rain yet but a dreary day.

    Like

    • Iris B says:

      According to my converter that is warmer than it is here – bugger! LOL
      Yes, it’s great how the community sticks together in situations like that. I think one year we even had US firefighters here 🙂

      Like

  6. Iris and Jillian, to get a ‘ballpark’ figure from Celsius to Fahrenheit, divide the Fahrenheit by 2 and subtract 30.(or the reverse, double C and add 30 for F) That works pretty well in mid-rang temps…adjust a smidgeon colder or hotter in extremes.

    Like

  7. Micki Gibson says:

    We’ve got that dreary, drizzly stuff going on here. What I imagine London weather to be…not that I’ve ever been to London.
    I’ve been wanting to visit Australia for a long time, but I keep forgetting that it’s much like the US in that it’s HUGE and that each region has it’s own personality and sights to see…oh, and weather. Give me the good ol’ sunny stuff, please! 🙂

    Like

    • Iris B says:

      You want the sunny stuff …. go to the east or west coast …. stay about half way … LOL otherwise you’ll be in the tropical humid part … Yes I agree – I underestimated Australia’s ‘size’ and when I lived through my first ‘winter’ here, I was ready to go home 😉

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s