Summer is ending in Melbourne and the weather is cooling down. But in this city, that transition is not a gradual twist of the thermostat, it’s an overnight snap between heatstroke and frostbite.

“It’s like Antarctica and the Australian desert are continually fighting it out over the top of Melbourne,” my partner remarked. Never have I heard a more accurate description of what it’s like to live in this city.

I left the house wearing shorts one lovely sunny day this week and for the longest time, I couldn’t figure out why I was so uncomfortable. My arms were breaking out in bumps, I was shivering, and all I could think about was hot chocolate, electric blankets, and comfort foods.

What is wrong here? I wondered. Am I getting sick?

No. The weather was just fucking cold. A day that had started out warm had turned icy without warning, yet my brain—having woken to a blue sky and a warm breeze—hadn’t caught up to that fact.

It’s a common mistake. Summertime doesn’t end gracefully here, it snaps fast enough to turn sweat droplets into icicles. After that, the sky spits chilly rain for what feels like a hundred years, and then springtime arrives with an explosion of green leaves, chirping birds, and unbridled optimism. But it’s just a tease. After a quick reminder of what habitable weather feels like, any hope of summer disappears leaving us cold and miserable for another fifty years. Then you wake up one day and it’s forty degrees Celsius and a fresh batch of old ladies have died from heatstroke.

Who can blame ’em?

We have our coping mechanisms, though, such as complaining about it. Like, all the time. We pretend as though the psychotic weather is unexpected, and we act shocked and violated on a daily basis. This approach allows us to feel victimised, which is easier than acknowledging that we built our homes in an vile pocket between the cold fronts of the Southern Ocean and heat of the desert. We could be living elsewhere, but we stay. It’s easier to complain than to pack.

So every conversation that you’ll ever have in Melbourne will have a segment that goes like this:

“Oh. My. God. How cold is this weather?!”
“I know! Bloody hell! This is ridiculous!”
“It’s supposed to be summer!”
“Uh, I know! I just got a fake tan for nothing!”
“I just had my bikini waxed for nothing!”
“This is bullshit.”
“Let’s move to Queensland.”
“Um, no. Let’s not.”
“I was totally joking.”

However, the psychotic weather is what gives Melbourne it’s flavour. There is nothing practical about the climate. It’s harsh. It’s hardcore. But it keeps the wankers away.

To fight the winter blues, we turn to art for solace. Layers of graffiti transform chilly brick façades into a walls of hope. Delicious, lavish dishes and wines are served in restaurants, warming the bellies and minds of eaters for one glorious hour. Live music expresses the cold, harsh truths of humanity, and listeners sway in unison, connected through shared sorrows. Our suffering makes the joys richer. Our canvases are not dappled with Sydney harbour Cyan and Annoyingly Happy Yellow, but with Long-Suffering Beige and Kill Me Now Grey. We’re in this together.

Melbourne replaces sunshine with soul. Blue skies with blues. Heat with heart.

That’s what I tell myself anyway.

It warms me at night when I’m fighting off frostbite of the toes.

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43 Response Comments

  • Kim  April 3, 2013 at 10:08 am

    Ha, sounds like Portland sort of. At least the depressing gray and spitting rain part (and the good food and music). We’re always threatening to move to Denver but then we don’t. So true that complaining is easier than packing!

    • Torre DeRoche  April 4, 2013 at 6:24 am

      From what I hear, Portland is worse. My condolences. 🙂

  • Tash  April 3, 2013 at 10:37 am

    A ha ha ha – so true, love it!

  • Fel  April 3, 2013 at 10:37 am

    Reading this with my coat on. In front of the telly.
    Not. turning. on. the. heater.


    Gotta love Melbourne……

    • Torre DeRoche  April 4, 2013 at 6:24 am

      The heater in my house is broken. I have an electric blanket for warmth. Yes, gotta love Melbourne.

  • Hannah  April 3, 2013 at 10:39 am

    I’m English. I feel your pain. Currently though I am having problems of the opposite kind here in your lovely bungalow in Koh Tao… So. Fucking. Hot. I’m trying not to sweat too much on your cushions.

    • Torre DeRoche  April 4, 2013 at 6:26 am

      It really it hot up there, isn’t it? Are you able to write/design in that heat? Best solution is to go for a dip at about 2.30pm and stay in the water (with beers) until about 5pm. Dinner at Su Chilli, then home again.

  • Jimmy Dau  April 3, 2013 at 10:39 am

    I love the melbourne street art

    Ps it’s pissing down rain up here in Sydney!

    • Torre DeRoche  April 4, 2013 at 6:27 am

      I was just in Sydney last week. The weather was absolutely beautiful, and I fantasied about moving there.

  • Carmel  April 3, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    I was just about to type the same thing as Kim. We got a tease of spring here this weekend and now it’s back to grey skies and everyone complaining about how miserable it is outside…”and can you BELIEVE it’s going to be like this all weekend?” It seems like the incredulity would wear off after time, but it doesn’t.

    • Torre DeRoche  April 4, 2013 at 6:28 am

      I guess it’s either shocked disbelief or depressed surrender, huh?

  • Andi of My Beautiful Adventures  April 3, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    I lived briefly in Melbourne for one winter and I actually didn’t think it ever got that cold! Maybe it was a weird winter?

    • Torre DeRoche  April 4, 2013 at 6:31 am

      Did you? I didn’t know that. If you’re used to a snowy climate, you may scoff at Melbourne’s ‘cold’ winter. The problem here is the lack of heating. Everyone pretends that the weather is great, and nobody puts in proper heating (or cooling for that matter). We shiver. A lot.

  • Rachel @ Reality Chick  April 3, 2013 at 11:51 pm

    Sydney’s just as bad at the moment – I’m just hanging out for winter boot season to kick in. I figure I have maybe 3 weeks to wait 🙂

    • Torre DeRoche  April 4, 2013 at 6:32 am

      In Sydney, you’ll only get to wear your ugg boots for two weeks, right?

  • Sarah Somewhere  April 4, 2013 at 12:30 am

    Ha! You summed it up so well, Torre! I still feel like I’m travelling when I’m in Melbourne, I absolutely love it (except the crazy weather, I mean, really!). If you had the weather too, well, then you would be Sydney and that would suck 🙂

    • Torre DeRoche  April 4, 2013 at 6:59 am

      I was in Sydney last week, staying right on the harbour. We watched the sailboats racing past from our balcony, and I had to admit it… Sydney is pretty great.

  • Kristina  April 4, 2013 at 3:36 am

    So true Torre! But at least we are blessed with a couple of nice, sunny and beautiful autumn days over the next few days!!

    • Torre DeRoche  April 4, 2013 at 7:00 am

      This is true. It’s not yet time to get my complaining on.

  • Pia  April 4, 2013 at 8:48 am

    My god Torre, I love you! I sit here with a fan blowing the Vietnam heat off me and know that in 60 days I will be, like you, bitching about Melbourne weather. So funny, thanks for keeping it real! X

    • Torre DeRoche  April 5, 2013 at 10:11 am

      The weather, and birthing small humans. Lots to complain about!

  • Denise  April 4, 2013 at 11:30 am

    I’ve been living in Melbourne for a year now and I love this crazy weather. It gets hot, but never 100% humidity and 45 degrees hot. It gets cold, but not -8 degrees during the daytime cold.

    Melbourne’s extremes are not really extremes, and that’s why I love it and people have such a good quality of life. Plus, even in winter, the sun never fails to show its face every few days.

    • Torre DeRoche  April 5, 2013 at 10:14 am

      I wish I had your optimism. There are no extremes here, but I find that it’s impossible to acclimatise because it’s always randomly changing around. Snow on Christmas day, for example.

  • Sean  April 4, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    Haha! I guess it does keep a lot of the wankers away… My morning conversations the last two days have pretty much all kicked off with how cold it is.

    • Torre DeRoche  April 5, 2013 at 10:14 am

      I know! How cold is it?!

  • Bianca  April 5, 2013 at 1:42 am

    This piece is beautiful ode to Melbourne! Yes it’s crazy and we all complain but no I’d never move to Queensland. I cope by taking off for a holiday to a warm spot on the globe every July and topping up my serotonin levels.

    • Torre DeRoche  April 5, 2013 at 10:15 am

      That’s a nice way to break it up. I cope by moving to Thailand.

  • Pam  April 6, 2013 at 2:45 am

    Hi Torre! It’s the same thing in Vancouver, where I’m from- you live in a rainforest and complain when it pours all winter. I live in Brisbane now though, you SHOULD come to Queensland!

    I just bought your book, and I’m halfway through 12 hours later. I love it! I found your blog a few months ago through the Almost Fearless blog, and I’m so glad I did. Thank you for the amazing stories!

    • Torre DeRoche  April 7, 2013 at 11:12 pm

      So glad you’re enjoying the book. Thanks for stopping by to tell me that, Pam.

  • Tracey  April 6, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    I grew up in Manchester – a damp pocket “somewhere up north” of England. Manchester is famous for cotton, continuous rain, bronchial pneumonia, and character building. Heart, soul and music – as you say – climatically all thrown in for free. I still opted for heat, blue skies and wankersville. P.S I love melbourne too.

    • Torre DeRoche  April 7, 2013 at 11:11 pm

      Hmm. I think I would opt for wankersville over the bronchial pneumonia too.

      • Tracey  April 8, 2013 at 7:40 am

        I am rather fond of it, though just heard hubby’s next contract could be Melbourne bound. Do I have broken cheek capillaries to look forward to?

  • Semon  April 10, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    I’ve never been Melbourne before but view from your consideration I can say that city is very beautiful. Thanks for sharing such nice experience of yours. It’s helps me visualize Melbourne for sometime in my eyes. 🙂

  • Britany  April 11, 2013 at 11:28 pm

    I was in Melbourne for a semester in college and coming from New York, assumed Australia would be hot and sunny. All that talk of Melbourne having a winter was probably just spoiled Australians thinking a little chill in the morning counts as cold. But it actually does get pretty chilly!! Still loved my time there though, and love this assessment of the cold adding to the flavor of the city. I’d love to go back! (But probably when its warm. After all, we have REAL winter to escape in New York 🙂 )

  • Taryn  April 13, 2013 at 3:25 am

    I’m reading your book right now and I love it so much!! I currently live in Melbourne- the weather is a big battle for me, especially when I’ve recently moved from Queensland, and prior to that lived in San Diego… I lived in Oceanside actually; a part in your book I loved! Made me a little nostalgic. But I sure do love this city. So much to enjoy 🙂

  • Rob  April 22, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    Lordy Lord! This is so true. I travelled from Cairns where I was sweating my face off to Melbourne which was like a frickin freezer! No coat or anything im backpack! Bad mistake…
    Do miss the place though! Especially the ridiculous amount of cake coffee shops on Chapel Street… Yum

    • Gourmet Getaways  April 23, 2013 at 12:20 am

      Dammit, I am in Thailand and I have been craving cake for days!

  • Gourmet Getaways  April 23, 2013 at 12:18 am

    Melbourne weather kills me! I need warmth or I go into hibernation mode :0

  • Colin  April 23, 2013 at 1:16 am

    Torre I really enjoyed your book. That would make a great movie,a chick flick I would enjoy. Rare indeed.

    • Torre DeRoche  April 27, 2013 at 2:36 am

      Ha ha! What a compliment. Thank you, Colin.

  • Sarah-Jo  May 27, 2013 at 11:07 am

    Omgoshness, you’ve become my new fave blogger for this post alone! haha

    ’tis all so very relatable right now 🙂

  • Vid of Bruised Passports  July 15, 2013 at 9:26 am

    Haha- enjoyed reading this post. Spot on about Melbourne! 🙂

  • Nicola Hilditch-Short  February 28, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    I would feel sorry for you but I am currently stuck in the north west of England! As soon as I finish uni I’m off!


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