deird1: Vimes lighting a cigar using a swamp dragon, with text "Fabricati Diem Pvnc" (Vimes)
[personal profile] deird1
This got longer than it was intended to.

[personal profile] frayadjacent is moving to Melbourne, and I was thinking through the things she'd need to know about living here - and discovered that, actually, there are quite a lot of them. So, I'm dividing up by category, and posting them here for the amusement of anyone who has time to read things.

In General

One thing you may know about Australia: it's really hot.

One thing you may not know about Austraia: it's really cold.

We have intensely hot summers, even this far south. I'm not talking equator hot, but still... quite warm.

We also have extremely cold winters, even this far north. This is helped by the fact that we're on the south coast, with nothing in between us and Antarctica except ocean. We get freezing winter winds.

Our houses are also designed to guard against hot weather, not cold weather. This week, it's been 1 degree (34 F) every morning - and my house has felt that way.

Guarding Against Sunburn

If you're outside during summer, you will get sunburnt. Simple fact.

To stop this from happening: slip, slop, slap. In other words: "Slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen, slap on a hat." Whatever you do, don't stand around with no hat, no top, and no sunscreen. YOU WILL GET BURNT AND IT WILL HURT.

You might also want to spend $5 in China Town, and get yourself a nice parasol. Carrying around your own portable shade is really helpful, especially when it's hot enough that a minute of direct sunlight will result in sweat dripping off your ears.


If you have a good winter coat, bring it with you. You will not find a good one here.

Our clothes tend more towards the dealing-with-hot-weather end of the spectrum. Our winter coats are kind of thin and puny.

Speaking of clothes...

Melbourne's Eccentricities

Melbourne is famous for its ridiculously changable weather. A single day can be hot, cold, sunny, rainy, and windy.

To deal with this, learn to dress in layers. You want to be able to take off a layer or two of clothes if it suddenly gets hot - without being arrested for public indecency. And you want to carry around an extra layer of warmth in case it suddenly gets cold.

The Heatstroke Thing

I have seen this happen to far too many Europeans.

What they do is, they come down here in summer weather. And, being from a cold climate, they think "Ooh! Summer! That's the time when we run around outside really fast, and enjoy ourselves!" So... they do. They run, and run, and run, and leap, and bound, and run some more, and... collapse on the ground and start puking everywhere.

Try not to do this.

Running around outside is one of the fun parts of summer, but you need to pace yourself. Drink plenty of water, take frequent breaks in the shade, and walk slowly if you can. Trust me. I know whereof I speak.

Dealing With Drought

We're in a drought. Kinda permanently.

Don't waste water. Don't leave taps going. Don't wash your car in your driveway, or the neighbours might start to glare at you.

Dealing With Bushfires

Something you won't have to deal with, mostly. Australians are very organised, so we schedule bushfires to happen once a year, in a specific area of the state set aside for that purpose. Just... don't go there then, and you'll be fine.

Don't light matches outside during summer, though. Not until you've checked if it's a total fire ban day.

Safety Tips for Crazy Critters

Not technically about weather, but it fit here better than anywhere else. And it's about the environment, so that counts, right?

We have:
- snakes
- spiders
- jellyfish
- sharks
- marsupials

And here are some quick, simple tips for not letting them kill you:

1) Do not put your hand inside something you can't see into.
Not under logs. Not inside gumboots. Not into a patch of grass. Not inside a rabbit hole.

Putting your hand somewhere you can't see is a good way to get bitten by whatever you've accidentally attacked. Don't do it.

2) Have a glass ready in case of spiders.
Put the glass over the top of the spider, put a piece of card underneath the glass, and deposit the spider outside.

Or, follow my example and shriek until someone kind gets rid of it for you.

3) Swim between the flags.
Most public beaches will have flags posted. The area between the flags will be supervised by lifeguards. They will stop you drowning, pick you up when you fall off your surfboard, and hunt down the sharks that massacred you and avenge your death.

4) Do not hug the cuddly animals.
Unless the nice people at the animal sanctuaries are handing you one and saying "Here, hug this". The sanctuary people are nice. They won't let you get your face ripped off unless you really deserve it.

This concludes everything you need to know about surviving Australia's weather. Questions? Comments?


Date: 2013-06-26 12:04 am (UTC)
vass: a jar of Vegemite (Happy Little Vegemite)
From: [personal profile] vass
Water: don't hose down your driveway to cool it down. Water your plants with a watering can, or with a hose only at off-peak times. It's okay to wash your car in your driveway if you use a bucket of water and a rag, not a hose (and no, do not tip the bucket over your car.) Limit your showers to four minutes. A waterproof timer for this is available from all good hardware stores. (No, this is not satire.)

Clothes: Melbournians wear black. There's no rule against colours, but if you always wanted to just wear black all the time without standing out for it, here's your chance.

Spiders: here in Melbourne there is only one particularly dangerous one, the redback. It's a little black spider with a bright red streak on its body, and if you see it don't try to catch it, just avoid it and call pest control. If it bites you, current first aid advice for healthy adults is ice and rest and something to puke into and to seek medical advice if it gets really bad. If you're not a healthy adult, then seek urgent medical advice, because they can kill young people, frail people, and elderly people. There is a very effective antivenom available, and the last recorded death from them was in 1956. So don't panic.

Swimming: the really big danger the flags and lifeguards are there to prevent isn't the sharks. It's the riptides. I'd rather face a shark.

Air quality: Melbourne's air is not wonderful for asthmatics. We have one of the highest incidences of asthma in the world. If you have asthma, watch out for that and get ready to see your doctor to get your medication adjusted if you need it. The air quality is worst in bushfire season (January and February) and this is the case all over the state, not just in the parts that are actually on fire. On the bright side, just about anyone from Melbourne is familiar with the symptoms of an asthma attack and knows how to treat it, and the odds aren't too bad that they can lay hands on a Ventolin puffer if you don't have yours.

Emergency services: the number is triple zero, 000. That covers fire, ambulance and police, all over Australia. It works on mobiles too, but 112 is better for mobiles because it'll work even if your phone's out of range (so long as it's in range of some other provider's tower.)
Edited (I can spell. Sort of.) Date: 2013-06-26 12:06 am (UTC)

Re: Expanding

Date: 2013-06-26 12:37 am (UTC)
lizbee: The Gallifreyan Citadel from "Sound of Drums", a Time Lord standing to the right. Text: gallifrey (DW: Gallifrey)
From: [personal profile] lizbee
If it bites you, current first aid advice for healthy adults is ice and rest and something to puke into and to seek medical advice if it gets really bad.

Are you sure? A large, healthy male barrister got bitten by a redback last month, and he spent two weeks in hospital.

On the bright side, just about anyone from Melbourne is familiar with the symptoms of an asthma attack and knows how to treat it, and the odds aren't too bad that they can lay hands on a Ventolin puffer if you don't have yours.

And Ventolin is available without a prescription for less than $10!

Re: Expanding

Date: 2013-06-26 12:42 am (UTC)
vass: A sepia-toned line-drawing of a man in naval uniform dancing a hornpipe, his crotch prominent (Default)
From: [personal profile] vass
I did a first aid cert last year, and they'd changed the advice from the compression bandage and antivenom ASAP routine I grew up learning to "compression bandage is too painful and not helpful, and antivenom may not be necessary". But I just googled, and yes, seek medical assistance ASAP, but it isn't the dire emergency that (for example) a funnel web bite would be.

Re: Expanding

Date: 2013-06-26 12:44 am (UTC)
lizbee: Close-up of Korra's face as she smirks (LoK: Korra)
From: [personal profile] lizbee
So it's more of a "Drive yourself to the hospital" than a "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, HOPE THE AMBULANCE WAS AROUND THE CORNER WHEN YOU CALLED!" deal?

Re: Expanding

Date: 2013-06-26 12:47 am (UTC)
vass: A sepia-toned line-drawing of a man in naval uniform dancing a hornpipe, his crotch prominent (Default)
From: [personal profile] vass
Yeah. Or maybe get someone else to drive you, because it's supposed to hurt like fuck. (If it was the FOR THE LOVE OF GOD scenario, like for funnel webs, the compression bandage would come into play, plus staying as still and calm as possible.)

Re: Expanding

Date: 2013-06-26 12:51 am (UTC)
lizbee: (Tudors: Anne Boleyn)
From: [personal profile] lizbee
I don't even drive, so it would be more like, "Put an urgent call out on Twitter for someone to drive me. Or take the tram."

Date: 2013-06-26 12:05 am (UTC)
frayadjacent: Buffy smirking over Giles with quarterstaff (!Thank you!)
From: [personal profile] frayadjacent
Ha ha, this is great!!

I read recently that 1/3 of Australians get skin cancer. That is nuts! Though the death rate was something like 1800 per year if I remember correctly. Still. One third?? Is it just all those white people relatively close to the equator? I know it's not due to Antarctic ozone depletion; that isn't remotely that far north. Yes, I'm sure I'll get a terrible sunburn despite all my intentions not to. I'm inconsistent at best about sunscreen in Seattle.

I'm not sure yet I'll do any ocean swimming. I grew up in landlocked New Mexico and am already a bit uncomfortable swimming in the ocean, even with a much lower risk of rip tides and jellyfish and great whites. I spent a few days in South Florida a couple years ago and had a grand time playing in the surf but didn't go any further than that!

I'm so glad you posted about coats, because I wasn't sure whether to bring my *real* winter coat. Now I know I will.

Don't wash your car in your driveway, or the neighbours might start to glare at you.

As well they should! I wish more people in the US had this attitude about water.

I'm oddly excited for the changeable weather? For some reason people in Seattle think our weather is changeable, but IT IS NOT. We have some of the most boring weather imaginable. I'm sure I'll get tired of the weather changing so much, but right now it sounds fun. (Especially being in an atmospheric science department.)

Date: 2013-06-26 12:11 am (UTC)
vass: A sepia-toned line-drawing of a man in naval uniform dancing a hornpipe, his crotch prominent (Default)
From: [personal profile] vass
I read recently that 1/3 of Australians get skin cancer.

That's correct, but don't worry too much. Just keep an eye on any moles or freckles, and show them to the doctor if they change their shape.

I had a friend from Seattle visit here once. He said the weather reminded him of Portland.

If you're into atmospheric science, then meet your new homepage: the BOM. Data, data, lots and lots of data!

Date: 2013-06-26 12:35 am (UTC)
lizbee: Romana from "Nightmare of Eden", looking decidedly unimpressed. (DW: Romana says SAY WHAT NOW?)
From: [personal profile] lizbee
I read recently that 1/3 of Australians get skin cancer.

Yeah, with red hair and fair skin, and grandparents who thought sunscreen was some kind of leftie plot, I've been having dodgy moles removed since my late teens. It's no drama, though, because I keep an eye on them and watch for changes, so the worst that's happened is that one biopsy came back, "Yeah, kind of pre-pre-cancerous, could have gone either way, I guess."

(Camera phones are SO GREAT for mole tracking!)

Date: 2013-06-26 12:09 am (UTC)
brin_bellway: forget-me-not flowers (Default)
From: [personal profile] brin_bellway
Put the glass over the top of the spider, put a piece of card underneath the glass, and deposit the spider outside.

A glass, huh? I hadn't thought of that. I just grab it with a piece of paper towel, but that would be much too risky if any of the spiders in my area were venomous. ( least, I don't think they are. Possibly this would be a good time to Google something like "spiders of the great lakes region".)

Date: 2013-06-26 11:06 pm (UTC)
peroxidepirate: (Default)
From: [personal profile] peroxidepirate
I'm pretty sure the worst you get in the great lakes region is an itchy-swollen red spot for a few days, like a turbo mosquito bite. (If there was anything worse, I *think* I'd have been bit by it by now..)

Date: 2013-06-27 12:08 am (UTC)
brin_bellway: forget-me-not flowers (Default)
From: [personal profile] brin_bellway
About half of the bug bites I get are turbo-charged. I just figured I was mildly allergic to mosquito spit (the small ones are usually in spots like fingers that don't have much room to swell up), and that's probably true, but now I'm starting to wonder if that isn't always what's happening.

Date: 2013-06-26 01:34 am (UTC)
velvetwhip: (Die!)
From: [personal profile] velvetwhip
They won't let you get your face ripped off unless you really deserve it.

That's good to know.


Date: 2013-06-26 02:25 am (UTC)
eleanorjane: uluru (australia)
From: [personal profile] eleanorjane
More random advice, if it's welcome! :)

Re the critters: be careful at the beach, especially re jellyfish (not tooooo much of an issue in Victoria, but more troublesome as you go north), stonefish, blue-ringed octopi, and geographer cones (which I didn't even know about until this year).

And despite all the sharks and snakes and spiders and miscellaneous venomous creatures, the three most deadly animals in Australia are still the horse, cow and dog, in that order. :)

Also, if it's at all possible, get yourself eligible for Medicare. It's our nationalised health care system -- it still has plenty of holes to fall through, but it's humane and decent and lets you make the choices, instead of your insurance company.


Date: 2013-06-26 11:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I realise this isn't weather-related, but it is water-related.

Dual-flush toilets are standard here. Some people haven't encountered them before.
One of the buttons does a Little Flush, to be generally used when you only need a Little Flush.
The other button does a Big Flush, only to be used when one really NEEDS a Big Flush.
Straightforward, no?

The other thing is that our toilets don't fill up very far. I never understood the 'dog drinking out of the toilet' joke until someone explained that US toilets fill waaaaaaay up.

Nicer, because you don't have to worry about water splashing back up at you; on the other hand, make sure you own a good toilet brush.

Oh, and I don't think we usually talk about needing to go to the bathroom. I reckon my visitors are more likely to say, "May I use your loo / toilet?" mean, people won't care if you use the word 'bathroom' or anything - the point is more, don't be shocked by the way they talk about it.

(I could start going on about the importance of recognising the distinctions between the way US English and AustEng use the words 'fanny', 'ass' (cf 'arse' - same meaning but seen as more vulgar than in AE) and 'root' - but I'm guessing Mez will be doing a post about this, or possibly linking back to a previous post, because I'm sure she's written about it before...)

'ass' vs' arse'

Date: 2013-06-26 11:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
(Argh, I mucked that and now I can't edit it!)

Sorry, to clarify, USEng 'ass' is seen as a bit less vulgar than AusEng 'arse'. So one might have to be a bit more careful about the scenarios in which one uses the expression.

Re: Toilets

Date: 2013-06-26 04:35 pm (UTC)
brin_bellway: forget-me-not flowers (Default)
From: [personal profile] brin_bellway
Dual-flush toilets are standard here.

Does that mean Australian science museums don't have signs up next to their dual-flush toilets explaining what they are and basically treating it as a mini participatory exhibit?

(I have a fair bit of experience with the part of the U.S. between Pennsylvania and Massachusetts inclusive, plus southern Ontario. (Especially the parts of these areas that contain museums.) In said experience, many (possibly most, but not all) science museums have dual-flushers with explanatory exhibit-ish signs, and nobody else ever has them.)

Re: Toilets

Date: 2013-06-26 11:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
*LOLing at the idea of little signs and people getting excited about trying the toilets out*

I found out about the dual-flush toilet thing because I heard someone visiting from the US on Aus radio, who was completely astonished by the toilets, with the hosts going, "You mean you don't have these?"

I do remember Scienceworks having a sign next to the new-fangled hand-dryer, though. So it's entirely possible that everyone had little signs up next to the toilets when they were first brought in, and it's just been standard long enough that everyone finds it passe.

(Given that we aren't allowed to install single-flush toilets, I wonder if that causes design problems with ones that come from overseas...)

And we do have little signs up next to the toilets at church - but that was more to do with people not being to work out which part of the funky button design was the small flush and which was the large flush.

Date: 2013-06-26 01:14 pm (UTC)
slaymesoftly: (Default)
From: [personal profile] slaymesoftly
I have a friend who lives in Queensland and we are always talking about how hot or cold it is. Of course, bear in mind that her idea of "cold" and mine are many degrees apart. LOL But, even given our different preferences for temperatures, I'm always astonished that the things we take for granted here (AC and heat) are not part of the average house in Aus. If it gets cold there, why aren't the houses built to protect their inhabitants from that as well as from the heat? I don't think it gets as cold where she lives as it probably does where the cold winds are as close by, but still.... If it gets cold every winter, and extremely hot every summer, why aren't the clothes needed for that range of temps available? And why aren't houses built to handle both ends of the temp. spectrum? It's confusing to someone from here. My parents lived in Florida for many years and, while their house had all the things you'd expect from one in a warm area (ceiling fans, lots of screened outdoor spaces, AC, thick walls, etc) it also had central heating that could be turned on if and when the occasional cold snap extended to southern FL. (In my mother's case, that was defined as "it's below 70, turn on the heat!!!!" LOL)

Date: 2013-06-27 02:42 am (UTC)
slaymesoftly: (Default)
From: [personal profile] slaymesoftly
Oh, I understood your post to say it was freezing in the house and just assumed it was the same as hers. No AC (a cooler of some sort) and no heat. She said house in Aus. aren't provided with heat because it's so warm there. Not true everywhere, huh?

Date: 2013-06-27 12:03 pm (UTC)
slaymesoftly: (Default)
From: [personal profile] slaymesoftly
*nods* That's what threw me - the mention of houses being built to keep out heat, not cold. sounded just like what houses where she lives are like. And yes, it is much warmer where she lives, so maybe that's how they do it there. Don't know what to say about the AC - other than she really enjoys the heat (most of the time) so maybe that was a personal choice for them and others in the area do have it. I'm sure the public buildings and apartment buildings, hotels, etc. in Brisbane must have AC.


deird1: Fred looking pretty and thoughful (Default)

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