Fall, glorious fall!

Trip Start Dec 18, 2011
Trip End Sep 15, 2013

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Where I stayed
Highlander Van Village

Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Sunday, February 17, 2013

I drafted this blog entry in mid-February and put it aside to fix the table of temperatures I wanted to include and to begin working at the local high school. Now here we are, eight weeks later, and I'm finally getting this blog entry completed. Without the table. In my defense, I've been working full time since late February. That's a big change for our family.

I last updated the blog in mid-January, and Australia got hotter yet. What a month it was. I tried to include the month's temperature data, but the columns didn't work, so I'll just tell you about it. It was horrid. I need therapy to overcome the twitch I get whenever someone here mentions summer.

The official high (and record breaker) came on Friday, the 18th of January, when a temperature of 44.5C was recorded in our suburb. Because people like to exaggerate a bit, everyone said their personal thermometers recorded anything from 47 to 49C. I've learned to be quick with my metric temperature calculations. Remember the silly formula, where you have to remember either to multiply by five and divide by nine, or the reverse? My way is much easier. Just remember that 32F equals 0C. From that starting point, every eighteen degrees Fahrenheit is ten degrees Celsius. Also, every nine degrees Fahrenheit is five degrees Celsius. And, finally, every 1.8F equals 1C. So, 50F equals 10C, 68F equals 20C, 86F equals 30C, 104F equals 40C, and so on. To get to our official summertime high temperature, add nine degrees to 104F to get the equivalent of 44.5C (roughly) . . . 113F. Torrid and horrid rhyme for a reason.

My favorite quote from a local friend during January: "I thought I had something in my eye, but it was just my eyeballs melting."

January ended and February began with torrents of water. Australia is the land of weather extremes. In late December and early January the country was on fire and everyone was urged to have a bushfire escape plan. Then, by the end of the month, the country was flooded. Everything turned green rapidly. Bridges and river fords were closed for weeks. Low-lying fields were covered in water for weeks. When things dried out, the rotting smell came. And it lasted for weeks. The most common comment I heard during this period: "Ugh. Flood mud." Liam imagined that a medieval battlefield might have smelled like that.

Due to the big rains, the grass is green, the leaves on the trees are green rather than the typical gray, and things look good. However, this past year Australia suffered not only its hottest summer on record, but also its driest winter to summer period. Many farmers are still suffering from the lack of moisture between July and January.

The photos attached to this blog have nothing in particular to do with the weather, except that you can see it's raining buckets in some. We went to northern New South Wales when Cyclone Oswald flooded Queensland and northern New South Wales. The mountains aren't high enough here to consistently provide cool temperatures, but it is noticeably cooler than in the valleys. Luckily we didn't go to the northern beaches for the Australia Day weekend; friends who did either returned early or were stranded until the roads reopened.

The boys had classmates who didn't show up for the first week of school due to their houses being cut off by flood waters. Another time, a boy in Liam's class was sent for because the family's house was about to be flooded in, and the family wanted to get everyone home quickly. The boy didn't come back to school for about a week.

February ended up being extremely humid. The temperature charts are deceptive in regards to humidity. The data wouldn't look bad if you took only the high temperatures into account, but there was such lousy humidity that it felt worse than the burning  heat of January. Hard to believe anything could be worse than that blast furnace, but high humidity and 90F feels worse than low humidity and 110F.

At the high school where I'm teaching, kids often ask me if I prefer the US or Australia. Silly question, but I am a guest here, so I answer diplomatically: "Australia is fine from about April through October."

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Lynda on

Love the easy temperature conversion. I can appreciate the horrid feeling of high humidity and temperatures that seem to melt you like a piece of chocolate left in a hot car. Beautiful pictures and everyone looks in the peak of health. Miss seeing you guys.

Lexi on

Hi great pictures!!!

kATY on



Phil Egidi on

It is not that bad here in DC, but it is very humid. Tammy and the kids are here visiting me for Spring Break. It is their first trip to DC and we are having fun already. Hang in there, its only heat and cold and rain and wind and dust...

Frank and Mary Satina on

Wow! The pics are amazing! What a beautiful place! We could have used a bit of that heat this winter. In our travels, we got stuck in every blizzard that hit anywhere in the US and Canada and there were many!
Everyone looks like they are enjoying the adventure. Take care.

Cami Bair on

The snow gum tree, stripped of bark, looks like something Willy Wonka would dream up! The temperatures sound completely insane; do you have air conditioning? I can't believe you're working full-time, but still finding time to garden; you're like me, you take pictures of your greens. I think I killed my indoor-starters - the day I transplanted them, the wind kicked in & blasted the heck out of them, & that night, they suffered the added indignity of being snowed upon. We have the cutest little spotted lamb. I'll email you a picture. Thank you for the lovely update! - Cami

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