These past few days we have seen quite the dramatic increase in temperature in Victoria. The expected dry heat has hit us full in the face, along with the things considered “normal” here in Australia: bush fires.
If, like us, you come from one of the more northern European countries, “hot weather” starts somewhere around 27 degrees Celsius. Anything above that and we break down because of heat and go in search of the nearest pool, or lake, or any other body of water we can dump ourselves into. Preferably for extended periods of time.
27 degrees is considered a mild day here in Australia. “Hot” only really starts around 40 degrees. But these past two days it has been hot. It got up to 43 degrees, even though the picture only shows 37. Which means we can cross off another item on our bucket list.
What really sets the hot weather apart from what we have experienced before in Europe is the wind. Where we might expect it to cool things down, here it is quite the opposite. The northerly wind comes across the continent and have plenty of time to heat up. So when it hits Melbourne it is the main reason for the temperature we experienced. For me it was quite a new feeling, being hit in the face with what some call a “desert wind”.
It also really drove home why bush fires are so common here, and why they get so big so quickly. We have seen how dry it is here when we visited the Grampians and picked up firewood on the side of the road. Add to this the combustibility of the prevalent Eucalyptus trees and you have plenty of burning material. Now bringing in the hot wind and all it takes is a little spark (or lightning strike), and you have a bush fire that will travel really fast and get out of control quickly.
What I find most amazing, though, is the calm way the Australians handle this. It is accepted as a common occurrence, something that cannot be prevented, only dealt with as best as possible. There are plenty of warning systems in place, road closures are common to prevent people getting in harms way, fire shelters are in place and the huge number of firefighters are doing an awesome job in fighting the danger.
It does make us think about going out camping in the summer, though…