Surviving the Inferno…Sydney’s summer heatwave.

We have survived yesterday’s heatwave. There wasn’t any smoke or even a fire near us and yet the sky was a blazing inferno. We were down in Sydney and when I stepped foot outside beyond the air-conditioning, my eyeballs were burning. It was that hot! Geoff said it was like that rush of hot air when you open the oven door. At just under 43 degrees, it was obscenely hot even by Australian summer standards and we’re used to the heat!

As the day unfolded and the place began to heat up, the intensity mounted. Our local radio station was running a phone-in about whether you could actually fry an egg on your car bonnet. I found out today that a number of our local shops had closed. We live in a tourist area so when shops close during the holiday season, you know it’s serious!! One of my friends washed her sheets and they dried almost instantly but they were still hot when she was trying to get to sleep.

Ideally, we would have spent the day at home in the lounge room with the air-conditioner blasting away. However, as luck would have it, I was booked in for my regular blood transfusion and I also had the kids in tow. We had been planning to catch the train down to Sydney which would have had us walking from the station at midday (we have a saying about mad dogs and Englishmen out in the midday sun). So we changed plans and I took the kids to the air-conditioned shopping Mecca of Macquarie Centre before Mum could drive me down. While this was a great way to beat the heatwave, the kids were completely over-stimulated and wanted to buy the place out. I bought us some crayons to do some more crayon art and I did have to wonder whether the hairdryer would even be necessary. With this kind of heat, the crayons could melt onto the canvas all by themselves! 

My patience with the kids definitely melted but that’s another story…

In a past life, I used to live in Geraldton, in Western Australia. I have survived 46 degree heat over there and that was hot! Hot! Hot!!!! If I could survive Geraldton, I figured I could survive a relatively minor Sydney heatwave. I could survive this and I was somewhat right. The thing about the West Australian heat is that they have this phenomenon known locally as the Fremantle Doctor. It’s a very strong, cool wind that turns up like clockwork almost every afternoon and gets rid of the heat. That means you can usually get to sleep.

Not so with a Sydney heatwave. The heat sometimes just sits and waits, refusing to budge. At midnight last night, it was still 31 degrees and when I put the dog outside the heat was quite disturbing. We get quite a few bushfires around here and we’ve had some major fires under similar conditions. I was concerned and part of me was on alert. Not quite red alert because we don’t live in the bush but there’s a lot of National Park around here and fires are a community concern. I am also mindful of communities around Australia that are currently fighting real fires and there have been serious losses. In Tasmania, around 100 people are currently unaccounted for. My main concern was tossing and turning in bed feeling like a pig on a spit roast and I’ll survive.

Then somewhere in the middle of the darkness, I could hear something rattling and the sound of deep breathing. The cool change had finally arrived.

I could have sung the Alleluia Chorus!!!

Blue skies and sunny days can be rather over-rated.

There’s something to be said for grey skies…


3 thoughts on “Surviving the Inferno…Sydney’s summer heatwave.

  1. amphomma

    I’m glad the relief came. Living in south Florida, near lots of preserve areas, we are in danger of brush fires, too. And we definitely get heat. I feel like the kids and I hibernate during the hot summer months. We find beach trips and days at the pool more palatable and safe in the spring or fall. That heat is dangerous! This week we are having unseasonably hot weather. I told my daughter we could try a trip to the pool, perhaps! In January! Usually it’s at least ten or fifteen degrees cooler at this time of year. I know we won’t see more than a handful of freezing point temperatures, but to be in shorts and flip flops is a bit much! Stay safe! And post more crayon art if you do some! –Alison

  2. ana74x

    I was awake too, there was a fire just a kilometre away, so I was up when the change came in at 2am on the dot. It felt about 10 degrees cooler within minutes.

  3. roweeee Post author

    Thanks Alison. I find it really interesting comparing notes across the globe, especially when the seasons are reversed although Florida sounds much warmer. I read a post from West Virginia and they had a white Christmas with lots of snow.
    We usually get at least one fairly major bushfire fairly close to home each summer and the freeway to Sydney and sometimes the train line can get closed down with the fires.
    Fires are funny things because they are so devastating and yet also so beautiful. A few years ago, the fires were quite close to a friend’s house and we went round to see if she wanted us to take her photos for her. We ended up watching and photographing the flames, which were under control. The entire hill was on fire. It was breathtakingly beautiful and destructive at the same time. The odd thing about the Australian bush is that some species actually depend on bushfire to germinate their seeds so that in the midst of death, there is rebirth.
    Will keep you posted re the crayon art. xx Rowena

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