Big Question Marks

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Cold Snap

Since we're totally not going to believe this happened in a few months (and those of you enjoying sunny summer temperatures in North America won't either), we've decided to write about it: there is indeed WINTER on the Gold Coast. The dreaded W-word!

Yes, when researching our move here, we found climate charts that said the mercury would never fall below 20 degrees (yes!), we Googled street scenes of palm trees and read things about "300+ sunny days per year". Sold! But unfortunately we're not immune, even on the Gold Coast, to the weirdo weather that's been totally confusing everyone around the world this year.

Winter has come to Queensland — something we didn't really think was possible — and we are currently in the middle of quite a cold snap. Word is, Thursday was the coldest day Brisbane has had in a decade (9 degrees for a high!), and it's supposed to continue for another week. On Friday morning for work, I was to help out with the public launch of this community safety campaign, which was taking place outdoors in Cavill Mall, the big pedestrian area smack in the centre of Surfers. Well, I showed up to find my colleagues wearing scarves and with teeth chattering, and the guests and spectators who actually showed up making jokes about "Melbourne weather" and breathing on their hands to keep from freezing. It seemed to take ages for the sun to finally peek over the buildings around 9am, but it was very welcome when it did arrive. Winter has officially arrived — as of June 1st, actually — and while the evening news anchors are yammering on and on about the great ski conditions in New South Wales right now, we'd prefer to go back to our breezy summer weather right now, thank you very much.

And yes, as Canadians, we are indeed used to this kind of miserable grey and cold weather, that's true. And yes, we should stop whining! But when dealing with the cold, it's all about how prepared you are for it. Our apartment is actually colder inside than outside — fantastic in summer, for sure! — as there isn't a speck of insulation in the walls, which are made of concrete and floor-to-ceiling glass windows. Truthfully, we're spending a lot of evenings hiding out under the puffy quilt we splurged on a few weeks' back (a good purchase!) and waiting for it all to blow over (in August maybe?). And as our power bill is expensive enough already, we're not about to head out and get ourselves an electricity-chugging space heater...

On Friday night, our friend Tim came over — Tim lives in a house that is even colder than ours, with fans built into the attic of the house that work constantly to push the hot air out — and after trying to warm ourselves up with some beers while we sat under blankets, we decided to try something we normally wouldn't dare: hit the Surfers Paradise bar scene on a Friday night... to absorb a little body heat, that is. So we threw on about four layers each and made the three-block dash to Cavill Ave. And there we found out how to keep warm in the Australian winter: sheepishly dancing the night away to Top 40. Who would've thought?

Actually, there is one really great thing about winter in Queensland: nobody has a clue how to dress for it. The surf shops are still selling bikinis... but displaying them on mannequins with faux-fur vests over top. It's Ugg-boot city these days. And yesterday I saw a guy in the shopping mall, wearing a puffy sleeping-bag parka, paired with shorts and flip-flops. It's kind of hilarious.