So, what’s the Melbourne Weather Really Like? Rug up and I’ll tell you.

A rainbow seen through a window covered in raindrops.  What's the Melbourne weather really like?
Melbourne weather

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As Australia approaches its last month of winter, it would be very remiss, un-British, and un-Melburnian of me not to talk about the weather.  Yes, we Melburnians like to talk about the weather too, probably because we get so much of it.  Often within the same hour.  So, what’s the Melbourne weather really like?

Melbourne is notorious for having four seasons in one day – remember the Crowded House song? That iconic band was formed in Melbourne so these guys should know …

Upside Down

First things first, coming from the Northern hemisphere, it takes a little bit of getting used to that the seasons are upside down.  Even after almost 5 years, I’m still getting my head around July being a winter month.  Built deep into my very being is the feeling that I ought to be going on holiday in July and that the schools should be breaking up, it’s like a muscle memory that is very hard to shift.  I still expect to see daffodils in March and, as for Christmas being in the middle of summer, don’t even get me started on how mind-blowing that is!  

Instead, I am currently feeling like we are in the true depths of winter, complaining about how cold it is (it’s not really by British standards – but more of that later), and dreaming of escaping to far-north Queensland for some sunshine (notwithstanding lockdowns and borders being constantly closed between one state or another).

Four Seasons in One Year

So let’s get clear.  When exactly is it winter and more to the point, when will it be summer?  Here’s how it goes:

  • Winter:  June, July, August
  • Spring:  September, October, November
  • Summer:  December, January, February
  • Autumn: March, April, May

I won’t bore you with average rainfall and average temperature charts.  All I need to tell you is that you should expect everything whenever you go out in Melbourne.  No matter what the season.  We girls don’t normally divulge the contents of our handbags but I can tell you quite freely that mine always contains: an umbrella, a tube of factor 50 sunscreen, a cardigan, sunglasses, a lightweight raincoat, a scarf in case it gets cold, a hand-held fan in case it gets hot, a hat to keep the sun off, a hat to keep the rain off … you get the picture, and yes, it is a big bag.  And of course, these days there are always at least 15 face masks and 3 bottles of hand sanitizer.

A red handbag, jacket and sunglasses. What's the Melbourne weather really like?
Melbourne weather

If you would like to see the official weather charts, head over to Tourism Australia or the Bureau of Metrology.  Forecasts are generally accurate and it’s true, we do get some 40+ days here in the summer when all you can do is sit under the air conditioning complaining about how warm it is (there’s warm and there’s too warm …).  Here’s my take on what the seasons are actually like in Melbourne.

My Kind of Weather

Let’s start with winter as that’s where we’re currently at.  These last two winters have felt exceptionally long, mainly due to being locked down in Melbourne during those months where the daylight hours are shorter.  But in reality, and especially compared to a UK winter, it’s not so bad.  Right now, coffee time on a midwinter’s day, the outside temperature is 17 degrees.  The sun is shining, but we had really high winds overnight, pouring rain and hail earlier this morning and, just before the sun came out, a flash of lightning and a roll of thunder.  That’s fairly typical Melbourne!

The days are gradually starting to draw out – the Shortest Day has passed us on the 21st June (yes, I know, we Brits are used to that being the Longest Day), this morning it was light by about 7.15 am and it will be getting dark round about 5.30 pm.

As always, wherever I am in the world I am really looking forward to Spring.  I am already seeing Magnolia trees in flower (weird in July right?) and daffodils will probably start to peep through in August. Spring here is a heady assault on the senses, with bright colours, noisy birds, and intense perfumes in the air. I always say it’s like a UK spring but on steroids.

Close up of bright purple crocuses on a sunny day, with yellow crocuses in the background.
What's the Melbourne weather really like?
Melbourne weather

Summer in Melbourne is beautiful but can be very changeable.  In general, we get quite balmy days with an average temperature of around 23-26, very pleasant.  Sometimes the hot winds blow down from the red centre of Australia (bringing the red dust with them).  These desert winds really knock you off your feet as you step outside the door and it’s just like stepping into a fan oven.  Often these extremely hot spells are followed by what is known as a cool change.  Trust me, if they say that a cool change is coming at 6.00 pm, you can usually set your clock by it.  And it’s not just a gradual cool change, when it arrives it happens pretty quickly.  We have known temperatures to drop by 20 degrees in the same number of minutes.

Autumn is a beautiful season where we still get plenty of lovely warm days but generally nothing too hot.  Clear blue skies and fairly stable temperatures now make this my favourite season whereas, when I was living in the UK, for me it simply heralded the depressing arrival of the long long winter which always seemed to last for 6 months or more.

How Bad can it be?

When we first arrived in Melbourne I was a little worried, as everything I had read about the weather – particularly from Australians living in other states, made me think it was going to be awful.  Then we hit our first winter and I wondered what all the fuss was about.  Winter?  What winter?  Coming from the UK, where we are accustomed to winter temperatures that are frequently sub-zero, I thought, ‘this is Australia, how can winter be bad?’ 

I looked around in wonder and saw palm trees, fig-trees, orange trees, lemon trees, trees with some kind of fruit I’d never heard of before.  If they can grow here, it must be like living in the Mediterranean right?  Admittedly as we’ve discovered since, that first winter was particularly mild, with regular daytime temperatures of 16 or 17 degrees.  More common daytime winter temperatures in Melbourne can be anything between about 8 and 14 degrees.  Still pretty warm I hear you say from the UK.

A woman dressed in warm woollen clothing, holding a take-away coffee.
What's the Melbourne weather really like?
Melbourne weather

Here’s the thing.  As time goes on, you tend to acclimatize to Melbourne winter and start to feel the cold.  It took me 4 years, during which time I dismissed the need to wear a warm coat but I have now fully succumbed and learned to ‘rug up’ in my ubiquitous Melbourne black padded coat (it’s the law).  I’ve also started saying weird things like ‘It’s freezing’ on a 10-degree day.  

Now, there is an old saying that there’s no such thing as the wrong weather, it’s just the wrong clothing.  Here, I would argue it’s not the wrong clothing, it’s the wrong kind of heating and the lack of insulation and double glazing in our homes!

The House that Jack Built

Melbourne houses, in general, seem to be built in defiance of the weather.  It’s almost as if somebody in the building trade thought, as I did, ‘we’re in Australia, how bad can the winter be?’  When we first visited Aussie friends in their homes (remember those pre-lockdown days when we were allowed?), we were somewhat surprised to see an abundance of warm winter blankets, furry slipper socks, and layers and layers of clothing worn within the home.  An electric blanket?  I thought they went out in the ’70s!  

A log cabin, in the woods, covered in snow.
What's the Melbourne weather really like?
Melbourne weather

The truth of the matter is, in my humble and unprofessional opinion, Melbourne homes need proper central heating, the kind where hot water goes through pipes, with radiators (extremely rare here – so rare it’s got its own name, hydronic heating).  What is commonly known as central heating here comes through a ducted pipe in either your ceiling or floor, blows out hot air which can feel very overpowering and dries out the atmosphere and your eyeballs.  We had one rental house where the heating came through the floor downstairs but absolutely nothing upstairs.  It truly was freezing upstairs and was just like living in a tent.  

When the heating gets too overpowering and you feel like you are in a sauna, you turn it down, it goes off and you are immediately freezing.  That’s because houses have very little or no insulation and the windows are not double glazed, so they don’t retain any heat whatsoever.  In our last house, the window glass was so thin, I didn’t dare put any pressure on it when I cleaned the panes (that’s my excuse anyway).  Honestly, we have framed photographs with thicker glass in.  Drawing the curtains and blinds at night is the only way of forming an extra layer of insulation.

It seems I am not the only one to notice this curious sense of denial in Aussie building regs, as articulated in a recent article by The Age newspaper. Rumour has it that newly built homes have a better set of regulations to follow, which will hopefully be kinder to our chilblains and the environment.

Red Sky at Night …

If you’d like to track the Melbourne weather on a day-to-day basis, take a look at the front page of The Melbourne Mum website where there are real-time updates over on the right-hand side of your screen.

As I  look forward with great optimism to Spring, I remind myself of yet another saying in Melbourne which is, ‘if you don’t like the weather, wait an hour’.  The great thing about living here is that even on the worst rainy day, there is a very good chance of seeing the sun and, no matter how the day has been, the sunsets are usually spectacular.  Melbourne always puts on a great show.

A very red sunset sky over the city of Melbourne.
What's the Melbourne weather really like?
Melbourne weather

The Melbourne Mum

Thinking of emigrating to Australia? Already moved to Melbourne? Find out what it's really like to make the big move Down Under.

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6 Responses

  1. Sharon Marriott says:

    This has to be the best yet, having studied Meteorology as well as loving Crowded House this blog ticked all the boxes for me x

  2. Jill says:

    Your hit and miss heating system reminds me of ours in the 70s and early 80s – two humungous storage heaters, with a mock wood effect front panel that were rarely put on as the electricity was far too expensive, and a bar heater in the bathroom (definitely the warmest room in the house)!! A couple of questions, does anyone have wood burners, or is this a definite no no and is it expensive to heat your house??

    • It certainly takes you back a few decades Jill, back to the days when we used to get dressed in front of the fire! Yes, some people have wood burners here, but there is a growing conscience about the environment. I would say heating here is cheaper than in the UK, especially if you have solar panels. Ironically it gets more expensive in the summer when you have the air-conditioning running xx

  3. andy davies says:

    Another great article – well written , and I like the crowded house video !

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