As I sit, cup of tea in-hand, with my thermal socks pulled up to my knees, I’ve found myself reminiscing about last year’s Christmas; the one spent soaking up 30 degree sunshine in Burn City (Melbourne), Australia.
It’s Facebook’s fault. Every day I’m shown pictures of our adventures- 24 hour cross-state road trips, meetings with peculiar wildlife, snorkelling in The Whitsundays. My social media was devoid of any orange- Autumnal pictures last year, it was all blue skies and beaches.
For those new to The Upside, my fiancé Joel and I spent a year living in Melbourne, which included last Christmas. (Best. Year. Ever.)
Before I visited the Land Down Under I always wondered what it would be like. I had this terrible, Englishly-ignorant, vision it would be all red dirt and kangaroos, with every tiny bug trying to kill me.
And what about Christmas? How does all that blasting, UV- fuelled, sunshine and beach lifestyle leave any room for poor old, velvet suited, huge bearded, Mr. Claus?
The thought of an un-Christmassy Christmas quite frankly, distressed me.
Well, I’m happy to tell you, Santa fits in just fine. With a slight adaption of culture and the very noticeable lack of necessary clothing, I was overjoyed to find out Australian Christmases are very much the same.
If you’ve ever wondered, Aussie traditions are identical to those in the UK. The tree and decs go up in early December, the department stores are decked out with fairy lights and tinsel and some Aussies even tuck into a full roast on Christmas day.
Do excuse my stating the obvious here, but the weather is what makes the biggest difference. All the things you associate with Christmas are replaced with all things summer. Cheese boards for barbecues and bobble hats for bikinis.
This weather had a huge effect on my festive eating habits – my annual December non-diet was replaced by real bikini-fear. With the distinct lack of cold and any need to wrap up, there really is no ingrained desire to comfort eat your way through a boiling Australian summer. (Plus, the thought of hitting the beach on Christmas Day is enough to put anyone off eating mince pies.)
As honorary Aussies, we celebrated Christmas Day the only way that felt right, by going to the beach. (Well, when in Rome.)
Joel’s ‘rents had popped over from the UK and his sister Roxie and her partner Eric travelled down from their home in Queensland to spend the festivities with us, at our little house in Melbourne.
In contrast to Christmas Day at home, ours was spent enjoying the great outdoors.
In the morning we set up camp at Williamstown Waterfront, moving onto the local beach for the afternoon – which was packed with travellers and locals enjoying the glorious winter sun.
Aussie Trivia 1 – Melbourne’s weather can be temperamental in December, but luckily for us sun-worshippers it was well into the 30’s. It has been known to rain and temps can get as low as 17 degrees. (Which, due to Melb’s lack of humidity, feels far cooler than 17 degrees at home, fyi.)
Aussie Trivia 2- Unlike in the UK, the temperature in Melbourne increases all day throughout summer and reaches its peak at around 5 o’clock. (This is awesome for catching the last rays of the day post work, but does make for a rather sweltering commute home.)
After we’d soaked up enough Vitamin D, we trooped home, cracked open the stubbies (beers), lined up the shrimp and fired up the barbie.
During the Christmas break, we continued to do some extremely un-festive things,
We visited dreamy wineries (see my post on why Victorian wineries are everything), tracked down wild koalas on the Great Ocean Road and navigated the uber- famous and very hipster, Melbourne Laneways.
As Christmases go, last year’s was up there.
Until meeting Joel (my travelling sidekick) I was a homebod. Festivities Down Under were something I had never considered, let alone thought I’d get the chance to experience. I have well and truly caught ‘wanderlust’, and loved every minute of our year, upside down.
If, per chance, you have ever considered a warm Christmas- or need some respite from these frosty Winter nights, I’d whole heartedly recommend a visit to Australia. It’s quite the novelty putting on factor 30 in December, mate.