Summer and Living in Western Australia

You know it’s summer because you are driving with oven mitts on. Also, you have moved your houseplants 1.5metres back from the window, and somewhere deep in the back of your mind Noel Coward is singing “only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun”.

Yes, it is hot. Yes, it is getting hotter. And no, there is no cabal of mind control scientists secretly setting the world’s thermometers ahead in a plot to secretly control our minds…so that our minds are controlled, secretly.

We just live in Western Australia, in 2020. But it doesn’t mean we can’t be active or that our kids can’t play outside. We just need to take the incredible hotness of things into account when choosing between Coconut tanning oil and zinc cream, or between having a relaxing time in the aircon at midday or, say, a climbing a large rock.

It is that time of year when the our otherwise very global lives (Japanese cars, Italian coffee, American Kardashians) become very local. We are, unmistakably, right here. In a glorious place that when viewed by satellite is red with just a few corners of green. A place where our weather is shaped more by ancient plains of rock and sand than by mountains, glaciers, or Fox News.

And it is a place where four seasons (not the landscaping outfit) simply don’t fit. In Noongar country, which runs roughly from just south of Geraldton to the start of the Great Australian Bight (and is more than six times the size of Belgium), there are six seasons.

Right now is the start of Birak, or first summer. Yes, there are two summers – the other one is Bunuru which runs from February to March.

And there are two springs, Djilba which runs from August to September, and Kambarang which runs from October to November. But there is only one winter which is called Makuru and runs from June to July, and one autumn which is called Djeran and runs from April to May.

Think about that for a second. Four months of hot weather, two months when it cools down a bit, two months when it is colder, and four months when it starts warming up again. Doesn’t that describe the weather here so much better than summer, autumn, winter and spring?

So, here we are at the start of Birak. And the question is, how do we you get the most out of the hot seasons? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Mornings are your friend. Time play dates, beach trips, sport, etc for mornings wherever possible
  • Siesta. Use the middle of the day for relaxation, under shade, inside especially on days over 35 degrees. This is a good time for screen time so that it doesn’t interrupt sleep patterns
  • Evenings are glorious. Picnics, family outings, backyard campouts etc are great on warm nights
  • Slip, slop, slap, seek and slide. Whenever you do go out in Birak (December January), or Bunuru (February March) be Sun Smart.
  • Hydrate. Just get used to carrying a water bottle. There are also some great insulated bottles out there now which, with a few ice blocks added, are an oasis in backpack
  • Buy a mozzie net. There are ones you can string up over a blanket under a tree, ones you can wear over your hat. They might not look amazing but they can make all the difference.
  • Go coastal. Now is a great time to be near water. Swimming is good and wind over water is also nature’s own evaporative air conditioner.
  • Think shade. Even if you are wearing a hat being in full sun on a hot day will wear you down after a while. Think about going places with good shade.
  • Think about getting a window shade for your car and ditching the mittens.

Want some nature play activity inspo? Check out our 25 Things to do in Summer resource!

For more information on sun safety, visit our friends at Cancer Council WA!