While everyone gathered at the beginning of the week in the Northern Hemisphere to celebrate the summer solstice by watching the sun rise over Stone Henge, we down under looked towards celebrating the marking of the days beginning to grow longer. Aussies are in the depths of winter and counting the days towards summer warmth where they can once again embark on that much loved sport of swimming in the ocean.
Hang on! Why wait til summer? Not likely, Aussies are made of much tougher stuff and wait for no right weather conditions. Residence of Hobart, our most southern capital city, (if you head any further south you'll be in Antarctica), chose to mark the winter solstice with a naked dip in the Derwent River. Well almost naked, they all wore red swimming caps. The water temperature was a chilly 11 degrees C as all 700 brave Tasmanians held their breath and took the plunge into the shivering waters.
Meanwhile, here in the Top End of the country where the winter nights never fall below 17C and the days still reach a balmy 30C, Territorians braved the depths of the ocean for their annual winter swim. Fannie Bay Life Saving Club held a race across the bay that took my breath away when I first heard of it. I have been warned never to swim in the ocean up here for danger of crocodiles, sharks and box jelly fish, yet these amazing brave souls took to the water like a school of fish splashing about in a frenzy.
Two major swim events, both held on the winter solstice, in the same country, yet they couldn't have been further apart.
I on the other hand chose to spend the day amongst petrol rev heads at the V8 Super car races held annually at Hidden Valley race track. As I gulped down another bottle of water, wiped the perspiration from my face and applied yet another layer of sun block I wondered what on earth I was doing here? Then I guess the petrol fumes embraced me as the roar of the F18's soared overhead, the drivers revved their engines and the race began! Maybe raising three boys has rubbed off on me a little more than I thought as the enthusiasm pumped through my veins.
As for swimming, yes I did eventually collapse into our pool on my return home. So I guess I did eventually end the day the same way as so many other Aussies began it, with a dip in the cool refreshing waters of Australia.
Only two days later I was reminded again just how poles apart we are in this country. While the heat continues to reign down over Darwin, the south of the country was in the grips of the largest blizzard in years. The Snowy Mountains had their best snow fall to begin the school holiday season in ten years or more and my boys called to say it snowed on our property all day.Did it make me homesick? It sure did. We may only get light snow that melts when it hits the ground with the occasional thin blanket enveloping the ground and surrounding mountains, but it is beautiful.
I sound like a tourist campaign, no matter what the weather you are looking for, we have it somewhere here in Oz. As the Queenslanders say, Australia truly is"Beautiful one day, perfect the next!"