The Grade: Four Winters in Melbourne

Words by Maggie McDade

Published on April 7, 2014

This winter will be my fourth in Melbourne. When I first arrived, I didn’t know winter very well, beyond my experience of westerly winds, bright skies, and duffle coats in Toowoomba as a kid. Brisbane certainly didn’t prepare me very well, most days hitting late teens or twenty. So I came probably over prepared, with a suitcase full of old jumpers and woollen tights, but without much idea of how it was really going to be.

This Queenslander has slowly adapted though, picking up winter survival notes as each year passes. I’ve learned from locals, and set my own rules about how to best see through the season that seems to never end. Each annual winter lesson is detailed below.

First Winter: Alarm Clock
I spent most of my first winter in a little flat in St Kilda. I would watch my breath come up in clouds as I lay in bed, never willing to get out from under the doona. I got into a really bad habit of sleeping in: I would wake up when the sun woke me up, just as had done in my Brisbane house. This led to rising at around 11 every day. Bad. I would cycle to work feeling groggy and guilty — that I had slept in, and also that I had eaten breakfast watching the midday news on Channel Ten. So after choosing to set an alarm each day, I felt as though the day had structure beyond the sun that never chose to come out.

Alarm Clock’s Improvement to Winter: 3 Stars

Second Winter: Football
In Melbourne football is life. It is the inescapable blessing of winter. What a pleasure it’s become to put on my raincoat and scarf and walk to the MCG to watch the Bombers go round. Our second winter in Melbourne saw us living in an old house in Richmond, a short tram ride to the footy. Second winter shortly became almost completely football orientated. We’d go to the Rising Sun to watch it on the tv with rowdy Collingwood supporters, watch it at home under a blanket, or go to the game. I’d call Dad for post-match debriefs, call Nanna to talk about Jobe Watson, talk about it with colleagues on Monday after the weekend was over. All of these things provide fantastic distraction from the weather. When football is at its best, the weather is usually at its worst.

Footy’s Improvement to Winter: 5 Stars

Third Winter: Normcore Jacket
When I first moved to Melbourne, I messed around for far too long trying to be fashionable on cold days. I tried to layer. I tried thermals under white-collared shirts that would allow me to wear a blazer when it was eight degrees outside. Last year, this all changed when I bought a red North Face puffa jacket. It is ugly; I have no qualms about this. But I am so warm all the time, I feel a bit guilty. It’s a red-orange colour, which on cold days beautifully delivers a quilted pumpkin look.

Normcore’s improvement to Winter: 4 Stars

Fourth Winter: Inside Evenings
This year, I am going to take up more social evenings at home. For example, mulled wine and scrabble nights. Curry evenings with friends and neighbours. All excuses to sit beside the heater in true, warm, comfort.

Inside Evenings Anticipated Improvement to Winter: 4 Stars