Loving autumn leaves

For European mums who immigrate to Australia, the change in climate and different timing of the seasons is quite an adjustment.

Today is the first day of Autumn in Oz. In the UK, where Mum grew up, autumn was always a special season, but the reasons Mum loves autumn in England can’t really be emulated here.

Seasons and our associations

Wherever we grow up we develop strong associations with the change of seasons; these associations function like an internal calendar for special events.

Autumn (Australia: March to May, Britain: September to November)

In the UK, Mum’s birthday is in autumn; this has always been a special time of year. Mum enjoyed the cooler temperatures, darker nights and vibrant colours of the leaves falling from the trees. Ask Mum to choose her favourite thing to do on an autumn morning in the UK, and she’ll definitely suggest a country walk with colourful leaves crunching under foot.

In Sydney, the start of autumn simply means a shift from an average maximum temperature of 26 degrees, to an average of 23 degrees, and possibly a little more rain. That’s the same as the average summer temperature in London.*

Winter (Australia: June to August, Britain: December to February)

After Mum’s birthday, it’s the countdown to Christmas and start of winter in the UK. There’s not much to enjoy about freezing temperatures and shorter days during the British winter but adjusting to a warm Christmas will take time. Read The 12 differences of our first Australian Christmas to see how Family Mum’s gone 2 Aus coped with their first Australian festive season.

During winter in Sydney, particularly in July (the coldest month), Mum wondered why we weren’t putting a tree up and starting to shop for presents. This year, Mum’s hoping to visit the mountains for the Aussie tradition of celebrating Christmas in July, just to confuse things even more!

Spring (Australia: September to November, Britain: March to May)

Mum’s birthday now falls in Australian spring-time so we can have a BBQ or picnic on the beach. I wouldn’t inflict it on my guests, but it’s warm enough to party in my bikini; a big contrast to the woolly jumpers I’d be wearing in the UK.

From living in the UK Mum associates Easter with the start of spring; Easter has become all about the celebration of new life: newborn lambs, and blossoming flowers. In Australia, Easter is in autumn and coincides with the anticipation of cooler temperatures; very different.

Summer (Australia: December to February, Britain: June to August)

For most of us, the annual pattern of seasons is linked to our long summer holidays. The fact that the Australian academic year runs differently to that in Europe is something else to get used to.

Just as the UK winter symbolises Christmas and the end of the calendar year, Mum has been used to the UK summer (mid-year) being a sign that it’s time to progress academically. To experience Christmas, the new academic year, and change in calendar year, all together, during the Australian summer, is a real shift.

Do you prefer the timing of the seasons in Australia or Europe?

At Mum’s gone 2 Aus we’ve asked ourselves whether we prefer the way the seasons fall in Australia or the UK and we haven’t drawn a conclusion. In fact, we wonder whether it’s a useful question…It’s not that we prefer having a cold Christmas or long school holidays part way through the year, it’s just what we’re used to. Our internal calendar links the weather with specific months of the year.

Dealing with change and being adaptable is a fact of life when you move to a new country, no doubt our season and month associations will soon change. The way things fall in Australia will become the norm and it won’t be a case of preferring the Australian way, it’s just that this will become our way.

What do you think? If you’re a Brit or European living in Aus, how long did it take you to change your internal calendar? Or did you slot right into the new pattern without giving it a second thought?

Finally, if you’re moving to the Northern Territory, you should learn the six different seasons experienced there, as described by Indigenous Australians:

  • Jiorrk, the wet season: January to February.
  • Bungarung, the end of the rains: March to mid-April.
  • Jungalk, the hot start of the dry period: mid-April to the end of May.
  • Malaparr, the cooler, middle part of the dry period: June to the end of August.
  • Worrwopmi, the humid time: September to the end of October.
  • Wakaringding, the humid time when the first rains begin to fall: November until the end of December.

Read more about Australia’s weather and seasons here.

Related articles: Australian life readiness test, Start of Australian summer – 1st December.

*SOURCES: 1) Sydney average weather stats 2) London weather averages.

Expedia Australia