MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Our year in Southeast Asia has been bookended by heatwaves.

Last weekend, Roo, Tash and I returned home, just in time for Melbourne’s worst heatwave in one hundred years.

Today is the second day of a predicted four days of temperatures over 40 degrees celsius. Yesterday it hit 43.2 degrees. Fortunately, we didn’t suffer power cuts, unlike others around the state, though I suspect our turn will come.

I haven’t been this hot since we left Melbourne just over a year ago. I remember arriving in Phnom Penh and someone asking if we found it too hot. ‘Are you kidding?’ I said, ‘It’s ten degrees cooler here than it was back home.’

And we’re not talking the wet, redolent heat of Southeast Asia that envelops you like a cloud and almost feels as if it could hold you up. Hothouse heat that makes things grow so fast you can almost see it. This is the heat of deserts and kilns that leaves everything hot to the touch, hurts the eyes and threatens to knock you out. Heat that kills.

Our parks are bleak expanses of dead grass and dust. No one has lawn anymore. Carlton’s streets are strewn with leaves that couldn’t hold on until autumn to fall off and die.

That said, the native plants–ghost gums, grevilleas, leucadendrons and grass trees–appear to be thriving. Our own front yard is flush with Australian natives, an embarrassment of riches amongst the withered European gardens of our neighbourhoods.

By contrast, the survivors in the back garden evoke the Mediterranean: fig tree, pomegranate, eggplants and Greek basil. We coax the tomato and basil plants to stay and fight another day with water bucketed from showers, baths and washing up.

Yet neither the hellish weather nor the bleak economic forecast can diminish how happy we are to be back. There are many things we’ll miss about Cambodia–see forthcoming posts on the subject–not to mention southern Thailand, where we enjoyed a blissful, last-gasp holiday.

But it feels good to be home.



3 Responses to “Heatwave”

  1. khim Says:

    I was just thinking of you three and wondering if you were back in Oz. Thought maybe you had all decided to extend your stay in Cambodia to avoid the heatwave….you want to come and stay with us in France? It’s 0°C here today….On second thought, no, you’d be better staying where you are cos there is a flu epidemic here now and i’ve not been spared…

    enjoy home sweet home…as for dealing with the heat, just close your eyes and think of snow-capped mountains, frozen lakes and sorbets au citron



  2. Alicia Says:

    I just wanted to post a note and let you know I’m a fan of your blog. I googled “cambodia with kids” some time ago and came across your stories. You helped inspire me to bite the bullet and go forth on a year long trip to south east asia with our two year old son. We depart next month. Everyone from home tells us we’re nuts (we’re from the fear driven US) going with a little child, so thank you for painting the picture of possibility for me and my family. I wish you and your family the best back in Oz. Thank you for sharing your stories.

  3. Phuket « Oh, the places you’ll go! Says:

    […] flew home from Phuket via Sydney to Melbourne, arriving home just in time for a heatwave, followed a week or so later by terrible bushfires. Both Roo and I started new jobs within weeks, […]

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