Featured Image: Melbourne Docklands. Credit: Diliff, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
The moment I mention the word “Australia,” many of you may conger up images of white sandy Australian beaches, bikinis, blue skies, and warm summer days year-round.
Yet if you’ve ever heard the song ‘Four Seasons in One Day by Crowded House when I utter the word “Melbourne,” different images might spring to mind.
The song is based on my city, and as a Melburnian, I know its weather tendencies very well: the weather in Melbourne can be sunny and bright in the morning, then dark, cloudy, and rainy by afternoon.
I love it dearly and can’t imagine living permanently anywhere else. Still, it’s a city that has taught me how to pack for the fleeting weather conditions known to an experienced traveler.
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Dressing in Layers
One thing that gets me through a stifling cold winter in Melbourne is the technique known as layering.
Singlets are pulled over my body and tucked into waist-high opaque stockings before long-sleeved shirts, pants, and ¾ skirts are draped over my arms and legs.
When I pack for a big journey, I always pack neutral-colored singlets, long-sleeved tops, and stockings.
Not only do they keep me warm, but I can wear some of these items on their own if temperatures dart high into more liveable digits. These items are light in weight and barely take up valuable suitcase room.
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Umbrella and rain jacket
I don’t travel anywhere without an umbrella. Just the feeling of a little drizzle on my face while walking through Melbourne’s city streets will almost always mean more threatening drops are on their way.
I find small, compact umbrellas in cases that can be stowed away in a secret compartment in my suitcase or backpack without costing me valuable packing space.
I also buy umbrellas from a discount shop, so I only pay a few dollars. The umbrella keeps me dry, and I’m not going to be too tearful if I lose or break it.
I also pack a light rain jacket for those moments when I’m hiking or walking around in areas with the slightest sight of clouds. Layering keeps me warm, and my light rain jacket keeps me dry. My jacket sits flat in my bag and can be rolled up easily to save on more space.
I’m addicted to scarves because of their versatility. I wear scarves almost every day during a Melbourne winter and any day when I’m traveling. They keep me warm or shaded from the sun; they keep me prepared, and they make me look good.
I always travel with a long, light-weight cotton scarf knotted around my neck for days when I’m traipsing around cities and sight-seeing locations.
I also pack a lighter, dressier scarf to accessorize simple black items of clothing I wear out to dinner or for special occasions while on the road. Scarves keep me warm, but they can also keep me modest by covering up my upper body area, and they keep my head covered if I’m visiting a place of worship.
My cotton scarf also doubled up as an emergency towel during a dip in The Nile in Egypt a couple of years ago when my usual towel was wet and festering away in my suitcase. If you’re worried about a lack of space in your day bag, you can always wear a scarf around your neck.
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A scarf around your neck is also a way to disguise your money belt around your neck too. I remember being in a grocery store in Dahab, Egypt when the manager shouted “congratulations!” to me. He saw the bulge of my money belt around my upper torso and misinterpreted it as a baby bump.
My scarf covered the bulge but made it look like I was pregnant!
Alternatively, you can buy a scarf in a country you’re visiting and take back a beautiful and useful reminder of your trip. I’m now proud to say I have a scarf purchased from the start of the Silk Road in Xi’an, China, and one purchased towards the end of this ancient trade route in Damascus, Syria. I always receive comments on my exotic scarves when I return home.
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“Slip, slop, slap.”
Many Australians will tell you about this simple saying from their childhood. Back in the 1980s, we endured the Slip, Slop, Slap campaign to protect us from skin cancer.
It’s simple – slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat.
Despite Melbourne’s cold and dreary weather, it can get scorching in summer. And as much as Melbourne is famous for its rain, Australia is famous for being one of the driest countries on the planet.
I always pack sunscreen and a hat to keep me from getting sunburnt and light, long-sleeved cotton shirts for when temperatures soar and humidity is high.
If I get sunburnt, I apply aloe vera to affected areas; it’s great for taking away the redness and soreness.
With these simple Melburnian tips, you can enjoy your travels whatever the weather in Melbourne brings.
Tackling four seasons in one day can be done without, as Australians say, “putting a dampener” (i.e., a negative, instead of the more British and American English “putting a damper“) on your journey!
7 thoughts on “Packing for the Weather in Melbourne”
Thank you for this excellent post! I am anxious to visit Australia and had wondered about the weather in Melbourne.
I was so unprepared for Melbourne weather, even though I was there in the middle of summer! I had to buy long sleeved shirts and leggings to wear underneath my dresses and tank tops. Also watch out for the floods! It ruined the basement of the hostel I was staying at and caused lots of problems.
I can’t wait to visit Melbourne!! 🙂 I’ve heard so many things about the crazy weather that I want to see it for myself. 🙂 Very good tips. 🙂
good tips very much like British weather there
Spot on , Justine …sounds just like what I pack every trip to ‘4 seasons in one day’ Melbourne …one of my fav. cities :)) Scarves ?..love ’em …sooo versatile . I have even spent a whole week in Melbourne where the temp did not drop below 40 degrees C ….was staying in a non air -conned flat in St Kilda …have to say it was a bit of a trial ! (January 1981 & I remember it so well ) All the very best to you …just wanted to affirm your packing advice …maybe I should do one for Perth …hehe :))
I’m glad I’ve managed to share some simple of advice to everyone here.
It does, unfortunately, flood in Melbourne on occasion. It doesn’t happen all the time but it can. It’s more like flash-flooding after too much rain. And, those heatwaves can happen too. For me, the hotter the better.
Caroline – you reminded me of a recent Christmas Day here in Melbourne. I was at my parents’ house enjoying Christmas lunch when suddenly a storm came over and it started to hail. It’s the closest to a white Christmas I have ever experienced. My Dad ended up having to start his open fire because it turned so cold so quickly! A very unusual occurrence in Summer.
Perth is a lovely city too and the weather is a bit more predictable which is handy for a non-suspecting traveller. So, it’s amazing how Australia has such polarising weather conditions depending on where you are!
I love your tips for dressing-Ladies scarves always one in my bag & a pink umbrella especially for Spring showers in Paris- Greetings from France.