It’s a hot topic right across Australia, the weather in Ballarat. Known for it’s icy cold Winters and rainy wet days, but what is the weather REALLY like in Ballarat? As someone who actually live here, I thought I’d give you the insight from a local perspective! You might be surprised.
NB: Terminology used in this blog may be incorrect or even made up, and technical weather knowledge is limited!
It is rare to get an absolutely perfect day in Ballarat, that much is true, but it’s not all that bad. Plus, it depends on your definition of perfect.
For me, perfect is about 23 degrees, with a light breeze and a scatter of clouds. I’m not sure you’ll get that anywhere around this vast country of ours. Not every day anyway. The news weather forecast usually shows us that Darwin is usually 32 and thunderstorms, Sydney is mid twenties and likely to rain, Brisbane is hot and humid, Adelaide is scorching, Perth is cool and humid and Hobart is 19 and not too bad.
So why does Ballarat get such a bad wrap when it comes to the weather? Let’s get down to business, and take a look at the seasons.
This is the one that everyone knows about. Whether you come from Bendigo or Broome, everyone has heard of Ballarat, the Eureka Stockade and the COLD!
And I won’t lie, it gets cold in Ballarat. REALLY cold. There are some winters that drag on and on and it seems like you may never see the sun again in your life. It is cold, wet and miserable. The rain is not heavy, just misty…all…the…time. It’s dark, dreary and downright unpleasant after a few months of it. But when those icy cold days come around that bring the promise of possible snow, that’s when the cold gets exciting!
We watch the nightly news forecast with baited breath. How low will the snowfall be tomorrow? Down to 1000m? Down to 800m? We know when it’s down to 500m or less, we have hit the jackpot! You can feel the excitement in the air as people go to bed with the hopes of waking to a blanket of white. But…the sad reality is…it hardly EVER happens.
Don’t get me wrong, on those very rare days when we actually get some snow, the town goes absolutely nuts over it! Instagram is flooded. The kids in school run outside with their teachers and skip the maths lesson and go straight to making muddy snow balls. Office workers and factory hands down tools and rush outside just like the kids. And the news that evening is all about the fluffy white stuff.
But like I said, those days really are rare treasures. If the snow falls, it is usually just sleet or enough snow to hit the windscreen as you drive, then melt off again. We go through year after year being disappointed that we endured yet another miserable winter and didn’t even get any snow. But if you hang around long enough, you will get a good one that lasts a few hours, if not a day or 2. I’ve been here over 20 years and I’ve had 2 occasions I can recall of snow that lasted into a second day.
Spring is the season of hope in Ballarat. The time when flowers start to bloom and the sun pops it’s head out every now and then in anticipation of the warmer weather, but it can be deceiving. We spend the majority of the Spring season, complaining about the rain and clouds, and asking nature where the sunshine and warmth is? But really, Spring is supposed to be wet…not THAT different to Winter, but just not so cold.
Ballarat get’s so excited about the prospects of Spring, that we even have a whole festival named after it. SpringFest! Which every year goes off with a bang, and is topped off with a full day of market stalls right around the 6km Lake Wendouree track. But being Spring…it is inevitably a massive gamble! Some years the weather is beautiful, 25 degrees, sunshine and a light breeze. But other years, it is an absolutely downpour! Rain, wind, and very upset stall holders with wet goods and no customers! It’s a great day, and one of our favourite events. But gee, we really feel sorry for them when the weather gods turn nasty.
So Spring is the time to plant your summer crops, but not TOO early, because you will still get those wintery frosts that will kill all your darling little seedlings overnight. Be prepared in Spring to defrost your windscreen regularly. Keep full water bottles by your door so you can quickly wet the windows when you are running late, as there is nothing worse than running late for school drop off and being sprayed by a hose full of arctic temperature water because the nozzle is frozen shut and the hose bursts off the tap!
Just remember…never, ever use boiling hot water on your frozen windscreen!
Summer is the best! I just love Summer, and this is where the Ballarat weather may surprise you. We usually have a pretty mild lead up to Christmas, but around that week of Christmas and New Year, it suddenly heats up. And usually stays that way until mid February. I say usually…as of course there are years when it doesn’t get that hot at all, but more often than not, Summer is hot.
I always say that the seasons are a month out. Instead of saying that Summer starts in December, just say it starts in January and goes through the March. And instead of Winter ending in August, just say it ends after September.
So Summer often starts a little late, and last a little into the time closer to Autumn. But it’s great, we get lots of days in the mid 20s to mid 30s and the odd day that goes almost to 40. Days hotter than that are pretty rare, but they do happen. And it’s a great time of year to just get outdoors and enjoy the hot weather fun on offer like the many free water parks around town, the pools and the swimming lakes like St George’s at Creswick or Lake Esmond in Ballarat East. Just be careful of snakes. Or just cool off by Lake Wendouree with an Ice Cream from the pretend Tram Cart.
And remember to cover your windows with fly screens! Flies and mozzies are common around Ballarat.
Then when you are just starting to get used to dressing lightly, sleeping with the window open and staring down the barrell of yet another barbecue dinner….it starts to cool off again. The days start to get a little shorter, the evenings get a little cooler and you start to close the window and pack the cardigan just in case.
This is the perfect Instagram season. The trees turn all shades of beauty in autumn and shed their leaves. And you laugh as you drive down Howitt St watching residents raking up the fallen leaves into piles, only for the wind to whisk them away again. But it’s so pretty to see.
We start to get all romantic about open fires and cosy nights watching Netflix, and we look forward to eating our hearty winter meals again. Stews, roasts, curries. Heart warming stuff. We gradually remember to get out the coats, and dust off the beanies and before we know it, we dare not leave the house without a spare layer because it’s pretty cold out there.
And by the time Mothers Day rolls around we are definitely heading into the cold, dark and dreary days again. Before we know it, the prettiness of Autumn is gone, and all that’s left is bare trees, puddles of mud and the prospect of yet another long horrible winter.
So yes, sometimes, it really IS that cold and miserable. But sometimes, it’s not. And that’s our secret! If we tell all those people who don’t live here how beautiful the weather is for half of the year, they will flock here and take over!
So sshhhh, don’t tell anyone.
Written by Louise Jones (who is not in any way, shape or form, an expert in weather)
Image by Event Evolution Photography
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