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Surviving a Brisbane Winter

Home > Brisbane > How To | Lists | Outdoor
by Roy Chambers (subscribe)
Lover of all things interesting and new
Published June 1st 2015
You call this a winter?
With any luck Brisbane's winters are short and not too harsh, yet they can be unpleasant in their own way. If you have lived in a cold part of the world, which I have, you will notice that everything is geared to the winter cold, with everything indoors. But Brisbane is a summer city where everything is outdoors. Houses lack central heating, restaurants have most of their seating outside and all our favourite past times are in the natural environment.

Winter can be a great time to walk by the seaside
Winter can be a great time to walk by the seaside

So here is a quick guide to not only surviving, but enjoying a Brisbane winter.

At home

Whatever you do, don't live in a beautiful old Queenslander, or any house with wooden floor boards. The wind and cold will get in everywhere. Modern houses and apartments barely even think about getting cold during winter, but older buildings were designed by Queenslanders who didn't even consider the possibility of winter being cold.

If you have a lovely wooden house, you will suffer through a Queensland winter
If you have a lovely wooden house, you will suffer through a Queensland winter

So head to the markets and pick up a few draft excluders, lay rugs over your wooden floors and put on an extra layer at home. It won't be so bad. If you need heating, the best place for it is in the bathroom. How I miss having heating in the bathroom. Most of winter I only really need to turn on the heater to get out of bed.

A night out on the town

I am trying to think of a restaurant anywhere in Brisbane that is actually closed off from the outside. I can think of a few like that, but most that I have been to have most of the seating outside so that we can enjoy our long summers. Even the indoors in most restaurants is open to the outdoors.

Every cafe and restaurant in Brisbane seems to feature outdoor dining
Every cafe and restaurant in Brisbane seems to feature outdoor dining

So remember when you are going out, take a nice warm jacket, you will probably need it. Scarves are back in fashion, even for guys if you don't mind looking like a hipster. Sure every place has those free standing outdoor heaters, but there are never quite enough. Though one time we were at the Groove Train in King George Square. We were in a big group and most of the other tables were empty so they didn't mind us grabbing every heater in the place and putting them around our table. We really appreciated that.

If you are going to survive winter, either hibernate or switch to going out to places that are indoors, like the theatre, night clubs and some of the older grungier pubs.

Outdoor activities

Being not far from the beach, Brisbanites love a coast day or weekend. But come winter that is out unless you like quiet walks at the seaside.

But forget the beach, winter is the time when Brisbanites take up hiking, visiting the many beautiful and fantastic hiking trails in the area. Winter is perfect hiking weather in South East Queensland. It is not that cold and we usually end up taking off our jackets after the first hour of the hike. The shorter days make it a bit of a challenge to do any really serious hikes, but a hot chocolate at the end of a day hiking is always welcome.

Hiking is a popular winter activity
Hiking is a popular winter activity

For those who love swimming there are actually a large number of heated pools in the area, though only a few places that are both indoors. However there is no reason why you can't do a few laps to keep in shape for the beach in summer.

Laughing at the rest of the world

The best way to get through winter for me is talking to my friends in the Northern parts of the world. Every winter one of them will contact me and ask "Is it winter there in Australia, what is the termperature like?" and I get to reply "It is a little cold today, only 20 degrees and sunny." After explaining that I didn't mean 20 below zero but 20 above zero they wonder if we actually have winter at all.

Photo taken during winter on the Gold Coast
Photo taken during winter on the Gold Coast

I also get to laugh at friends in Sydney and Melbourne who might have months before they can even dream about days as warm as our Brisbane winters. Let's not even mention Tasmania.

Going North

Now I grew up in North Queensland, where winter was really about 2 weeks of cold weather and a few months of cool days. As winter approaches it is time to book a northern holiday. North Queensland will be warm for at least another month, Far North Queenslander's might have a day or two they could consider winter and up the Top End the days are finally getting below 30 degrees during the day.

A plane leaves Brisbane Airport (Photo courtesy of Shaun Garrity via Wikicommons_
A plane leaves Brisbane Airport (Photo courtesy of Shaun Garrity via Wikicommons_

If Northern Australia isn't far enough away, we can just keep going, first to Southern Asia which is warm all year round, and then to the rest of the Northern Hemisphere where it is Summer.

Wearing t-shirts and enjoying the sun whenever we can

I have lived in a part of the world where one winter it didn't go above -20 for 3 months. So we are really kidding ourselves when we talk about a Brisbane Winter. Even better, it rarely rains during winter here, so most days have clear blue skies.

The reality is that on most weeks there will be at least one part of one day where we can sit outside and enjoy the sun in our shirt sleeves. So do that whenever you can and post the pictures on Facebook to the envy of others.
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Your Comment
Ha! Yes, Roy you are spot on about Brisbane winters. It is a bit like China, where heating is shunned south if the Yangze. My personal beef if is that very few outdoor drinking/eating areas are orientated to catch the sun, as most of the year it's shade that's wanted. The few spots I have found are the Brekky Creek Hotel, Stokehouse at South Bank and the Newstead Brewery. It would be wonderful if there was a nice open fire somewhere!
by kirtley (score: 0|8) 2145 days ago
All true. I got sunburnt yesterday.
by Lynne Cargill (score: 2|782) 2139 days ago
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