Summer is a time to rest, reflect and acknowledge that we’ve finally gotten through the storm.

    The unprecedented and erratic weather we’ve been experiencing in the lead up to summer could almost be a metaphor for the disruption and disaster we’ve all experienced over the past three years. 

    The Maribyrnong floods (and beyond), which have devastated much of the West, are a consequence of some seriously kooky weather (even by Melbourne standards), and that strangeness and unpredictability seems to reflect the times we are living in…and the times, at least for the summer, I think we need to acknowledge and leave behind. 

    I think that, as we approach the end of a year that was free from lockdowns and significant social strife, we need to be able to finally acknowledge the huge challenges and traumas we have endured through the pandemic with a sense of accomplishment and yes, pride. 

    I say this because, with our experiences of making it through an arduous lockdown just to be plunged into another one, it’s been difficult to get a sense of closure on the whole strange experience. Over the last three years we’ve seen our hopes get pummelled time and time again when we dare to think ‘finally, it’s over’; to the point where we’re scared to give ourselves credit for actually getting to the other side, for fear of bringing on another round of disruption. 

    While our weird weather may be a metaphor for the last few years in ‘the world’s most locked down city’ I’d like to think that the 2022/23 summer is a chance to celebrate and reap the benefits of enduring an incredible time of challenge. 

    With a Melbourne summer offering festivities that are surely the envy of the world, perhaps we need to more consciously embrace what makes it truly great to be a ‘Westie’ in one of the world’s great cities. Christmas and New Year celebrations on this side of the world are fortunate enough to coincide with major holidays, warmer weather and an abundance of fresh food and frivolity. Unlike our Northern Neighbours from whom we get our strangely snowy idea of Christmas, our holiday season extends beyond a few days sheltering from the elements. Our ‘silly season’ slides into a summer of international sporting events, major exhibitions, festivals and an embracing attitude to all around us. And that’s exactly what we need now that looming lockdowns are behind us and we can truly celebrate getting through them all…together. 

    Finally it’s fitting to embrace the culture and community that makes Melbourne great, and celebrate the fact that our culture and community were largely what got us through one of the greatest challenges of our times. 

    Peter Wingate

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