Table showing the Mean Annual Temperature, and also the Mean Temperatures for the Hot and Cooler Months, of Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Brisbane.
Mean Annual Temperature.
Mean Temperature for the Hot Months.
Mean Temperature for the Cooler Months.
Much will be gained by a comparison of these temperatures of the Australian capitals with those of some other cities in different parts of the world. A contrast of this kind will, in my opinion, help to a truer understanding of the climate of these capitals, than any other. Accordingly I made a successful application to Mr. H. 0. Russell, for the corresponding temperatures of the following cities : London, Edinburgh, Dublin; Marseilles, Naples, Messina; New York, San Francisco, New Orleans; Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras.
Table showing the Mean Annual Temperature, as well as the Mean Summer and Winter Temperatures, in twelve different cities.
Mean Annual Temperature.
Mean Summer Temperature.
Mean Winter Temperature.
United Kingdom -
Southern Europe -
Messina (Sicily) .
United States of America -
New York .
It has been said that Australia is practically Southern Europe, and to a very great extent this is perfectly true. It will be seen, however, on reference to the preceding tables, that the Australian climate is more equable than that of Southern Europe, for there is not such a marked difference between the hot and the cooler months. In the New England States of North America, as exemplified by New York, there are intensely hot summers and extremely cold winters - to which fact attention has already been drawn. And lastly, in India, the thermometer stands at such a height, winter as well as summer, that we can only be thankful our lines are cast in more pleasant places.
Having thus compared the summer and winter temperatures of the Australian capitals with those of other cities in different parts of the world, it will be advisable to direct our attention to some details connected with the climate of these capitals, and of the corresponding colonies generally. Commencing with Sydney we find that the climate is characterized by the absence of very violent changes of temperature, owing in great measure to its proximity to the ocean, which in winter is about 10° warmer than the air. Its summer climate is marked by the absence of hot winds, which do not come more than three or four times, and then are short-lived, seldom lasting more than five or six hours. For a short time in the midsummer of each year, Sydney is visited regularly by moist sea breezes, which are enervating to many persons. While these continue the temperature seldom rises to 80°, but there is so much moisture that they are very oppressive. Otherwise the climate is one of the most enjoyable in the world. In other parts of New South Wales towns may be found varying in mean temperature from 45.8° at Kiandra to 69.1° at Bourke. Speaking generally it is a fact that for the same mean annual temperature in New South Wales the range between summer and winter temperature is less than it is in Europe.
The climate of Melbourne is characterized by a low average humidity, moderate rainfall, and moderate winds, strong gales being of rather rare occurrence. The most marked feature is the summer hot wind. A hot wind is always a northerly wind, and the highest temperature generally occurs a little before the wind changes to west or south-west. When this takes place a sudden drop to a comparatively low temperature sometimes follows within a few minutes. These hot winds, however, are not frequent, only averaging eight or nine per annum. These characteristics will apply to all Victoria except the mountain ranges, where all the climatic elements vary with the altitude. The climate of Adelaide is certainly healthy, and, with the exception of the extreme heat occasionally experienced in summer, the weather may be described as enjoyable. It must be remembered, however, that these high temperatures are always accompanied by extreme dryness, the wet bulb thermometer usually reading at such times from 30° to 35°, or even more, below the temperature of the air. The heat is, therefore, more bearable than if it was combined with the humid atmosphere. "When the thermometer stands perhaps at something over 100°, the wet bulb thermometer will show G5°, and it is this which enables persons to bear the heat of the summer and carry on their usual pursuits with less inconvenience and discomfort than is felt in tropical and damp climates, though the temperature may be 15° or 20° lower, but nearly saturated with aqueous vapour, as at Port Darwin, where during the rainy season of the north-west monsoon the thermometer may stand at only 88°, whilst the wet bulb at the same time indicates 86°. Such an atmosphere, it need hardly be said, is far more enervating than the hot and dry air of the Adelaide plains. The summer, which may be termed warm and dry, usually extends over, say, five months; and during the remainder of the year the climate is simply perfect. The temperature in mid-winter over the Adelaide plains rarely, if ever, reaches the freezing point, although there may be sharp frosts, and on still clear nights, so frequently experienced, copious dews. On the ranges, and on the high lying plains 150 miles north of Adelaide, lower temperatures are reached, indeed in some years there have been falls of snow.
The climatic features of Brisbane are, as a mean expression, decidedly semi-tropical. The months from October to March may be classed as tropical, when vegetation makes luxuriant growth, especially if the rainfall prove abundant. The rest of the year, from April to September, is marked by a dry, bracing, "continental" climate, during which the westerly wind often proves very cold, bleaching, and searching, accompanied by great dryness accumulated during the passage of this current from southern-central Australia. Many settlers affirm that they feel the peculiar searching character of the dry cold "westerlies " more keenly than the more "honest" frost of the old country. Yet vigorous constitutions thoroughly enjoy the bracing nature of the westerly weather of winter. Hard ground frosts not unfrequently occur in the Darling Downs and Maranoa districts, especially during May, June, and July, in connection with the westerly type of climate; and, moreover, ice has at times been observed in the water-jugs of bedrooms, etc. As before intimated, the westerly winds are marked by great dryness, so that (saturation = 100) a percentage of relative humidity below 33 per cent. may occur during the prevalence of such phenomena, not only in Brisbane, but especially in the more western districts above mentioned. Such conditions are characterized by great diathermancy of atmosphere, and hence are frequently followed by days of considerable heat. Even in the tropics, in inland districts, ground frosts are known to have occurred owing to this extreme diathermancy of the atmosphere far from the coast, and the consequent attendant factor of active terrestrial radiation. In coast districts, or that fringe of country bordering the ocean north from Rockhampton, frost is of very rare occurrence, and the prevailing winds are between south-east and east-north-east, with a rainfall far more abundant than that obtaining in other parts of Queensland. The climate of the country surrounding the southern end of the Gulf of Carpentaria is very hot and trying from November to March, but genial thenceforward. It is certainly not unhealthy, and the fevers suffered from in the northern and gulf districts of Queensland are largely brought on by reckless or needless exposure.
In addition to the foregoing, which has been obtained from head-quarters, certain questions were submitted by me as to the climatology of the different colonies. As it will be seen, these interrogations are somewhat extensive in their scope, and supply knowledge upon points, which is not ordinarily met with in any descriptions of Australian climate. In drafting them everything which had a bearing on health was included as far as possible, and consequently in a work of this kind they unquestionably deserve a prominent place. In arranging them I purpose placing the different replies after each question in the following order, namely, New South "Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Queensland. And in the different answers it should be borne in mind that Mr. H. C. Russell is responsible for New South Wales; Mr. E. L. J. Ellery for Victoria; Sir Charles Todd for South Australia; and Mr. Clement L. Wragge for Queensland.