YOU could hear the whispers everywhere last weekend ... here comes the cold.
The fascination with the weather in Ballarat, specifically the emphasis on how cold it gets outside the winter months, is Ballarat’s kryptonite. Our natural weakness.
There’s not much we can do about the weather, although the climate change gods might suggest the evolution of the world’s weather patterns could see our reputation improve.
For the record, average minimum and maximum temperatures in Ballarat have increased in the period since the Bureau of Meteorology has been keeping data. Rainfall, on average, has also reduced.
In the period between 1911 and 1940 in Ballarat, the average maximum temperature in July was just 9.9C. In the period between 1981 and 2010, the July average was 10.4C.
The average maximum temperature across the year between 1911 and 1940 was 17.2C and between 1981 and 2010 it was 17.7C.
Average rainfall between 1981 and 2010 – a period containing two major droughts – was just 635mm. In the early 1900s, the average rainfall was 695mm.
While these changes are interesting to say the least, it is neither proof of climate change nor significant enough to change attitudes about Ballarat’s weather as a whole.
It some ways it is unfortunate that it is not colder in Ballarat during the winter – imagine having snowfields an hour’s drive from the Melbourne CBD.
Given the impact the weather has on perceptions of Ballarat, and the city has had little success in changing those same perceptions, it’s time we embraced reality.
Just as Superman learned to adapt to the destructive powers of kryptonite, Ballarat needs to become at peace with winter.
In fact, we should embrace the colder months.
We can take lessons from our international friends. In the US, believe it or not, there’s a Winter Cities Institute.
Patrick Coleman is the CEO: “The best winter cities plan for and pay attention to the details of winter livability. They find opportunities for innovation and improvement in services, building and product design. Winter cities embrace the winter season and have a winter culture. This extends to transportation, outdoor recreational opportunities, winter tourism and festivals, and appreciation for indoor arts and culture.”
One city embracing winter in the US, is Spokane, Washington. Here’s how Livability.Com described the city, identified in its list of top 10 winter cities:
“Winters in Spokane sizzle with arts, entertainment and nightlife. Nightlife isn’t the only thing heating up in Spokane; the city’s economy is also aglow. Spokane was named one of the top 100 cities to live and launch a business by CNNMoney.com and noted for its growing technical sector.
“Spokane’s arts and cultural offerings are topped off by a burgeoning wine trail of more than two dozen vineyards and wineries, and yes, most wineries keep their tasting rooms open throughout the year.
“Treasure hunting is another favourite cold-weather pastime - whether at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture in Spokane’s historic Browne’s Addition neighbourhood or at the city’s many shops, boutiques, malls and shopping centres.
Other hot spots include the INB Performing Arts Center, which plays host to a number of musicians and comedians throughout the winter months.”
There have been plans in the past to create an ice skating rink in Ballarat mid-year, as there has been to create a winter wonderland snow fields.
Victoria Park would be perfect.
Ballarat has some of the nation’s great historical facades, yet inside these buildings – where visitors can be warm – are where the real treasures come to life.
We need to modernise and conceptualise our public arts and culture direction and emphasise our diverse and spectacular food and wine offerings.
It’s time to redirect our superpowers from fighting the enemy to embracing it.