Australia’s Christmas Day weather: Queensland sizzles while south-east chills
Australians celebrated Christmas Day with a mixture of weather, as some states experienced unseasonally chilly conditions and others sweltering heat.
People in Melbourne, Sydney and Hobart began the day in mild conditions, with drizzle and winds expected later.
Melbourne was expecting a top of 22C, Hobart was expected to hit 21C and Sydney was set to experience an unseasonally low top of 23C.
But the lack of sun didn’t deter revellers from their backyard barbecues or heading down to the beach for their Christmas swim.
The heat was expected to return to Melbourne on Tuesday, in time for the expected large crowd at the Boxing Day Test, with the city set to hit a maximum of 29C.
In Queensland, a sizzling 34C in Brisbane was expected to drive people to the beach to cool down on Monday. Some parts of Queensland were predicted to hit steamy tops of 40C, with Birdsville in the remote outback near the South Australia and Northern Territory border likely to hit 45C.
Adelaide was tipped for blue skies and temperatures up to 29C while Perth was expecting a sunny top of 33C.
The prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, helped serve food at Sydney’s Wayside Chapel and joined the street party with free food and festivities. He was lured on to the dance floor for a brief boogie.
Turnbull thanked volunteers and posed for selfies at the event, which serves up about 1,000 meals for Sydney’s less fortunate.
“Merry Christmas, it’s wonderful to be here with you all. I want to thank in particular all the volunteers – the people who work at the Wayside, it is a great exercise in practical, unconditional love,” Turnbull told the crowd.
The Christmas celebration, which is now in its 14th year, brings together people who may be struggling with problems such as homelessness or addiction to enjoy the day with other members of the community.
Churches were expecting thousands to attend services across the country, with Australia’s leading Catholic saying the year’s end united people in their need for hope.
“For people of faith you might say it’s been an annus horribilis,” the Catholic archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher, said in a statement on Friday. “But the Christmas story insists there is a star in the dark sky, light amidst the fears and failures. Christmas speaks of new hope.”
He said young people were not naive to the shameful chapters in the church’s past but want to help it move forward.
The Anglican primate of Australia and archbishop of Melbourne, Philip Freier, said there was “widespread mistrust and dissatisfaction” in Australia and more suffering than there should be.
“Yet, in the worst times and worst of situations, salvation is at hand through God’s precious gift of his son, Jesus Christ,” he said.