December 25, 2015 8:53pm
IT’S the hottest Christmas Day on record but that hasn’t stopped Hobartians from celebrating the day in many different ways.
The temperature hit a high of 36C at 2.25pm, smashing the previous Christmas Day record of 34.3 set in 1945.
It was only the seventh time in more than 100 years that Christmas Day in Hobart had reached more than 30C and the first time since 1989.
The weather has drawn large crowds to beaches around the city, with many enjoying Christmas barbecues and lunches with family and friends.
Hobart woman Jane Sloane saw the weather as a perfect opportunity to try out her brand new inflatable dinghy she got for Christmas.
“My family has gone away on holiday so I thought it’s too nice to stay indoors,” she said.
The hot weather failed to dampen those celebrating Christmas across the city and for young Sarah Gardner the day was quite memorable.
The seven-year-old was given the all clear to go home from the Royal Hobart Hospital paediatric ward and also got up close and personal with a pair of six-month-old baby wombats.
Representatives from Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary visited kids at the ward with infant wombats Fisher and Maggie, much to the delight of patients and staff.
Sarah said she enjoyed seeing the wombats and was excited to go home and see her family at Henrietta on the North-West Coast.
“I’m going home and the boys aren’t allowed to open their presents from Santa till I get home,” she said.
Bonorong director Greg Irons said the sanctuary has been coming to the ward with animals on Christmas Day for about 12 years.
“The Royal do an unbelievable job at getting kids home for Christmas but there are always a handful of kids that aren’t able to get home,” he said.
“It’s great to peer around the door and show a wombat and see people smile quite quickly. These little wombats have done a marvellous job.”
Elsewhere, a variety of religious services showcased the true meaning of Christmas at churches in Hobart, with several hundred turning out to masses at St David’s Anglican Church and St Mary’s Catholic Church.
Archbishop Julian Porteous said this time of year was always a special time.
“I think people deeply understand that Christmas is about the birth of Christ and people have a sense that this is the reason why we have this day which is always a very special day for families for gathering together,” he said. “People want to acknowledge the source and meaning of the day firstly and then they can take part in the various celebrations with their family that follow.”
Colony 47 in Hobart was also a hive of activity with more than 350 people turning out for the annual free Christmas Day lunch.
More than 120 volunteers donated their time to the lunch for the less fortunate that saw a performance by the Choir of High Hopes and a special appearance by Santa.
“As soon as all the volunteers started arriving the Christmas spirit entered the room,” Colony 47 spokeswoman Di Carter said. “People are volunteering towards this lunch from September and October onwards because there is such a lot that needs to be prepared and all the goods that people eat today are donated and a huge amount of organisations support this. It’s just enormous.”
Meanwhile, Expeditioners at a remote Antarctic field camp have celebrated Christmas in the traditional Australian style — though a summer heatwave in these parts means temperatures climb up towards zero.
They downed tools on Christmas Eve and enjoyed a few drinks on the balcony of their field hut, taking in views the across penguin colonies and sea ice dotted with massive grounded icebergs in Commonwealth Bay.
Drinks were followed by a barbecue and cheese fondue night.
Invitations to the event were issued far and wide, although with only six people present in the eastern sector of the Australian Antarctic Territory, attendance numbers were fairly easy to predict.
The numbers of women in the team’s ranks expanded thanks to the long Antarctic tradition of cross-dressing, and a sailor, a breathtaking mankini and a giant penguin also made an appearance.
Conservator Peter Maxwell has spent four Christmases in Antarctica — two at Shackleton’s Hut and two at Mawson’s Hut and rated the celebrations highly.
“They’re usually quite mad … there’s a build-up to Christmas and a long lunch. The big difference I find compared to the early 90s is that you can ring home,” he said.
He said Christmas could be a melancholy time for expeditioners — in a testing environment far from their family and friends — although it was offset by the spectacular setting and the enduring friendships made.
“It’s amazing, it’s very special, even though I’m away from home and family, this time I feel like I have a family here. And being in Antarctica, the snow and the ice and a visit from the Big Penguin, it’s right up there.”
Expedition doctor Sally Hildred said Christmas in Antarctica was a unique and memorable experience.
“I’m well aware that I’m very lucky to be here with such a great group of people,” she said.
“It’s very special, this is probably the only Christmas I’ll spend in Antarctica,” she said.
“It’s a very special place, it’s a very special environment and I’m surrounded by fantastic people.
Christmas lunch will be celebrated with a ham and roast leg of lamb, the exchange of gifts and the expedition’s satellite communications gear will run hot with messages and calls from far-flung families and friends.
The members of the expedition are carrying out vital conservation works at the Mawson’s Huts historic site — the home of Australia’s first Antarctic expedition led by Douglas Mawson from 1911-14.
They are expected to return to Hobart in late January.
Source : The Mercury