What’s the time, Mr Wolf?

Well, that depends where in the country you are!

After a few posts of the travelogue nature, I thought it was time for my first post on observations of this country I now call home.

Growing up in the UK with family members in Sydney and Auckland, I’m no stranger to time differences. Adding and subtracting 9 (Sydney in Antipodean winter), 11 (Sydney summer or Auckland winter) or 13 (Auckland summer) hours is second nature. However, only in the last couple of weeks have I fully appreciated the chaos that is internal Australian timezones, especially in the summer.

In the winter, it’s relatively straightforward – the whole Eastern side is on the same timezone, WA is two hours behind, NZ two ahead. As for the middle (SA and NT), well, there’s always something awkward…. And here’s my gripe number one about Aussie timezones – central (winter) time is half an hour behind Eastern. Yes, half an hour. Which lends the question, why bother? Or why not one whole hour? Half an hour is just a hassle, and if your brain works like mine you forget whether to add or subtract the half hour after adding/subtracting the hours for the east. I’m sad to have left South Australia today, but the half hour faff I really won’t miss!

In the summer, with daylight savings thrown in; it gets even more fun. The southern states (NSW, Victoria, SA, ACT and Tasmania) as well as all of NZ put their clocks forward an hour like we do in the UK. On the other hand, Queensland, WA and NT don’t. That gives five timezones in Australia in summer – I know it’s a pretty big country, but really?!

What strikes me as especially odd is the two-and-a-half-hour time difference as you cross the border from SA to WA. Now admittedly *really* not many people live in that particular bit of Australia – the closest settlements I could find on google maps either side of the border are Eucla, WA (population 86) and Yalata, SA (population 100), 278km apart – but that the clock is 150 minutes later at sunset in Yalata than Eucla is bizarre, no?

A little Wikipedia research suggests that daylight saving time is a somewhat controversial topics in some parts. Queensland and WA have opted in and out over the years and between them, have held five referenda on the topic since 1975. There have been proposals to introduce daylight saving time in southern, but not northern, parts of Queensland. If they did that in WA that would add a SIXTH summer timezone to a country of 25 million people. Argh!

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