Victor Szwed

The first three months of 2023 have been much drier than normal across most parts of Australia with the wet conditions of last year’s La Nina abating. Drier and milder weather is forecast until at least June by the Bureau of Meteorology.

Misty with light drizzle for bushwalkers near Blakeville in late March. (Photo: Victor Szwed)

In Daylesford we have only had a total of 73.4 mm of rain from 1st January to 31st March compared to the long-term average of 135.6mm. With cooler  than normal summer days, many had hoped for some nice Autumn weather. March rainfall was 42.8mm, close to the 45.1mm long term average. However, January and February rainfall totalled only 30.6mm, a third of the long term average.

Last year’s rainfall was close to record levels for Daylesford and water storages across Victoria have been at high levels providing a buffer for some time. Since mid-December our rainfall has dropped significantly and it is worth reviewing and improving water conservation efforts.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology, serious rainfall deficiencies have developed in parts of Australia particularly in some of the southern and eastern regions. These include the Wimmera district of Victoria and the western half of Tasmania. Soil moisture levels are reducing which will make it much more difficult for the farming communities which rely on moisture for autumn pasture growth and planting of autumn and winter crops.

If you grow vegetables at home it is well worth organising what to plant for winter. There are many vegetables and herbs that should grow well with the cooler weather and may not require much watering. My tomatoes continue to slowly ripen and I added spring onions, lettuce and silver beet a few weeks ago. In May I will plant lots of garlic to harvest in December.

The first week of April has seen some mild autumn weather with cooler conditions coming for Easter. Fuel reduction burn-offs have been occurring in many areas. The high levels of smoke across Daylesford on Tuesday came from burn-off activity in Cobblers Gully. While fuel reduction is important and needs to occur during dry conditions with low fire risk, the impacts of smoke on many people can be a problem particularly for those with breathing issues.


Victor Szwed is a Daylesford resident who contributes a monthly column on the weather.