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Noisy birds and washing day: the things I missed most about Australia

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The winter rain this week reminded my son of the first winter he spent in Sydney a decade ago, and how stunned we both were at how different this season was to rainy California which had been our home. We arrived in mid-June and it barely rained in one of the driest Sydney winters on record. Then we awoke on the morning of September 23, 2009 to a blood red sky and a dust storm the likes of which neither of us had seen.

The dust storm in Sydney, September 23, 2009.Credit:Peter Rae

In the many years I lived outside of Australia I missed the randomness of our weather – compared with the predictability of California, which was always six months' sunshine and six months' rain, and Europe, which was simply generally colder than I was accustomed to.

Wild weather patterns in a nation of drought and flooding rain form you without you realising it. It’s like the bittersweet taste of Vegemite eaten abroad, or the smell of a particular sunscreen of your childhood. You don’t realise you miss them until they are not part of your daily rituals.

Tourists and locals gathered at Circular Quay to........

© The Sydney Morning Herald