Cooked prawns and Santa in shorts: An Irishman’s take on Victoria’s summer

The Age asked prominent Victorians to reveal their favourite places and activities of the summer holiday season.

Today’s instalment comes from Professor Alan Duffy, an astronomer at Swinburne University and director of the Space Technology and Industry Institute. Duffy has become one of our most prominent astronomers, appearing regularly in The Age and on TV, radio and YouTube.

Astronomer Alan Duffy.Credit:Sarah Gates at Swinburne University of Technology.

What does a Victorian summer mean to you?

Variation, from freezing cold and rain to boiling hot and parched all in the same week. But coming from Ireland, the most memorable aspect of summer is just how weird it is to see Santa in shorts.

First place you take visitors?

The Mount Dandenong region and William Ricketts Sanctuary: just an extraordinary feeling of connection to that country of the Wurundjeri people, and pristine temperate forests, all so close to the city. But also the experience of walking through one man’s dedication and vision is profoundly moving.

Alan Duffy loves the pristine temperate forests of the Danenongs, on Wurundjeri land east of Melbourne.Credit:Tourism Australia

Secret spot you escape to?

Phillip Island (Smiths Beach is a family favourite) – but a recent trip to Wye River has me tempted to go further along the Great Ocean Road this summer.

The best summer food is …

Cooked prawns with a light green salad and citrus dressing. Incredible.

I know it’s summer when I smell …

Nothing. Because I have the worst hay fever and my nose is immediately blocked.

The worst thing about summer is …

Having to sunscreen up. But as a father I have become so paranoid about slip, slop, slap that I end up wearing it every day just so my kids don’t question why they have to and I don’t.

Guilty pleasure?

Gin and tonic in the backyard with my feet in a kids’ paddling pool. I could stay there for the summer.

With Liam Mannix

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