If you ask my mother-in-law (who is one of the loveliest people I know, but not a woman to mince words) Day Light Saving is a scourge on farming communities – particularly dairy farmers like her (before she retired). Not only does it take the cows a couple of days to get into the new routine (don’t laugh. You try waiting on a bunch of cows at five in the morning) but just as the mornings are getting light, you’re plunged back into darkness again.

As an early-to-bed-early-to-rise type, I’m also not over-joyed by Daylight Saving. I, personally, like waking with the sunlight beginning to slide in between in the gaps in the blinds. But, as a history teacher, I do find the background behind Daylight Saving interesting.

According to a number of sources (including the ABC and Sydney Morning Herald) daylight saving was first introduced by Germany in WW1, to save fuel which would otherwise be used for artificial lighting. Other countries, including Australia, followed suit. During the interwar period many countries ended the practice, only to reintroduce it during WW2.

Following the end of WW2 Australia did away with daylight saving again, until the late 1960s, when Tasmania adopted it, followed by Victoria, the ACT, New South Wales, and South Australia. What about the other states and territories? Both Queensland and Western Australia have tried it, but didn’t like it, and the Northern Territory didn’t even bother with it post-war. For most places near the equator, an hours difference one way or the other makes little difference.

As to those fuel savings that started the whole business, it seems that they no longer count for much, according to several studies. Electricity use just moves from later in the day to earlier in the day, particularly in regions (like Tassie and Victoria) which tend to have cold mornings as they move into Spring or Autumn, and are therefore more likely to flick on the heater – after all you’re not toasty-warm in bed.

Who knows, one day Daylight Saving may be a thing of the past for all Australian states and territories. But, until then I hope you remembered to turn your clocks forward (we spring forward in Spring, as my Mum says), and it’s also an excellent time to test your smoke detector, and change the battery. And, at least we can all take heart that summer is just around the corner.

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Wendy Allott

I'm an educator, mum and wife living in beautiful Victoria, Australia. I make learning resources for passionate, but time-poor, teachers in need of a better work-life balance. I'm a voracious reader, love a good curry, and believe life is always better with chocolate.

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