words by Kirsten Macdonald
Jane Bunn is one very popular lady, with a prime spot as Australia’s beloved weather presenter and a feverish 40,000+ followers on Instagram and an App on the horizon; Jane is a bit of an enigma.
A glamazon and fashionista; she is a seriously educated Meteorologist and Atmospheric Scientist, and she really (really) knows her weather! Forget Gucci and Balenciaga, when this lady starts talking about negative and positive dipoles, the juicy clouds, the Southern Annular Mode and climate drivers; welcome to Australia’s Nigella of weather. Warm, sincere and with a disarming enthusiasm; we are going to admit it, we were charmed.
K: How are you today, Jane?
J: I am very well, thank you! It is an interesting day to be alive in the weather world because the pattern has changed. Whenever the pattern changes, I get very interested!
K: There is so much to talk to you about! Your education in meteorology, journalism and atmospheric science are extensive, Monash, Penn State in the US just to name a few. Penn State is really impressive, how did that come about?
J: Well, I was at Monash University. To start off actually, I was studying software engineering at RMIT. To be honest, I was not great at it, but I’m so glad I did the first year of that because I don’t love it, but it’s handy!
Then I worked for a little bit and worked out what I actually wanted to do, I found that I was procrastinating with the jobs I was meant to be doing. I was looking at the weather, and so after a while, I thought: that’s actually what I want to do. This is what is driving me, this is what I’m interested in. I went back to Monash Uni and studied a Bachelor of Science. I majored in mathematics and atmospheric science.
The coolest bit was everyone was going over and doing a semester abroad. Everyone else went to Oklahoma to chase tornados. The thing that first got me into the weather was when I went skiing for the first time. I fell in love with snow and why it was falling or wasn’t falling or raining instead. Instead of chasing Tornados, I went to Penn State so I could live in the snow for six months! (Laughing)
K: So can you tell us about Jane’s Weather?
J: It is a term I coined a long time ago because people want to know about the weather and so Jane’s Weather made sense. I have been working on it for so long with these lovely guys that know a lot more about IT than I do. They are working a way to produce the App because while I’ve got three minutes every night on TV,
I can’t get across as much as I would love to be able to share in that short time. So I go and do talks to help people understand more about the weather. Everyone says “you need your own app” so I said yes! There is so much weather data, weather information out there now. It’s an amazing world we live in.
What I am trying to do is to collate the best of everything that’s out there. To put it all in one spot. It’s important to make it look good, so people want to take in this information.
K Are you purpose-driven? And if so, what is your purpose?
J: My original reason for getting into the job that I have now (or trying to get the job that I have now), was because I was working at the weather bureau. I did a graduate diploma in Meteorology with them. Then I was working as a forecaster, and I would get really annoyed with the media because we would sit there all day, perfecting the forecast.
There are certain words you have to use, terminology. So we’d get them all in the right order and around the right way and what we could say. Then “the media’- certain people in it, would change those words and then change the meaning completely. But a forecast of “fine and mostly sunny”, what “fine” actually means in Australia is “it’s dry.” It says nothing about the cloud, whether it’s hot or it’s cold it just means that it’s not wet. So a forecast of “fine and mostly sunny”- that means that it is completely dry and there’s lots of sunshine.
So this woman on the radio used to take that and think it was a little bit too long and shorten it to “mostly fine” she had changed the meaning of that completely she said it is “mostly dry.”
So I’d be like what? We put some wet weather in there that I don’t know about? (laughing) So just a little tiny thing like changing one word around like that has massive meaning, and so I went, that’s it! I want to forecast the weather. I also want to avoid the middleman, and I want to be able to get the right information out to as many people as I can. And so, that’s what I’m all about!
You’ve been on our screens for a long time now. Have there ever been any self-doubt moments, especially in the media industry for you? And if so, what was your strategy for continuing to shine so brightly?
J: Oh thank you! What I think about is where we’re living now. Could you imagine having done this 20, 30 years ago where there was no social media? And the only people you ran into were the only people you got feedback from, rather than where we live now -which is so social media based.
Part of my job is to get the message out to as many people as I can. So, I put things out on Instagram, I put something out on Facebook, I put it out on Twitter. But then, people now have a license to say whatever they like straight back at you and you see it.
So, that’s what’s interesting about how we live now is the feedback you get from that.
It can be anything from gross sexual stuff which I just completely ignore and move on from or things about the way I look or how I did something or those sorts of things. Some of it can hurt when you read it. What I end up doing is overtime, working out a strategy of how to actually live with that.
Some of the things are; Don’t look at social media before you go to sleep- because that’s the last thing you want to see before you shut your eyes.
Also, don’t be constantly looking at it. Control how often you go and look at these things. My ruling is; if you’ve said something gross I’m not going to respond to you. But if you’ve asked a weather question, then yeah if I have the time absolutely I’d love to do that. Also, if you’ve said something that isn’t correct, then I’ll come back to you and try and challenge you and help you grow and understand what these things actually mean. It’s actually quite pleasing to see how many people I’ve been able to do that with. Just a one on one basis back and forth. We’ve been back 10 times on Twitter, and by the end of it, I feel like the person’s walked away with “Oh I actually get that now.” Which is good!
K: If you had a spirit animal, what would it be?
J: Hmmm I’m cross between two things. So if you aren’t trawling through Instagram, I reckon the things that catch my eye are cute little dogs but also randomly and how Australian is this?! Quokkas! You’ve seen Quokkas, right?!
So when I went over to Perth a couple of years ago I went out to Rottnest Island- they are the cutest things ever. So, I think a cross between a little furry dog and a Quokka.
K: You be vibing with the Qokkas, I like that
K: If you have a devastating personal moment or event or just having a shocking day and you’ve got to get up on that screen. You have to shine brightly, and you are so professional. How do you transform into that space?
J: When I get up, literally the first thing I look at is what may have changed overnight and then any data that comes in. It takes me about an hour and a half every morning. My husband loves it! (laughing) Then you sit throughout the day, and you are weather watching. Checking the radar, monitoring the satellite, seeing ‘has this popped up when it was meant to? What is the temperature doing?’ Then you are planning what you are actually going to go out and say there.
I had a colleague once and we weren’t getting along. She walked into my room at 5 minutes to 6 one night and started yelling at me. It was quite difficult from that screaming match then at 6:02 to go back into weather mode.
There’s something about it because what I’m trying to do out there is make sure the right information is getting out to as many people as possible. I think my mind just shifts and goes back into the right gear. There’s something about going into the studio. As soon as I step into my shoes in wardrobe, and they put the audio pack on,-once you feel that, and makeup are doing your last checks- there is something about no matter what else is going on- your head is there. It’s dark in there. There are lights only in the right spots, so it feels like you’re in the wings of a stage -so you’re on!
K: It’s Sunday, you’re in your lounge, there’s no one else around, a song comes on, and you have to dance. What is that song?
J: (laughing) What is interesting about that is I think it changes. That’s the problem. About 4 weeks ago I would have said Dance Monkey -how can you not dance to that?! There’s just something about that (laughing), but now it is a Billy Eilish song. There’s just something about the beat in the back of it that you can’t not move to.
K: I was reading that you recently took up Ballet again after a hiatus. And as an ex ballet dancer, I was like oh, ok you can go back? Are you going to go back en pointe?
J: That’s a massive question! I was never good at it in the first place (laughing)
SO, I am doing this class every Wednesday. I’ve been going there since November, and we had a little hiatus over Summer, but I’m back in! The best thing that my ballet teacher said to me yesterday was “You’re getting stronger.” I was like “Oh!” I can actually feel it myself too!” The other thing that I wasn’t really good at was turning.
Every time I’ve had to turn, I’ve been heading into what I thought was the right direction (laughing), but yesterday I got three of these in a row, and it felt like I was starting to nail this!
You know what?- around me are all these semi-professional dancers that are working on doing these things most amazingly. It was a struggle, I’m so glad I’m doing it.
What is the funniest thing that has happened during a segment, that maybe the audience would not know that you’ve had to like cover or something embarrassing where no-one’s had any idea unless you’re behind the camera?
J: Oh! There was one where my earring fell out. Generally, I’m in pretty big earrings, and it’s like it just had some kind of projectile behind it and it has not just fallen out it’s like it’s gone voom! And it actually landed right in front of me and made this big sound. So that’s always quite amusing.
The other thing is, I don’t know if you can pick it up, but Mitch and Tim are following along with what I am saying which is lovely of them, but sometimes they can actually start laughing over something I have said and so they’re trying to contain some giggles like when I say there are some “wispy clouds” haha Tim…
So then they are laughing just off to the corner of my eye. I’m getting the counts in my head, I know how long is left, I’ve got to get all of this out, and these guys are sitting over there giggling and trying to keep it quiet.
K: That would be like being in school, and everyone has got the giggles around you, and you’re trying very hard not to laugh. Especially when you’re in front of Australia!
J; MMhhhmmm! (laughing)
K; So what are the attributes that you find in people that really resonate with you and make you walk away thinking “you know, I really like that human!”?
J: Hmmm. I’m not sure how to answer that. The thing that is immediately hopping into my head is all the people that I have interacted with recently that have rubbed me up the wrong way! (laughing)
When you think about that question, why do you like hanging out with these people? And why do you not like hanging out with those people sometimes? Some of the people you are with, you really don’t enjoy being around, it’s hard work.
Whereas when you find people that you actually love, how much better is that feeling?
And just everything sort of inside. I reckon I got a little bit of that last week. I MC’d the Saints AFLW launch- which was so exciting to be a part of. The first year that the Saints have a women’s team and I got to meet all of the girls. I got to read out their name and number. To meet all of these girls, and see how excited and ready and pumped they are just before this new season.
They’re getting to do what they have always wanted to do and never thought they would be able to do. Just that energy rubbed off on me in such a good way, that when I came back in on Monday morning, I was like “Right! We’re going to do this today, this is going to be amazing! This is going to be so good!”
So I think when you interact with positive people you can get so much done in your world too. It’s beautiful.
K: Do you think when you get to 40, you start to realise that you can actually give yourself permission on who you invest your time with? And who’s not so good to spend your time with- like energy conservation.
J: Yeah, I agree. I reckon there is something about turning 40. I was very apprehensive about it (like most). Everyone was asking me if I wanted to have a big party, and my reaction was no, I actually don’t want to do that. I want to go on holiday and get away. So I had friends that I actually like come on this holiday with me (laughing). Then I go off on this romantic thing with my husband, so it was just this really nice week of our lives which was really really good.
K: That’s exactly what I did for my 40th!
J: I reckon that’s the way to go!
K: I took them all to a tropical island
Jane: Yep! So good! When you’ve got the big 4 in front of the number that you are now it’s like you kinda go “I don’t have time for this crap anymore” and you actually feel ok saying that.
Saying no, I’m ok with that and I’ve already moved on! (laughing) rather than thinking about it when I go to sleep, and I think that’s a great way to be! I just wish I had that a little while ago (laughing)
K: Cubby house or treehouse? And why?
J: I had what was called a cubby house built for us when we were kids, but my dad took so long to build it that by the time it was built we didn’t fit in it anymore! Anyway, that became the spot where we stored all of the pool toys!
But for some reason, I mean I grew up watching the Simpson where Bart had Milhouse and a treehouse. So yeah, the media has made me think of a treehouse, but if I go back to my childhood, it was definitely a cubby house.
K: Instincts win
K: What is something that a lot of people don’t know about you?
J: Wanna know how I spend my day off? I take myself out for lunch! And I go out and have a glass of wine- I get them matched to all the dishes I’m ordering, and there are these places that will do half serves of something.
I can have like 6 dishes which is great! So I go out for my own little degustation by myself, which is actually THE best thing in the world. It is THE nicest way to spend an afternoon!
Then I take myself off to the movies. Again, by myself, which is so good! It means no one is disturbing you through it! You get to watch the entire movie, and you get to pick and watch what you want to do!
K: Thank you so much, thank you for giving us your time