Green’s Dictionary of Slang

perisher n.1

[one ‘perishes’ of the cold]

1. a short coat.

[UK]Partridge DSUE (1984) 870/2: from ca. 1880; ob.

2. a spell or day of very cold weather.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 18 Aug. 26/4: Writer lately travelled from Sydney to Mudgee on a cold July night, a perfect ‘perisher.’ At Penrith he asked for a foot-warmer and was told that none were to be had.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 15 Nov. 31/2: Which way? Wagga Wagga? Strike me! ain’t it a perisher, too? You going there?

In phrases

do a perisher (v.)

(Aus.) to feel very cold.

[Aus]R. Bedford True Eyes 292: Of course that country we went to on the Peak was a shicer. Just’s well you didn’t come – we near did a perisher there [OED].
go in a perisher (v.) [i.e. to the extent that one might SE perish]

1. (Aus.) to pursue one’s course of action with maximum enthusiasm.

[Aus]Sydney Punch 23 June 40/1: Like a second Quintus Curtius, ‘go in a perisher’ against that quagmire of slush and corruption known as the Circular Quay [AND].
‘Australian’ Adventures in Queensland 8: You went in a perisher that there spree. We all thought you was a going to croak [AND].
[Aus] ‘Rolf Boldrewood’ Robbery under Arms 87: Then he [...] went in an awful perisher – took a month to it, and was never sober day or night the whole time.

2. to suffer physical harm.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 15 Jan. 2/2: Well the actions went on, and each party, to use an expression much in vogue in the district at the time, ‘went in a perisher.’.
[Aus]J. Furphy Rigby’s Romance (1921) Ch. viii: 🌐 They got to go back into the Wilderness of Sin an’ do another perisher.