Business heats up for Warrnambool's iceman

THERE were subzero temperatures to experience in Warrnambool yesterday — but only if you were Gary Johnstone. 

Workers across the south-west sweated through the day as the mercury soared above 40 degrees. 

But Mr Johnstone was arguably the luckiest man in Warrnambool, holding the title of the city’s local iceman. 

The thermometer inside the ice works freezer read minus 12 as he prepared up to 13 tonnes of frozen blocks for delivery as far away as Portland, Hamilton and Port Campbell. 

While that might inspire jealousy, the reality is summer is the busiest time of the year for Mr Johnstone, who will spend at least 12 hours a day shifting ice. 

“It’s all work at this time of the year,” he said yesterday. 

“It’s all nerves because the trucks have to be working. They can’t break down.”

Sometimes getting up to 70 phone calls an hour, the busiest time comes in the afternoon when the rush comes on to keep barbecue drinks cold. 

Keeping the freezers going around the clock is another anxiety. 

“Everything breaks down all the time — I’m the patron saint of fridge mechanics,” Mr Johnstone  said. 

It was a different story for Daniel Amato at Kebabs of Kepler. 

The best comfort the chef and other staff could get was restocking the fridge as the kitchen hit 37 degrees. 

“Your head feels light,” Mr Amato said.

“It’s pretty hard to think properly.”

Staff sweated alongside the red-hot spits cooking the rotating lamb.

“This is probably the first time we’ve brought the thermometer out,” Mr Amato said.

“I rolled up my pants.

“I bought a fan for the kitchen during the last heatwave.” 

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