A southerner swelters in Mount Isa's furnace  

IF you’re enjoying a nice stroll along the foreshore promenade or deciding whether it’s warm enough for a swim at the beach today, spare a thought for us former Warrnambool residents up north in Mount Isa.

I, along with my fiance Elton Campbell and our son Cael, 3, made the move to north Queensland in October. I took a position at The North West Star as deputy editor and Elton is working as a mechanic at the local Toyota dealership.

This week the city, along with the rest of the state, is in the grips of a heatwave. On Wednesday the temperature was 43 degrees and it’s set to rise to 45 over the next couple of days. A sign that measures temperatures in the town tips 51 on Monday.

We have an airconditioned office and our home has evaporative airconditioning, as well as split systems. 

But let me tell you, airconditioning of any kind does not make much of a difference after it gets above 40 degrees.

Stepping outside feels like walking into a sauna. 

Sweat drips from your face and unless you drink copious amounts of water, headaches are common.

On public holidays like Wednesday the city’s pool is closed, as was the water park. Lake Moondarra, just outside the city, has a blue-green algae outbreak. Residents can swim there but are warned contact with blue-green algae cells may cause skin or eye irritation. 

Locals have also warned me about the duck lice that attack you if you swim there and snakes are known to frequent the shoreline in search of water. 

Those three things rule out swimming there for me.

Popular swimming holes are dry due to the city recording its driest year since 1970, with only 93.4 millimetres of rain falling on the city and we’re on level three water restrictions, which means the use of sprinklers is not permitted.

Our local weather forecaster has told us it doesn’t look like there is any rain in sight or relief from the heat this week.

Despite the harsh conditions, people here don’t complain much. 

Mention the heat and they reply: “It’s pretty normal for this time of year”. 

Mention the lack of rain and they say: “It’ll come”.

It’s this relaxed outlook that makes Mount Isa a great place to live, even if it is sweltering hot and there’s no sea breeze or picture-perfect beach to cool off.

Temperatures are expected to be five to 10 degree above the average across Queensland over the next few days.

Meteorologist Gordon Banks said a large, dry, hot mass of air stagnating in the nation’s interior was the cause.

Mr Banks said a run of such high temperatures was rare for Queensland.

Diamantina Shire mayor Geoff Morton, who lives in Birdsville, said it would be business as usual in the small town yesterday, despite the forecast 46-degree heat, which is 3.5 degrees shy of the 1972 record.

“Once it gets over 45 (degrees) it doesn’t matter whether it’s 45 or 55, it’s still bloody hot,” Cr Morton said this week.

“Everything’s hot, everything’s hot to touch, the ground is hot ... A few more degrees is not going to make much of a difference.”

The long-time Birdsville resident said melted tar sticks to the tyres of passing freight trucks and locals either spend the day in airconditioning or start work early to avoid the midday heat.

“If you walk down the street from 12 o’clock on you won’t see anybody. They’re hibernating,” he said.

“They’ve got a pretty simple choice. Inside the pub is 23 degrees and outside is 53.”

A slightly cooler change is expected to move through the state from today.

So today, if you’re out and about in Warrnambool, take a deep breath of that sea air that we all miss so much and realise how lucky you are to be living in such a beautiful part of the country. with AAP

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