Inland Australia is known for its long, hot and dry summers. In the Riverina area of NSW, we have been experiencing extreme temperatures which are forecast to last at least until next weekend. Weather Zone predicts that, in my area, we can 'look forward to' temperatures of between 39 - 41 degrees C. between now and next Saturday.
|1896 Fashion Courstesy Wikimedia|
These Australian heatwaves are not a new phenomenon, the South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), Tuesday 14 January 1896, page 6 reports on the heatwave conditions experienced in Australia in 1896. The higher range temperatures vary in this article from 88 - 116 degrees F. which converts to approximately 31 - 46 degrees C! As we can imagine from this report, our ancestors would be doing it very tough in this heat without any air-conditioning at all. Also, considering the restrictive attire which was the accepted fashion of this time, I dare say they would have been sweltering!
THE WEATHER IN THE OTHER COLONIES.
A RECORD IN NEW SOUTH WALES. NUMEROUS DEATHS FROM THE HEAT. Sydney January 13
The heat in New South Wales to-day has been terrific, and without parallel since the colony was founded. For the whole of the past week the high readings of the thermometer have
been exceptional, and on Monday last the temperature of 105 .2, which was reached in the shade, had been only once exceeded. Then it moderated somewhat, but on Friday and Saturday the thermometer registered 99.5 and 100° in the shade respectively. During those two days, however, the heat was dry. and conse quently the personal discomfort was not so great as yesterday, when a little over 86° was recorded. During last night the temperature increased to 88° owing to the prevalence of a strong north-west wind bringing heated air from the interior to the coast. At 5 o'clock this morning the thermometer fell to 79°, but as the day wore on the temperature increased rapidly, until at 9 o'clock it registered 97.7° It then gradually rose during the continuance of a westerly wind, until at 1.30 and 2 p.m. it recorded 108.5° in the shade, which is the highest temperature since the Observatory was established in 1859, the next highest having been in 1863, when 106.9° was recorded. As the afternoon wore on the wind veered to the east, and at 3 o'clock the thermometer read 99.2°. A complete change however, did not occur till after 9 o'clock to-night, when a stiff "southerly buster" brought up a cool change. Almost the whole of the country stations report the same excessive heat. The saddest feature in connection with this tremendous heat has been the number of fatalities with have occurred either from sun stroke or deaths which were hastened by it. Sydney Mereweather, aged sixty-three years, a miner, had a seizure of apoplexy while transacting business in the Union Bank, Pitt street, and died immediately after admission to the Sydney Hospital. William Toulston, labourer, was admitted to the same institution a little later suffering from sun stroke, and succumbed four hours after, and James Quinn, labourer, who had been working at Lady MacQuarie's Chair, met with his death from a similar cause. Three other severe cases of sunstroke, which, however, have not been fatal, were dealt with in the Sydney Hospital, and one at the Prince Alfred Hospital. At Singleton W. Clarke, licencee of the Royal Hotel. -died from heat apoplexy after three hours' illness. Great losses of stock have also occurred in different parts, and everywhere the herbage is reported to be so shrivelled up as to be almost useless for purposes of feed.
Bourke (N.S.W.). January 11.
The average heat since the beginning of the year has been 109° and for the past week 113° in the shade, the glass to-day being a point higher. Such unprecedented heat has hastened or directly caused the deaths of no less than ten persons. Some of these were frightfully sudden, Thomas Harkham, jockey, was found dead at Multagoona yesterday. He is supposed to have perished from want of water and the heat. James Proctor, a well-known identity, became suddenly ill this morning, and expired on his admission to the hospital. James Daubine, homestead lessee, on Sunday took ill and died in three-quarters of an hour, a medical examination showing that his decease was directly attributable to fatty degeneration of the heart accelerated by intense heat. D. C. MacDougall, caretaker of the Government Farm at Pera, yesterday left Bourke for Pera perfectly well. On his arrival at Pera he lay down in a room constructed of galvanized iron, and shortly after- wards he staggered out and fell dead from heat apoplexy. G. Moore, coachdriver between here and Wanaaring, was found dead in a
Broken Hill, January 13.
Yesterday the heat was so oppressive as to be almost beyond endurance, and it entailed great suffering, especially amongst women, and children. The thermometer ranged from 100° to 112° in the shade. Three deaths are reported locally, all alleged to be due to heat apoplexy. James Littlejohn, aged fifty-six, engine-driver at the Junction North Mine, succumbed in the afternoon at the Junction Hotel, Argent-street. Dr. Brown was called, and on his arrival the sufferer was dead. The deceased at one time resided at the Burra, and had a brother working on Block 10. Phillip Ayres, forty-four, living at Trecey's boarding house, Crystal-street, died early in the evening. The third victim, Thomas Newlore, sixty, was cook to Messrs. Redman, butchers, Argent-street. He died at 10 o'clock last night. Deputy Coroner Hall was duly notified of these fatalities. The maximum register to-day wins 110° in the shade, but a cool change came this afternoon accompanied by a strong wind, dust, and heat showers. The sky is overcast, with some prospects of rain.
Wilcannia, January 13.
The terrible heat continues, the thermo meter recording 112 in the shade at 9 o'clock this morning and 116 at noon. The average shade heat for the past nine days has been 112°, and there is no sign of a change. The nights are extremely oppressive. A number of children are laid up through the heat, but so far only one death has occurred.
Melbourne. January 13.
The weather, which has been most oppressive during the past week, the thermometer in Melbourne reaching 102 in the shade, and as high as 106, 108, and 112 in the country districts, changed early this morning, when a downpour of rain commenced, and continued throughout the day. The fall was general, particularly in the southern districts.
Brisbane, January 13.
The heat-wave which has prevailed in New South wales has not affected Brisbane, for though a high temperature has been recorded it cannot be regarded as unseasonable.