No sea breezes but no ‘crotch rot’ either — what it’s like to live in Marble Bar, Australia’s hottest town
AS Western Australia sweats through a heatwave and anxiously awaits temperatures in excess of 50C tomorrow, the residents of one town are wondering what all the fuss is about.
Perth just sweltered through a record breaking heatwave, with the Western Australia capital recording four sweaty days in a row where the mercury surpassed 40C — the first time that’s happened for 50 years.
But the grumblings of city folk down south are met with short shrift in Marble Bar, reportedly the hottest town in Australia.
Here temperatures rarely dip into the thirties and a 50C day raises barely a murmur.
“Put it this way, you don’t go around digging holes when its 46C in the morning,” Thomas Fox, from Marble Bar’s only pub, the Iron Clad hotel, tells news.com.au. “And when the temperature plummets from 46C to 42C it’s like a sea breeze coming in.”
The tiny town, located in the heart of the Pilbara 200km south east of Port Hedland and 1500km north east of Perth, is set for another run of hot days with highs of more than 45C, and even up to 48C, for the next week.
According to the Bureau of Meteorology, parts of northern Western Australia could even pass 50C with it likely to reach 52C by Sunday.
PEOPLE DON’T EVEN SMELL
“We don’t like to talk about the heat, it’s just not the done thing,” said Mr Fox, talking about the heat. “We just accept that it’s hot, no one’s walking around going ‘phoo-wee it’s hot today’.”
It’s a dry heat, he says, not the humid, sticky heat that drenches people down south.
“If it’s 46C we probably don’t even break a sweat, the moisture is sucked right out of you. You don’t have crotch rot or sweat dripping down your back. People in Marble Bar don’t even smell.”
That doesn’t mean the locals don’t feel the weather.
“We’d all just go around in G-strings if we could but the snakes and the spinifex are a bit of a problem. You wouldn’t want to risk it.”
‘WIND THE CAR WINDOW DOWN’
Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Ricus Lombard said a string of days over 40C in the interior of the Pilbara was nothing to write home about.
“The air mass is always warmer further north whereas in somewhere like Kalgoorlie, down south, they only tend to get the higher temperatures when a trough brings that warm air down.
“Up north that air is just sitting there all the time,” he said.
Mr Fox said “your comfort zone is a little bit bigger here with heat but it might kill people in Perth”.
“Heat and cities just don’t go together, people run from air con to air con sucking out the power supply and trying to keep the garden alive.
“Here, when it heats up you find a bit of shade or wind the car window down,” he said.
Matt Goyder, one of this year’s batch of lovesick country blokes on Channel 9’s The Farmer Wants a Wife has called a cattle station outside Marble Bar home for the last seven years.
“It’s always a shock every time you leave Perth and go back, there’s always that adjustment period,” he tells news.com.au.
If it’s particularly hot, Mr Goyder might go for a dip in the dam but, he says “when you’re up there you don’t feel the difference between a 45C day and a 52C day.”
‘DON’T OVERDRESS, DON’T OVERDO IT, STAY IN THE PUB’
But the weather has its dangers, with Mr Goyder saying people could perish if they didn’t carry enough water for even short trips.
“I broke down once with my father, about 20km from home, and I came to the decision it wasn’t that far. But we got pretty dehydrated pretty quickly and we had to fill up from a trough,” he said. “There was a dead bird in there but it wasn’t going to stop me.”
Mr Fox also tells the tale of the English wife of a local mine owner who finally decided to join her husband in a town close to Marble Bar.
She travelled for three months from Britain over the high seas to reach Australia followed by a tortuous journey by road from the coast “wearing all her get up”. The woman was resting at a pub one day, close to her final destination, when she decided to make a final push. They found her body by the side of the road, Mr Fox said.
“She almost got there and just expired in the heat. It serves as a reminder — don’t overdress, don’t overdo it and if she’d just stayed in the pub she wouldn’t have lost her life.”
‘50C IS NOT EVERYONE’S CUP OF TEA’
Mr Goyder says winter brings some relief with some days barely nudging 30C.
“The wind off the desert does make it freezing but my definition of freezing is pretty different to everyone else’s. I’m there in a jumper at 25 degrees.”
If someone did fall in love with farmer Matt, could they be persuaded to live out in the searing heat of Marble Bar?
“It’s hard to glamorise 50C, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. But I think a lot of people would think it’s great to live the lifestyle we have up here,” he says.
“Words can’t really define the beauty of the place, it sort of speaks for itself and I think someone could fall in love with the place just like I have.”