Most people like me who live near the coast but travel into the Outback on a fairly regular basis, don’t go there during the summer months (December to February), basically because it’s just too darn hot out there. This summer has brought some very hot weather to most parts of Australia, and many of us managed to feel sorry for the people playing in the Australian Open tennis in Melbourne, where the on-court temperature climbed up to about 44°C a few times. But we kept our TV on and air-con going and, with the aid of a few cold ones from the fridge, we coped.
Of course, those who live in the Outback often have to tough it out through weeks on end of above-40 temperatures, without a beach less than 1000 kms away.
I spoke to friends in Marree (where the Oodnadatta Track starts in the middle of South Australia) a couple of weeks ago, and they reported a temperature of 47°C. They also told me that a thermometer placed outside on the road in the sun had recorded 70°C – that’s 158°F! Which makes the point that driving a car in those conditions imposes major strains on the vehicle, and unless it’s in A1 condition (appropriate tyres, cooling system, etc.), you’re asking for trouble, maybe of a life-threatening kind.
But once you’ve got the Outback bug, thoughts of being out there again are never far away, and a dirt track on a wide-open plain in the late afternoon sounds very enticing. Ah, another attack of the summertime blues!