Heatwave for the next three days across the south

Heatwave for the next three days across the south

Sunset over the Riverina after a hot summer day

Sunset over the Riverina after a hot summer day


With temperatures predicted to soar over the coming weekend, perhaps it is timely to consider few comments recorded in a station diary during January and February 1900


The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) are forecasting another period of severe heatwave conditions extending through central districts of SA and across southern regions of NSW and into Victoria and Tasmania.

Temperatures across the western Riverina on Friday are expected to peak at 42 in Deniliquin, Hay and Booligal while those centres could reach highs of 43 on Saturday.

Predictions for Booligal and Ivanhoe to reach 44 on Sunday, with Hay a little cooler at 43 and cooler still with 41 degrees expected in Wagga Wagga.

To put those temperatures into perspective, a cursory glance of the Tubbo Station diaries held in the Charles Sturt Archives, Wagga Wagga can be instructive.

The vast holdings of Tubbo Station, on the Murrumbidgee River west of Darlington Point and running south to the township of Coleambally were managed by Jack Culley for 43 years. 

He started in February 1899, and he kept a daily diary until the day of his retirement recording intimate details of the operation of a large Merino sheep flock from the turn of the 20th century.

The entries are direct and to the point, and certainly not given to hyperbole.

On 23 January 1900, Jack Culley started the days entry with … Cool.

The next day was ‘Pleasant’, to be followed by a series neatly describing a ‘heatwave’.

25 January … Hot

26 January … Very hot – 105 degrees F (40.5 C)

27 January … Hot wind – 110 degrees F (43.3 C)

28 January … Intensely hot –  113 degrees F (45 C)

29 January … Hot with fearful dust storm

30 January … Pleasant 

31 January … Very hot

1 February … Very hot

2 February … Very hot

3 February … Very hot

20 February … Very unpleasant – strong westerly wind with dust

21 February … Pleasant

23 February … Fearful dust storm

26 February … Scorching strong north-west wind up to about 4pm when a fearful dust storm came on, lashing well into the night. The dust became so bad it became totally dark and in all probability the worst storm since 1884. I was out driving a pair of young horses and got caught but eventually made Prickley Hut (The outstation was situated where the township of Coleambally is now sited) and stayed the night.

3 March … Raining – Tubbo 89 points (22.25mm), Argoon and Prickley (both sited near present day Coleambally) 120 points (30mm).

We can only imagine how they lived though the heatwave.

Those comments were recorded before the days of airconditioners, so it is indeed instructive to read them, written, as they were, with restraint.


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