Home Pub bar So how do these hardy inhabitants of Marble Bar survive the hottest periods in “Australia’s hottest city”?

So how do these hardy inhabitants of Marble Bar survive the hottest periods in “Australia’s hottest city”?

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Of all the places in the world to live, some have chosen to settle in “Australia’s hottest city”, the dusty desert outpost of Marble Bar.

Despite an extreme heat wave that threatened to push the maximum temperature to 50 degrees Celsius this month, the western Australian city nearly broke the country’s hottest temperature record in December.

Marble Bar won the title of Australia’s hottest town when it recorded the longest heat wave – 160 days at 37.7 degrees – in 1923 and 1924.

It is still listed in the Guinness Book of Records.

Marble Bar claims to be Australia’s hottest city. (ABC News: Cason Ho)

His record for the city’s hottest Christmas Day was in 2018, when it hit 48 degrees.

Two days later, the mercury in the Marble Bar hit its all-time high – a debilitating 49.6 degrees.

While the numbers are impressive, the Bureau of Meteorology crowns the Kimberley town of Wyndham as having the highest annual maximum temperature of 36.1 degrees.

But that’s not reason enough to cool the claims of the people of Marble Bar as Australia’s hottest town.

sign with Marble Bar the hottest city in Australia with a blank screen
Locals say Marble Bar’s temperature gauge recently broke.(ABC News: Cason Ho)

Empty streets on Christmas day

About fifty residents decided to stay in town and warm up over the holiday season rather than following most of the community as they made their way to the coast or to the cooler towns.

The streets were quiet as daytime temperatures remained low in the mid-1940s, and many locals celebrated the holidays in the comfort of air-conditioned homes or by swimming in local watering holes.

a hill covered in red and spinifex by a river lined with gum trees
Marble Bar is both a town and a rock formation.(ABC News: Cason Ho)

It’s fair to assume that spending the summer at Marble Bar isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but the heat-hardened community is facing the height of summer.

Thomas Fox is the owner of the Ironclad Hotel, the town’s pub, and has said tackling the heat is pointless.

A man and a woman browse a table full of dishes in a shed
Yarrie station employees Nicole Matthes and Chris Cunderland have their Christmas lunch. They spend most of their days working in the heat.(ABC News: Cason Ho)

Mr Fox said the community celebrated the first big rain of the season more than Christmas.

“Accept the fact that it is very hot”

Mr. Fox’s wife, Annabelle Coppin, owns and operates Yarrie Station, about 140 kilometers northwest of Marble Bar.

Yarrie has been part of her family since she was put on a pastoral lease in the late 1800s.

a man stands next to a woman next to square balls painted with the word XMAS
Simon Coongan from the nearby Pardoo station gives hay bales to Annabelle Coppin from Yarrie station for Christmas.(ABC News: Cason Ho)

His days are usually spent outdoors in the heat, managing resources, personnel and 5,000 cattle.

But it is not the intense heat that she finds the most difficult.

“The hardest part is when it’s not raining,” she said.

“We have a drought management plan and everyone has to stick to it. But there’s nothing right about it. It’s just something you have to manage and do.”

close-up of a cow surrounded by others on a dry river bed
Yarrie Station, near Marble Bar, carefully manages the drought conditions to protect as many cows as possible.(ABC News: Cason Ho)

Although working at the station is incredibly difficult, Ms. Coppin cannot imagine living anywhere else.

“I guess I’ll leave when someone carries me in a box,” she said.

Locals know how dangerous the heat can be

close-up on rocks streaked with gray and orange
The jasper that surrounds the city was originally thought to be marble.(ABC News: Cason Ho)

Marble Bar is a place of extremes, where the merciless heat of the desert is a point of interest on the weather map for people across the country.

For those not used to it, the heat can be suffocating.

But for those who live there, he’s proudly taken on the chin – unimportant, but not underestimated.

Contrary to other advice we have received from locals, Daniele Specogna often spends the hottest summer days outdoors.

He refuses to turn on his air conditioning and believes in letting his body adapt to the heat.

a portrait of an older man with a bushy beard indoors
Daniele Specogna loves the Marble Bar for the proximity to nature it offers. (ABC News: Cason Ho)

When the temperature rises, he prefers to find a shady spot near a secluded water point and, with his feet immersed in the water, settles down for the day with a book.

But Mr Specogna knows firsthand how dangerous the high temperatures can be after the heat almost killed him.

He and Mr. Fox left town to go prospecting, but when they separated in the bush, Mr. Specogna, car keys in his pocket, got lost.

Mr. Fox walked 20 kilometers back to town and sounded the alarm, but at this point it was getting dark.

a table full of colorful rocks of different geological varieties
Daniele Specogna prospects, collects stones, creates bespoke jewelry and raises bees when he retires.(ABC News: Ashleigh Davis)

The next day, with temperatures nearing 40, Mr. Specogna buried himself in the sand to stay cool.

He said an eagle was sitting 10 yards from him, looking at him.

Rescue teams found him later that day.

A fire in the courtyard burns a church

Lighting fires in your garden is rarely a good idea, but it can have serious consequences for the climate in Pilbara.

Now local folklore, Mr Specogna said he accidentally burned down the disused 75-year-old Catholic Church in 2016.

Located on the edge of the township and once visible from his house, Mr. Specogna was the last person to use the church.

He had taught classes and given workshops to some of the children in the town.

Before he knew it, the flames left the confines of the metal fence in the backyard and, blown away, climbed the hill behind his house.

Marble Bar Church
The crucifix above the church remains in the local museum.(ABC News: Cason Ho)

People from all walks of life

Master Italian silversmith and photographer, Mr. Specogna retired to the Marble Bar after more than 30 years working around the world.

For him, the small town not only offers him the peace and quiet of a life immersed in nature, but also a sense of community – a home away from his family in northern Italy.

An elevated view of an outback town surrounded by a parched hilly landscape
The view of Marble Bar from the water tank.(ABC News: Cason Ho)

He described Marble Bar, with a population of around 150, as a town the size of Goldilocks.

“It’s beautiful, friendly, multicultural. It’s unfortunately a buzzword but in its true sense,” he said.

“It’s like an extended family.”