Kelly Taylor, of Suffolk Park, swelters in the heat at Byron Bay’s Main Beach yesterday, but it was one of the coolest spots on the Northern Rivers.
Kelly Taylor, of Suffolk Park, swelters in the heat at Byron Bay’s Main Beach yesterday, but it was one of the coolest spots on the Northern Rivers. Richard Low

Summer scorcher in winter

YOU COULD be forgiven for thinking the sweltering heat, the high winds, and the sudden appearance of bushfires spelled Australia's summer at its height.

But the record-breaking 37.4 degrees at Evans Head yesterday - the highest August temperature on record anywhere in NSW - occurred at the tail end of winter.

Tourists across the North Coast were baffled at the winter temperatures, while locals were just soaking up the sun.

Suffolk Park resident Kelly Taylor said it was the hottest winter day he remembered in the area.

“It's been a pretty good spell,” he said as he lay in the sun at Byron Bay's Main Beach yesterday in nothing but a pair of shorts.

“It's been lovely. I work nights, so I get to spend the day in it.”

Lismore also broke a record with 36.2 degrees, almost four degrees hotter than the last high of 32.7 degrees on August 23 in 1995.

But it wasn't all sunbaking and fun.

The Rural Fire Service was rushed off its feet responding to grass fires across the region as southern Queensland was declared a total fire ban zone.

RFS Far North Coast community safety officer Laurence McCoy said this was not a time for locals to be burning off ahead of the bushfire danger period beginning on September 1, after which permits would be required.

A large grass fire was burning at Commissioners Creek near Uki yesterday afternoon.

Fire-fighters had earlier put out another grass fire in Mullumbimby.

“We're not expecting any rain so days like today only worsen the situation down the track,” Mr McCoy said.

The Bureau of Meteorology said the high Northern Rivers temperatures, caused by a high pressure system over the Tasman Sea and a cold front moving down the south of Victoria, would ease during the week.

SCORCHER Yesterday's record-breaking maximum temperatures: • Evans Head … 37.4 • Lismore … 36.2 • Casino …35.6 • Byron Bay … 28 • Ballina … 36.7

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