First published in The Canberra Times on February 2, 1968, the day after the Canberra Airport recorded its hottest day – a record which still stands.
Canberra's temperature rocketed to a record 108 deg [42 degrees Celsius] yesterday. The maximum — 28.4 deg above normal — came at 4.32pm.
But Bureau of Meteorology officials said last night that a cool change with southerly winds from the coast should bring temperatures down to the low 90s [30s] this afternoon.
Yesterday's maximum was 1.4 deg above the top Wednesday reading, the highest in Canberra since January 1939 when records were first kept.
At Bega the temperature reached 117 [47.2] deg yesterday — 35 deg above the January-February normal. Moruya recorded 110 [43.3] deg, Braidwood 106 [41.1] and Goulburn 103 [39.4]. NSW's top temperature of 117 [47.2] deg was recorded also at Hay — the highest recorded in NSW since 1939.
The cool change reached the South Coast yesterday afternoon and by 3pm at Bega it had fallen to 86  deg. Temperatures are expected to rise again by Sunday. A return to possible century-degree heat is predicted for next week.
Fire danger today is set at very high to extreme and the Department of the Interior has extended the total fire ban throughout the ACT.
The Public Service Association will seek a ruling on whether employees should be stood down in conditions of extreme heat.
The secretary of the association, Mr N. Butler, has sent a letter to the ACT Health Services of the Department of Health seeking advice about the proposed maximum working temperature of 90 [32.2] deg.
The association wants employees to be sent off the job whenever the temperature passes that point.
When a reply is received from the ACT Health Services, a proposal will be forwarded to the Public Service Board for consideration.
The move was prompted by numerous complaints over the last few days about the heat in which many members of the association are working.
A spot check of Department of the Interior offices at Civic on Wednesday found temperatures of up to 100 [37.7] deg.
The president of the Public Service Association in Canberra, Mr W. King, said it was not surprising public servants achieved only a limited output under such conditions.
The association feels 72 [22.2] deg is the optimum working temperature, and will approach the Public Service Board to air condition its offices to that level.
The offices of the Department of Education and Science at Childers Street, Acton, were said to have reached 104  deg on Wednesday. The corridors of one defence building at Russell Hill were 112 [44.4] deg yesterday, according to a private thermometer reading.
Headmasters report that Canberra primary school children are standing up well to conditions of extreme heat.
Temperatures in almost all schools were above the century again yesterday. At Griffith Primary School, the temperature in one of the corridors was recorded at 120 [48.8] deg.
In a temporary classroom at Forrest Primary School, the temperature reached 107 [41.6] deg. Classrooms at Griffith recorded from 100 [37.7] deg to 103 [39.4] deg. At Lyneham Primary School it was 102 [38.8] deg at 10am yesterday.
Most headmasters said children were much quieter than usual — although at Griffith some boys insisted on playing cricket in century degree heat at lunch time.
The headmaster, Mr G. Hurrell, said that sport at the school had been cancelled because of the heat, and children in some classrooms were allowed to take their shoes and socks off. All children were given a break every hour to have a drink of water.
A spokesman for the Lyneham Primary School said that children were very well behaved — because they did not have the energy to misbehave.
"Usually the place is like a chook run, with children rushing about and chattering all the time. Today they have all been a bit wilted on their perches, and at lunch time there was virtually no noise at all," one headmaster said.
Postal employees were among the hottest people in Canberra yesterday.
Employees in the mailroom at the Canberra GPO said that a private thermometer recorded 112 [44.4] degrees yesterday.
Hundreds of trout are dying in streams near Cooma and in the Murrumbidgee River during the hot spell. Only those trout able to get to the bottom of deep pools are surviving. Others trapped in shallow water reaching 80 [26.6] degrees and hotter are floating half conscious or dead.
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