There is more than soaring temperatures to get your barometer rising in the tourist hot spot of Marble Bar. Monica McInnes explores the sizzle in Australia’s hottest town.
During our three-month road trip through some of Australia’s most rugged, remote and remarkable landscapes, we occasionally encountered travellers who mentioned the town of Marble Bar. We politely smiled and nodded, adding in the odd ‘mmmm’ and ‘yes’ in for extra effect in an effort to hide our ignorance of this tourist hot spot.
Then, by chance, during our last week on the road we were headed on a course right through this mysterious town. And, it was the best detour we could have taken.
Hidden in the back blocks of the east Pilbara between Karijini National Park and Eighty Mile Beach, some 1,400 kilometres north of Perth, Marble Bar is officially Australia’s hottest town. It claimed the title after the summer of 1923/24 saw the mercury remain above 38.7 degrees Celsius for 160 consecutive days. Nearly a century later, the record has remained unbroken, but summer temperatures still soar above 38 degrees for days on end.
Thankfully our visit coincided with winter, and with just a day to explore, we made the most of the pleasant weather.
After a quick stop to pick up some maps and brochures from the local council office in the main street, we headed out of town to learn more about how Marble Bar got its name. One could be forgiven for assuming Marble Bar, which is located in one of Australia’s richest regions for gemstones and gold, was the place to find marble.
What you will find, however, is Jasper, a marble look-alike. Back in 1881 pioneering pastoralist and gold prospector Nathaniel Cooke discovered a bar of ‘marble’ across the Coongan River. He named the locale Marble Bar, and two years later the township was officially settled.