Temperatures are forecast to rise across southern Queensland this weekend, peaking on Sunday, and with no reprieve expected until Wednesday.
The southern interior, Warrego, Maranoa and Darling Downs regions, which saw record-breaking temperatures last week, will remain “very hot”, according to Shane Kennedy from the Bureau of Meteorology.
“At this stage, we’re not likely to break any of those records, but we’ll certainly be right up in the very hot territory again across the weekend,” he said.
The stifling conditions will remain until cooler air behind a strong front moving north from southern parts of the country brings reprieve.
With a top temperature of 37 degrees Celsius forecast for tomorrow, animals at the Darling Downs Zoo at Pilton will be getting the star treatment to keep them cool.
To cope with the heat, ice blocks, sprinklers and pools are all being prepared this weekend.
Co-director Stephanie Robinson said heatwaves mean a busy time for zookeepers, who have to cater to the needs of many different animals, with some fussier than others.
“You’ve got the big cats, they get bits of frozen meat or blood that’s frozen as an ice block with treats within it,” Ms Robinson said.
“The monkeys get ice blocks with fruit through them or they get fruit juice-based blocks.
“The birds, cockatoos and parrots love the sprinklers.
“You get other animals that don’t want the water until it’s a puddle … then they’ll come and splash in the puddle.”
Ms Robinson said most animals coming from Africa and South America were acclimatised to the heat, but others from interstate zoos might need extra assistance.
“Sometimes, the keepers will stop and hose particular individuals who aren’t coping as well,” she said.
“We have a koala who likes to just sit in a sprinkler, whereas others don’t like water at all.
“We get all different reactions from different animals.”
Birdsville stocked up with ‘ice-cold beer’
Mr Kennedy said the hottest part of the state this weekend would be Birdsville, which is expecting 46.6C today.
“We’re expecting things to remain very hot over the south and south-west over the next coming days,” Mr Kennedy said.
Ben Fullager, who manages the Birdsville Hotel, has spent the day checking on his cool rooms, making sure he is all stocked up.
“The first thing people order when they come in is an ice-cold beer and a glass of cold water, too,” Mr Fullager said.
“We’ve got to make sure our beers are nice and cold for when they come in.
“People also tend to order salads or cooler, lighter meals.”
Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service Ranger Don Rowlands manages the Munga-Thirri National Park, formerly known as the Simpson Desert National Park.
He said it is closed over summer due to the intense heat.
“We try and use this time to squeeze in as much office work as we can inside in the aircon,” Mr Rowlands said.
Overseeing more than one million hectares of land around Birdsville, he is a seasoned veteran when it comes to managing heat.
“It’s all about heeding the advice and making sure travellers understand the dangers of the heat,” he said.
“The desert is probably the worst place to be driving in the heat, because the heat of the salt pans is way above what the gauge reads.”
“Thankfully, we are closed during the hottest months so we don’t have many travellers coming through at this time.”
Ipswich to hit 41C on Sunday
Brisbane and surrounds can expect temperatures in the low 30s today, peaking at 34C on Sunday and Monday.
Further west, Ipswich will be experiencing warmer days, with high 30s forecast for today and peaking at 41C on Sunday.
As a trough approaches on Monday, the bureau is forecasting thunderstorms across a majority of south-east Queensland.
The storms will move north of Brisbane and into the Wide Bay area by Tuesday.
Longer reprieve from heat next week
A strong front in the south of Australia will move through and cool the southern parts of Queensland on Tuesday night.
The cooler air is expected to hang around for several days, giving Queenslanders a longer reprieve from the heat than the one-day break the state saw on Thursday.
Temperatures in Brisbane will remain under 30C for multiple days, and Ipswich will stay around the 30C mark.