Wild weather for Australia at Christmastime

Smoke rises from a fast-moving bushfire near the Great Ocean Rd in Victoria (AAP)
Smoke rises from a fast-moving bushfire near the Great Ocean Rd in Victoria (AAP)

There has been wild weather for Christmas across the Tasman.

North Queenslanders have been told to prepare for a cyclone, but in the South they have had record high temperatures and bushfire warnings.

Adelaide experienced its hottest Christmas Day in 70 years.

A storm whipped through Queensland's west, stripping homes off roofs and bending silos like they were tin cans. Christmas plans were suddenly out the door, which, well, no longer exists.

Kilometre after kilometre of valuable produce was shredded, with an entire strawberry patch wiped out.

"Within minutes it just poured down with hail – constant hail the size of marbles," says one resident.

"Normally we would have a scene of backpackers here from Korea, from France, from everywhere around the world; now it looks like the strawberry season for Christmas is looking a bit sad," says Jamie McKenzie.

The local pub is down, but not out.

"The beer's still cold, so everyone'll be in here tonight," says Gary O'Keefe.

North Queenslanders had a visit from Santa and emergency services crews. Heavy rain is on the way, and residents are being told to brace for a cyclone tomorrow.

The forecast is a blow for John Beeden's wife. Her husband is 150 kilometres off Cairns in a rowboat, now desperately trying to make land.

"After 208 days, where he is at sea, he's getting tired and he's exhausted," she says.

Further south, in South Australia, it was more a case of being hot and bothered. Adelaide reached 38degC – the hottest Christmas Day in 70 years.

Fire bans are in place. Only gas or electrical BBQs were allowed for lunch.

It's now feared a cool change with strong winds will fuel any fires, and it's big flames that have plagued the country, Victoria and West Australia in particular, this past week.

The nicest place to be in Australia this Christmas is in New South Wales. So far there are no floods, no fires – just a pleasant temperature, although some storms are predicted for tomorrow.

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