Australia heat wave: 'Like opening the oven door'

Parts of eastern Australia are expected to swelter through record-breaking temperatures in the mid- to high-40s.

And if it looked like any other Saturday at the beach, it wasn't. It was New South Wales' hottest February day on record.

For those at the beach, the water was only place to find some relief.

"When it gets too hot we just go in for another dip, cool off again, which is very nice," one beachgoer said.

It got so hot organisers were forced to cancel the annual Randwick Races - much to the relief of horses due to compete.

But out west, things were much worse. With no sea breeze, the mercury hit 47degC in some areas. That supposedly made the rural town of Ivanhoe the hottest place on the planet today.

"It's very hot, so it's a bit like you've just opened the oven door. When you're in the sun it feels like the sun is burning you pretty much straight away," one of the town's residents said.

Saturday's conditions were even worse than Friday's, when almost 40 people were hospitalised with heat stroke, while eight children and a dozen pets were rescued from locked cars.

But the biggest fear at the moment is fires. New South Wales has issued a state-wide fire ban, warning the heat could fuel "catastrophic" conditions.

"Fires that start under those conditions take hold very easily and they spread very quickly, and they're invariably uncontrollable. They will typically consume whatever is in their path," New South Wales state Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said.

Meanwhile on the other side of the country, Perth managed to escape the heat wave completely, but has instead recorded its second wettest day on record, with 114mm of rain causing widespread flooding.

It's a far cry from scorching Sydney, where health authorities issued an air pollution warning from high ozone levels.

And while things are looking to cool off ever so slightly on Sunday evening, there's still several more hours of unbearable heat to get through.