Among beachgoers was one-year-old Rose Strong who paddled in the shallows at Frankston Beach with mum Sylvia.
The Strong family live near the beach and visit often, regardless of the weather, but Ms Strong said Monday’s heat meant the beach was packed.
“It was wonderful, kids were playing like crazy,” she said. “It was very packed, a lot of people – but not uncomfortable.”
The hottest place to be in Victoria on Monday was Longerenong in the Wimmera which clocked 39.6 degrees.
The Country Fire Authority declared a total fire ban for the Mallee, Wimmera and Northern Country districts and issued a “severe” fire danger rating, but metropolitan crews were also kept busy with several grassfires around the city.
Monday was the hottest day since January 31, 2020, when the temperature peaked at 42.9 degrees.
Chris Arvier, senior forecaster at the Bureau of Meteorology, said there was a “double-barrelled” cool change coming through on Monday night.
“It is going to cool down between 9pm and 10pm, that’ll be the first cool change. Until then it’s likely to stay in the low to mid 30s and the first change will only bring it down into the 20s,” he said. “And that still feels hot at night.”
The second cool change which will make for easier sleep will come through no later than 4am, he said.
He said there was likely to be “a few” decent gusts of wind with each wave of the cool change.
“Particularly for bayside suburbs,” he said. “We’re not likely to see damaging winds but it could be quite gusty though when it comes through with a bang and winds will then settle off a bit.”
Tuesday will be a drastically cooler day for southern Victoria, with temperatures expected to peak at only 22 degrees in Melbourne.
“It’s quite a bounce down to the lower temperatures,” Mr Arvier said.
But heatwave conditions will not let up in the state’s north on Tuesday when fire danger will spike again and temperatures are expected above 40 in border communities.
Mr Arvier said the hot air will remain in the atmosphere above Victoria, and northerly winds on Wednesday will bring hot temperatures back down south again, with Melbourne headed for a top of 33 degrees.
“[Tuesday] will just be a day off for the southern part of the state,” he said.
Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville on Monday warned Victorians not to leave children unattended in cars, and to “look after yourself and look after each other” around the water.
“We’ve had over 90 campfires left unattended that have started fires already this season. Please don’t do that. Please don’t leave your children in cars” she said.
“We know people will be out enjoying the beaches, we’ve had record drownings this year: 35 deaths … everyone, please swim between the flags. Don’t swim alone and don’t drink and swim.”
Premier Daniel Andrews urged Victorians to stay abreast of fire updates no matter where they were in the state.
“Get advice about what’s happening in the community you are travelling to,” he said.
“Knowing what’s going on is critical. You can’t make good decisions if you don’t have the very best and latest state information.”
Since July 1 last year, Victoria has recorded more than 3500 fires.
With Ashleigh McMillan
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Rachael Dexter is a breaking news reporter at The Age.