A pan with frying eggs is seen on a pavement during a heatwave in Adelaide, Australia. Picture: James H Bean/Reuters

Adelaide - Temperatures in southern Australia topped 49 degrees on Thursday, shattering previous records as sizzling citizens received free beer and heat-stressed bats fell from trees.

The Bureau of Meteorology reported temperatures of 49.1 Celsius north of Adelaide, while inside the city temperatures reached 46.6 Celsius, a fraction above a record that had stood since 1939.

Adelaide residents are used to sweltering days during the southern hemisphere summer, but even they struggled with the oppressive temperatures.

More than 13 towns across South Australia have smashed their own heat records, with some of the state forecast to see temperatures of 50 degrees by the end of the day. 

The state's health authorities early Thursday reported that 44 people had received emergency treatment for heat-related illness in the past 24 hours.

"Remember to check on elderly friends, relatives and neighbours, and those who are unwell," the state emergency services tweeted.   

Health authorities were also forced to issue a public warning to avoid contact with hundreds of heat-stressed bats falling from trees in parkland areas.

While thousands of people flocked to the beach to cool off in the surf, hundreds have taken to shopping centres to stay out of the heat.

At the Red Lion Hotel, publicans gave a free beer to each of their patrons while the temperature remained above 45 degrees.

Around one hundred people lined up for their free drink for over one hour. 

At Adelaide Zoo pandas were given popsicles, tortoises got cool water wipedowns and hyenas took a dip.

But the temperatures are also testing municipal services, with SunCity buses forced to cut their services, leaving commuters searching for trams or trains to get home.

Emergency services are on the alert as more than 13 districts are under threat of possible bushfires.

Meanwhile, a total fire ban was issued further south in the island state of Tasmania, where authorities continued to battle blazes.

Parts of southeastern state of Victoria was also sweltering through temperatures above 40 degrees.

The soaring temperatures follow a heatwave last week that saw Australian towns among the hottest places on Earth.

As many as a million fish were discovered dead last week along the banks of a major river system in drought-battered eastern Australia, with thousands more found killed some 900 kilometres away in the north of New South Wales on Monday.

The government has launched a review into the mass fish kill.