... a dreamer, freelance writer, massage therapist, naturopath, mother & drop-out social work student living, working and writing in the Blue Mountains. When not occupied with the real world, she writes fantasy.
Published October 17th 2012
Catch first-hand pics of the snow here
Historic Blue Mountains landmark, the Hydro Majestic, peers out of the snow.
On Friday 12th October 2012, in the midst of spring blossom time, layers of shining white snow fell across the Blue Mountains transforming it into a magical fairyland. The subject of national media coverage, this unique and beautiful event can be enjoyed for all time in the pictures depicted here and elsewhere.
Rhododendrons sparkle amongst the snow at Blackheath Memorial Park.
While snowfalls in October in the Blue Mountains do happen, this hasn't occurred since 2009. According to reports, this is also the heaviest recorded snowfall in the area for between ten to fifteen years, with 15 mm of snow recorded at Blackheath, the highest township in the Mountains.
Blackheath receives an average of two settled snowfalls each season as well as several light falls. Interestingly, charts of snowfall trends show that snowfalls have been declining in the Blue Mountains since the 1800's, making the Friday 12th October snowfall something of a special event.
Snow is romantic and exciting to most Australians. My three year old thought this was fairyland.
The sight of snow seems romantic, even exciting to us Aussies, and especially to children. Yet, it comes fraught with many dangers and inconveniences. These include falling branches, freezing temperatures, power outages and accidents and road-closures caused by slippery and dangerous roads. Temperatures were below zero degrees with the wind-chill factor making it even colder.
With snow falling virtually non-stop for a record four hours or so, many trees and other structures became so burdened with snow that they broke. Amidst the strange silence of the falling snow, the eerie creak and snap of trees laden with too much snow, could be heard. One could see and hear the evidence of broken and snapping branches, falling clumps of snow and felled trees. At Medlow Bath, a fallen tree caused the closure of the rail line. The SES were kept busy.
Traffic stuck in the snow during the roadblock at Medlow Bath
Car accidents and skidding cars and trucks also caused the closure of the Great Western Highway at Medlow Bath. The pictures above and below, taken from the scene, shows trucks and cars stalled in the snow between 8.30am and about 3pm.
My daughter and I leave the car to walk to the closest petrol station for food.
A personal story In pursuit of good photographs, I drove to Blackheath and wound up getting more than I bargained on. Heading back down the mountain to Katoomba around 8.40am, I hit the road block between Blackheath and Medlow Bath. After witnessing several cars skidding about in the snow in front of me, or actually becoming bogged, I decided not to try passing those in front.
At the local service station I discovered many people huddled inside chatting about their experience. The service station attendant informed me there was no power nor heating. Petrol could not be purchased nor cards used to buy goods. Fortunately I had cash and bought chips and chocolate for myself and my daughter since we hadn't had breakfast nor lunch. Hardly nourishing, but I counted myself luckier than those without cash who'd been turned away unable to buy anything.
The local service station became a site to get information, buy some food, use the toilets and hang out through the road-block..
At the servo, I learned about the cause of the roadblock. Apparently, a truck had jacknifed and many cars had skidded in the snow, smashing into other cars parked off the road. Other cars had slid off the embankment. The whole thing had caused a danger zone ahead and a blockage of the road. It was thought the road block would last all day.
Trucks trapped in the snow - many from further afield, like Lithgow
A couple with a child informed me there was a train leaving Medlow Bath Station in half an hour. Moments after they left, I followed after with my daughter, deciding to abandon the car to get home. On my way through the snow, I saw them coming back my way. They reported that the train line was now blocked by a falling tree and it would be hours before that problem was fixed. With no way of getting home, my daughter and I walked back to the car.
Finally, the snow stopped and was replaced with thin sickly rain which started to melt the snow a little. With the cessation of the snow came the appearance of the Snow Cats - vehicles that sweep and remove snow from the road.
My daughter enjoyed the snow from the window of the car.
The cars crept forwards slowly and soon we were stationary beneath the native gums on a narrow pass of the highway. With great clods of snow falling atop the car and heavily laden boughs creaking above us, it was easy to be nervous. With only a tiny amount of water in a plastic bottle, I had to turn off the air-con to prevent us from getting too thirsty. I'd been using it to not only keep us warm, but to dry our wet clothes, gloves and scarves for re-use if we needed to get out again.
Six hours later (from the time of the road-block at 8.30am) and with the combined efforts of the police, State Emergency Services and snow cats, the blocked cars and trucks were removed and we were on our way home. A cuppa never looked so good!
Hope you enjoyed the pics. They were well worth the ordeal!