7 things you may not know about snow in Australia ...

7 things you may not know about snow in Australia ...

7 things you may not know about snow in Australia ...

Updated 1 October 2013, 13:17 AEST

White sandy beaches, with perfect waves for surfing.  Vast deserts of red sand stretching to the horizon.  For many people visiting Australia this is the image they have of our sunburnt country.  But did you know that we also have snow?  Literally mountains of the stuff.  And we love it!

1. When and where does it snow in Australia?
When and where does it snow in Australia?
(ABC: Dan Taylor)

The alpine region of Australia stretches through New South Wales and into Victoria. In NSW the Snowy Mountains region is home to good snowfalls from June through to September and to Australia's highest mountain - Mount Kosciuszko -  which at 2228 metres is about 1/4 of the height of Mount Everest.   

In Victoria the 'High Country' region located a few hours drive from Melbourne has good snowfalls throughout winter. Tasmania also sees snow during winter and on rare occasions snow has been known to fall in mountain areas of South Australia, Western Australia and even in Queensland.

2. How cold does it get in the Australian Alps?
How cold does it get in the Australian Alps??
(ABC: Dan Taylor)

Weather can change quickly in the Australian Alps. Temperatures can vary greatly across mountain terrain and the higher you are the colder it gets. Around the start of winter, storm fronts from the southern ocean bring cold air over the south-east of Australia dropping temperatures below zero.  The coldest its ever got in Australia was -23 °C (-9.4 °F) at Charlotte Pass on 29 June 1994 in the Snowy Mountains.

3. Do people go skiing or snowboarding in Australia?
Do people go skiing or snowboarding in Australia?
(ABC: Dan Taylor)

Lots of Australians go to the snow every year to ski, snowboard and play. The NSW gold rush town of Kiandra is credited as being the birthplace of Australian Skiing after Norwegian miners manufactured their own skis and introduced recreational skiing in 1861, 2 years after the first discovery of gold in the area. In 1936 the first towrope, to take skiers up the slopes, was constructed near Mt Buffalo in Victoria. Snowboarding has become extremely popular in Australia during recent years. All the Australian resorts now have'Ski Schools' that cater to all ages and skill levels and make it easy to get learn how to ski or snowboard.

4. Where are the most popular ski slopes and resorts in Australia?
Where are the ski slopes and resorts in Australia?
(ABC: Dan Taylor)

There are resorts in three Australian states that cater to downhill skiing, snowboarding and other snow activities.

  • New South Wales is home to 4 ski resorts: Thredbo, Perisher, Selwyn Snowfields and Charlotte Pass.
  • Victoria has 5 resorts: Mount Hotham, Falls Creek, Mount Buller, Mount Buffalo and Mt Baw Baw
  • Tasmania has 2 ski areas at Ben Lomond and Mount Mawson
There are also areas within National parks that are popular for cross-country skiing and general snow play across south eastern Australia.
5. What is the largest snow sports event in the Southern Hemisphere?
What is the largest snow sports event in the Southern Hemisphere?
(ABC: Dan Taylor)

Over 5000 school children compete each year at the Victorian Interschools Snowsports Championships, the largest snow sports event in the Southern Hemisphere. The children represent their school and the best competitors have the opportunity to go on and compete at a National competition where they can represent their state. Ninety per cent Australian winter olympic athletes started their competitive careers at Interschool events.

6. What else can you do in the snow in Australia?
What else can you do in the snow in Australia?
(ABC: Dan Taylor)

There are lots of snow experiences in Australia, not just skiing and snowboarding. Tobogganing, snow tubing and sledding are very popular at all the resorts. Snowball fights and making snowmen are all part of the fun and there are unique ways to see the sights such as sled dog tours.

7. What makes the snow experience unique in Australia?
What makes the snow experience unique in Australia?
(ABC: Dan Taylor)

It's not uncommon when skiing in Australia to see some of Australia's native animals in the snow. Wombats, possums, kangaroos and even wild horses are occasionally seen in the snow fields. There is an amazing selection of bird life that is unique to the region.

The people. Australians are friendly and always ready to help you on and off the ski slopes if needed.

It doesn't matter if you've never been to the snow or if you are an advanced skier, you'll find something unique in the snowfields of Australia - just take a look at our snow in motion video!

The Australian Alps are a beautiful and sometimes forgotten part of the Australian landscape. So next time you think of Australia, think of the snow covered mountains as well as the beaches and deserts.