Robert's Story

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Robert's Story - A Blue Mountains Local shares his love of snow.

I just thought I'd finally write you to say well done on your website - very informative! I visited it last winter, and recently came back for another look.

I've lived in the Blue Mountains since 1982, and have grown up here. Most of that time was spent at Wentworth Falls, however I currently reside at Medlow Bath. I just thought I'd write to you about a few of the Snow experiences that I remember. So please excuse me if this is a bit of a ramble! But here goes...

As it happens, I've been basically obsessed with Snow my whole life. I really have no good explanation why, but I think it's a combination of factors - the fun, the awe, the excitement, the fact that I grew up with it, and the sense that society is "shut down" by the weather, causing the roads, trains and schools to close. It's an amazing natural phenomena that sort of "brings everyone together" in a way. Complete strangers start talking in the street and so on, simply because everyone is suddenly sharing the same unique experience.

Anyway, for whatever reason, my love of snow was like a hobby to me when I was growing up. Between the ages of about 7 and 14, I would actually study maps of NSW, and do things like colour in the areas where it snowed, or write lists of all the towns and their elevations and then give them little ratings based on their "likelihood of snow". I'd order them by elevation, from highest to lowest, and then even draw diagrams (like mountain ranges) with dots positioned to represent the heights of different towns. What on earth inspired this strange behaviour!? Maybe I just wanted more days off from school due to snow :) Who knows, but I loved it all the same.

When my family moved to Wentworth Falls in 1982, my parents both stirred me up about the fact that there would be snow (which I had never seen before). And the excitement just never faded. Then in 1984, we had the biggest snow fall that I can remember. I was only 7 years old at the time, but the details of it became burned in my memory, and I always held onto them, so I think they're pretty accurate. Here's what I remember....

I have no idea of the exact date, but I suspect it was a weekend. The snow fell mainly overnight one night. But the afternoon prior to the night that it snowed, my family visited the Mt Boyce nursery to buy some plants for the garden. My sister had a job, but she seemed to have the day off because she came with us - so it might have been a Saturday. Although in truth she sometimes had an RDO on a Friday, so it could also have been a Friday.

While visiting the Nursery, it was SO cold and windy, that we did what anyone would do, and we all walked across the highway to stand somewhere that was even colder and more windy! - the Mt Boyce lookout. While we were standing there, it began to sleet - with lots of sharp little icy droplets hitting us all in the face as we squinted to look out across toward Oberon. It was just one of those things that I'll never forget, particularly in light of what came later.

After that, we drove home to Wentworth Falls. It wasn't snowing, but my parents had told me that it might snow overnight. They weren't exactly weather experts, but on this occasion they turned out to be right. Later that evening, say at around 9pm, someone put a light on at the front of the house,and we realised it was snowing. I was allowed to have a peek out the door before bed, and the snow was falling steady and heavy. They were big flakes. And it wasn't particularly windy.

When I woke up in the morning, I almost couldn't believe my eyes. Everything outside was white. But it was still snowing too, and the snow kept falling until at least midday or 1pm. The reason why I remember this is because at the time, my family bred German Shepherds, and we had a litter of puppies for sale. We had some prospective buyers who were supposed to visit that day from the Central Coast, to look at the puppies (again, suggesting it was a weekend - either Saturday or Sunday now), and I think that they either managed to get there in the morning and had to leave quickly or else be stuck in the snow, or they had to turn around somewhere further down the mountains and go back home due to a road closure. Either way - the danger was that there were going to be major closures on the roads that might have trapped them in the Mountains.

Another detail I remember is listening to the radio that day, and hearing the 2KA announcer talk about the huge snowfall in the mountains. I remember him saying that it had been snowing as far down as Springwood! And that there were even reports of sleet at Warrimoo. I remember this very clearly as it was so amazing, and the rest of my family were all amazed by it as well. Apparently, people had been calling the station to report on the condition in the various villages, so these were eyewitness accounts.

The final significant detail that I can recall is the snow itself, and playing outside. I think it was about 3-4 inches deep. And the main reason why I believe it was the biggest snowfall that Wentworth Falls has had (in my memory), was that we were able to build a snowman that stood about 4 feet tall, and the job was a simple matter of rolling the ample snow into two large balls - one for the body, one for the head. Even more amazing was the fact that this snowman was so large that he stood in our front yard and gradually melted for no less than 2 weeks after the snowfall. I remember this clearly, because I remember talking to my Dad about it 2 weeks after the snow. And I remember playing in the yard on much warmer days, yet having a snowman still standing there. Toward the end, one of our dogs knocked him over, so he lay in two halves on the ground. Yet he still didn't melt for all that time.

So that's my story of the big snowfall of 1984 - the largest I can remember.

The very next year, my Dad bought a video camera, and practically every year after that we filmed the snowfalls in the area. I have hours of footage of snow from 1986 onward, and even news reports about the snow recorded from the TV, beginning in 1986. There's even footage shot from the car, as we drove from Wentworth Falls to Katoomba, in heavy snow in the late 1980s. On one occasion, we were forced to do a u-turn in front of the Leura public school, due to the road being closed there.

In 1990, I remember there being a big snowfall to the west of the Blue Mountains. We had some friends who lived at Oberon, who said the snow was "about 1 metre deep in places", and that it lasted for "5 days". Unfortunately Wentworth Falls almost totally missed out on snow that year - at least, snow that settled on the ground. There was good snow from Leura onward though. I do recall that the highway at Lawson was closed due to "black ice" - heavy rain (rather than snow) which had later frozen due to the sudden drop in temperature overnight. If only the rain had overlapped with the cold air, even Lawson would have had snow.

In 1989 I also experienced an amazing hail storm in about September or October, which blanketed our corner of Wentworth Falls with about 2 inches of hail the size of Jaffas. This is all recorded on video for proof, as there were no news reports of it at the time - it was as if our corner of the Mountains had experienced a very isolated weather event.

Well, I could probably rattle on forever, but I hope someone there has found these stories interesting! I'm happy for them to be used in the ongoing effort to compile a history of snow in the Blue Mountains. Feel free to contact me if you'd like more.

Kind regards, Robert.