Canberra snow job

Yes, Virginia, it does snow in Canberra (though not often). Occasionally icy cold Antarctic air bringst snow showers to Canberra and good falls on the nearby mountains as low as 600 meters.

snow3A couple of my American friends told met they were surprised that there is any snow in the ‘sunburnt country’.

Australia’s snow country covers about 6,500 sq km in Tasmania and 5,200 sq km on the mainland, the combined area being only 0.15% of all Australia. The Snowy Mountains, the closest snowfields to Canberra, have one of Australia largest areas of snow country – about 2500 sq km. The ‘snow country’ includes small alpine areas above the treeline and subalpine covered areas down to about 300-500 metres below the treeline (around 1,300 metres above sea level on the on the main land). Much of the ‘high country’ is now at last part of an integrated system of Alpine National Parks

The alpine areas are tiny and especially precious. ‘Alpine’ means those areas between the treeline and any zone of permanent snow and ice cover, of which there is none in Australia – it all melts in the Spring. The alpine treeline occurs where the mean temperature of the warmest month is about 10 degrees C, a physiological limit of tree growth. As the Australian alps are not far from the sea, their summer climate is cool and moist and the treelines, at about 1,800 to 1,850 metres, are lower than more continental mountains with more extreme temperatures (such as the Rocky Mountains of North America). Only 250 sq km of the Snowy Mountains is truly alpine, including an area of about 100 sq km surrounding the 2,228 metre peak of Mt. Kosciusko (about 0.001% of Australia’s land area!). This small area supports species of plants that are endemic (unique to the area) and has rich, diverse and distinctive communities of wonderful plant life.

Within a few hours drive from Canberra, there are good Winter ski resorts at Thredbo and Perisher Blue, and there are resorts in Victoria, further away.