1969 July 21st big snowfall on first Moon-walk day.

Back to home page

With impeccable timing the weathergods gave some lucky South Australians a memorable snowfall on the day Homo sapiens first set foot on the Moon.

The limited information I've been able to find on the internet suggests that in at least parts of the Mid-North this snowfall was one of the biggest in the last six and a half decades since 1951. Whether snow fell south of the Barossa Ranges I don't know.  

Phil Bagust (aka Paisley on the Weatherzone forums) says on his web page http://users.on.net/~paisley/SnowWX.html "A new cold outbreak - July 22nd 1969
I recently discovered a new cold outbreak thanks to the fact my parents had kept the Advertisers published during the Apollo 11 moon landing in late July 1969. Of interest are the dates mentioned by 'old timers' with respect to previous outbreaks."

He posted the image below of the first part of an article which was published on page 1 of The Advertiser on July 22nd 1969. The day the snow fell was the 21st July so Phil may have used the publishing date of the article as the date of the snow event.

The article says "Cont'd. page 3" at the bottom of the text. Phil didn't include an image of the continuation of the article on page 3 and I don't have any simple means of accessing it short of visiting the State Library of South Australia and looking for it there, so its contents will remain a mystery here for the present. It may contain more information about the snowfall or maybe turns to other weather-related news.

I found a report that it snowed in the Barossa Ranges, which I've documented further down this page. On an ABC message board "kimmmichelmore" recalled "...  later in the day it snowed in the Barossa Ranges and Mum took us for a drive in our trusty old Holden to see snow ...".

I've not found information yet on whether snow fell in the Flinders Ranges (other than at Oodlawirra), or in the Mt Lofty Ranges south of the Barossa Ranges, or in the Fleurieu Peninsula or in the South-East.

Referring to Phil's comment "Of interest are the dates mentioned by 'old timers' with respect to previous outbreaks" the newspaper article says "The Postmaster at Mt Bryan (Mr G.D. Paech) said ... "The locals say it was the heaviest fall in memory and more extensive than in 1936 [that may be 1938 - Miles] ... ." While we don't know how many locals contributed to reaching this consensus, nevertheless it does suggest this may have been on around the top of the list of heavy snowfalls for the years from 1936 (or 1938) to 1969 at Mount Bryan the town.

Now to Phil's images of the page 1 part of the Advertiser article.

Below is a larger version I made from Phil's original image to assist with reading the text.

"Kgb007" aka Kym Burton posted a link on the Weatherzone forums to a montage of 4 photos of a snow-covered landscape in hills near Jamestown: He commented "Found these photos while perusing my other love, SAR Railways!The photos are given the date 21st July 1969."
You can also find the photos by scrolling down
this page

For anyone interested in the history of the South Australian railways the source of the photos http://www.johnnyspages.com is a mine of valuable and interesting information.
"Johnny's Pages
Old S.A.R. Shunter's Memories"
by John (Johnny) Masson

Here's some information accompanying the photos.

"It snowed just out of Jamestown towards Belalie North twice in the 7 years while I was there, once as seen in the pictures below. Was pretty sight as I'd never seen snow before."

"Pictures above were taken out towards Belalie North. Actually it was the day after the Americans landed on the moon.
My car was a 1956 Ford V8 Customline, they made nice cars back then. ... ".


Now to an episode of the ABC science television program "Quantum" and for our purposes, two viewers' comments on an ABC message board.  The ABC webpage with the embedded video and the accompanying message board with the comments is here http://www.abc.net.au/science/moon/video/

"What are your memories of the Moon landing? "Do you remember where you were when you first saw the amazing images beamed back from the moon? ... . Share your memories on our message board."

kimmmichelmore : 17 Jul 2009 8:54:02am
I was in Grade 7 at Nuriootpa Primary School in the Barossa. The school gave us the day off - we sat at home glued to our PYE space ship style TV and watched in lovely black and white as the Eagle landed and Armstrong walked on the moon. It was sooo cold - later in the day it snowed in the Barossa Ranges and Mum took us for a drive in our trusty old Holden to see snow - two firsts on one day"

winzora : 21 Jul 2009 9:35:13am
Such a memorable day! I was only 5 and living in Peterborough (mid north of S.A.). We got sent home from school because there was no TV there. Luckily, we had a TV, so my brother and I spent the day running from the lounge room, then outside to play in the front yard..... in the snow! Reading the other comments, it appears that Australia was in the grip of a cold snap, as other people recollect experiencing snowy conditions that normally wouldn't expereince it. ... ."


The Burra History Group Inc. on July 13th 2016 posted onto their Facebook page the following text under an introduction which included "Here are a few snippets from the Burra Record about very cold weather from 1935 to 1972. ...". The thread in question is at this location. There are two good photos of snow cover on 21st July 1969 among the twelve photos posted in that thread, one in Burra and one at a farm near Hanson.

"22 July 1969, page 1
Weather. On 21 July an inch of rain with some hail and fairly heavy snow fell throughout the district. The rain began about 5 p.m. Sunday and continued to about 3 a.m. when heavy hail fell. Snow began to fall at about 7.10 a.m. becoming quite heavy by 7.30 a.m. and continuing until 8.15 a.m. Burra and the surrounding hills were covered in snow. At Hallett it lay two to three inches deep for miles and also at Mt Bryan, where it remained on the Mount till late afternoon. Snow was also reported at Clare, Mintaro, Whyte Yarcowie, Booborowie and Farrell Flat, where there was a further light fall at 2.30 p.m.
In the hills between Mt Bryan and Booborowie it lay six inches deep for some time. The main street of Burra was covered by three to four inches. Mr George Fairchild reported heavy snow on the Booborowie mail run via Leighton. Power failures were reported from Booborowie, Mt Bryan and Hallett. Between Waterloo and Burra power interruptions have occurred in the past few days, but magpies were to blame, having been building nests with short lengths of fencing wire. It was generally said to be the heaviest fall of snow for at least 40 years and possibly since 1901. It will easily be remembered as occurring on the same day man first set foot upon the moon. Burra’s 105 points of rain includes 21 points of snow."

This link may take you to a very impressive photo of snow cover in Burra posted into the above thread and captioned : "21 July 1969 Don Lloyd's house at Springbank" (can take a while to load).


My thanks to Weatherzone forums member Skysthelimit for sending me his recollection of the July 21st snowfall and first Moon-walk :-)
"I was in grade 1 and we used to catch the school bus from Belalie North to Jamestown. When we got to school it was snowing and it was declared a holiday and everyone was sent home. I remember there was about 6 inches of snow covering everything and it looked awesome. I'd never seen snow before. I made a snowman with my siblings and then decided it was too cold out and retreated inside to the fire.
...... when we did actually arrive at school that morning I distinctly remember one of the Nuns dancing around and singing "it's snowing, it's snowing" I attended St James Catholic School. Everyone it seemed was in a jovial mood. The other thing was that the moon landing, as big as it was, didn't generate the same level of excitement as the snowfall. Perhaps the unexpected holiday was partly the reason."


End of page "1969 July 21st big snowfall on first Moon-walk day".

Back to Top