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"SNOWFALLS In Our State": an article by Mr. H.A. Lindsay published August 1935.

A very interesting and useful article was published in August 1935 in The Advertiser, written by Mr. H.A. Lindsay and entitled "SNOWFALLS In Our State". The first half of the article is primarily an annotated list of some notable snowfalls from settlement up till 1935, starting with "The first heavy snowfall in South Australia of which we have any record took place on the afternoon of May 14, 1852." I'll leave the second half of the article for now as it's of less relevance to the history of snow in South Australia.

I gather from reading the item here that H. A. Lindsay was a well-known writer and a determined and controversial naturalist and conservationist.

In Lindsay's opinion "The heaviest fall recorded in the State was on August 29, 1905. It blanketed the country all through the Mount Lofty and Flinders ranges, the lower north, and fell at Broken Hill."

Snow folklore in South Australia generally regards the epic snowfall on 27th and 28th July 1901 as the biggest fall in recorded history, but only a detailed comparison of the 1901 and 1905 events would enable us to decide whether Lindsay or folklore was most likely correct, or maybe it would depend on the criteria we used to define biggest :-) Another event which might now be a contender for biggest or heaviest occurred on 19th - 20th July 1951. There was also a very big fall on 21st August 1917 which may also be considered a contender for the top five or even the top two.

Punctuation in the Trove image of the original article is sometimes too faint to read so I've changed some stops to commas in my version below, where it's quite clear this is what the writer intended.

The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931 - 1954) Saturday 10 August 1935 Page 9.

"SNOWFALLS In Our State Picturesque Sights In The Hills By H. A. LINDSAY

THE falls of snow in South Australia last week-end keep up our State's average of getting snow once every three years.

The first heavy snowfall in South Australia of which we have any record took place on the afternoon of May 14, 1852. The morning dawned cold and overcast, with a heavy westerly gale and driving showers of rain. Towards evening the wind veered to the south, and over the Mount Lofty Ranges the rain gave place to snow. A wild and terrible night followed in the hills. In a little while all traces of the roads were hidden by snow, which piled into deep drifts. The gale uprooted trees everywhere, and the coach from Adelaide was hours late in reaching Mount Barker—it arrived with the horses knocked up with the exertion of dragging the heavy vehicle through the drifts, and with the outside passengers and the driver half frozen.

Very few accounts of this storm have been handed down, as the newspapers of the time printed very little local news. But Alexander Tolmer, the Commissioner of Police, was a passenger on the coach, and has left a brief description of it in his reminiscences.

First Official Fall

THE first snowfall mentioned in official records took place in June, 1876, several inches falling around Mount Lofty, Burra, and Clare. Three years later, on the night on July 23, a heavier fall extended through the Mount Lofty Ranges, and was recorded as far north as Jamestown. On July 17, 1880, there was a fall at Wilmington, and seven years later there was another fall on the night of August 3 on the highlands of the lower north.

A year later these districts had another snowstorm, and on August 19, 1895, snow fell through the Mount Lofty Ranges, the lower north, and was recorded even at Farina, in the far north of the State. A year later there was a lighter fall over the Flinders Ranges, and on the night of July 27, 1901, snow fell over a wide area from Mount Gambier to Yardea, north of Port Augusta.

The heaviest fall recorded in the State was on August 29, 1905. It blanketed the country all through the Mount Lofty and Flinders ranges, the lower north, and fell at Broken Hill. Another heavy snowfall was recorded in the hills almost a year later to the very day, and on June 22, 1908, the Adelaide hills were whitened by a heavy snowstorm. Two months later there was a fall over the country between Melrose and Hallett, and a month later there was a third fall over the hilly country between Nairne and Melrose.

During the following year snow fell intermittently over the country between Macclesfield and Yongala on the last two days in July and the first day of August—the longest fall on record.

Snow fell over the Mount Lofty and Flinders Ranges on October 10, 1910, and again on September 15, 1911. On August 21, 1917, there were snowstorms in the South-East, Mount Lofty Ranges, and parts of the lower north. Of recent years there have been falls on September 6, 1919, May 10, 1926, August 31, 1929, August 21, 1931, and September 30 last year. Except on the highest hills in the Flinders Ranges, there have been no really heavy falls in South Australia for nearly 30 years.

Astounded Country Folk

THE record fall of August 29, 1905, was remarkable, not only for the depth which it attained in the colder districts, but also by reason of the fact that it took most people by surprise. The day before had been cold and windy, but not unusually so; next morning the people in the Adelaide hills and the lower north were astonished to find the ground blanketed deeply with snow. One farmer near Peterborough told me that it gave him the shock of his life. In talking of it he said, "I got up before daylight, lit the kitchen fire, and then went out to feed my horses. When I stepped out of the back door, I stopped and stood staring about me, unable to credit the evidence of my eyes. The countryside was one sheet of glistening white. For a moment my heart sank; I thought there had been a record frost and that all my crop would be ruined. Then I saw the drifts and realised that it was only snow, and my despair changed to satisfaction, for snow does no harm at all and an immense amount of good. About eight inches of snow are equal to an an inch of rain and not a drop of it is wasted, for it melts slowly and soaks into the ground. That snowfall was as good as a steady rain to farmers."

Fairy Tale Scene

IT was the most spectacular fall of snow in the hills on record. When the day broke, all the summits of the Mount Lofty Ranges were seen to be covered with snow, against which the trees stood out with startling distinctness. The previous day had been marked by a hazy sky. which shut off all warmth from the sun, and a piercingly cold wind from the north east made people remark, "It's cold enough for snow." Few, however, expected that their forecast would come true so quickly.

Before long, a procession of horsedrawn vehicles and bicycles, with here and there a pioneer car, was making for Mount Lofty. Upon arriving there the sightseers found that the country around Mount Lofty summit had taken on the appearance of an old-style Christmas card, all the ground being covered and the tree branches laden down with snow. Towards the middle of the afternoon a huge, slate-colored cloud swept up out of the south-west, and a second, and far heavier, snowfall occurred.

Some drifts lingered for days after this fall, and a snow-man which some children built under the shelter of a hedge lasted for nearly a week."

{end of first approx half of article}

Article identifier Page identifier APA citation

SNOWFALLS In Our State. (1935, August 10). The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931 - 1954), p. 9. Retrieved September 28, 2015, from


"SNOWFALLS In Our State": an article by Mr. H.A. Lindsay published August 1935: Second half of article.

The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931 - 1954) Saturday 10 August 1935 Page 9.

"Luminous Haze
A SNOWSTORM without wind is one of the most beautiful sights imaginable, especially in the daytime. There is none of the overcast gloom which we associate with heavy winter rain, and no clouds can be seen; the sky is covered with a bright, pearly, luminous haze, from out of which the snow comes fluttering slowly to earth, with a hardly audible rustle.
A strangely beautiful light hangs in the air, nothing casts the faintest suggestion of a shadow, the light seems to flow into the darkest corners, and the whole scene has something of the strange unreality of a dream.
I once saw a fall of this type take place over mountain country which had been swept by a bushfire a few months previously. The black tree trunks and charred logs made a startling contrast to the shimmering misty curtain of falling snow. Within an hour that hillside was a study in spots and streaks of jet black seen against a background of dead white.
On a moonless night a snowfall is equally strange. The sky above is a deep indigo black, like the lower part of a thunder-cloud, yet a weird light seems to hang close to the ground, through which a misty cloud of tumbling snowflakes makes its way to earth.
A snowfall with a high wind is a cruel thing. Properly speaking, it is not a blizzard —that term belongs to a wind of gale force with a zero temperature—but general usage has fastened the term blizeard on to snowfalls which occur during a high wind.
The bitter wind seems to go right through the thickest clothing, the air is filled with a mist of ice crystals, and it seems to sap all the strength out of your body. Fortunately, these storms have not yet been recorded over South Australia, and it is most unlikely that we shall ever see one.

What Brings The Snow
SNOWFALLS in this State are brought about by a set of circumstances in the weather systems which can occur only at long intervals, on the law of averages. There must be a small but energetic cyclonic storm, with its centre far to the south of the continent, squeezed in between two systems of high pressure whose centres lie also to the south of Australia. This brings about a circulation of wind from the cold regions lying between the continent and the Antarctic, and this cold wind, on meeting the highlands of the hills or lower north, rises and has its temperature lowered to freez-ing point. This causes the moisture in the clouds to freeze and the tiny crystals of ice collect in the form of snowflakes and flutter to earth.
The real beauty of a snowflake has to be seen to be believed. It is useless to attempt to catch one in the hand: you feel something which resembles a cold, wet bit of fluff for a second, then the heat of your skin makes it melt into a few tiny beads of water. But if caught on a piece of dark cloth a snowflake will last for some time. With the naked eye it appears to be something like a bit of glistening swansdown, but viewed through a high-power lens it becomes a thing of breath-taking beauty.
You gaze on a fairy thing of glistening crystals, no two of which are alike. Some branch like the limbs of a pine tree, others are like stars, and all are built up of tiny, pointed crystals which link in beautiful geometrical patterns. For a few moments you can gaze at the wonderful fragile thing, then the warmth of your breath or body strikes it and it vanishes like a flash

Snowballs Can Hurt
IN common with people the world over where snow is a rarity, the people who live in the townships of the hills and lower north do not welcome a snowstorm if their house or shop-front faces a main street. As soon as the snow is thick enough, everyone rushes to make and throw snowballs—and then the windows suffer.
Where snow is common, people know that a snowball should be given nothing more than the gentlest of squeezes to make it hold together, and then tossed lightly. But people to whom snow is a rarity always fall into the error of squeezing a snowball tight and throwing it hard, thus making it a solid lump of ice which cuts and bruises the person it hits, and smashes through windows like a stone.
I was once a passenger on a northern train which arrived at Hallett during a snowstorm. Within a few seconds everyone had rushed out of the train to throw throwballs, and within a few more seconds the crash and tinkle of breaking carriage windows was heard all along the train, while people who had been hit in the face with rough lumps of ice were wondering why snowballing was regarded as something amusing."

[Below are captions to three photos in the article]

"FUN with a snowman after a fall of snow at Mt. Lofty.

SNOW CRYSTALS, as seen through a high-power lens.

Snow in the hills.—A picture taken near Mt. Lofty Summit."

End of article ""SNOWFALLS In Our State": an article by Mr. H.A. Lindsay published August 1935".

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