We found snow in Australia in December!

Trip Start Dec 18, 2011
Trip End Sep 15, 2013

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Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Wednesday, January 2, 2013

We found snow! We had to hike up the highest mountain on the continent to find it, but we're not complaining. I think it's the easiest of the Seven Summits to conquer. Mount Kosciuszko sits in the Snowy Mountains of southern New South Wales and reaches 2,228 meters (7,310 feet). There are beautiful snow gum trees and evidence of enormous "bush fires" all over the mountains. White dead trunks stand above a regrowing forest. Eucalyptus trees burn quickly and hot; sometimes they explode in a fire. The dead trees don't turn black and topple but stay standing and white. It creates a stark environment.
The Snowy Mountain region feels the most like Colorado. The humidity is low, the temperatures drop at night, and though there are no jagged, rocky peaks, these are the highest mountains in Australia.
We camped at Corryong, just over the border in Victoria, another of Australia's six states. Memorizing states, territories and capitals is easy: Six states, two territories. Interestingly, the largest city in each area is the capital, rather than a more obscure town (think Pennsylvania--quick, what is the capital?).
Here is the list:
Australian Capital Territory--Canberra (not really the territory's capital, just pretending. But it is the national capital)
New South Wales--Sydney
Northern Territory--Darwin
South Australia--Adelaide
Western Australia--Perth
Because the summer school holidays are combined with the Christmas and New Year's holiday period, everybody in the country stops work for about three weeks. Chris didn't take that much time off as we want to explore more when it's cooler, but we did get out and about to experience new areas. First we went farther north along the South Pacific and stayed in a caravan park cabin at Port Macquarie for a long weekend. Then we returned home for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, hoping for the cliche "prawns on the beach" for Christmas lunch. No such luck--it was cool, wet, and gray. The menu had been set by the first of December--if you don't order your Christmas prawns early, you have no chance of getting any. Some people cook a traditional hot Christmas meal, but given that the temperature could have easily been 40C (104F), we opted for a cold meal. Don't think I ever want to gamble on cool weather and have the oven on all day in December here.
We left on Boxing Day (December 26) for the Snowy Mountains and camping at Corryong. It was delightful. The Nariel Creek runs along the campground boundary, and floating down the creek, jumping into the deep waterholes, and swinging out on a rope over the water kept everyone cool. We combined the mountains with a weekend in Canberra, culminating in the New Year's Eve fireworks display in the city center (visible from our hotel window).
We returned late on New Year's Day for Chris to work for two days before leaving again for a three-day weekend at a friend's beach house in Forster, two hours north of here. We'd camped near Forster at Booti Booti National Park in October, but Kim's house is much nicer--it sits about 150 meters from a quiet beach. The blue bottle (Portuguese man 'o war) cnidaria come to the beaches on a northeast wind in the summertime, so Kim taught us how to spot them along the waterline in the sand. They won't kill you, but the pain their sting causes is intense. We shifted beaches and avoided them this trip, though on Saturday they infested the beach where we'd spent Friday boogie boarding.
We're back at home, with Chris working. Bush fires and heat waves are the primary topics of conversation this week. The ABC warned yesterday morning that "NSW faces 'worst ever' fire danger day" and last  evening noted that "Australia swelters through hottest day ever." Just our luck--our first summer here breaks all heat records and me hating the heat! However, I have acclimated, and while the heat is terrible, it doesn't feel as horrid as I feared. Jo from Australia might remember the previous hottest day--the ABC notes it was in 1972. Today broke the record, and this weekend is supposed to break it again. We spent the worst of the day in the cool waters of the Maitland public pool with friends and a picnic under a shade tree, and emerged with only minor sunburns. The power didn't fail, so I guess people didn't crank their air-conditioners down to the lowest possible temperature.
The boys have nearly all of January off, but it's not in addition to a summer vacation--this is their summer vacation. They'll begin school January 30 and go until December 20 or so with a two-week break every ten weeks. We'll go inland for the fall (around Easter) break, go to both the cold and the normally hot during the winter break (early July), and somewhere new for the spring holidays next year.

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Lan on

Snowy Mountains look much like the prairie around our Snowies. See you have been having some record hot weather the past few days; was wondering how you would be handling it being you prefer cooler (or even colder) weather. Enjoy reading and seeing the pictures. Say hi to Chris and the boys from us.

Cami Bair on

I don't know HOW you find the time to maintain this charming blog! My favorite photo was of the waves at Forster Beach. That's very beautiful. Interesting that you mentioned cnidarians. We're gonna get to those in 2 more weeks, in "lower el.".... the lesson is gonna require the kids to match the ech phylum's name w/ a picture, & then match those to some "fun facts".... for the cnidaria, I'm not sure how "fun" the fact is... "One of us is the the most poisonous animal to humans" (box jellyfish - which, by the way, are in the waters off .... yup, you guessed it: Australia!). I've been hearning some horrendous stuff about the heat & the wildfires. I sure hope you're all okay. The cats look none the worse for their adventures. - Cami

ReneeS on

Kind of like Colorado, huh? When it's hot out, just move to higher elevation. Love the pics. Looks like you are having fun!

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