Starting early last week were a series of forecasts of an impending significant weather system heading up from the Antarctic with the possibility of snow in North East New South Wales. As the week progressed I was regularly checking on the Bureau of Meteorology and especially on the Higgins Storm Chasing facebook page. Eventually it looked almost certain that we were in for one of the more significant snow falls in recent history.
I had to quickly organise someone to cover a shift for me on the Monday – the plan was to head off after work on Sunday and then get back for a night shift on Tuesday. A good friend kindly offered to do the shift and I was set to go! From what I heard there was little accommodation left in the area so I decided to just camp in the car which later proved to be a good decision when roads got closed down.
I left work at 7pm and arrived in Glen Innes around 11pm and started to look for somewhere to park for the night – just South of Glen Innes I experienced the first fall of snow. I was close to the Stonehenge Recreation Reserve so I decided to stay in a nearby rest area for some early morning photos.
With mixed snow and sleet/rain falling through the night I wasn’t sure what the day would bring but I woke to a nice covering of snow and headed to Stonehenge for some photos. Afterwards I headed off up the range towards Ben Lomond based on the reports on the Higgins page and found the roads very quiet, there was snow over the highway and reasonably thick on the Ben Lomond road.
I found out later that the highway had been closed at Glen Innes and at Guyra with no vehicles getting through. If I had stayed in either place I wouldn’t have had nearly the adventure I ended up having. Fortunately the Subaru Forrester handled the conditions with ease and I didn’t have any issues at all driving (but I was taking it very easy)
I spent some time exploring the roads around Ben Lomond and got a few nice photos, the weather in the morning was reasonably pleasant with some light winds and snowfall. I was fortunate to meet a local farmer who graciously offered me the opportunity to explore and photograph on his farm – getting off the roads and into the paddocks on his property gave me some great opportunities that I wouldn’t have otherwise had. He had some lovely high country with steep slopes and would have had great view apart from the thick cloud we were in, I also found an old farmhouse and shearing shed on the property to photograph – quite a serendipitous experience overall 🙂
As the afternoon progressed the weather got less and less pleasant with rain and wind. I would have loved to spend more time out of the vehicle and tracking some animals but it just wasn’t practical. So I found a place to park the car overnight and hoped for better light and conditions in the morning – unfortunately Tuesday was much like Monday afternoon with a light sleet/rain and wind. I did manage to find a few sheltered valleys and got a few nice shots but it was soon time to start the trip home so I could get some sleep before working night shift.
Overall it was definitely worth the effort – really appreciated the forecast and frequent updates from the Higgins Storm Chasers (if you don’t already follow them on FB you should check them out). For us Queenslanders who don’t often get to see snow it is an exciting experience, it was great to see a people out building snowmen, having snowball fights and experiencing the wonder of it all. Hopefully next time I’ll get to take the family with me.