Snow in Australia (vs. Canada)

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This photo of Snow in Australia was taken yesterday from our backyard…literally.

Although I’m a Canadian on a permanent mission to avoid winter, I’ve done a pretty crappy job of it.

This post was originally published in 2009. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content. 

After summer in western Canada, I spent my first traveling winter in Hawaii. Now that was hardly a tough winter to endure – the only drawback to winter life in Hawaii was the lack of daylight hours that we all suffer from in the dead of winter. (And as somebody who has flirted with SAD syndrome for many years, daylight is actually quite important to me).

After a not-so-bad winter in the northern hemisphere under our belts, we traveled into the southern hemisphere, only to find ourselves charging headlong into winter again. We weren’t sure what that meant in terms of climate, as our research revealed that Australia is a country of extremes and we had trouble deciphering where the extreme spots were and when they were actually extreme.

So as Canadians, we figured that nowhere in Oz is as cold or extreme as Canada is, and planned our itinerary anyway. It was much (much, much)  colder than Hawaii, but still not as brutal as Canadian winters can be. (Then again, I never spent a Canadian winter in a camper van as we did in Oz – and nearly froze to death in so doing; all things are relative).

snow in Australia, gracing the mountains behind a rainbow

After enduring a year of solid winter (if not for climate, then for crappy daylight hours), we finally embarked on summer in Australia. Problem is, as soon as summer started, so too did the bushfires, and we spent the remainder of our glorious summer shrouded in smoke, STILL unable to enjoy the sun’s healing rays!

And here we are, in the dead of winter again. What happened?!?! I feel like I’ve missed summer three times in a row. Poor travel planning? Possibly.

But here is the good news: Snow in Australia is not as psychologically disturbing as it is in Canada.

In Canada, snow is a pain. It stops traffic, causes accidents, makes walking almost impossible for the snowdrifts in the way and cars racing along the road covering you from head to toe with dirty cold slush. It is not romantic, cozy, fluffy, or any of those things that people who don’t live in snow think it is. Unless you are far away from civilization, snow is pretty in Canada for about the first few minutes or hours, before it becomes a brown icy mess. And if you want to head out of the city to enjoy the snow, you still have to contend with adverse weather conditions, slippery roads, and poor light to get there.

Can you tell that I’m not a huge fan of Canadian winters?

So when I encounter all these Aussies who think the snow is really cool and get excited at the prospect of it falling, I consistently roll my eyes and explain how snow is far, far from a novelty for me.

But snow in Australia is actually a pleasant, pretty thing. It rarely if ever falls on the ground and stays, so it never gets dirty, icy, and ugly, nor does it pose additional hazards for motorists. In higher altitudes it covers the tops of mountains and plains, leaving the roads clear but cameras full of pretty pictures. .

So rarely in Australia do you have to contend with the snow in the course of a daily routine. Instead – it remains on the tree-tops and high-altitude ground, white and pristine. People will happily drive for hours to a place where there is snow so they can enjoy skiing, tobogganing, and snow play. Snow in Australia remains magical and beautiful.

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In fact, winter in Australia is teaching me – slowly and reluctantly – to enjoy winter again. Aussie winters in Victoria are when the grass is at its greenest, and the morning fog dances with the trees, slowly dissipating to reveal beautiful landscapes over the course of the day. In fact, aside from the chilly temperatures (which rarely dip below 0 degrees but often feel like they do), winter is an enviable time of year around here. As long as I dress in multiple layers and brace for the cold, even I don’t hate winter here.

As much.

See Also: Winter Fog in Australia

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10 thoughts on “Snow in Australia (vs. Canada)”

  1. The other thing about snow in Canada is that the neighbors never shovel their damn walk, which pisses off your elderly grandmother, eh? Because she’ll be damned if she is going to push her walker over packed ice.

    Maybe that’s just my grandmother. But seriously, she’ll go out for a walk in minus 30C weather, and the thing that tweaks her nose is the unshoveled sidewalks.

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    • @Frank – Downhill Skiing is one thing that I just can’t embrace here…the Rocky Mountains speak for themselves!

      @Andrea – you know my grandmother too! Maybe they can commiserate.

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  2. My eldest daughter is working at Falls babysitting. Can’t ski or board YET but she will be into it! 50cm PLUS already, yippee.
    Can’t wait to visit her!

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  3. I don’t see what all the fuss and muss is about. There is absolutely nothing wrong with winter in Canada, or with winter in general. I guess it is because of my uncanny abilities to get a sunburn a couple of minutes after stepping out into the sun, even after 20 minutes of applying sunscreen.
    The winter months are quieter and the nights are excitingly eerie. I find the walks during winter to be like unplanned adventures, you never know what you’re going to come face to face with, which fascinates and calms my spirit/soul. To me, there is nothing that can compare to the feeling I get when I go for a long winter walk, with a pair of high top sneakers instead of boots, my jacket opened all the way to let the cool breeze in and a nice joint to make things a little more interesting. hahaha.
    If for whatever reason it gets to be “too cold” (which I think does not exist) just talk a swig or two of rye, that’s the reason we make the stuff here.

    Sorry for the rambling, but I love winter (Canadian winter especially) too damn much. Call me a hoser if you must, for I will just reply with “Take Off eh”!

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    • @Zakk – I agree: in principle, winter is wonderful. However on a hot and balmy day, I’m still cowering in the corner with blue hands and a numb face. So I’ll chuck my dislike of winter down to simply not being built for it!
      And thank you for making my day: Aussies just don’t get the hoser reference; it’s been too long.
      Take off, eh! 🙂

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  4. Nora, I’ve been grumbling away about winter this week (here in Perth it’s been “cold” – 18 degrees C in the day and maybe 5 C at night – that’s “freezing” here) and wet and basically miserable. I know, in theory and from experience, that it’s much, much colder in other places … but those places, and I’m guessing Canada’s one of them, are prepared for it! Here in Perth especially, builders, heating installers, etc are all part of a conspiracy that says it never gets cold here, so they don’t build any buildings that stay warm. Which is great in summer but … to sum up, I still hate Aussie winters. When I retire in a million years I will be one of those summer-chasers. OK, rant over.

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    • @Amanda – True enough. In places like Canada, you rush from one well-insulated well-heated place to the next, and layer up in between. In Australia, you rush from one poorly-insulated poorly-heated place to the next, and wonder why you’re never truly warm!

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  5. Some doctors are now recognizing that vitamin D levels should be much higher than previously thought. Seasonal Affective Disorder can disappear when a person takes enough vitamin D.

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  6. What a lovely description of winter in Australia. Thank you. I love the last image you have there. I have very similar shots myself having taken them here in the Dandenong Ranges. I love winter here, it is cold and wet but it is beautiful and there’s nothing like knowing you have a lovely warm home to come to and snuggling up in front of a fire or under a doona. But I guess you can’t have the fire part in camper van, can you? 🙂

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  7. @Kathie – Aha! The trick is having a lovely warm home to return to! When I was living in Rubicon (2 hours NE of Melbourne), the house I was in was far from warm and the fire wasn’t sufficient to keep the cold out of the many cracks. This was part of what made the temperatures feel even colder than they were – there was no chance to get warm, ever! Ack.
    It was the beautiful fog and green landscapes that kept me sane during that chilly Aussie winter. And it was the only winter I’ve spent since 2007 that wasn’t either right near the equator or in the other hemisphere (where it’s summer)!
    Even my current chilly summer in Switzerland is more than my poor tropical self can handle. Ha ha!

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