I read with interest your story dated 3 July, 2014 “The year it snowed (dangerously)”. Although I have been away from Guyra for 17 years I still keep up with the news from the Argus online.
On 3 July, 1984 I was crutching sheep at our property at Tenterden, it was cold, I finished the mob about 5.00pm. Went out to the ute and snow was up to the bottom of the hub on the wheel. I couldn’t believe it.
I travelled slowly on the Briarbrook road, staying in second gear. Arrived at the Inverell turn-off and headed to Guyra. I couldn’t make out why there were no tracks on the road, only to find out next day the road had been closed since noon.
Guyra streets were deserted and I made my way south, very carefully to home. The New England Highway didn’t have any tracks so I guessed it had been closed earlier. I arrived home to find no family. My wife had driven the children down the Tom’s Gully Road in the morning to school as one of the kids had an important exam. Of course, by the time school in Armidale was over all roads were closed so the family stayed in Armidale for a couple of nights.
I recall August 1949 as a bigger snowfall than 1984. I am not sure about exact dates, somewhere around the 22, 23, 24 August. It snowed continuously for three days and two nights. We had many large pinus radiate trees near the house and sheds and the noise of the substantially sized limbs cracking and falling to the ground was frightening, especially for an eight year old boy. Dad had let the sheep dogs off their chains luckily before the main snow because a big limb fell across the kennels, prevent a loss.
The snow was so deep that Dad stood on the snowdrift and shovelled snow off the roof to prevent the roof from caving in (our house had nine and half foot ceilings so the house was reasonably high). I remember the drift was half way up my bedroom window.
The New England Highway was closed for ten days. Our neighbours had just purchased a Ferguson tractor and it was in great demand when the thaw began. There were quite a number of vehicles which had slewed off the road plus a few trucks. The neighbours were pulling the vehicles back onto the road at a pound a pull. The story goes that one person objected to the price so he was left in the snow until the others were pulled to safety. The fellow left to lick his wounds finally succumbed and pleaded to have his vehicle pulled. However, the price went up to two pounds due to his non approval; and he paid.
There were huge losses of livestock in the area. Trees showed the damage for years after. My Dad trudged through the snow with hay and corn to small mobs of sheep isolated under canopies of wattle trees bent over. These saved a great number of stock. I remember that we lost 140 out of 700 sheep, mainly from being trapped under the four foot of snow.
With frosts following the fall of snow, there were still traces of snow four weeks after the fall. The Malpas River was rushing so strongly due to the melting snow it sounded to be roaring for at least six weeks after the fall.
A few days after the snowfall I walked around the paddocks with Dad helping to carry feed for the stock and it was noticeable that the rabbits were running into objects (rocks and trees). They were suffering from snow blindness.
Sadly I cannot find any photographs for this period. I’m sure some other people around Guyra/ Black Mountain or Ben Lomond will have memories of this fall and may have some pictures of the event.