View of snow-covered mountain range towards Mount Kosciuszko in winter

Newscaf: freak snow

Newscaf: freak snow

Snow on Uluru, in November and during rugby league
 Adam Blackshaw

WARNING: This article may contain names, images or voices of deceased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

With winter underway, we look at freak snow – snowfalls at unexpected times and places. These stories are from our Television News and Current Affairs Program (Newscaf), which is 30 years old this year.

Snow on Uluru

No, it's not a hoax – snow did fall on Uluru, on 11 July 1997. So rare is this weather phenomena that no record of such an event appears in any stories of the local Pitjantjatjara Anangu people.

Located in central Australia, temperatures around Uluru have been known to fall below zero but usually there is no precipitation in winter to create snow. The snow certainly came as a surprise to those visiting 'the Rock' that day.

Snow on Uluru, Imparja News, 11 July 1997. NFSA title: 325505. Courtesy: Imparja Television.

November snow

This news clip shows some heavy falls in mid-November, only two weeks before the official start of summer. But it's not such a freak event as you might imagine; during the warmer months, a light dusting of snow often appears on the higher summits of the Australian Alps.

Summer snow, Eyewitness News, 17 November 1983. NFSA title: 525361. Courtesy: Network Ten.

Snow Raiders

The snow storm that hit Canberra on 28 May 2000 will live on forever in the minds of Canberra Raiders and West Tigers rugby league supporters. No NRL (National Rugby League) game had ever been played in the snow before! While no one wanted to be out there in the freezing conditions, players still took to the field in their shorts and short-sleeved jerseys and just over 7,000 dedicated fans watched as the Raiders narrowly defeated the Tigers 24-22. Not surprisingly this made for a curious segment on the news that evening.

Rugby League: Canberra defeats the Tigers, ABC News, 28 May 2000. NFSA title: 457620

Sports news reporter John Bell provides the voice-over in this footage. The clip opens with an amusing shot of the West Tigers mascot striding out of the tunnel, a comical piece of editing that effectively highlights the unusual sight of this game being played in driving snow. A quick cutaway to the crowd enduring the adverse conditions is a good choice as it shows how everyone, players and fans alike, were toughing this out together.

We then get to see play-action. It is ultimately a fairly normal summary of a rugby game despite the weather; if you removed the snow references in this footage, this segment would be a typically concise and informative piece of sports reporting.


Newscaf highlights some of the significant and intriguing stories in the NFSA's television news collection that have been digitally preserved for future generations to enjoy and explore.

Photo credit (main image): 'Towards Kosciuszko from Kangaroo Ridge in winter’. Published under Creative Commons 3.0. Photographer: Pee Tern.