1836: Snow in Sydney

The burgeoning colony of Sydney was blanketed with up to an inch of snow on a bitterly cold morning in June 1836. This historic event was recently uncovered in a newspaper archive by a volunteer from the citizen science project, OzDocs.

‘About seven o’clock in the morning a drifting fall covered the streets, nearly an inch in depth… a razor-keen wind from the west blew pretty strongly at the time and altogether, it was the most English like winter morning … ever experienced,’ reported The Sydney Herald.

The meteorological table in The Sydney Herald recorded that on the morning of the snow (June 28, 1836) the temperature had dropped to a frosty 3 degrees Celsius (38°F). According to The Monitor newspaper the snow disrupted trading in the colony with vendors unable to transport their goods to the markets.

The surprised colony members were reported to have made light of the unusual occurrence. ‘Some of the “Old hands” express a hope that their old acquaintances, Messrs. Frost and Snow do not intend emigrating to New South Wales,’ reported The Sydney Herald.

Sydney Cove from the North Shore in 1836. Credit State Library of NSW.
Sydney Cove from the North Shore in 1836. Credit State Library of NSW.

Gary Cook, an OzDocs volunteer, discovered the first of the newspaper articles describing the historic weather event in the National Library of Australia’s TROVE database. OzDocs is currently looking for more volunteers to help search historical records and uncover further information about Australia’s climate history.

The Colonist, Sydney, NSW, page 4 noted a 'Snowy Sydney' in 1836. Credit National Library of Australia.
Page 4 of The Colonist newspaper in 1836 noted a ‘Snowy Sydney’. Credit National Library of Australia.