Often called the “culture capital” of Australia, Victoria offers a variety of climate zones for locals and tourists to explore. As the home of Australia’s northern Alps, snow activities are essential to local commerce and recreation. Despite being the smallest state in Australia, it has the second-highest population, with 6.7 million people.
With an average of 5 feet of snow every winter, Victoria’s resorts offer a way to ski in the Victorian Alpine Region. The Central Victorian Highlands also offer recreational winter sports, but the state has endured its fair share of storms to bring this blanket of snow through the years. Let’s look at the biggest snowstorm in Victoria (and other seasons that came close).
The Blizzard of Oz Trilogy: Victoria’s Record-Breaking 105 Inches of Snowfall
As recently as 2017, the Victorian Alps became part of the widespread Blizzard of Oz trilogy of snowstorms. During the first Blizzard of Oz, local resorts recorded 1 meter (39 inches) of snow from August 3rd to August 8th. While the blizzards calmed briefly, another 25-50 centimeters (9-19 inches) fell from August 18th to August 19th. Finally, the trilogy of storms ended after three days on September 30th with a final flurry of 1.2 meters (47 inches) in a single day.
This three-part blizzard resulted in 95-105 inches of snow across the mountain range, including substantial snowstorms in Victoria. The Victorian Alps are the northernmost section of the Australian Alps, connected to the southern Snowy Mountains.
How Much Snow Does Victoria Normally Get?
Since the northern region of the Australian Alps – the Victorian Alps – is in this state, it is safe to say that Victoria gets a substantial amount of snow in colder months. It has a semi-arid heat towards the west during the summer, though the coast stays slightly cooler. However, the Great Dividing Range brings the coldest temperatures, spanning Victoria’s center.
The coastline below the mountain range has the mildest versions of the heat and cold if you prefer a little less intensity. However, anyone who wants to see a little snow has the best chances in the low temperatures of the Great Dividing Range, especially in the Victorian Alps. In the winter, temperatures dip below 9°C.
On average, Victoria gets about 60 inches of snow a year. The deepest snow is in areas with lower populations, leaving the snow undisturbed. The snow usually stays throughout the winter until spring comes later in the year.
Victoria’s Snowy History
Seeing a massive snowstorm in Victoria like this set of blizzards is hardly a rare occurrence. Back in 1964, one July came with some of Australia’s heaviest snowfalls in history. Data from Spencer’s Creek indicates a total of 3 meters (118 inches) fell over two weeks. With an average fall of 8 inches of snow a day, it is twice the amount of snow that Victoria usually gets annually—in 1981, the winter season brought an overall snowfall of 361 centimeters (142 inches), which is 2.5 times the typical snowfall of Victoria. Then, three years later, the Alps saw a total snowfall of 234 centimeters (92 inches) in just four days.
On May 28th, 2000, Victoria’s local records show that up to 100 centimeters (39 inches) fell during two days. While this snowfall isn’t necessarily impressive for the season, it is unusual for being earlier than the average snow season. In 2022, The Age reported that the early snow in Falls Creek (88 centimeters) and Mount Buller (72 centimeters) were the highest depths since 2000. At the time, the snow again came a week earlier than it usually did, reaching almost half of the average snowfall for Victoria annually.
What is the Typical Climate of Victoria, Australia?
Due to the changes in landscape, the climate in Victoria varies. If you journey to the northwest portion of Victoria, much of the Mallee consists of warm and dry grassland. Areas of the northeast region with less elevation tend to have no dry season, offering a temperate climate and a sweltering summer.
South Gippsland and other mountainous areas tend to have a milder summer, but no dry season exists. This area also includes the Otways and the far southwest coast. The rest of the Australian state tends to have similar weather with warm summers. The only exception is the southwest region, which has a dry and warm summer.
The hottest time of year in Victoria is February, though the weather starts to cool slightly during the next month. The highest elevations in the Northeast Highlands and Central Divide usually have cooler temperatures by several degrees. The hottest area of Victoria is in the north and along the coastline, though all of these areas see a drastic drop during the colder months. Still, the transition is a little slower in winter.
The cold July weather drops below 0°C in the higher peaks of the Victorian Alps, which is the area that also gets the most snow. The entire region gets frost during the winter, posing a significant risk to local agriculture. In 1931 and 1947, Hotham Heights in Victoria had a record low of -12.8°C.
Is Snow Common in Australia?
Australia is known for many things, but snow is hardly the first thing that comes to mind. Most people picture Australia’s classic landscape of rich green plants and unique wildlife, but there’s one place in Australia where the cold weather perfectly balances snow – Victoria. With the high peaks of the Alps, this mountainous state experiences frequent snowfall.
In northeastern Victoria, the most common area to find snow is Falls Creek, which endures a lot of snow during cold weather. The substantial snowfall is perfect for the resort town, which offers some of the best skiing in Australia. It provides an ideal segue to the Alpine region for anyone who wants a more significant challenge. Tasmania and New South Wales also receive impressive snow in the winter. Apart from a few unique weather events, the rest of Australia remains warm with a chance of frost.
The Australian Alps get an average of 70-150 inches of snow annually, spread between the Snowy Mountains in the south and the Victorian Alps in the north. Any mountainous area above 6,000 feet elevation also sees snowstorms in Victoria.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © FiledIMAGE/iStock via Getty Images
Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.