A thousand snowseekers descend on the New England

BLANKET OF SNOW: Snow fell around the region on Sunday night. Picture: Ken Fuller
BLANKET OF SNOW: Snow fell around the region on Sunday night. Picture: Ken Fuller
FUN IN THE SNOW: Nikita Russell, from Dalby, and friend. Photo: Nicholas Fuller

FUN IN THE SNOW: Nikita Russell, from Dalby, and friend. Photo: Nicholas Fuller

"There's no business like snow business," Glen Innes hospitality industry might have felt this weekend as an estimated thousand people came south for the winter.

Higgins snowchaser Thomas Hinterdorfer helped spark an invasion of the New England, with hotels from Tenterfield to Walcha packed in after he made a prediction that we would see "one of the biggest snow events for the Northern Tablelands in the last five years."

The Higgins extreme weather chaser spent the weekend in Glen Innes, aiming to catch the white stuff.

"(People are) constantly coming up to us and saying thankyou we're seeing snow for the first time and that's what drives as well," he said.

"It's become perfect storm in a way, because it's happening on a weekend - parents don't need to give up work time.

"You could have left (Saturday morning) and be home Sunday night if you really want to be."

He said it was a struggle to find accommodation in Guyra, Glen Innes or most other parts of the New England.

"We've probably done 500 meals in two days in our dining-room," David Wilcox, vice-president of the Guyra Bowling & Recreation Club, said. "It was just crazy, but really good for the economy. Everywhere was just busy as!"

Cherie Carter, from JoJo's on Bradley, agreed. "It's better than the Lamb and Potato Festival and the TroutFest put together - 100 per cent!"

Snow fell to depths of four cms on Saturday night, and six cms on Sunday night in Guyra, the highest town on the Northern Tablelands. Temperatures plummeted to minus 11.6 degrees on Sunday morning, according to the Guyra Hospital weather station.

Unlike other towns in the region Glen Innes received little more than a light sprinkling of snow, mostly evaporated by 8.00.

It may have been cold - but that was the attraction for snowseekers from Queensland and northern NSW.

At 11pm on Sunday night, Mr Wilcox said, 200 cars were parked on the golf course. The visitors - many from the Higgins Storm Chasing Facebook group - were fantastic, he thought.

"At the moment, it's tough times for farmers," Mr Wilcox said. They're not employing people because they've got to save money for their food, water, and stock, so everything's slowed down. This certainly has brought a little bit back in!"

Cherie Carter said JoJo's has done a roaring trade - despite phone lines and EFTPOS being down across the town, "very inconvenient on one of the biggest trading days".

People come from everywhere to Guyra, because of the snow, Cherie said. "They don't do that for the Lamb and Potato Festival; normally they're on their way through to Tamworth Music Festival."

Guyra needs more snow days, she believes. "We definitely as a community should advertise and do more when we know there's going to be snow!"

Snow was still thick along parts of the New England Highway on Monday morning, particularly north of the Black Mountain Roadhouse, and south of the town entrance. Visitors braved the cold to build snowmen and have snowfights.

Katie Maher and her son Harper Szmeja came from Redland Bay, Queensland. This is the second time Harper saw snow; they made the trip south when it snowed in June.

"When we saw on Higgins Storm Chasing that it was going to snow again," Ms Maher said, "we thought we would come down again, because it could be the last time we see snow for quite a while."

Codie Stokes and her family left Gravesend, NSW, at 4am this morning.

"It's good to get the kids out and see something different," Mrs Stokes said. Her children had never seen snow before; "I think they're having a blast!"

Twelve-year-old Nikita Russell and her mother were also Queenslanders, from Dalby. They visited Guyra last night,

Closer to home, Kiarra Cohen, Cass Piccoli, Marine Girle, and Courtney Guy, UNE students in Armidale, enjoyed a day off building snowmen and hurling snow balls.