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Quokkas frolic in snow on Bluff Knoll as cold front blasts southern WA

Andrew Collins, Thursday August 10, 2017 - 18:01 EST
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Quokkas frolic in snow on Bluff Knoll - ABC

A series of severe cold fronts that have swept across the southern half of Western Australia this week have brought snowfall to Bluff Knoll — and the even more unusual sight of quokkas frolicking in the icy whiteness.

Strong winds caused by the cold fronts crossing the coast have uprooted trees and caused flooding, and following falls in July.

The rain has been welcomed by farmers and the snowfall has been enjoyed by a handful of people who embarked on the 1,099-metre climb to the top of Bluff Knoll under the cover of darkness early this morning.

Bureau of Meteorology duty forecaster Austin Watkins said a cold front over the southern half of the state on Wednesday produced the freezing conditions for the snowfall — something which only happened "once or twice a year".

He said the cold air had moved east by early this morning and the snow would have begun melting just before sunrise.

Quokkas shyer than Rottnest counterparts

Deon Utber from the Department of Biodiversity and Conservation in Albany said quokkas could be found in many parts of Western Australia.

"A lot of people are aware that they're there [Rottnest Island] but they are not so aware that they're in other areas in South-West Western Australia," Mr Utber said.

"Some people might not realise that we do have quokkas down on the south coast. Certainly there is a healthy population in the Stirlings."

He said the animals in the Stirling Ranges were more shy than their Rottnest counterparts.

"The ones on Rottnest are obviously habitualised to people, had that strong interaction with people, but up in the Stirlings the people were quite fortunate to get so close to a quokka," he said.

Mount Barker resident Michael Dolphin said it was the second time he and his family had climbed Bluff Knoll in the past month but the snowfall was the heaviest he had seen.

"This is unbelievable compared to what we saw three weeks ago," he said.

"We were sort of dreading coming up today, about halfway up we said 'oh is this even worth it?'

"The second we saw the snow just made everything worth it. It's a winter wonderland, there's no other way to describe it. White everywhere, it's unbelievable."

Mr Dolphin and his father then enjoyed a snowball fight.

Bluff Knoll 'skiers break record'

Felix Byrne was holidaying in the region from London when he and some family members decided to climb the peak.

"We've been trying to do some skiing to see how far we can get," he said.

"The [distance] record is 1.8 metres, which is held by my Dad's brother, my uncle.

"It will be easily shattered I think."

Mr Byrne said the snow was a lot thinner than back home, but the view from the peak made the climb worthwhile.

"It's pretty beautiful," he said.

"You can see a lot from up here. It's pretty clear, the moon's still out and still full, a great sunrise, beautiful and yellow."

One of the heaviest snowfalls on the peak was recorded in October 1992 when an estimated 20 centimetres of snow fell.


© ABC 2017

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