Stanthorpe GP has grand plans to bring snow to Queensland
STANDING around at a barbecue with a mate, local GP Trent Rowe had an epiphany.
"We thought, 'Why hasn't anyone done this before?'" he said.
Dr Rowe and his friends were throwing around the idea of building a snow machine.
"This is one of those crazy ideas where you're assumed to be an idiot until it actually works," he said.
That was a few years back, and since then, he and his mates have conducted a few trials with "mixed success".
"At the time we had it pretty much figured out how to make it work, and located the parts we needed in the US," he said.
Mr Rowe, who has lived at Glen Aplin for 12 years with his wife, two kids and father, said it was common in the winter months in the US for snowboarders to set up rails in their backyards.
"Then summer came along and the idea was shelved until the recent snow," he said.
Watching his kids play in the recent snowfall last month, Mr Rowe said, reignited the drive to finish his project.
"I've really got to give this a go," he said.
So the local GP constructed the US-built system consisting of two sets of nozzles.
The first shoots water droplets of a specific size, and a second set uses compressed air to super-cool and freeze water, which provides the nuclei for snow crystals to form.
"It's essentially a mini version of the snow guns they use at ski resorts," Mr Rowe said.
Initially the plan was to get the machine up and running for next winter, but as parts showed up sooner than expected and three suitable nights in a row descended on the Granite Belt last week, the launch was brought forward.
Mr Rowe said the conditions were "excellent" when the temperature dropped to below minus-five degrees last week.
"An icy snow can be obtained around minus one degree, but minus four or less is when the real magic happens," he said.
"The lower the humidity the better."
As for the water quality, Mr Rowe said town, dam or creek water was better than tank water, which was often cleaner and didn't have as many impurities that act as nuclei for the snow crystals to form.
"The temperature is lowest as the sun comes up, so it's a sleepless night waiting for the right conditions," he said.
Mr Rowe said the concept provided great potential.
"I'm more than happy to pass on the information and specifics to any of those in the tourist trade," he said.
"One of the most important things I've learnt is that the conditions to make good snow are really specific."
According to Mr Rowe, it related to what they call the wet bulb temperature, which is a measure of temperature and humidity.
"This means that for any particular day of the week, there is no guarantee that it can be done," he said.
"It did cross my mind, though, that if someone really wanted to guarantee snow for a particular day, it would actually be pretty easy to make it work in a cold room and transport it."
Trent had success on Friday and Saturday last week.