Cold competition: Is the NSW town of Blayney or Oberon the chilliest?
Melanie Pearce, Wed 13 Sep 2017
Towns often have rivalries, but of the NSW central west towns of Blayney and Oberon â both renowned for being a tad chilly â which one has the dubious honour of being colder?
The Bureau of Meteorology said it was not an easy question to answer because of the disparity in weather records for the two towns.
But based on the records to hand, the answer is both towns can to some degree lay claim to being the coldest.
Oberon vs Blayney: by the numbers
The cold hard facts about the weather in Blayney compared to Oberon are a little hard to ascertain because there are multiple sites where the weather has been officially recorded in Oberon as well as gaps in the observations.
And at Blayney the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) only officially collected data between 1965 and 1975 when they were recorded at the town post office.
BOM Climatologist, Gary Allan, said a more accurate assessment would be to compare at least 30 years of observations, but based on a decadal comparison the following can be ascertained:
The coldest ever temperature recorded at either of the two centres was -10.5 degrees Celsius recorded at Blayney compared to Oberon's coldest of -8.7C
Oberon's mean maximum temperatures are generally cooler (by about 1.2C to 1.5C) for most months (and in all seasons)
Blayney's minimum temperatures are generally cooler (by about 0.25C to 0.5C), again for most months (and in all seasons)
"They're hard to distinguish other than by the fact that one has slightly cooler days [Oberon] and one has slightly cooler nights [Blayney]", Mr Allan said.
Blayney is colder says Oberon's weather woman
Oberon's official weather observer for the BOM, Marjory Armstrong, who has been taking readings at her home for nine years said she thought differently to the official conclusion and instead believed Blayney was colder because it was cooler in the daytime when people were out and about.
"I've gone from Oberon to Blayney when we used to play squash and we'd leave Oberon and the sun was shining and we'd get to Blayney and it would be miserable and cold," she said.
"Oberon's cold. I'm not trying to say we live in the tropics here. It is a cold climate, but Blayney when they have a frost it is freezing over there," Ms Armstrong said.
Ms Armstrong said her weather station was situated to match as closely as possible Oberon's actual elevation (1,113 metres above sea level) but she pointed out that other people in lower parts of the town and district had recorded minimums below official readings.
Mr Allan said he would be "quite happy to accept" much lower temperatures this past winter for both towns but officially recording them was the problem.
"We've seen record low temperatures right across eastern Australia in June, July and August but we don't have a weather station in Blayney to confirm that," Mr Allan said.
Why: topography and geography
Mr Allan said apart from the alpine regions, the tablelands â which extend from the far south of NSW into Queensland along the western side of the Great Dividing Range â is home to the coldest places in eastern Australia, if not the whole country.
He said the NSW central tablelands, including Oberon and Blayney, was a good case in point and the topography explained the differences in the two town's climate recordings.
"The fact that Oberon has a higher elevation â more than 200 metres higher than Blayney â and it's further to the east would be a reasonable explanation of why its daytime temperatures are slightly cooler," Mr Allan said.
Heating up the debate
The Mayor of Blayney, Scott Ferguson, and the Mayor of Oberon, Kathy Sajowitz, are good friends but they disagree on the great cold contest.
Councillor Ferguson said it was "cool" to be cold.
"People seem to think it's a derogatory comment to say that we're cold, but we like it," he said.
However Councillor Sajowitz said it was not a "competition I really want to win."
Councillor Ferguson said both towns could claim a victory in the wintery weather stakes.
"Oberon has the snow hands down from Blayney, but as far as frosts â because we're in the Belubula Valley â when it comes to a big white beautiful deep frost, Blayney would have it," he said.
He said after a big frost it was generally a beautiful day in Blayney and perhaps this might account for its warmer average days compared to Oberon.
While Councillor Sajowitz was hesitant to declare Oberon "cold", she said the town appealed to many people, like herself, who did not like the heat and humidity and were prepared to put up with three months of "cooler weather" for nine months of "glorious temperatures".
"Oberon has the added advantage that the community has such big warm hearts, it raises the temperature of the town," she laughed.
Who asked the question?
Jasmine Vidler grew up in Blayney and Blayney High used to play games against Oberon High in all sorts of different winter sports.
The winner received the 'Ice Cube Cup' which was a trophy that looked like an ice cube on a small pole.
She said the students would tease each other that the other town was colder and she often wondered who really won the argument.
Jasmine is the Reading and Writing coordinator for Central West Libraries and loves researching and finding out things.
What are you curious about?
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