With winter well upon us, these images from our photographic collections evoke some of the seasonal experience of snow, ice, and shadows; as senses are sharpened by a chill in the air, the brightness and contrast of snow and subject, or the blanketing fogs.

The impact of this colourised photograph by Nicholas John Caire is heightened by the mountainous vantage point, misted blue hills receding into the distance, with snowball fun in the foreground.

Nicholas, following a childhood passion, first became a studio photographer in Adelaide, Clunes and then Melbourne. After travelling through Victoria he later focused on alpine and rural landscapes. Some of these images are included in the Victorian Patents Office Copyright Collection.

2 men throwing snowballs at each other, standing in a patch of snow,with bare receding hills, in the background. A sunny day, and the photo is colourised.
Caire, N.J., photographer, Snow on Mt. Hotham, Mt. Blowhard in the distance, c.1891, H2013.161/18

Michael Drew lived in Berwick, and his photographs from that area are a rich resource. He also travelled widely, and this image is taken at Mt Buffalo, looking over the clouds blanketing the Buckland Valley.

View through a snow covered ravine, with water running over the rocks, high looking over banks of clouds, with sun shining.
Drew, Michael, photographer, Looking through a snow covered ravine towards cloud covered valley, c.1900, H2012.171/10

Alice Manfield grew up at the family run Buffalo House guesthouse in the Buckland Valley and joined her father on his mountain tours for guests. Later, based at the Mount Buffalo Chalet, Alice – now known as Guide Alice – shared her love and knowledge of the natural world. Her photographic archive is a wonderful collection of Victoria’s high country and its visitors in the early years of the 20th century.

Young girl and a  dog standing in the snow, with view of the other side of the valley in the background, on a sunny day.
Manfield, Alice, photographer, Unidentified little girl, standing in snow with a tree behind her, a dog at her side, [ca. 1900 – ca. 1930], H2003.97/168

Alice captured both the majesty of the mountains alongside the human element – driving the snowy roads in an unsealed vehicle would certainly allow the weather in, and these three friends tumbling off their toboggan into drifts of snow.

Australia’s antarctic explorers endured great physical and mental challenges in that landscape. These pictures from the collection of John King Davis give us some sense of the scale and extremity of the environment – plus a touch of humour – an expedition member reclining here in a snow cave with a reading light.

man dressed in snow proof gear holding a lantern, reclining on the snowy ground, with an icy ceiling
Davis, John King, photographer. Overhanging ice, possibly ice cave, c.1907-1931, H90.31/63

Professional photographer Edwin G. Adamson’s works appeared in the press and exhibition halls, both in Australia and internationally. By exhibiting his work he contributed to the growth of photography as an artistic medium. Norman MacGeorge writing on the 1939 exhibition of international photography wrote:

… photographers are following the “new idea” in art and are seeking for significance rather than realism, and design before mere actual representation.”

Adamson was a skier, member of the Ski Club of Victoria, and involved in the establishment of Mt Buller as a ski resort.

This beautifully captured image of a good drying day, even allowing for temperatures close to zero, is part of the library’s diverse collection of Adamson’s works.

Woman at a washing line, on a sunny and windy day, with snow covered surrounds.
Adamson, Edwin, G., Hanging washing in the snow, ca.1930-1940, H42790/37

Roger Phillips’ 3am shot looking into a lit room, surrounded by folds of fresh snow, looks cosy, in contrast to the exposure of the elements, 90 degree icicles and snow encrusted trees.

Further reading

Carswell, Barbara, Mount Buffalo Chalet: the island in the sky
McConville, Andrew, ‘In the midst of eternal snows in a waste and barren land’: the Keith Jack Diaries and the Ross Sea Party, Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition 1914–1917′, La Trobe Journal, No.82, Spring 2008.

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