Canberra DIY Snowmaker King of the Kids

snow action team 20.05.2021

Canberra’s DIY backyard snowmaker Dario Jurjević can turn his lawn into a snowy playground for the kids within a few hours on frosty nights. That makes him an even more awesome dad then Bluey’s dad Bingo we reckon.

The big freeze early this week saw him fire his homemade system up early for what must surely be the first snowplay of winter in Canberra itself – the local ski area Corin Forest with the aid of snow factory technology and their location over 1200m up in the Brindabellas has been open since Easter, but they are 45 minutes south of the city.

SnowAction caught up with Dario to see how he does it.

Homemade snowmaking system in action in Canberra
DIY suburban snowmaking in action © Dario Jurjević

Dario fires up in what would otherwise be just another backyard in the Bush Capital.

He doesn’t even ski or snowboard himself, and has actually never been to visit the snow. Which makes his efforts even more remarkable.

So how did he get into it?

“I never knew anything about it. Then this video of a guy in America with his own snowgun popped out on Youtube, and I thought, ‘I reckon I can do this’..”

Initially he bought a snow gun from America, for $USD 350 (they are still available, but up to $499 now).

“It worked okay but I thought I can do better myself, so I built a new one. I got an air compressor and a pressure washer and it did a better job. I can make snow at -2° or colder” he says.

Dario is an A/C mechanic, so he knows more than he modestly admits to about tinkering with stuff.

His first home made effort was a success, but the inner tinkerer struck and he upped the ante with a second improved version. So now he can fire up two snow guns at a time. How’s that for DIY snowmaker success?

Happy kids enjoying the snow their dad made them in Canberra backyard
Our Dad is Awesomest! © Dario Jurjević

“The nucleation is much better” he explains, which my less techy brain still grasps means the droplet formation. He can’t adjust that to make glop like resorts can if they wish. If it got below -15° he would have to tinker more, but that would be breaking records so unlikely anyway.

On a frosty night about 3 – 4 hours is enough for him to make a decent white carpet over the front lawn. Occasionally he has used favourable conditions for a 7 – 8 hour run.

“Normally it doesn’t last long, but one year I made snow 3 nights in a row and I got up to about a 2′ base” he told us.

“Mate you should whack in a couple of features and a neighbourhood terrain park!” I enthused.

“Well I do build a ramp for the kids to toboggan off” he responds.

Did we say awesome dad or what? The kids are now 3 and 6, and they obviously love it.

So what does it cost to run and how much water do you go through?

“An average night will use up 4 to 6,000 litres of water and cost me $10 of electricity. All up it’s around $25 a session to run it.”

Some commercial snowmaking systems are very loud indeed, but Dario has had no problems with the neighbours on that score.

“I can’t even hear it inside the house” he says. “I put a box round the compressor so it’s not too noisy at all.”

What a great idea. Anyone who would like a system of their own should contact the local guy, not worry about those American online systems. Dario has already sold some, so get on and send him a DM on the facebook link off our post of this there if you want to check that out.

Front yard covered in home made snow Canberra
His best coverage so far is a 2 foot / 60cm odd base .. ! © Dario Jurjević