News National The unlikely photographer behind the photos of icicles in Alice Springs
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The unlikely photographer behind the photos of icicles in Alice Springs

ice alice springs
Maintenance officer Michael Smith snapped this photo of icicles in the playground in Alice Springs. Photo: Facebook, Education NT
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A beloved maintenance officer at a school in Alice Springs is behind photographs circulating on social media of icicles dangling off playground equipment in the stereotypically scorching hot city.

Thousands of little icicles hanging off gum trees and monkey bars at Ross Park Primary School in Alice Springs were photographed by maintenance man Michael Smith about 7am on Tuesday morning.

The pictures have caused a storm around the nation, with many people surprised to see frost in Alice Springs, a remote town synonymous with sizzling sunshine and scorching desert sand.

Ross Park Primary School principal Suzi Burgess said Mr Smith was an “amazing guy” who had spent weeks giving students free photography tips.

“When the kids went on school camp they participated in a photography challenge using his hints,” Ms Burgess told The New Daily.

“He’s an amazing guy in how he contributes to our school.”

She said the icicles on the playground equipment were due to recent cold weather in central Australia and a fault in the school’s sprinkler system.

“We’re having a bit of a problem with it and it’s not switching off,” Ms Burgess said.

“It was freezing over many hours in the morning and the icicles were caused by the sprinklers hitting the trees and the play equipment.

“It looked beautiful.”

Sadly, the icy display had melted before the students rolled in for school at 8.30am.

The frosty winter temperatures are part of a cold snap sweeping through the Northern Territory. Temperatures in Alice Springs dropped to zero on Monday, and -1 degree last Sunday.

The city had its coldest night of the year on Saturday, with a low of -3 degrees Celsius.

Zuzanna Palej, a meteorologist at the Bureau of Meteorology, said it might surprise many living outside the NT, but it was actually common for the territory to have below-zero nights in winter.

“When you’ve got minus temperatures overnight for five nights in a row, it’s not unusual to see frost,” Ms Palej told The New Daily. 

“You’ll get frost if there is enough moisture in the air, and if there is a water source nearby – such as sprinklers – then you can sometimes get icicles.”

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