Australian ski lift directory.

Details of all 400 ski lifts and passenger ropeways that have operated in Australia.

Australia's first chairlift. Bob Hyman's 1957 single chairlift at Falls Creek.

Australia's first chairlift. Bob Hyman's 1957 single chairlift at Falls Creek.

Recent news.

3 December 2016. The Eagle Arthurs Seat formally opened. Located at Dromana south of Melbourne, it is the first dedicated gondola in Victoria, although a 'chondola' operated at Mt Buller in the late 20th century.

28 October 2016. A fund raising campaign has been launched by a company wishing to buy Ben Lomond's Alpine Enterprises (lifts) and Snow Sports (ski school, ski hire & cafe). The campaign offers discounted season passes to subscribers if it is successful. There are plans to increase slope grooming and install 15 extra snow making machines on the five busiest runs and on a toboggan slope.

14 September 2016. The 'Eagle Skylift Arthurs Seat' will open on 3 December. Video of load testing is on their Facebook page. Rides in the first 8 seat gondola are being auctioned on their website with proceeds going to charity. The next gondolas will be filled by VIPs before the lift is open to the public.

27 May 2016. Corin Forest on the outskirts of Canberra has installed a 75 metre long carpet, the first ski lift for 20 years at this mainly cross country skiing and snow play destination. It is Australia's only new ski lift for 2016 although construction of the Arthurs Seat tourist gondola in Victoria is nearly complete. Canberra Times article.

Older news stories are in section 21 towards the end of this web page.

The 1938 'Ski Hoist' (or 'Meat Hook') J-bar at Charlotte Pass, the first ski lift in NSW.

The 1938 'Ski Hoist' (or 'Meat Hook') J-bar at Charlotte Pass, the first ski lift in NSW.

© David Sisson 2007 - 2017.

Contents

The Rodway Tow at Mt Mawson, Tasmania. Australia's steepest surface lift.

The Rodway Tow at Mt Mawson, Tasmania. Australia's steepest surface lift.

1. Introduction

This article lists all 400 ski lifts and passenger ropeways that have operated in Australia including a few dozen lifts away from the snowfields. The dates cited are the ski seasons a lift operated (or if a lift didn't run in poor snow seasons, the years it was available to operate). Also included are a few planned lifts where details have been published.

Lift companies. Lifts at most resorts began with individuals and clubs taking the initiative. This meant that except at Thredbo, Mt Mawson and Charlotte Pass, skiers had to choose which lifts they would buy tickets for. In the 1950's there were four different groups running lifts at each of Buller, Falls Creek and in the Perisher area. The early 1960's saw most of the small operators close down or sell out, but Baw Baw only gained a single lift company in 1981 and Buller's lifts only came under a single company 1985. The four adjoining ski areas in the greater Perisher region were finally combined in 1995. The last resort with two lift companies was Ben Lomond where Alpine Enterprises and Tasmanian Ski Lifts competed with each other until 2001.

Ski lifts outside resorts. Generally the clubs that operate lifts on Mt St Bernard, the Bogong High Plains and at Cabramurra only permit members and their guests to use the lifts as their liability insurance doesn't cover outsiders. But if you know someone or can spin a convincing story, you may be able to hitch a ride.

Ski areas without lifts. Mt Donna Buang was Australia's only true ski resort before the Second World War and had four ski lodges, cafes, a ski hire, day shelters, six cleared ski runs and a huge ski jump, but it never had ski lifts. Likewise both the Feathertop Bungalow and Mt St Bernard Hospice were very popular commercial ski lodges before they were burnt in the 1939 fires, but no lifts were built at either location until the 1950's when a couple were installed on St Bernard. In NSW the Hotel Kosciusko at Diggers Creek was a popular pre war ski destination, but no lifts were built nearby until about 1950 when the heyday of the resort was already over and most skiers were heading further up the road to Perisher and Charlotte Pass. The present day cross country ski resorts have never had lifts either except for Corin Forest near Canberra which has a 75 metre carpet.

Proposed resorts. A network of chairlifts and Pomas complete with an access gondola was proposed for Mt Rufus in Tasmania in the early 1970's. At about the same time Florentine Peak near Mt Mawson was assessed for it's viability as a modern ski resort, but sadly nothing eventuated at either location. A plan for developing Mt Stirling in Victoria was released in the early 1980's and another was produced in the mid 1990's, but nothing happened there either. A 1950 report on developing Victoria's ski fields recommended development of an 'alpine village' at Mt Wills, but the only things built there were a single lodge, a refuge hut and two lifts. Since Thredbo was established in 1957, the only new lifted ski area has been Mt Blue Cow in New South Wales, now part of Perisher ski resort.

Resort logos. I've added every resort logo I can track down, but there are some missing from the early days. Please email me any older ones you may come across.

Lift lengths. Where information on the length of a lift has been found in several different sources, it sometimes differs by 5 or 10 percent. This may be due to the difference between the actual length of the path on the ground and the distance on a map which does not take the vertical into account. If research has turned up two slightly different lengths, the official length as stated by the lift operator has been cited. Of course several lifts were lengthened or shoretned during their lifetimes and those lifts have the differing distances explained in the notes section.

Sources. This web page began ten years ago as a small personal project out of frustration at less than accurate reports relating to ski lifts in books and magazines and I didn't bother to cite sources. However it's grown into a bit of a monster with over 400 lifts and 280,000 page views, so in hindsight I wish I'd footnoted it. However I've been careful to only list lifts that have been reported in reliable histories (resort histories are noted at the end of each section) or which appear in contemporary publications. The only exception is the backcountry NSW lifts section where I've had to rely on verbal reports. If you want to know the source of any information on this page, please email me and I should be able to respond within a few days.

Copyright. This article is copyright, so please don't reproduce it without permission. If you use parts of it in compiling articles or books, I'd be grateful for an acknowledgement of my work by name and a link to this web page. Thanks.

Finally, this sort of research takes a lot of time and it will probably always be a work in progress. In particular, details of early lifts at Perisher and backcountry lifts in NSW are a little shaky and the Mt Buffalo section needs more information. If you notice any errors, omissions or you have extra information, please email: sisson dot dave at yahoo.com.au © David Sisson 2007 - 2017.

2. Types of ski lifts

Only the "Big Five" resorts (Buller, Falls, Hotham, Perisher and Thredbo) have quad chairs, the smaller resorts have a combination of surface lifts, double chairs and triple chairs. Victorian resorts tend to replace their lifts far more often than their NSW counterparts. In the last 65 years there have been 17 lifts built to serve Bourke Street on Mt Buller. By contrast the Mt Perisher Double Chair is 56 years old and several other lifts at Perisher and Thredbo are not much younger.

2.1 Aerial lifts

Chairlifts in Australia have been built to seat 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 8 people per chair. Most chairlifts are fixed grip, with chairs directly attached to the lift cable, most cables move at about 2.3 metres per second. Detachable chairlifts remove the chair from the cable near the top and bottom stations and move it slowly through the terminals, allowing passengers to get on and off a slow moving chair (around 1 metre per second). This means the main cable can move much faster, around 5 metres per second (18 km/h). However detachables are much more expensive to build and maintain, so the more economical, but slower, fixed grip chairs are still being at built at major resorts around the world for lifts under about 1 km long.

Chairlift capacity is determined by the speed of the cable, the number of people per chair and the spacing of chairs. The highest capacity for a quad is 3000 per hour, which would mean a fairly quick 4.8 second interval between chairs. However most quads have a nominal capacity of around 2400. The real number moved is usually lower due to stoppages, not all chairs carrying the maximum number of people and the lift not running at full speed. A few lifts also have 'generously' spaced towers, meaning that chairs are spaced further apart to keep the weight on the cable down.

Australia's first (and only) single chairlift was built at Falls Creek by Bob Hyman in 1957. The first double chair was Thredbo's Crackenback in 1958. Triple chairs appeared in 1976 when the Back Perisher Triple was built. 1984 saw the advent of the quad chair with Big D at Hotham and Blue Bullets 1 and 2 at Buller. Australia's only eight seat chairlift is Perisher's Village built in 2003 and the only 'six pack' in the country is Abom Express which opened at Buller in 2008. Buller's Blue Bullets were also notable for being the first detachable chairlifts in the country.

Australia's longest chairlifts were the two that briefly connected Thredbo Valley to Charlotte Pass in 1964 and 1965 at 4757 and 3323 metres. The longest existing chairlift is the Kosciusko Express (formerly named Crackenback) at Thredbo which at 1860 m is marginally longer than the Horse Hill (or Northside) quad at Mt Buller. The shortest ski chairlift was the Valley chairlift at Mt Buffalo which last ran in 2006. It was under 200 metres long. The shortest operating ski chairlift is probably New Chum at Selwyn.

Gondolas. A gondola is an aerial ropeway with enclosed cabins where passengers walk in and sit facing each other. There are usually racks on the outside of each cabin for skis and snowboards. At overseas ski fields and in Australian tourist areas, gondolas are a separate type of lift. While there are no dedicated gondolas in Australian ski fields, there have been a couple of 'chondolas' or 'combination lifts' as some manufacturers call them; detachable chairlifts which can also have gondola cabins attached to the cable. They are Horse Hill at Buller and Thredbo's Kosciusko Express. Buller appears to have abandoned it's gondolas, but Thredbo regularly uses theirs to transport passengers at night to the restaurant at the top of Kosci Express. The longest gondolas in Australia are Skyrail between Cairns and Kuranda in Queensland. Skyrail is two different lifts (passengers change over at a mid station), they have a combined length of 7,500 metres.

In 2009, the Falls Creek resort plan proposed replacing the Gully triple chair with a gondola. Similarly the 2010 Buller master plan included a proposal for a gondola connecting the overnight car parks with the town centre. A less likely plan is the 2009 local tourist authority proposal for a gondola on Mt Buffalo, a little to the south of the (then) toll road. However they didn't mention any financial backers for their dream.

Finally in 2016 the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service and Tourism Industry Council proposed a 7 km gondola at Cradle Mountain to replace over loaded mini bus shuttles along the narrow road from the Visitors Centre to Lake Dove at the base of Cradle Mountain. The southern gondola terminus would be an underground building on the site of the present carpark. However as a Mercury report explains, this ambitious plan is unfunded, although the accompanying video makes the whole project look very appealing and much less intrusive than the current situation.

The most recent Australian gondola is the Arthurs Seat Eagle on the Mornington Peninsula south of Melbourne which opened in 2016. The proposed Mt Wellington Cable Car on the outskirts of Hobart is the most ambitious plan. It incorporates a Doppelmayr gondola on the lower slopes of the mountain with passengers changing to an aerial tram to ascend the upper slopes to the summit.

Aerial Trams or Cable Cars. These lifts have two large cabins permanently attached to the cable and shuttle between the termini. The cabins never go around the bullwheels and when a cabin arrives at the terminus, the direction the cable travels in is reversed. While they are popular at overseas resorts, none have been built at Australian ski fields. However two trams, Scenic Skyway and Scenic Cableway operate at Katoomba in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney.  In addition to the proposal for Mt Wellington in Hobart, in 2014 a group in Sheffield in northern Tasmania floated a proposal for an aerial tram up nearby Mt Roland.

1970's sign preserved at Kellys Cafe, Mt Baw Baw. Self loading T-bars were not a success and today all skiers and boarders using T-bars are assisted by a liftie.

1970's sign preserved at Kellys Cafe, Mt Baw Baw. Self loading T-bars were not a success and today all skiers and boarders using T-bars are assisted by a liftie.

2.2 Surface lifts with an elevated cable

All resorts started out with surface lifts (also called drag tows). They are much cheaper to build and maintain than chairlifts and are not as vulnerable to high winds. However they are not as 'beginner friendly', and they usually have a much lower capacity. They also need a consistent uphill slope. Sadly, surface lifts have been phased out by most major resorts except for areas high above the treeline that are exposed to strong winds. However at Perisher and the smaller resorts, they continue to play an important role.

T-bars. T-bars consist of several parts. The first is a stick with a bar across the bottom which looks like an inverted T shape. Skiers and boarders lean on this bar, holding on to the central stick. This T-bar is connected to a retractable cord running from a spring box which is permanently attached to the elevated moving lift cable. Because they are fixed grip, T-bars tend to run at fairly modest speeds. The first T-bars in Australia were the 1957 Township Hill T-bar at Kiandra and the short lived Gam Tow at Thredbo. The longest was probably the Tyrol T-bar at Mt Buller which was 1,610 metres long before it was shortened.

J-bars. Essentially they are single T-bars. A few were built in the early days of ski lifts, but none have been built in Australia for half a century because they cost the same to build and run as T-bars, but only transport half as many people. However after snowboarders experienced difficulties riding the platters at Ben Lomond, some J-bars were added to lifts at that resort for the 2009 season. The first J-bar in the country was installed at Charlotte Pass in 1938. It was only the second ski lift in Australia.

Platters (or button tows). Platter lifts look a bit like Poma lifts because skiers are hauled uphill by a button between their legs, but they are fixed grip and the platter has a retractable cord connected to a spring box, so they operate like single person T-bars.

Poma lifts. Pomas are the only detachable grip surface lift still used at major resorts. Sticks are stored in a rack at the bottom of the lift. Passengers move to the front of the lift queue, grab a spring loaded stick and put the button between their legs. At the same time, the grip at the top end of the stick attaches to a moving overhead cable. This can either by manually activated by a liftie or automatically by skiers tripping a switch as they move past. Pomas are the only surface lift found at resorts where self loading works in practice (although this is standard procedure for nutcracker tows at club fields). There have been experiments with self loading T-bars and platters, but skiers and boarders don't seem to be able to cope with them.

Because they are detachable, Pomas are by far the fastest drag lift, the legendary International Poma at Falls Creek had a speed of 4.2 metres per second until a new and slower motor was installed. The speed record for any Australian ski lift belongs to the former double ended Howqua - Summit Access Poma at Buller which operated at 6.5 m/s for staff access, but was restricted to 4 m/s when open to the public.

Confusingly, many platters are described as Pomas, presumably because they both use a button between a skiers legs to move them uphill, even though they are different types of lifts in every other respect.

Pomas are the only type of ski lift that can easily accommodate bends in their path (T-bars and chairs can have bends, but they are awkward and expensive to build). Half the Pomas built in Australia had bends, Brockhoff at Hotham and Cresta at Buffalo had two. Pomas were very popular in Victoria and at one stage there were four of them running parallel to each other at Buller. However they were never as popular in NSW. An early form of Poma first ran in 1960 at Smiggin Holes and at Sponar's Inn. More modern Pomas made their appearance in 1964 at Buller, Hotham, Charlotte Pass and Falls Creek. The longest Poma to run in Australia is the 1219 metre International at Falls Creek, which is one of only six Pomas still operating in this country.

A cartoon describing nutcracker use didn't succeed in making it any easier to understand.

A cartoon describing nutcracker use didn't succeed in making it any easier to understand.

2.3 Surface lifts with a low level cable

Put simply, a rope tow has an unsupported rope which the skier grasps in their hands to be hauled a short distance up a gentle slope. A handle tow is similar, but has plastic handles attached to the rope making it easier for a skier to get a secure hold. A typical nutcracker tow is far more complex. It has towers or poles with pulleys to support the rope a metre above the snow, a tensioning system to keep the rope tight, specifically designed and fabricated parts like pulleys and bull wheels and a proper, weatherproof engine shed. Because they are often steep and it is awkward to grip the rope in a gloved hand as it passes over pulleys, a rope gripper (or nutcracker) is almost essential when using a nutcracker tow.

Attaching a nutcracker to the tow rope can be awkward if the rope is higher than usual. The author at University Tow, Mt Mawson, Tasmania in August 2016.

Attaching a nutcracker to the tow rope can be awkward if the rope is higher than usual. The author at University Tow, Mt Mawson, Tasmania in August 2016.

Nutcracker tows. Some modern skiers who don't venture beyond the main resorts are unfamiliar with nutcracker tows. But almost every ski resort in Australia and New Zealand began with them. While they have been replaced at the resorts, nutcrackers can still be found at 'club fields'. A nutcracker (or rope gripper) is a device attached to a belt worn by a skier that clamps onto a moving rope at waist level, allowing the skier to be towed uphill. The height of the rope and the pulleys that support it are adjusted according to snow levels. While it may not be necessary to use a nutcracker on short, gently graded rope tows, it is difficult for skiers to hold onto a rope with their hands on steeper tow lines or where the rope passes over a pulley. Riding nutcrackers explainedPowderhound article on nutcrackers.

Most Australian nutcracker tows were derived from those designed by Bill (later Sir William) Hamilton in New Zealand. Hamilton installed his first ski tow at Coronet Peak in 1947 and within a few years had perfected the Hamilton Model B design that has been used ever since. Because it was easily copied and readily available material could be substituted for Hamilton parts, (such as modified wheel rims for rope pulleys), many nutcracker lifts were home made and built by the groups that ran them. As they don't have tall towers, nutcracker tows can be moved fairly easily and some Australian tows have operated at four locations.

The first nutcracker tow in Australia was on Bourke Street, Mt Buller when an existing rope tow was upgraded to a nutcracker tow for the 1950 season. The longest nutcracker was probably the Crackenback Tow at Thredbo (as it was in 1957). One of the newest nutcracker lifts also claims to be the longest and steepest. The Heritage Express Tow at the small Roundhill resort in New Zealand first ran in 2010. It is 1473 metres long with a 626 metre rise.

Handle tows are short, portable ski lifts with plastic handles permanently attached to a waist high cable. To move uphill, a skier just grabs one of the handles and holds on. They are also known as Pony Lifts at some overseas locations.

Rope tows. This term is often used to include nutcrackers and handle tows, but a true rope tow is one where the rope is not supported by pulleys and the skier or boarder simply grasps the rope in their hands. Parts for early tows were often adapted from second hand material such as using truck wheel rims as very basic bullwheels. They are only practical for short and gently graded slopes as an unsupported cable dragging on the snow places heavy demands on the motor. Typical modern examples are the Canyon tows at Buller which assist skiers over slight bumps on a mostly downhill access trail. In this directory many of the old lifts described as rope tows were probably nutcrackers as the distinction between the two types of lifts is a grey area. The first ski lift in Australia was the rope tow made out of recycled railway tracks that was built at Mt Buffalo in 1937.

Carpets. (Also known as Conveyors or Magic Carpets.) A carpet lift is simply a conveyor belt at ground level. They move quite slowly (around 1.2 metres a second) and are used exclusively for gentle beginners slopes as they do not require any technique to ride other than the ability to stand up. Australia's first carpet lift was installed at Mt Thebarton in Adelaide in 1987 to service the world's first indoor ski slope.

Carousels. Look a bit like oversized rotary clothes lines that pull small children around in a circle. At times, Mt Buller, Perisher and Charlotte Pass have listed them as lifts, but that is probably stretching the definition of a ski lift a bit far.

Funicular Railways. A railway or tramway with parallel tracks on a steep slope with two cars connected by a cable. The descending car counterbalances the ascending car, while an engine house at the top provides any necessary power or braking. While many funiculars were built for timber harvesting and hydro electric purposes, only a few have taken passengers, none of them at ski areas. The most recent proposal was in 2005 for the Maydena Hauler in southern Tasmania.

2.4 Lift Manufacturers

In recent decades ski lift and aerial ropeway manufacture across the world has been dominated by Doppelmayr-Garaventa and Leitner-Poma. While a few new lift makers have emerged in Europe and North America, so far none of them have installed lifts in Australia.

In earlier times there were many more lift makers, but by the end of the 20th century most had either gone out of business or been taken over. The advent of detachable chairlifts seems to have been a determining factor, mid sized companies appear to have lacked the capital and the economies of scale to develop, build and maintain the complex technology involved.

The Swiss manufacturer Mueller built early chairlifts at Thredbo and Perisher (the 1961 Mt Perisher Double is one of the oldest surviving Muellers in the world) while the American company Riblet also built chairlifts in NSW. However foreign products were not always successful in Australian conditions. The Mueller Crackenback chair at Thredbo regularly derailed and had to be partially rebuilt using material supplied by Riblet. One case that pointed to the future was when Blue Lifts at Mt Buller installed the world's first Doppelmayr double chair, rhime build up in Mt Buller's damp and foggy conditions became a major problem. In contrast to Mueller (which appears to have left Thredbo to sort out it's own problems with the Crackenback chair), when Doppelmayr received photos and a description of the severity of the problem, they sent engineers to Buller to study and rectify it. Perhaps that is a pointer to the reasons why Doppelmayr survived and prospered while most of it's competitors went out of business. In any case, Buller has retained a strong brand loyalty for Dopp products ever since.

Local manufacturers were initially on the scene too. Many rope tows and a few nutcrackers were home made in small workshops (although the most reliable nutcrackers were Hamilton branded ones imported from New Zealand). Some local products like Gam T-bars were not a success, but others like Vladimir Hayek's Australasian Ropeway built a number of chairlifts. The most successful local lift maker was Ron McCallum who built reliable and long lived T-bars and chairlifts at several ski resorts as well as tourist chairlifts at locations away from the mountains.

Links to lift makers websites are in Section 22 at the end of this article.

3. Australian Capital Territory

Location Type Owner Operated Name Notes
Mt Franklin Nutcracker Canberra Alpine Club 1957 - late 60's Brumby Tow Operated on Little Ginini, Slalom Run, Nursery Run
Mt Franklin Hook Tow Canberra Alpine Club 1965 only Austin A40 Tow Operated on Slalom Run
Little Ginini . ? John Dowling 1959 - 1960 - Probably moved to Mt Selwyn
Mt Ginini . ? RMC Ski Club 1957 - mid 60's - -
Corin Forest Platter Corin Forest 1980's - c.1995 - The lift was a Schippers “Bambi” button tow
Corin Forest Carpet Corin Forest 2016 - present - 75 metre long Sunkid carpet

More on ACT ski history.

Matthew Higgins. Skis on the Brindabellas. Tabletop Press, 1994. Second edition, 2008.

© David Sisson 2007 - 2017. This list was first published on 23 July 2007 and has been updated regularly since then.

4. Ben Lomond

Lift name Type Manufacturer Operated Length/Vert Location Notes
Unnamed Windlass Home made 1960 - ? - ? Powered by lawn mower engine, one rider at a time. Designed by Tony Godfrey-Smith, built by Harley Smith
Thirty Second [1.] Nutcracker Club members 1963 - 1984 370 / 85 Above current Bass tow NTAC. Originally c.244/76. Extended at base 1964 & 72?, at top 1975
Big Ben [1.] Nutcracker Club members 1967 - 1984 425 / 78 B/w Fannys & Bills NTAC. Used parts from Mt Buller's Bourke St rope tow
Summit [1.] Platter Yac 1973 - 1991 327 / 86 - Alpine Enterprises. 370 m long, 80 m rise
Fannys [1.] Platter Yac 1973 - 1978 - - Alpine Enterprises. 300 m long, 73 m rise
Beginners / Village Platter Yac 1973 - present 260 / 55 - A.E. 300 m long, 35 m rise. Renamed in 1980's
Giblin Platter Yac 1976 - present 245 / 52 - AE. Closed 09, PWS refused maint access to tower by vehicle or heli
Fannys [2.] T-bar Doppelmayr 1979 - present 254 / 68 - Alpine Enterprises
Creek Run Platter Yac 1979 - 2010 325 / 28 - Relocated Fanny's platter. Relocated in 2011 to Big Ben
Bills T-bar Doppelmayr 1985 - present - - Alpine Enterprises
Thirty Second [2.] Poma Pomagalski 1985 - 2002? - Above current Bass tow NTAC. Formerly on Mt Buller Summit
Big Ben [2.] Poma Pomagalski 1985 - 2002? - B/w Fanny's & Bill's NTAC. Formerly on Mt Buller Summit
Summit [2.] T-bar Doppelmayr 1992 - present - - Alpine Enterprises
Bass Poma? - ? - present - - Built on lower section of 30 Sec, used some of its parts
Big E Platter Yac 2011 - present - Big Ben slope Relocated Creek Platter
Planned lifts . -
Creek Inn-base of Bill's 2-Chair-F Doppelmayr c.1990 - Thirty Second TSL. Formerly Mt Buller's Bourke St chair. See note below
Village - Thirty Second T-bar Doppelmayr 2009 - - Relocate & extend Fannys. Base of Village - top of Fannys
Big Ben slope Platter Yac 2009 - - Relocated Village Platter

In common with Mt Buller and Mt Baw Baw, for a time Ben Lomond's ski lifts were run by two companies. Alpine Enterprises (AE) was established in 1973 by Eryl Williams, Brian Hill and Arvids Endelmanis. The Northern Tasmanian Alpine Club's (NTAC) first tow was built by Eddie Hausegger and Bill Mitchell in 1963. In 1990 the lifts were split off from the club to become Tasmanian Ski Lifts (TSL).

Installation of the chairlift that formerly ran on Bourke St at Mt Buller, was repeatedly delayed by bureaucracy, eventually TSL simply gave up trying to get around the new barriers that were constantly put in the way of installing the lift and abandoned the project. Early this century the chairlift was still stored on a nearby farm, but apparently the drive terminal was then sold to a horse breeder to be used for training purposes while the rest was sold as scrap metal, a sad end for what was the first Doppelmayr double chairlift in the world. :(

Some years after the chairlift fiasco, TSL was refused permission to operate their Pomas by the former Ben Lomond Skifield Management Authority and told to remove their lifts. Eventually AE was given salvage rights to them and Thirty Second and Big Ben were removed.

There is a passing reference to a ski tow on Ben Lomond on p.24 of Skiers novice handbook published circa 1958. However this is the only mention I have found of it and several people I have spoken to who worked on the mountain in the early 1960s are confident that it never existed. My conclusion is that the mention in the handbook may be a confused reference to Cuming's tow at Mt Mawson. Any further information would be appreciated. 

Run names.

30 Second named by in November 1931 when a party including Fred Smithies skied on a late spring snowdrift near Legges Tor with the descent of the drift taking exactly half a minute.

Other than runs with the same names as lifts, the only named runs at Ben Lomond are:

  • Little Slalom to skiers left of Summit lift, loops around to the lift line half way down.
  • Milk Run to skiers left of Fannies to top of Village left.
  • Coal Mine to skiers right from top of Giblin.

Trail map. A 3D map showing the former routes of Thirty Second and Big Ben (as black dotted lines).

More on Ben Lomond history.

David M. Harvey. The Ben Lomond Story. The author, 2000.

Thanks to "Ben Lomond Brad" and "Bulldozer" for help with this list.

© David Sisson 2007 - 2017. This list was first published on 4 August 2007 and has been updated regularly since then.

5. Charlotte Pass

Lift name Type Manufacturer Operated Length/Vert Location Notes
Ski Hoist, aka. The Meat Hook J-bar NSW Railways 1938 - 1952 < 122 / ? Pulpit Rock 2nd ski lift in Aust. Replaced by rope tow
Sponar's Rope tow - 1952? c.46-61 m Wood Run Was to operate in '53, but Sponar ill with T.B.
Pulpit Rock Nutcracker - 1953 - 1962 - - Rope tow 1953, converted to nutcracker in '54
Woodrum Nutcracker - 1958 - 1962 600 / ? Chalet Dam-Lit Stillwell 600 metres long, replaced by double chair
Thredbo Valley-Stillwell Restaurant 2-Chair-F Carlevaro or.. 1964 - 1965 4757 / - - Abandoned due to strong winds & derailing -
Stillwell Restaurant-Charlotte Pass 2-Chair-F ...Mueller??? 1964 - 1965 3323 / - - - Combined length = 5 km. Cost £1,200,000!
Pulpit Poma Pomagalski 1963 - 1966 - - Replaced by a T-bar. Poma moved to Basin
Rope Tow Portable rope - 19?? - 2007 - - Usually operated between Basin & Kangaroo
Guthries Poma Pomagalski 1963 - present 580 / 133 - Occasionally spelt 'Gutheries' on trail maps
Basin Poma - 1968 - present 260 / 43 - Moved from Pulpit
Pulpit T-bar - 1968 - present 310 / 95 - Replaced a Poma. Was a duplex T-bar in 1970's
Kangaroo Ridge / Kosciusko 3-Chair-F Pomagalski 1980 - present 670 / 154 - Name changed 2009?
Kosci Carpet Carpet - 2008 - present - B/w Basin & Kosci trip -
Charlotte's Carousel Carousel - 2012 - present - In front of Chalet Probably doesn't quite qualify as a lift?
The mid station of the ill fated chairlift between Thredbo Valley and Charlotte Pass

The mid station of the ill fated chairlift between Thredbo Valley and Charlotte Pass

Around 2009 a double chair with markings indicating it came from Mt Baw Baw was moved to Cooma Airport. Rumours said that it may have been destined for Charlotte Pass. In late 2013 the scattered components were still there, quietly rusting.

Information on the 1960's Pulpit lifts is a bit ambiguous. Sponar's tow had previously run at St Christoph, Austria in 1949, it was the first tow at that resort. Woodrum may have been demolished at the end of the 1962 winter rather than after the 1963 season. Current trail map.

Views of Australia's second ski lift, the Charlotte Pass ski hoist or Meathook J-bar built in 1938

Views of Australia's second ski lift, the Charlotte Pass ski hoist or Meathook J-bar built in 1938

The former Thredbo Valley - Charlotte Pass chairlifts have a page on a wiki here. Parts of them have been reassembled to make a chairlift at Wollongong which still operates. See Section 18 of this page Other passenger ropeways.

More on Charlotte Pass history.

Rick Walkom. Skiing off the roof: the Kosciusko Chalet at Charlotte Pass and its place in the history of the Australian snowfields. Arlberg Press, 1991. Reprinted by Tabletop Press, 2000. Second edition 2008.

Thanks to Bob McLennan for information on lifts in the 1960's.

© David Sisson 2007 - 2017. This list was first published on 16 July 2007 and has been updated regularly since then.

6. Falls Creek

Lift name Type Manufacturer Operated Length/Vert Location Notes
Myrtleford Ski Club tow Rope tow Gordon Muller 1951 - 1960? 90 / 25  ? Initial site uncertain, moved closer to Nissen in 1953
Nissen Nutcracker Hamilton 1951 - 1960 568 / 213 Summit Nissen Alp Club (Toni St Elmo) Capacity 5, so long queue 6/- day in 1951. Had Buick engine. Shortened by 122m in 1952 as rope often buried near cornice by snowfall
Hyman's Skyline Portable rope tow Ron McCallum 1954 - ? - Mostly on upper Grand Couer Bob Hyman, operated top left of summit in '57
Alpine Chair Lift 1-Chair-F Locally made 1957 - 1961? 380 / 120 Near Grand Couer run Bob Hyman. 1st chairlift in Aust. 40 chairs, 1.5 m/s. See notes below
Village (left side) Nutcracker Jock Wilson 1958 - 1960  ? / 50 Went to Raceline Fred Griffith, Bill Bridgeford & others
Village (right side) Nutcracker Jock Wilson 1958 - 1960 - Village run Fred Griffith et. al. Double the length of left side
Dog Patch / Collis Nutcracker - 1958 - c.1962 - Sth of Nissen on Summit Marshall Collis and others, moved to Hotham
Nursery Tow [1] Rope tow - 1961 - ? - Below Dogpatch Shown on map below
Nursery Tow [2] Rope tow - 1961 - ? - Site of current Tube lift Shown on map below
Summit T-bar Ron McCallum 1961 - 1991 793 / 204 - Alpine Developments, designed & built by Ron McCallum
Village / Spur T-bar Ron McCallum 1961 - 1999 466 / 122 - Replaced & ext Vil nutcrackers. Length/vert also cited as 470/114
Gully 2-Chair-F McCallum/Dopp 1964 - 1981 456 / 76 - Mostly McCallum but had Dopp drive & other moving parts
Nursery / Baby Poma Poma 1964 -2001? 153 / 30 Near current Tube lift Still in operation 1998. Length/vert also cited as 170 /38
Sun Valley T-bar Ron McCallum 1967 - 1988 826 / 168 - Replaced by Scott quad. May have had 210 metre vertical
International Poma Poma 1969 - present 1219/ 277 - See notes below. Length/Vert also cited as 1149/263
Saddle / Link Lift T-bar Ron McCallum 1969 - 2000 265 / 30 Access b/w Summit & Sun Val Still operating '98, towers standing '10
Nursery (Baby) duplicate Poma Poma 1972 - 2000? 170 / 38 - -
Ruined Castle Poma - 1973 - 1994 732 / 140 - Replaced by Ruined Castle quad chair
Mitey Mite Portable handle - 1975 - ? ? /various Various -
Lakeside Poma M/Mautino 1976 - present 737 / 140 - Length/vert also cited as 688/140
Dogpatch Poma - 1979 - 1992? 148 / 27 B/w Nursery & Summit -
Panorama Poma Poma 1979 - 2003? 790 / 135 - Replaced by Drovers Dream quad. Length/vert also cited as 590/71
Playground [1] Platter Schippers 1980 - 2005 278 / 28 - Replaced by Monkey Bar Platter
Playground [2] Poma Poma 1984 - 2005 300 / 28 - Replaced by Monkey Bar Platter
Eagle 3-Chair-F Poma 1980 - present 693 / 190 - Length/vert also cited as 700/193
Headwater Poma Schippers 1980 - 2000 490 / 56 B/w Summit & Ruined C Still operating in 1998. Length/vert also cited as 428/55
Towers Duplex T-bar Leitner 1981 - 1998 692 / 138 - Replaced by Towers quad. Length/vert also cited as 704/134
Gully 3-Chair-F Poma 1982 - present 475 / 76 - Replaced Gully double chair. Length/Vert also cited as 407/70
Big Dipper Duplex T-bar - 1983 - 1999? 800 / 140 South west of Ruined C Possibly gone by 1998
Tom Thumb Platter Schippers 1986 - 2005 124 / 14 Present Mouse Trap site Replaced by Mouse Trap enclosed carpet
Halleys Comet/ Bilia/ FC Express 4-Chair-D Doppelmayr 1986 - present 920 / 207 - Bilia Bullet '02?-'04, Falls Express '06 -
Scott 4-Chair-F Doppelmayr 1989 - present 758 / 155 - Replaced Sun Valley T-bar
Summit 4-Chair-F Doppelmayr 1992 - present 587 / 187 - Replaced Summit T-bar
Ruined Castle 4-Chair-F Doppelmayr 1995 - present 650 / 150 - Replaced Poma. Has conveyor to speed loading
Towers 4-Chair-F Garaventa 1999 - present 613 / 137 - Replaced Towers twin T-bar
Boardwalk Carpet lift - 2004 - present - - -
The Tube Carpet lift - 2004 - present - Site of Nursery Poma -
Drover's Dream 4-Chair-F Leitner Poma 2004 - present 710 / ? Replaced Panorama Bought from Leitner-Poma Canada, not Poma Aust
Mouse Trap Enclosed carpet - 2006 - present - Site of Tom Thumb Replaced Tom Thumb poma
Monkey Bar Platter lift Doppelmayr 2006 - present 271 /? - Replaced Playground Duplex Platters
Proposed lifts . - -
Rocky Knolls "Chairlift" - ? 587 / ? Beyond Big Dipper T-bar Approved circa 2004
Damsite "Surface lift" - ? 750 / ? West of Rocky Knolls Approved circa 2004
Mt McKay lifts Chairlift system - "Before 2012" - - Mentioned in E.E.S. for above in 2002
McKay south Unknown - - c.750 / 380 McKay summit-Pretty Valley Ck Shown on map apparently produced by lift company
Gully Gondola - Proposed 2009 plan - Site of Gully triple Mentioned in section 2 of 2009 plan (no longer online) also in 2014 resort plan
Village Rack railway with small pods - Proposed 2014 plan - Near oversnow 2014 resort plan. Y shaped plan, 6 stations. From Oversnow lines to base of Gully, Windy Corner & cnr of Schuss / Paralell sts
Falls Creek in 1961 showing the location of eight former lifts.

Falls Creek in 1961 showing the location of eight former lifts.

The removal of the Big Dipper, Headwaters and Village lifts greatly reduced the amount of easily accessible lifted terrain compared to the 1990's. Recent trail map.

It appears it was intended to build Damsite from components of Big Dipper that were in storage. The storage shed was burnt in the 2003 wildfires and afterwards the rumour was that if Damsite was ever built, it would be a chairlift.

Bob Hymans' single chair at Falls Creek in the late 1950s

Bob Hymans' single chair at Falls Creek in the late 1950s

Lift companies. In the 1950's every lift had a different owner. In late 1960, Bill Bridgeford's Alpine Developments Holdings (ADH) bought Nissen and Village and by the 1961 season had replaced them with T-bars. ADH continued to expand the lift network until 1983 when the lifts were sold to Transfield. Then in 1996 B.C.R. took over and in 2004 the lift company was sold to MFS Living and Leisure, a listed Gold Coast land developer that also owned aquariums and treetop walks as well as the lift company at Hotham.

When MFS L&L went bust, Jamie Packer's leisure industry holding company took control of Living and Leisure for the 2009 season. As a Packer controlled company also owned Perisher, for a few years three of Australia's five large ski resorts were under one owner and a season ticket bought at one resort was valid at all three. In December 2011 L&L was bought by Merlin Entertainments, a UK based tourist group with attractions worldwide including theme parks and the LegoLand and Madame Tussauds chains. Merlin does not own any ski resorts except for Falls and Hotham so what they plan to do with Falls Creek Ski Lifts Pty Ltd is unknown.

The International Poma was ready to operate in 1969, but due to a poor snow season, the 'Inter' didn't open to the public until 1970. It is a unique lift (or 'iconic' as the Falls Creek marketing department calls it) and even has it's own fan page on Facebook. It received it's name because it serviced the area where a F.I.S. international race was held in 1960. The race required 1500 feet of vertical descent, so a ski bridge was built over the road and the race ran from the summit right down to Rocky Valley Creek. The bridge was removed in the mid 1960's, but the name for the area remained.

The International Poma could have sticks attached every 6 metres along it's 1216 metre length and it's V12 diesel engine powered it at up to 4.2 metres a second, making it the second fastest drag lift in the southern hemisphere (after Buller's Summit Access / Howqua Poma). Kids riding the International could get serious air time going around the corner. In 2 August 2015 a rider swung too far out on the corner, derailing the cable and causing it to snag causing further damage. The lift was out of action for 13 days while 300 metres of replacement cable was sourced from Sweden and spliced into the remnants of the old cable by a team from Doppelmayr, the arch rival of the lift's manufacturer Leitner-Poma.

The combination of high speed and loading punters close together gave the Inter a similar capacity to duplex T-bars such as Towers and Big Dipper. Now the new (single speed) electric drive only powers the lift at 2.4 metres per second, so it's much slower and slightly less fun. But it remains the longest cornered Poma this side of the equator and even with a much lower speed, it's lifting capacity still matches that of some chairlifts, which is probably why it hasn't been replaced, despite it's extreme age.

Bob Hyman's 1957 Alpine Chair Lift was the first chairlift in Australia. Built from poles that might have been intended for use on the nearby Kiewa Hydro Scheme, it lasted until the 1960's when it was condemned by a state government lifts and cranes inspector. As a completely new mode of transport, it attracted a lot of interest. Here is one description of it.

Australian ski-ing history was made at Falls Creek on 21 July 1957, when the first passengers were carried on the first Alpine Chair Lift to operate on our snowfields. Available to all visitors, the lower end of the lift is about 100 yards above the Upper Kiewa Road and it rises 400 vertical feet to the top terminal above the race-line, a length up the slope of 1,280 feet. Forty chairs transport skiers continuously at a speed of five feet per second, the upward trip taking just over four minutes. Each chair has a safety bar above the rider's knees, so the maximum height above the snow of about forty feet is quite safe.

Outstanding impressions of every skier riding the lift is its simplicity, one's perfect relaxation, and the immense increase of downhill ski-ing it provides.

At the lower terminal a skier hands over his ticket to the starting attendant, stands on his skis on a slight snow platform, gives a glance over the left shoulder as a chair gently tucks itself under his bobo - and he is cosily chairborne and bound upwards. Four minutes and 400 vertical feet later he approaches the upper terminal in its huge shelter. As he his skis touch down on another snow platform, he slips out of his chair and obeys the attendant's request to 'move off to the right, please" - and he skis downwards again.

There are no jerks or tensions as the skier settles into his chair and commences his ascent up the hill. The chairs run smoothly in complete silence, broken only by the clicking made by their attachments passing over the pulleys at each pylon. The impression is of floating slowly and quietly in space in complete relaxation, independent of the surface conditions underneath. One may chat with the occupants of adjoining chairs and with others on the slopes below - or just continue to relax.

Bill Beatty. The white roof of Australia. Cassell, 1958. pp 62 - 63.

McCallum lifts. After a two year stint as manager of what became Orange Lifts at Mt Buller, Ron McCallum was a founder of Alpine Developments, the company that unified the lift network at Falls Creek for the 1961 season. It appears that his first lift was the Skyline portable tow at Falls Creek in 1954. As an engineer, he went on to build about 20 chairlifts and T-bars in the 1960's and early 1970's including at least five at Falls Creek. Many of the earlier lifts were hybrids, mostly of McCallum origin, but incorporating parts from other manufacturers. The Village and Summit T-bars had McCallum towers and hydraulic drives but had a few bits from other manufacturers, including Dopp spring boxes (which caused a lot of trouble). The original Gully Chair had a Doppelmayr drive, but otherwise was McCallum. Initially the Saddle / Link Lift T-bar had T's hanging from Poma sticks until they were replaced with conventional T-bar spring boxes bought second hand from Buller (possibly of Dopp origin?). The Sun Valley T-bar was 100% McCallum and was one of the most reliable lifts to operate at the resort.

More on Falls Creek history:

Julian Newton Brown. Falls Creek: how it came to be. Janby Productions, 2005.

Bob Howe. Melting tracks: history and memories of Albury Ski Club and early Falls Creek. The author, 2004. 

© David Sisson 2007 - 2017. This list was first published on 9 July 2007 and has been updated regularly since then.

7. Mt Baw Baw

Lift name Type Operated Length/Vert Location Notes
Hut Rope tow 1955 - 1976 - - Baw Baw Ski Club. Cost £200. Replaced by a platter.
Painted Run Rope tow 1960 - >1982 245 / 50 - Baw Baw Ski Tow Club. Later duplicated. East of T-bar that replaced it
Access [1] 2-Chair-F 1970 - 1988? 960 / 320 - Gippsland Chairlift Co. Access from carpark, also for skiing. Prob relocated to Stanley, Tas
Maltese Cross T-bar 1973 - present 460 / 70 - Dartos Ltd.
Hut Run Platter 1975 or 77-present 395 / 57 - Baw Baw Ski Tows. (formerly Baw Baw Ski Tow Club). Extended 2004
Beginners? Rope tow 1977 - >1983 150 / 22 B/w Hut & Maltese BBST. Short tow from Base of Hut Run Platter towards Old Hut Run
Summit T-bar 1979 - present 750 / 90 - Baw Baw Ski Tows
Big Hill Platter 1980 - c.2002 230 / 48 - Dartos Ltd.
Big Hill Access Poma 78><83 - present 250 / 50 - Dartos. Used as tubing lift from 2002? until 2007. Now for skiers
Tank Hill Platter 1983 - present 174 / 25 - -
Painted Run T-bar 1985 - present 300 / ? - B.B.S.T. Nicknamed Fawlty Towers due to alleged chronic unreliability
Access [2] 2-Chair-F 1989? - 1999 - - Access to village from carpark, also for skiing. Doppelmayr
Magic Carpet Carpet 2003 - present - Behind Skiosk -
Proposed lift -
Summit chairlift ?-Chair-F 2012 - - Mentioned on p. 104 of Alpine Resorts Co-ordinating Council Draft alpine resorts plan

From 1971 to 1980 skiers had to choose between two lift companies, Dartos and Baw Baw Ski Tows. The combined lift company merged with the chairlift in 1988. In 2001 the state government decided to not renew the lease of Mount Baw Baw Ski Enterprises, but as they were unable to find another company to bid for the lease, the lifts were operated by the government until Belgavia Leisure took over in 2014. Media release.

In the dates operated field "78><83" indicates that the lift was installed at some time between 1978 and 1983.

The second Access chairlift was in storage at Drouin for many years, but a chair from the lift is on display on the veranda of Kelly's Cafe. Local gossip said it may have been sold to Charlotte Pass and the owners of Charlotte Pass did have a double chair stored at Cooma airport in 2009, although what they would want with Baw Baw's 20 year old, fixed grip double chair is anyone's guess.

Current trail map. Thanks to "djam", Ray Chapman, "HiLo", "sooty68" and Andrew Graham for help.

© David Sisson 2007 - 2017. This list was first published on 22 July 2007 and has been updated regularly since then.

8. Mt Buffalo

Lift name Type Operated Length/Vert Location Notes
Cresta area . -
Cresta Rope tow 1937 - 1938 180 / ? Cresta Built by Gill Afflick. 1937 = 108 m, ext to 180 m in '38 and changed to nutcracker. Burnt Jan 39
? 2-Chair-F 1964? - ? - Cresta Saddle Part of Ollie Polasek’s Tatra development
? T-bar 1964?-<1984 - - Part of Ollie Polasek’s Tatra development
? Poma 1964? - ? - - Part of Ollie Polasek’s Tatra development
? 2-Chair-F >1984 - ? - - Cost $200,000, many teething problems
Beginners Montaz fixed grip < 1983 > 180 / 27 - -
Operating in 2006 . -
Cresta Poma <1983 - 2006 427 / 127 - Some of these are original 1960's Tatra tows
Gully Poma <1983 - 2006 165 / 33 - Some of these are original 1960's Tatra tows
Cresta Valley 2-Chair-F <1983 - 2006 302 / 80 - Some of these are original 1960's Tatra tows
Valley 2-Chair-F >1983 - 2006 - - Apparently this lift was supposed to be twice as long but resort ran out of money when it was being built
Novice Poma >1983 - 2006 - - Some of these are original 1960's Tatra tows
Dingo Dell area . -
The Nutcracker Nutcracker 1949 - c.1966 - - Cost £300. Built by Canadians Herb Hall & Paul Heikkila using parts & Cadillac engine from Cresta. 6d ride, 10/- week. Revamped & repowered in 1951
Number One Poma 196? - 1998? 240 / 40 - Cost $20,000. Only operated on weekends from 1996 - 98
Number Two Poma ? - 1998? 216 / 37 - Only operated on weekends from 1996 - 1998
Bambi Portable ? - 1989 90 / 6 - -
Proposed lift
Skyway Gondola 2009 3 - 4 km - Proposed by tourist assoc. Newspaper article, Local TV news

Dingo Dell’s last season was probably 1998 (or possibly 1988), at the time there was a rope tow and two Pomas there. Cresta’s last season was 2006 when five lifts remained. Final trail maps for Dingo Dell and Cresta areas before they closed.

None of the histories of Mt Buffalo pay much attention to the precise dates, location or names of ski lifts, so the information in this table is rather vague. Any accurate information would be appreciated. Please email sisson.dave at yahoo.com.au

In December 2006, The Buffalo Lodge (formerly known as Tatra Inn) burnt down and in January 2007 the lessees relinquished their lease of the Buffalo Chalet. At the time the Chalet was still structurally sound, but it is unlikely to operate again. In 2007 the state government was unwilling to grant a lease long enough to justify the huge expenditure required to make the rather old fashioned Chalet attractive to guests. While they are now prepared to offer a long lease, it's probably too late. Unless the Chalet is occupied and maintained, it is only a matter of time until a storm or fire damages it irreparably. It all makes a sad end to Victoria’s first ski resort, Australia's oldest surviving ski lodge and the site of Australia's first ski lift.

In the summer of 2012-2013, the ski lifts were offered for sale . One was bought by Dinner Plain and will be used as a tubing lift from the 2015 season, while a Poma may have been bought by a caravan park outside Albury and adapted for use by mountain bikes. News of any others would be appreciated.

Reopening proposal. In winter 2015 a proposal was floated to reopen five lifts at Cresta by an outfit called 'Mt Buffalo Snow Resort Pty Ltd'. It's directors are Ben Mock and Jamie Cottee. Detaiis are on their website www.mtbuffalo.com

Thanks to "Wangaratta_bloke" and to Steve Kemp for information on Dingo Dell.

© David Sisson 2007 - 2017. This list was first published on 3 August 2007 and has been updated regularly since then.

9. Mt Buller

?
Lift name Type Manufacturer Operated Length/Vert Location Notes
Bourke St Rope tow/Nutcrac Home made 1949 - 1958 270 / 180 - S.C.V & BMW S.C. Support towers added & converted to nutcracker in 1950
Bull Run Port. nutcracker - 1953 - 1954 - - Blue. Extended in '54, relocated to Mt St Bernard, still operates
Bull Run Nutcracker - 1955 - 1961 - - Blue (John Hilton-Wood)
Baldy Portable rope tow - 1957 - 1961 - - Blue (Ernest & Aurel Forras, sold to John Hilton-Wood)
Tyrol / Little Baldy Rope tow - 1956?- 1962 c.300/ ? Tyrol Maurice Selle.
Skyline / Little Collins St Rope tow - 1959 - 1961 488 / 75 Skyline Blue Lifts (then named Bull Run Enterprises)
Koflers / Transportation Nutcracker - 1959 - 1963 - - BMW Ski Tow Group later became Orange (then named Ski Lifts Mt Buller)
Bourke St T-bar Locally made 1959 - 1968 - Bourke St Orange. Parts later used at either Guthega or Ben Lomond
Federation T-bar - 1959 - 1980  ? / 190 Federation Orange Lifts. Replaced by Federation triple chair
Bourke St Double rope tow - 1961 - 1963 - Bourke St Orange Lifts
Chamois Rope tow - 1961 - 1963 180/ ? - Konrad Koch, bought by Blue and replaced with a Poma. Possibly 1st ran in '62?
Bull Run T-bar Doppelmayr 1962 - 1984 638 / 240 Bull Run Blue Lifts. Maybe 610 m long/ 245 m vertical
Skyline T-bar Doppelmayr 1963 -present 480 / 90 South of Bourke St Blue Lifts. Oldest lift still operating at Buller
Shaky Knees / Swanston St T-bar - 1963 - 2004 300/120 - Orange. Replaced by Emirates / Shakey Knees quad chair
Bourke St 2-Chair-F Doppelmayr 1964 - 1983 610 / 90 Bourke St Blue Lifts. First Doppelmayr double chairlift in the world
Summit Poma Pomagalski 1964 - 1983 244 / 68 - Orange, rebuilt at Ben Lomond as 30 Sec & Big Ben
Summit Access/Howqua Poma Pomagalski 1964 - 83/90's 1070/ 136 * * See notes below
Chamois Poma Pomagalski 1965 - 1987 608 / 213 - Blue Lifts. Extended in 1968 or 69, originally 548 / 205
Boggy Creek T-bar McCulloch? 1967 -present 410 / 141 - Orange. Made by a local company. Name needs to be confirmed
Summit duplicate Poma Pomagalski 1968 - 1983 - - Orange, rebuilt at Ben Lomond as 30 Sec & Big Ben
Whittaker Poma Pomagalski 1969 - 1981 - Near Village run Blue. Replaced by Village T-bar
Baldy Duplex Poma Pomagalski 1969 - 1985 274 / 138 Heli Flat - Baldy Orange Lifts
Tyrol / Tirol T-bar - 1972 -present 1610/ 356 Orig ran to Baldy Orange. Shortened in 1987. Spelling change c.2004. New mid-load added 2014. Diesel engine replaced by electic 2015.
Beginners / Ski School platter - 1974 - 2003 - Mid Bourke St Orange. Replaced by Carpet
Baldy 2-Chair-F Pomagalski 1974 - 1983 792 / 77 - Blue Lifts
Beginners Carousel - 1976 - 1977 - Helicopter Flat Orange Lifts
Koflers T-bar - 1977 -present 300 / 130 - Orange Lifts. Originally to the bottom of Howqua.
Enzian Poma Pomagalski 1979 - 1996 244 / 77 Upper Chamois Blue Lifts
Grimus 3-Chair-F Doppelmayr 1979 -present 800 / 192 Nth side of Summit Orange Lifts
Burnt Hut Spur 3-Chair-F Doppelmayr 1980 - 2009 310 / 105 - Orange. Wrecked by lightning strike on 28/02/10. Pic. Replaced by Bonza quad
Sun Valley Poma Pomagalski 1980 - 1985 900 / 300 B/w Bull & Fed Blue. Built pre '80 season, but may not have opened until '81. Accessed Federation slopes
Federation 3-Chair-F Doppelmayr 1981 -present 1000/ 332 - Orange Lifts. Replaced & extended original T-bar
Horse Hill 3-Chair-F Doppelmayr 1982 - 1985 1700/ 390 - Orange Lifts. Moved to Helicopter Flat in 1986
Village T-bar - 1982 - 2003 853 / 219 - Blue Lifts. Replaced & extended Whittaker Poma
Beginners Poma - 1980 -present 310 / 105 - Orange Lifts
Playground Poma - < 1983 > 100 / 30 Helicopter Flat Orange Lifts
Blue Bullet 1 4-Chair-D Doppelmayr 1984 -present - Lower Bourke St Not oldest detachable quad operating, some Euro '83 lifts still exist
Blue Bullet 2 4-Chair-D Doppelmayr 1984 - 2007 - Baldy Blue Lifts. Replaced Baldy double chair
Summit 4-Chair-F Doppelmayr 1984 -present - - Orange Lifts. Replaced duplex Pomas
Howqua 4-Chair-F Poma 1984 -present - Howqua/Family - Baldy Orange. Eng, twr heads, bullwheels are for triple, other parts are quad
Spurs / Trainer T-bar - 1984 - 2011 - Top of Horse Hill Orange. Very short, allowed easier transverse to Bourke St
Bull Run 4-Chair-F Doppelmayr 1985 -present - - Blue Lifts. Replaced Bull Run T-bar
Horse Hill / Northside Express 4-Chair/Gond-D Doppelmayr 1986 -present - Mid station at Chalet Ck Renamed 2012. 106 chairs 20 gondolas. 1st ski gondola in Aust Film of lift in '86
Helicopter Flat / ABOM 3-Chair-F Doppelmayr 1986 - 2007 - - Replaced Baldy, moved from Horse Hill. Renamed 03. Sold to Selwyn
Dam Rope tow - 1987 - 2011 - Near Spurs Very short beginners lift, replaced by carpet from Burnt Hut
Southside 4-Chair-F Doppelmayr 1990 -present - Federation area -
Ski Kindy No. 1 Rope tow - 1991 -present - - _
Wombat 4-Chair-F Doppelmayr 1993 -present - - -
Chamois / Lydia Lassila 2-Chair-F Doppelmayr 1993 -present - Chamois bowl Has a mid station. Renamed before 2011 season
Canyon Rope Tow [1] Rope tow - 1997 -present - Sth of bus station Very gentle grade, link between Chamois & Bull Run
Canyon Rope Tow [2] Rope tow - 1997 -present - Sth of bus station Simple rope tows, rope gripped in the glove
Tube Park Rope tow - 1998 -present - - -
Bluff View Rope tow - 2001 -present - Baldy rail park -
Cattleman's 1 Carpet - 2003 -present - - -
Cattleman's 2 Carpet - 2003 -present - - -
Bourke St Carpet Carpet - 2004 -present - - -
Emirates / Shaky Knees/ Discovery / SK / The Fox 4-Chair-F Doppelmayr 2005 -present 633 / 151 Upper Tyrol 2.3 m/s. Replaced Shakey Knees T-bar. Called Northside pre opening, renamed 2011, 2012, 2015
Holden / ABOM Express 6-Chair-D Doppelmayr 2008 -present 997 / 127 Heli Flat - Baldy Cost $7m, speed 5.0 m/s Replaced BB2 & Heli/ABOM Initial press release Renamed 2014?
Burnt Hut 1 Carpet - 2010 - 2011 160 / ? - Carpet (sourced from NZ?) after lightning destroyed BH chair
Burnt Hut 2 Carpet - 2010 - 2011 160 / ? - Replaced by new fixed grip quad chair in 2012
Bonza 4-Chair-F Doppelmayr 2012 -present 533 / 132 Burnt Hut Repaced Burnt Hut triple chair. Cost $3.1 m. Speed 2.3 m/s. Link to webpage
Gliders Carpet - 2012 -present - - Replaced Spurs T-bar. Located on Burnt Hut Spur 2010-11, previously in NZ
Happy Feet Carpet - 2012 -present - - Replaced Dam rope tow. Located on Burnt Hut Spur 2010-11, previously in NZ
Proposed Lifts . . . . . .
Kofler's Rope Tow - 1939 & 1940 122 / 60 Horse Hill Foundations poured early '39. To be ready for '40 season, stopped by war
Kofler's Funicular rail - 1940 - Mirimbah - Chalet Hybrid of local logging cableways & 1930's European funicular railways
Shaky Knees - Helicopter Flat"Trolley sledge lift"=Funicular? 1954 Base SK/Slalom Gully-Heli Flat Harold Cuming. Work began, but permission later refused. Loss of Welcome Inn to fire in 1955 led to Cumming transfering to Mt Mawson (SH 10/54 p6, 1/55 p3, 10/55 p2)
Federation ? 1954 Federation Kooroora (Forras brothers). Application to build refused by Forests Commission. (SH 11/54 p7)
Village Gondola 2010 plan Horse Hill-town centre Page 24 of Final masterplan 2010, Draft masterplan early 2010
Playground Unspecified 2010 plan Spurs - Baldy Draft masterplan 2010

In common with Ben Lomond and Mt Baw Baw, Mt Buller had two lift companies for many years. They issued a joint ticket in 1984 and merged in 1985 when Bull Run Enterprises (Blue Lifts) took over Mt Buller Ski Lifts (Orange Lifts). The company is now called Buller Ski Lifts.

The interactive trail map for Buller's ski slopes.

At least seven old ski lifts from Mt Buller were relocated to other Australian mountains in three states. Buller is the only Australian resort with a consistent record of selling its discarded lifts.

  • Ben Lomond bought several lifts including the Bourke St rope tow, both summit Pomas and the Bourke St double chairlift.
  • The original 1953 Bull Run nutcracker lift still operates on Mt St Bernard and is one of the oldest ski lifts still operating in the world.
  • Guthega bought a T-bar from Orange Lifts in the mid 1970's, (possibly the Bourke St T-bar, as both had arch type frames).
  • Most recently, the Helicopter / ABOM triple chair was sold to Selwyn Snowfields.

* Summit Access / Howqua. This poma replaced the Koflers/Transportation nutcracker lift in 1964. In 1984 it was partly replaced by the Howqua quad and two years later the other end was removed to make way for the Helicopter / ABOM triple chair. The poma loaded at both ends and ran from the current base of Holden chair over the hill and down to the where the queue for Howqua now is. (Although some say it may have gone further downhill.) The east side was named Summit Access, the west end was Howqua (this section was 536 long / 86 vertical).

It holds the speed record for the fastest Australian ski lift of all time (6.5 metres per second) but after a few accidents, it was restricted to 4.0 m/s when open to the public and only operated at full speed for staff. From the late 1980's to the early 1990's, a truncated Summit Access poma ran from near Fawlty Towers to the top of the Howqua chair.

Ad for the Buller ski-lift in the 1939 Australian and New Zealand Ski Yearbook. Note the sling style seat. Construction was initially delayed by the 1939 bush fires and then by the outbreak of World War II. 

Ad for the Buller ski-lift in the 1939 Australian and New Zealand Ski Yearbook. Note the sling style seat. Construction was initially delayed by the 1939 bush fires and then by the outbreak of World War II. 

More on Buller history:

Jim Darby. Mt Buller: the story of a mountain. tSm Publishing, 2008.

David Joss. Mt Buller: a history. Alpine Resorts Commission, n.d. (1995?). 36 page booklet.

Ernest Forras, Jan Henderson. Ernest escapades, or seriously for fun only: the autobiography of Ernest Forras. Ernest Forras, 1994.

Harry Stephenson. Skiing the high plains: a history of the ski exploration of Victoria's alpine area. Graphic Books, 1982. Pages 198 - 219.

I. C. Dillon. Tracks of the morning: a Timbertop history text. Geelong Grammar School, 1989. Pages 323 - 357.

Magazines. Most ski magazines have covered the development of Buller, but the Australian and New Zealand ski yearbook and two Victorian ski monthlies, Schuss and Ski Horizon were published during the formative years of the mountain.

Club histories. Club histories tend to focus on work parties, lodge construction and administration, but they also give a good idea of skiers experiences over the years.

Lynette Sheridan. University Ski Club 1929 - 1979. U.S.C, 1988. Chapter 9, pages 130 - 161.

Janis Lloyd. Skiing into history: 1924 - 1984. Ski Club of Victoria, 1986. Pages 93 - 197.

Ann Crawford. A proud achievement: 50 years of YHA on Mt Buller 1947 - 1997. YHA, 1997. 58 page booklet.

© David Sisson 2007 - 2017. This list was first published on 10 July 2007 and has been updated regularly since then.

10. Mt Hotham

Lift name Type Manufacturer Operated Length/Vert Location Notes
Blue Ribbon Nutcracker Hamilton 1952 -72, 3 or 4? 560or610/235or253 - Cost £3000, capacity 12 at a time. Length & vert figures vary
Higginbotham Rope tow - 1958? - >1965 61 / - Davenport Probably owned by Ski Tows Ltd.
Basin Rope tow - 1958 or 9- 62? 61 / ? Basin Run Ski Tows Ltd. Replaced by a Poma
Jack Hedley's Rope tow - 1962 - 1964 - Pimples - Swindlers Lift had previously run as Dogpatch at Falls Creek
Basin Poma - 1963 or 4-1970 - Today's Basin Run Ski Tows Ltd. Moved to Davenport
? Rope Tow? - 1963 - ? - Above Blue Ribbon Formerly "Novice tow at Hotham" before being moved
Jack's Tow J-bar - 1965? -1968? - Sun Run Aparently unreliable. May have originally been a rope tow
Pole Line / Summit Poma Poma 1966 - 1987 790 / 95 Summit Ski Tows Ltd.
Playground 2-Chair-F Doppelamyr 1969 - present 614 / 199 now < Originally 954 / 300 Initially planned for Aust Drift. Only ran from mid station to top in 1969. full length operated from 1970. Shortened for 1993. 1000 p/hr
Davenport Poma Poma 1971 - 1983 240 / 43 Big D area Moved from Basin, replaced by Big D quad chair
Brockhoff Poma Poma 1973 - 1986 790 / 290 North of Heavenly Valley Originally planned to name it Snake Gully Poma. Only Poma with 2 corners in Australia. Partly replaced by Heavenly Valley quad
Basin Platter Doppelmayr 1974 - 1992 175 / 44 - Moved to Koala Park?
Sun Run T-bar Doppelamyr 1977 - 1994 350 / 98 North side of present Sun Run -
Summit T-bar Doppelamyr 1979 - 1994 580 / 87 - Moved to Australia Drift
Blue Ribbon 3-Chair-F Doppelamyr 1981 - present 710or560 / 271 - Capacity 1600 per hour
Plains of Heaven / Ski School Platter Doppelamyr 1981 - 1983 153 / 36 Lower Blue Ribbon Moved to Dinner Plain
Big D 4-Chair-F Doppelamyr 1984 - present 396 / 64 Davenport Replaced Davenport Poma. Capacity 2400 per hr
Heavenly Valley 4-Chair-F Doppelmayr 1987 - present 845 / 314or395? - Replaced Brockoff Poma. Capacity 2400 per hr
Summit 4-Chair-F Doppelamyr 1988 - present 595 / 98 - May have been installed 1989, not 1988. Capacity 2400 per hour
Village / Audi Quattro 4-Chair-F Poma 1993 - present 800 / 275 - Name changed 2016. Capacity 2400 per hour
Koala Park Platter Doppelamyr 1993 - 1997 - B/w Zirky's & White Cryst Moved to summit. Renamed Summit Trainer
Road Runner 4-Chair-F Poma 1995 - present 671 / 153 - Capacity 2400 per hour
Australia Drift / The Drift T-bar - 1995 - present 370 / 88 - Moved from Summit. Capacity 1285 per hr
Gotcha 4-Chair-F Doppelmayr 1997 - present 472 / 140 - Capacity 2400 per hour
Keogh's 4-Chair-F Doppelmayr 1997 - present 383 / 188 - Continues over valley as Orchard, loads in middle. 2400 hr
Orchard 4-Chair-F Doppelmayr 1997 - present 573 / 154 - Continues over valley as Keogh's, loads in middle. 2400 hr
Summit Trainer Platter Doppelmayr 1998 - present 132 / 22 - Formerly at Koala Park. Capacity 500 per hour
Big D Trainer Rope tow - 1999 - 2008? - - -
Pups Playground Carpet - ? - present 17 / ? Davenport -
Harry's Hideaway Carpet - ? - present 50 / ? Davenport -
Proposed Lifts . . . . . .
Australia Drift 2-Chair-F - 1968 - - Planned location for double chair. Location changed before installation
Imagine - Summit Chairlift - 2014 - Top of Slalom Gully-Summitt In RMB plan (not lift co's). Aims to reduce congestion in Slalom Gully
Higginbotham Chairlift - 2014 - North side of Higgi Connects Village chair with Big D. In RMB plan (not lift companys)
Australia Drift 4-Chair-- - 2014 - - Proposal to replace Drift Lift T-bar with quad chair
Existing and proposed Hotham lifts 2014. The proposed lifts are shown by dashed lines.

Existing and proposed Hotham lifts 2014. The proposed lifts are shown by dashed lines.

Thanks to Tim Meier for help with information on lift manufacturers.

Information on lifts at Hotham in the 1960's is conflicting. After the monthly magazines Ski Horizon and Schuss ceased publication, there was no reliable record of exactly what was happening in Victorian skiing. Wendy Cross's excellent book Australian skiing: the first 100 years doesn't cover events after 1962, but she states that Basin was the second lift, running from 1958 - 59 before being moved to Davenport.

Lift companies. The original lift company: Ski Tows Limited was operated on a cost recovery basis by members of the University Ski Club and the Alpine Club of Victoria. It never paid a dividend. Jack Hedley also ran a couple of lifts for a few years. Ski Tows Ltd's lack of capital hampered further development of the mountain. After the 1968 season a controlling interest in the company was sold to Desmond Schumann who built the Playground double chair. It was originally planned for the Australia Drift / Avalanche Gully area, but the location was changed to the current site just before it was installed. In 1995 the Schumann family sold Ski Tows Limited to BCR Management so they could concentrate on Silver Star and Big White, ski resorts in B.C. Canada which Schumann family interests had acquired.

In the latter years of Schumann ownership a number of old surface lifts were replaced with chairlifts. When BCR Management took over, they continued the chairlift construction programme and in 1997 built Gotcha, Keogh's and Orchard in areas that had never had lifts before. Infrastructure development continued in 1999 with the opening of the airport at nearby Horsehair Plain.

All this development appears to have over extended BCR Management and in 2004 the lift company was sold to MFS Living and Leisure, a listed Gold Coast land developer that also owned aquariums and treetop walks. They had great plans for expansion of both lifts and buildings. As they also owned the lifts at Falls Creek, a lift ticket was valid at both resorts. However the plans came to nothing when MFS L&L went broke in 2008. The company was bailed out when a controlling shareholding was acquired by the Jamie Packer controlled outfit that owned the ski lifts at Perisher. In December 2011 L&L was sold to Merlin Entertainments, a UK based tourist group with attractions worldwide including theme parks and the Lego Land and Madame Tussauds chains. At the time Merlin did not own any ski resorts except for Hotham and Falls so there was speculation about whether they planed to hold on to the renamed Mount Hotham Skiing Company, but they still own Hotham and Falls, although no new lifts have been announced at either resort. An indication that Merlin continued to be interested in the ski industry is that they were negotiating to buy Cardrona in New Zealand in 2013.

There is fragmentary evidence for a hand held rope tow operating at Diamantina Hut near Hotham in the late 1960's or early 1970s.  Any conformation of it's existence would appreciated, solid details such as it's route or a photo would be appreciated even more.

Recent trail map.

More on Hotham history:
Donald Bennett. Hotham horizon: the Alpine Club of Victoria. The author, 1987.
Jennifer McLennan. Not below 5000: a history of the Ski Club of East Gippsland. S.C.E.G., 2001.
Lynette Sheridan. University Ski Club: 1929 - 1979. U.S.C., 1988.
Gillian Salmon. The king of Hotham: my father. Lindsay Salmon - the Drift Chalet - Mount Hotham. Gillian Magnabosco, 2013.

© David Sisson 2007 - 2017. This list was first published on 19 July 2007 and has been updated regularly since then.

Ticket prices in 1965. A 7 day ticket for all tows cost £7. Blue Ribbon nutcracker cost 30 shillings for 10 rides or 5/- for a single ride. Basin Poma and Higginbotham rope tow: 30/- for 40 rides or 1/- for a single ride.

.      Advertisement for the Blue Ribbon nutcracker tow, the only lift at Hotham in 1953

.      Advertisement for the Blue Ribbon nutcracker tow, the only lift at Hotham in 1953

A few details on the Blue Ribbon nutcracker tow.

Hamilton 'Type B' rope tow. Cost of purchase and construction £3,000. 1836 feet (560 metres) long, vertical lift 770' (235 m.), average slope 25 degrees. Powered by a 28 horsepower (21 kilowatt) Bedford Truck engine which was housed in a hut at the top of the tow near the road. The tow rope was 1 inch ( 2.54 cm) sisal. It was supported on 9 poles with waist height pulleys that could be raised or lowered according to the depth of snow. Capacity 12 at a time. The trip took four minutes at a speed of 6.8 miles per hour (11 kph) compared to a 40 minute walk up the slope. A canteen was added to the tow hut in 1957.

Building the Blue Ribbon nutcracker tow. 

An extract from: Donald Bennett. Hotham horizon: the Alpine Club of Victoria: reminiscence. Pages 95 - 97.

The first ski tow on Hotham was a major development. This too was conceived and brought about by the joint efforts of the University Ski Club and the Alpine Club of Victoria...

... The subject of tows was first raised during a... meeting on 22nd June 1950. The minutes... state, 'George Chisholm opened the subject of a ski tow for Mt. Hotham and produced detailed information of the Hamilton tow widely used in New Zealand. A meeting of a group of interested people was arranged for Monday, 3rd July 1950, to discuss the type of tow and the financing of the project'.

George Chisholm had visited New Zealand in 1949 as Captain of the Australian Inter Dominion Team. He had been most impressed by the Hamilton rope tow manufacturers at Littleton near Christchurch. This rope tow was used at Coronet Peak and gave George ample opportunity to assess the practicability of the device.

A company, rejoicing in the name of Ski Tows Ltd., was formed in 1950 with four U.S.C. and three Alpine members earlier mentioned as directors. We determined to purchase a Hamilton Tow and, as usual, the immediate problem was finance. This elusive commodity was acquired by our joint contributions and the practice of a polite species of highway robbery, brow beating and moral suasion on our unfortunate friends. In all there were over fifty shareholders of touching faith.

Nobody ever expected that the company would pay a dividend. Their expectations were absolutely correct.

The Hamilton tow consisted of an endless one inch diameter sisal rope passing over pulleys, mounted on brackets adjustable in height to cope with varying snow depths. The pulley brackets were attached to nine inch steel pipes some 20 feet high, set at appropriate intervals down the slope. A 'nut cracker' attached to a waist belt, clipped onto the moving rope. These waist belts were fabricated from old war time aircraft belts. Power was derived from a 28 Horsepower, 6 cylinder, Bedford Truck motor, located in an engine house just below the road. The engine house also provided accommodation for the tow operator in separate living quarters.

A certain skill was required whilst stationary and awaiting uphill transport to clip the nut cracker onto the moving rope. Failure to adequately connect, or careless ski orientation, resulted in undignified collapse or being dragged up the slope on your posterior. Another hazard was the possibility of loose clothing being wrapped up in the moving rope. On its upward journey the rope sometimes revolved slowly compounded with forward motion. Legend has it that a lady of superb physical charms became thus caught up. First the parka was shed, then the pullover and finally the shirt. The tow operator, a man of rigid moral principles, is alleged to have stopped the tow some distance from the expectant uphill onlookers. This allowed the deprived damsel to fade gracefully into the bushes. Topless skiers were rare in those days.

Despite these hazards the ascent out of the Drag was reduced from 40 minutes on climbing skins to about 4 minutes over 770 vertical feet, the rope tow carrying ten skiers upwards at a time. Initially, there was much debate amongst the directors on a suitable location. After all, the tow was to be the longest in Australia at that time and the first at Hotham. The chosen site was on a slope now occupied by the Blue Ribbon chair lift and effectively serviced the Drag, Blue Ribbon and the Wood Run downhill descents. The final location was surveyed and cleared during the weekend of 16th and 17th February 1952.

An alternative site was considered near the later situation of the Brockhoff Tow. This was ruled out partly because of doubts if a rope tow and passengers could negotiate a bend in the tow line, obviously needed at this location because of the terrain. It is of interest to note that during our explorations in the valley around this area we discovered a small grass grown flat on which could still be seen the outline of a log cabin. The outline was nothing more than moss lines with cross-over points at four corners. We surmised that it had once been an overseer's quarters when the water race to Brandy Creek Mine was under construction in the sixties of the last [19th] century. Today, of course, the water race, partly dug into the hillside and partly supported by stone escarpments, is a convenient track for skiers passing between runs off Loch Spur.

The company was unique in that the Directors were also the installation engineers, fabricators and general labourers. A shop steward of the Builders Labourers Federation would have been completely non-plussed. A major labour was pole erection, much of it over a rock scree slope. In some locations base holes had to be blasted out of the rocky soil. Hamish Pearson was O/C gelignite and he developed a playful habit of letting off a charge with scant warning. If one was working down the pole line the drill, on hearing the explosion, was to immediately cease all activities and gaze intently at the blue sky. Thus the observer skipped nimbly aside to avoid falling rocks descending out of the heavens.

To assist in correct installation, we imported a New Zealander, one Snowy Hansen, to supervise the project. Snowy was a man of iron nerve, having been in a Bomb Disposal unit at the Middle East Front during the 1939-1945 war. However, like many New Zealanders, he had somewhat of a complex about snakes - New Zealand is free from these reptiles. On arriving at Melbourne Airport his anxious queries concerning snakes at Hotham were soothed by soft and oblique answers. Even we did not then know that the Blue Ribbon scree slope housed a significant number of tiger snakes and copperheads.

Snowy was installed at Hotham and all was peace and joy until one day he noticed various directors at work down the scree slope suddenly leaping downward or sideways for no apparent reason. Naturally he queried this eccentric behaviour and, perforce, we had to tell him about the snakes. His immediate reaction was to arm himself with a pale blue broom handle as a defensive weapon. This never left his side and rumour has it that he even took the broom handle to bed with him! Our duplicity pained him and he sorrowfully stated that 'if he had known he would not have left New Zealand'. Fortunately nobody was bitten and it is probable Hamish Pearson's mighty gelignite blasts dispersed the snakes to more peaceful quarters.

The tow commenced operation in the winter of 1952 and gave many years of service until 1965. Subsequently Ski Tows Ltd. was disposed of to Desmond Schuman. It was the forerunner of the network of chairlifts, pomas and T-bars now reticulating over Hotham slopes.

11. Mt Mawson

Lift name Type Operated Length/Vert Location Notes
Cuming Rope tow 1958 - 1960 153 / ? Golden Stairs - Picnic Boulder Owned by Harold Cuming. Burnt Jan 1961
Mawson Nutcracker 1963 - present 198 / 50 - Extended in 1982. Most southerly ski lift in Australia
University Nutcracker 1968 - present 250 / 58 - Length & vertical figures may not be accurate as Mawson seems to be longer
Rodway Nutcracker 1973 - present 275 / 80 Eastern end of Rodway Range Reputedly the steepest ski lift in Australia
Beginners Handle tow 1960s - early 90s 70 / 15 Between Mawson & University Operated in conjunction with Sitzmark. When they closed, so did the tow

Unlike Ben Lomond in northern Tasmania, Mt Mawson never developed into a modern ski resort. It is the last 'club field' in Australia that is still open to the public. (Although there are still three club run ski lifts in Victoria, a club owned Poma and handle tow at Cabramurra in NSW and plenty of club fields in New Zealand.)

The lifts are operated by volunteers drawn from the seven clubs with lodges on the mountain. In recent years they have only operated on weekends and occasionally midweek during school holidays. Rodway is probably the steepest surface lift in Australia, but it often doesn't operate even when other lifts are open. This due to shortages of volunteer lift operators and ski patrollers as well as government restrictions on summer grooming to remove rocks, meaning a heavy snow cover is needed for the lift to run.

Resort websitehttp://mtmawson.info/

Click for resort map showing the day shelters, three ski tows and seven club lodges.

© David Sisson 2007 - 2017. This list was first published on 25 July 2007 and has been updated regularly since then.

12. New South Wales, outside resorts

Location Owner Operated Name Notes
Main Range Ski Tourers Assoc 1954 - 1956 Northcote Tow Hamilton Tow. c.500/160. Blew up. Parts used to build Crackenback nutcracker at Thredbo
Main Range Ski Tourers Assoc 1957 - 1958? Albina T-bar Info in Cross Australian skiing: the first 100 years & Southwell-Keely Highway to Heaven. p.58
Diggers Creek Hotel Kosciusko Late 1940's?-51? Port rope tow Kerry Course, dates uncertain. Johnny Abbotsmith, moved to Perisher after fire
Diggers Creek Tony Sponar 1960 - ? Poma Kerry Course, near Sponar's Lakeside Inn. Promomotional film of its operation
Kosciusko Road Unknown 1950's Port rope tow North of Kosci Rd between Sponars & Smiggins, probably Abbotsmith's portable tow
Kiandra Wally Reed c.1945- 1956 - Township Hill, 60 m long
Kiandra Kiandra S.C. 1957 - c.1977 T-bar 550 m. Township Hill, moved to other side of hill in '61, later moved to Selwyn
Kiandra Tumut Ski Club 1958 - c,1977 Rope tow New Chum Hill, lift originally located at Kings Cross
Kiandra Colin Myers ?60's -late 70's Rope tow -
Unknown location Tumut Ski Club 1949 - ? Rope tow Had 8 hp Ford engine. Refered to in Ski Horizon April 1950. p. 6.
Rules Point Tumut Ski Club 1951 - ? Rope tow Refered to in Ski Horizon June 1951. p. 2.
Kings Cross Tumut Ski Club 1954 - 1957 Rope tow Half way between Kiandra & Selwyn, moved to New Chum Hill, Kiandra
Kings Cross Cabramurra S.C. 1961 - c.1970 - One source says after closing this tow used to extend the SMA Tate tow at Guthega, but dates clash
Cabramurra Cabramurra S.C. 1955 - ? Village Tow Built 1954 but didn't operate. Some material donated by SMHEA. Extended 56 & 60
Cabramurra Cabramurra S.C.? 1960's - present Handle tow Now operated by Cabramurra Ski Club
Cabramurra Cabramurra S. C. ? - present Village Poma Replaced Village rope tow
Round Mountain Corryong S. C.? 1960's?- 1970's? - Some poles remain
Tooma Dam: Montagues Hut  ? 1960's?- 1970's? - Pulleys attached to trees, dismantled each year

All non resort lifts in NSW were probably nutcrackers or rope tows except Sponar's Poma, the Cabramurra Poma and handle tow and the Kiandra T-bar. Thanks to Craig Doubleday for his reports on sites near Selwyn Snowfields and the Northcote Tow. Thanks also to Kerry Symes for an email about the rope tow between Sponars and Smiggins.

The tow building activities in the 1950s around the Kings Cross - Selwyn area are a little confusing. An example is that the May 1954 issue of Ski Horizon reports that the Cabramurra Ski Club built a tow with 700 feet of vertical 'from the foot of a long valley'. But it is difficult to work out precisely where that tow was. The Tumut Ski Club appears to have built four tows (or possibly moved existing tows?), but again, I have unable to work out the details. If you have any further information, please email sisson dot dave at yahoo dot com dot au. Thanks.

© David Sisson 2007 - 2017. This list was first published on 24 July 2007 and has been updated regularly since then.

13. Perisher (including Smiggin Holes, Guthega and Blue Cow)

Lift name Type Manufacturer Operated Length/Vert Location Notes
Perisher Valley .
? Rope tow - 1952 - 1955? - ? Johnny Abbotsmith, moved from Hotel Kosci after it burnt down
Big Tow aka Tow Hut Tow Nutcracker - 1955 - 1961? 600 / 182 North Perisher Cost £7,500. Perisher Valley Enterprises (Sverre Kaaten) Photo
Village Rope tow - 1956 - 1959? - b/w Cronulla & Telemark J. Abbotsmith, moved 1957? & 59? Replaced by Sundeck T-bar
Cooma Ski Club Tow Rope tow - c.1958 - 59? - Cooma S.C. lodge Cooma Ski Club. Bought by Ken Murray and demolished
Sundeck (No. 1) T-bar Gam-Ski Tows 1959 - ? - Below Sundeck Hotel Cost £5,000. Ken Murray’s “Murray Publishers”
Mt Perisher Double 2-Chair-F Mueller + 1961 - present 1075/ 275 - Mueller supplied plans & grips built & fabricated by Transfield Cost £80k
? No. 2? T-bar Gam-Ski Tows 1962 - ? - - Replaced Village tow
Big Tow T-bar - 1962 - ? - North Perisher Kaaten. Replaced the Big Tow, sold to K. Murray for '63 season
Sundeck Poma Poma - 1963 - ? - Tom Thumb area -
Lawson (No. 6) T-bar Doppelmayr 1963 - present 540 / 125 - -
Blaxland (No. 5) Duplex T-bar Doppelmayr 1963 - present 510 / 110 - Duplex with Wentworth
Sturt (No. 4) T-bar Doppelmayr 1964 - present 470 / 50 -
Flat T-bar - ? - c.1976 - Perisher Creek Used to access North Perisher
North Perisher T-bar - 1968 - present 565 / 175 - -
Mitchell (No. 1) T-bar - 1968 - present 420 / 70 - -
Sun Valley T-bar - 1969 - present 530 / 165 - -
Wentworth (No. 5A) Duplex T-bar Doppelmayr 1969 - present 510 / 110 - Duplex with Blaxland
Olympic T-bar - 1973 - present 345 / 65 Above Sun Valley Cornered T-Bar, accessing difficult terrain
Eyre T-bar - 1974 - present 735 / 205 On Mt Perisher Built summer of 1972-3, first ran 74. Furthest west lift in Perisher
Flinders (No. 3) Duplex T-bar - <1976 - 2002 545 / 100 - Duplex with Bass, replaced by Village 8
Bass (No. 2) Duplex T-bar - <1976 - 2002 420 / 100 - Duplex with Flinders, replaced by Village 8
Leichhardt (No. 7) T-bar - 1976 - present 540 / 40 - Called The Self Loader by those who recall when it was
Back Perisher 3-Chair-F ? 1976 - 1985 ? / ? - Opened by Tamie Fraser, wife of the Prime Minister. Replaced by Perisher Express
International T-bar - 1977 - present 890 / 255 Between Eyre & Mt P double -
Tom Thumb J-bar - 1977 - present 140 / 55 - May have been a T-bar circa 1983
Pretty Valley 2-Chair-F - 1978 - present 990 / 153 - -
Pretty Valley 3-Chair-F - 1978?-1985? 1707/ 264 - Moved to Mt Dobson NZ, replaced by Perisher Exp Photo
Mt Perisher Triple 3-Chair-F - 1979 - present 1230/ 280 On Mt Perisher -
Happy Valley T-bar - 1979 - present 697 / 111 - Ext by 90m in 2010. Eviro Effect Statement Was 608/96
Home Handle Tow - 1982 - present - - -
Telemark Poma - <1976 - ? 240 / ? - -
Telemark T-bar - 1982 - present 455 / 65 - -
Piper Poma - <1976-1981? - Same as Piper T-bar Marked on '76 trail map, replaced by T-bar
Piper T-bar - 1982 - present 640 / 70 - Built on site of a Poma
Perisher Exp /Freelander/Forester 4-Chair-D - 1986 - present 1540 / ? - Changes names according to sponsorship
Interceptor 4-Chair-F - 1995 - present 862 / ? - Connects Perisher Valley to Blue Cow area
Village 8 8-Chair-D Doppelmayr 2003 - present 548 / ? - Replaced Flinders and Bass T-bars
Borer Portable rope tow - < 1983 > - - -
Ski Carpet Carpet - ? - present - - -
Ski School Rope Tow - ? - 2007 - - -
Ski School 2 Carpet - 2007 - present - - -
Kids Carpet 1 Carpet - ? - present - - -
Kids Carpet 2 Carpet - ? - present - - -
Carousel Carousel Sunkid 2012 - present - - Manufactured by the Austrian company Sunkid.
Planned lift -
Mt Perisher 6 or 8 chair Announced '08 - Mt Perisher To replace 2 old chairs
Smiggin Holes . -
Ski Haven Tow Rope tow - 1952 - 1959 -  ? Johnny Abbotsmith, moved to Guthega
? Poma - 1960 - ? - - Moved slightly in 1961 to where Cook J-bar now is
No. 1? T-bar - 1961 - 1968? - Replaced by Burke/Wills duplex -
? T-bar - 1963 - ? - B/w the a lifts above -
? T-bar Mueller 1961 -present - Mt Piper Possibly move this to Perisher section?
Link T-bar - 1964 - present 610 / 130 -
Hume T-bar - 1964 - present 520 / 80 -
Burke Duplex T-bar Doppelmayr 1968 - present 610 / 155 - Duplex with Wills
Wills Duplex T-bar Doppelmayr 1969 - present 610 / 155 - Duplex with Burke
Scott J-bar - 1973 - present 280 / 35 - Converted from a Poma pre 1983
Captain Cook J-bar - 1975 - present 275 / 35 - Converted from a Poma pre 1983
Kaaten 3-Chair-F Doppelmayr 1979 - present 477 / 85 - -
Ski School ? - ? - ? - - -
Harry’s Rope tow - ? - 2007 - - -
Herman’s Rope tow - ? - 2007 - - -
Zappy’s Rope tow - ? - 2008 - - -
Zoe’s Carpet - ? - present - - -
Harry's & Herman's Carpet - 2008 - present - - -
Guthega . -
SMA Tow Nutcracker - 1957 - 1965 800 / 330 Mt Tate East Ridge Island Bend Ski Club. Extended 1960 & 63, burnt 1965
Beginners Tow Rope Tow - 1961 - 1975 - Above Walter's Hut Ex Ski Haven Tow at Smiggins Cost £600. YMCA SC then W. Spanring
Blue Calf T-bar Pomagalski 1965 - 1980? - Western Blue Calf slopes Poma brand T-bar. Walter Spanring
Cow Pastures or Powder Val? Rope tow Bruckschloegl 1976 - 1981 - Near Cow Pastures Bruckschloegl Austrian tow
Beginners? Rope tow Bruckschloegl 1976 - ? - Near Cow Pastures -
Blue Cow T-bar McCallum 1976 - 1980 - Mt Blue Cow McCallum brand, ex Mt Buller. Replaced in 1981
Blue Cow T-bar Doppelmayr 1981 - present 670 / 149 Mt Blue Cow Replaced the 1976 T-bar
Cow Pastures J-bar Doppelmayr 1981 - 2013 320 / 70 Cowpastures basin Replaced by Freedom fixed grip quad chair
Blue Calf T-bar - 1981 - present 570 / 133 - Built as a duplex T-bar
Beginners Rope tow - 1982 - ? 150 / 10 Top of chair (Saddle area) Cow Pastures tow relocated after J-Bar built
Beginners J-bar - < 1983 > 140 / 30 Off home run Served runs named Romeo, Juliet and Fred
Car Park 2-Chair-F Doppelmayr 1982 - present 610 / 130 Carpark-base Mt Blue Cow -
Rope Tow 1 - - <1992 - 1993? - - -
Rope Tow 2 - - <1992 - 1993? - - -
Freedom 4-Chair-F Doppelmayr 2014 - present  825 / 200 - Announcement Replaces & extends Cow Pa, will have load carpet
Blue Cow . -
Ski Tube Rack railway - 1988 - present 8500/ 755 Bullock's Flat - Blue Calf Official webpage, Tunnels webpage, Wikipaedia
Ridge 4-Chair-F - 1987 - present 1074 / ? - -
Summit 4-Chair-F - 1987 - present 612 / ? - -
Early Starter 2-Chair-F - 1987 - present 296 / ? - -
Terminal 4-Chair-F - 1987 - present 547 / ? - -
Pleasant Valley 4-Chair-D - 1987 - present 1193 / ? - -
Brumby T-bar - 88><92- present 487 / ? - Moved from Guthega - formerly ½ of Blue Calf Duplex
Pony Ride 1 Rope tow - 88><92- present - - -
Pony Ride 2 Rope tow - >92 - present - - Previously named Ski School?
Donkey Ride ? - >92 - ? - - -

It has been difficult to sort out often conflicting anecdotal stories about lifts at Perisher Valley and Smiggins up to the mid 1960's, so any help with this would be greatly appreciated.

Perisher Valley Unlike many resorts that have replaced lifts on the same site several times, Perisher has mostly stuck with the original lifts and some of them are over 50 years old. By 1964 Perisher had 12 lifts and by 1972 there were 14 lifts. Ken Murray sold the resort to Australian Consolidated Press after the 1972 ski season. Originally, the Perisher T-bars on Front and Centre Valleys were not named. Number 1 was Wentworth on Front Valley, and they were numbered consecutively westward to what is now Leichhardt. The Mt Perisher T-bars, Sun Valley, International, Olympic and Eyre have always had those names. Current Perisher and Guthega trail maps.

Guthega. For an updated history of Guthega and its ski lifts, see Guthega History on Wikiski.

Mergers. Perisher and Smiggins merged after the 1972 ski season. Blue Cow and Guthega merged in 1991 (under the ownership of Transfield Kumagai). Both these combined companies merged to become Perisher Blue in 1995. In 2009 'Blue' was deleted from the resort name and it became just 'Perisher'. In 2015 the unified resort was bought by Vail Resorts for A$176.6 million. The company that owns 10 ski resorts in the United States.

Perisher. Thanks to "VSG", "Ian S", "Golds70", "shadow1" and especially the person who wishes to remain anonymous who supplied many of the dates.

Guthega. Thanks to "Atlantisau" for contributions that helped to untangle the confusion of hearsay and conflicting information.

More on the history of the greater Perisher area:

Peter Southwell-Keely. Highway to heaven: a history of Perisher and the ski resorts along the Kosciuszko Road. Perisher Historical Society, 2013. Some of the information on early lifts conflicts with other sources.

- Appendix F, pp. 249 - 251 lists all club and commercial lodges built in the area (although it excludes staff accommodation, retail premises, etc.)

© David Sisson 2007 - 2017. This list was first published on 20 August 2007 and has been updated regularly since then.

14. Selwyn Snow Resort

Lift name Type Operated Length/Vert Location Notes
? Rope tow 1961? - ? - - John and Helen Dowling, tow formerly ran in the A.C.T.
The Quarry Rope tow 1966 - ? - Township run Colin Myers.
Car park 2 x rope < 1983 > 250 / 27 South of Selwyn Centre -
Beginners 2 x rope < 1983 > 200 / 20 Near New Chum chair site -
Township 1 T-bar 1972 - 2008 500 / 75 - Moved from Perisher. Replaced by Township chair in 2009
Township 2 T-bar 1978 - 2008 500 / 75 - Moved from Kiandra. Replaced by Township chair in 2009
Bullock Head Poma < 1983 > 450 / 90 North of Selwyn Centre -
Racecourse Poma < 1983 > 500 / 110 - -
Racecourse T-bar <1984 - present - - -
Ski School Rope tow <1984 - present - - -
New Chum 2-Chair-F 1988 - present - - -
Powerline Rope tow < 1983 > 300 / 42 - -
Powerline Poma ? - present - - Was to be replaced by the extended triple chair, but still intact
Homerun Poma ? - present - - -
Boomerang Platter ? - present - - -
Home Run Poma <1984 - present - - -
Snowflake Snowtube ? - present - - -
Wombat Rope tow < 1983 > 250 / 35 - -
Wombat T-bar <1984 - present - - Converted to snowtube circa 2003, back to T-bar 2009
Gentle Annie Carpet ? - present - - -
unknown ? <1998 - ? B/w Ski Sch & Home Run -
Township 3-Chair-F 2009 - present 709 / ? Township Buller's Helicopter Flat / ABOM chair relocated

Either Powerline or Homerun Poma was moved from Smiggins. Colin Myers and his family built and operated all tows on Mt Selwyn from 1966 to 2015. In October 2015 it was announced that the resort had been sold to the Blyton Group, owners of Charlotte Pass. More information on dates of lift construction would be appreciated. Current trail map.

In the past there were 11 other lifts nearby at: Kiandra (4), Tumut Ski Club (1) Kings Cross (1), Cabramurra (3), Round Mountain (1) and Tooma Dam (1). All were removed long ago except the Poma and a handle tow at Cabramurra which still operate.

© David Sisson 2007 - 2017. This list was first published on 12 August 2007 and has been updated regularly since then.

15. Tasmania: proposed resorts and proposed gondolas

Proposed Tasmanian resorts

Location Date Proposed Notes
Mt Rufus Late 1940's Rufus Ski Club. Work began on two lifts but was never completed
Black Bluff 1960 Part of Ellis brothers scheme to build a chalet & 16 cabins at Lake Lea near Cradle Mountain
Mt Rufus 1971 Planned to include a gondola, 4 chairlifts and 2 pomas. Access from Lake St Clair area
Florentine Peak Early 1970's Proposed resort development with several lifts. May have been intended to link with Mt Mawson club field
Mt Wellington 1993 Planned as part of a $31 million, fourth scheme to build a Mt Wellington cable car. The ski field was to be at the back of the mountain

Despite a number of proposals, there have been no successful attempts to build ski lifts at locations other than the ski resort at Ben Lomond and the club field at Mt Mawson. For more detailed information and a map of the proposed Mt Rufus resort, see...

Proposed Tasmanian ropeways (gondolas, funiculars and aerial trams)

Location Date Proposed Notes
Mt Wellington (1) - -
Mt Wellington (2) - -
Mt Wellington (3) - -
Mt Wellington (4) 1993 Planned as part of a $31 million, fourth scheme to build a Mt Wellington cable car. The ski field was to be at the back of the mountain
Mt Wellington (5) Current -
Mt Roland Current Proposes an aerial tram
Launceston 2015 - 2016 Would have run from Penny Royal - First Basin of Cataract Gorge. Newspaper report
Maydena c.2005- 2007 Maydena Hauler funicular railway was based on success of Forestry Tas tourist developments such as Tahune Airwalk & Dismall Swamp
Cradle Valley 2015 - present Gondola proposed to replace shuttle buses from Visitor Centre to Dove Lake. Road would be closed to all but PWS vehicles

There are a surprising number of proposals for Tasmanian gondolas and aerial trams at the moment. Of course, obtaining funding and then passing innumerable bureaucratic, legal, environmental and most of all political obstacles are the big problems for the proponents. The one most likely to be built is probably the two stage Mt Wellington gondola / tram.

16. Thredbo

Lift name Type Manufacturer Operated Length/Vert Location Notes
Crackenback Nutcracker Various 1957 only c.800/ 287 Mid half of Kosci Express Cost £1870, used parts of Northcote Tow *
Gam Tow T-bar John Gam 1957 - ? 275 / 76 Below C/back nutcracker Light & underpowered. Probably 1957 only
Crackenback 2-Chair-F Mueller / Riblet 1958 - 1989 1835/ 560 Same as Kosci Express Originally to Kareela, lengthened 1962. Orig vertical = 435 m. *
? Rope tow - 1958 - 1963 . ? / 122 Kareela - Upper C/back Relocated 1957 Crackenback nutcracker lift
Middle T-bar - 1962 - 1967 - Middle Snowgums Later moved to Merrits, renamed Ski School
? Rope tow - 1963? - Upper Snowgums Original Crackenback rope tow moved again
Basin T-bar - 1963 - present 650 / 145 In Basin, top of mountain -
Ramshead 2-Chair-F Riblet 1963 - 2011 1770/ 480 Base to bottom of Basin Top stat moved uphill, orig prone to drifts. Notice of closure
? Rope tow - 1964 - 1967 - B/w Kosi Ex & Ramshead 4th location for 1957 Crackenback rope tow
Merritts 2-Chair-F Riblet 1968 - present 1350/ 299 Base area to Merritts -
Merritts Duplex 1 T-bar - 1968 - 1994 696 / 162 Merritts, Walkabout run Replaced by Cruiser Chair
Merritts Duplex 2 T-bar - 1968 - 1994 753 / 180 Merritts, Walkabout run Replaced by Cruiser Chair
Ski School / Easy Rider T-bar - 1968 - present now 275/65 Merritts Spur Shortened & renamed in 1995. Originally 410/80
Anton's T-bar - 1977 - present 800 / 230 Central Spur Originally self-loading (= chaos)
Harusch? Rope tow - 1978 - 1995 - Valley Terminal -
Harusch 100 Rope tow - < 1982 > 220 / 15 Beyond Harusch 500 -
Harusch 500 Rope tow - < 1982 > 131 / 15 Top C/back - top of Basin -
Harusch 1000 Rope tow - 1978 - 1995 148 / 40 West of Merrits T-bars Under Merritts top station, remains still visible in 2006
Mitey Mite Rope tow - < 1982 > 163 / 28 Merritts Spur May have been a handle tow rather than a rope tow?
Karel's T-bar Doppelmayr 1979 - present 464 / 83 - Highest remaining ski lift in Aust
Sponar's T-bar - 1979 - present 942 / 260 Central Spur -
Snowgums 2-Chair-F Doppelmayr 1980 - present 1735/ 472 Parallels Kosci Express Fastest chair in Aust when opened
Gunbarrel Express 4-Chair-D Doppelmayr 1988 - present 1679/ 426 - -
Easy Does It 4-Chair-F Doppelmayr 1988 - present 448 / 49 Friday Flat -
Crackenback/Kosciusko Exp 4-Chair/Gond-D Doppelmayr 1990 - present 1860/ 560 - Replaced original Crackenback chair, renamed 2001
Cruiser 4-Chair-D Doppelmayr 1994 - present 1000/ 214 Merritts Spur Superseded Merrits duplex T Bar.
Snowrunner 1 Carpet - 2000 - present . 80 / 13 Friday Flat -
Sundowner / Snowrunner 2 Carpet - 2000 - present . 85 / 10 Friday Flat -
The Burrow Enclosed carpet - 2013 - present . ? / ? Friday Flat -
Proposed lifts .
Twin Valleys ? - 1983 plan - Nth east of Friday Flat -
High Noon Sextuple chair - 2006 plan - Upper slopes -
Golf Course Bowl Chairlift - 2006 plan - Upper slopes c.1820 - c.2030 metres
Lower Golf Course Chairlift - 2006 plan - 9th hole-mid Ramshd Chair -
Golf Course Beginners  ? - 2006 plan - Near Crackenback estate -
Fiveways T-bar - 2006 plan - 500 m west of Sponars -
New Kosciusko Express 6-Chair-D - 2006 plan - - Replace & extend current quad
The 2006 proposal for new lifts at Thredbo

The 2006 proposal for new lifts at Thredbo

See the Charlotte Pass section for details of the two chairlifts that operated between Thredbo Valley and Charlotte Pass in 1964 and 1965.

The Crackenback nutcracker lift was built from components of the Northcote Tow. Gelignite was used in the Kunama Basin to stop further build up of the avalanche causing snow which had demolished nearby Kunama Lodge. When faulty heating in the Northcote Tow hut caused a minor fire, the occupants bolted outside before the gelignite ignited, blowing the hut to smithereens. But the poles and sheaves were in good condition and these were utilised in the Crackenback tow. The engine for Crackenback was second hand from a rock crusher which had been used on the Snowy Hydro Scheme, the gear wheels and bullwheels were from cranes. The engine was put on a sled and winched itself up to the top station where it was installed in a shed made from bush timber and second hand iron. The lift was designed by Geoffrey Hughes who had been chairman of the Northcote Tow sub-committee. It cost £1870 to buy and install. After it was replaced by the Crackenback chairlift, the nutcracker tow was moved up hill to provide access to the higher slopes.

The Crackenback double chair was origninally 100% Mueller product, as was the 1962 extension. The towers and sheaves on the upper section were later replaced with Riblet components due to 'technical issues' including derailing. The lift was built by Transfield with on mountain transport provided by Helicopter Utilities. The cost (before the extension) was £35,000 (one source says £45,000).

A few areas of this listing are still incomplete. Names are missing for some Thredbo rope tows and dates for a few lifts on the same sites overlap, so they may be a year out. Current and historic trail maps. Thanks to 'Ian S' for help and to 'Richardo' for details of manufacturers of early chairlifts.

More on Thredbo history.

Jim Darby. Thredbo 50: 1957 to 2007. tSm Publishing, 2006.

Helen Swinbourne. Accordions in the snow gums: Thredbo's early years. Thredbo Historical Society Inc., 2006.

Geoffrey Hughes. Starting Thredbo. The author, 2008. pp. 28 - 33.

Roger Andrew. Thredbo: my story. The author, 2011.

© David Sisson 2007 - 2017. This list was first published on 31 July 2007 and has been updated regularly since then.

17. Victoria: outside resorts

Location Type Owner Operated Name Notes
Mt St Bernard Nutcracker Wangaratta Ski Club 1955 - present Mt St Bernard Tow was originally at Bull Run on Mt Buller
Mt St Bernard Nutcracker Wangaratta Ski Club 1958 - present Nursery Tow -
Bogong High Plains Nutcracker Rover Scouts 1968 - present - Langford West Aqueduct. Didn't operate 2003 - 2005
Mt Wills Nutcracker Tallangatta Ski Club 1954-late 90's - 2 km north of summit near club's lodge. Wire rope nutcracker with 28 hp Reo bus engine
Mt Wills Rope tow Tallangatta Ski Club . ? - c.2000 _ Hand help rope tow. Used after unable to get insurance for main lift
Dinner Plain Platter Dinner Plain 1985? - present Cobungra Platter 175 m, 18 m rise. Capacity 731 p/h. Formerly at Plains of Heaven, Hotham
Dinner Plain Tubing lift D.P. / Alpine Shire 2015 - present - Ex Mt Buffalo. Delivered to D.P. on 11/12/14
Planned lift .
Mt St Gwinear Rope tow . 2009 Portable rope tow Claimed in Warrigul Gazette article in 2009, but no sign of it yet

There is fragmentary evidence for a hand held rope tow operating at Diamantina Hut near Hotham in the late 1960's or early 1970s.  Any conformation of it's existence would appreciated, solid details such as it's route or a photo would be appreciated even more.

© David Sisson 2007 - 2017. This list was first published on 30 July 2007 and has been updated regularly since then.

18. Other passenger ropeways (non snow)

Area Name Type of lift Dates Length/vert Notes
New South Wales .
Sydney Taronga Zoo Gondola 2000?-present Sky Safari Cableway. Web page. Photo gallery on Poma website.
Sydney Former showgrounds Gondola 1970's - 1997 Reinstalled at Wonderland.
Sydney Former showgrounds Double? chair 1960's? -1997 -
Sydney Wonderland Gondola or chairlift? 1999 - 2002 Ex showgrounds, renamed Skyrider
Sydney Moore Park grass ski Rope tow?  ? - 200? There is a possibility this may have been a chairlift
Kurrajong Grass ski & cart Drag tow? <1983-present Now only carting. link
Camden Razorback Grass Ski  ? < 1983 > Located on Mt Hercules Road
Fernleigh Fernleigh Grass Ski Pk  ?  ? Located on Fernleigh Road
Port Macquarie Grass ski Drag tow?  ? -
Katoomba Skyway Cable car 1958 - 2004 330 / - Amusement park directory
Katoomba Scenic Skyway Aerial tram 2004 - present 384 / 15 Made by CWA Constructions, partial glass floor. Web page. Amusement park directory
Katoomba Scenic Cableway Aerial tram 2000 - present 545 / 215 Doppelmayr. Known as Sceniscender 2000 - 2004. Renamed "Scenic Flyway" 2004 to late 2005. "Scenic Cableway" 2005 - present. Web page. Amusement park listing
Katoomba Scenic Railway Incline elevator 1994 -present 310 / 206 Single track, cable hauled. Built 1878, passengers from 1928, rebuilt by Doppelmayr-Garaventa 2013, new cars by CWA. Web page. Amusement park lising
Wollongong Jamberoo Action Park Double chair 1980 - present 500 / 130 Part of former Charlotte Pass - Thredbo Valley chairlift. Lift history & Amusement park directory
near Urunga & Mylestom Grass skiing c.1982 . .
Albury * Grass ski/wheeled toboggan ? 86 or 7 - 2006 At Great Aussie Holiday Park To be recommissioned in 2013 for mountain bikes
Victoria .
Melbourne Showgrounds Double chair 19?? - 200? -
Montrose Fox's Point Scenic Railway Funicular r/way 1956 - 1962/3 3 rail & passing loop, 34m vertical, 45° angle. More information and photos
Dromana Arthur's Seat Double chair 1960 - 2003 Cost £20,000. Made by Australasian Ropeway (Dr Vladimir Hayek). 11/01/1961 promo video http://www.britishpathe.com/video/scenic-chair-lift-opened-in-victoria/. Rebuilt 2003 - 2004
Dromana Arthur's Seat Double chair 2004 - 2006 950 / 225 Speed 0.8 m/s. The website is still available
Dromana Eagle Skylift Arthur's Seat 8 pas gondola 3 Dec 2016 Announced 30 Oct 2010 Cost $5 million. Herald Sun article Age article. Web page
Portsea Back Beach Double chair 1962- c.1971 Built by Ron McCallum. Article. Photo. Colour promotional photo
Frankston Whistle Stop Amusement Pk Double chair 1969 - 1970 Land in Skye Rd sold & redeveloped, lift relocated to Carribean Gardens
Scoresby Carribean Gardens Double chair c1970-present Built by Ron McCallum. The Frankston chairlift relocated
Torquay Grass Ski Torquay Handle tow? 1980's Located on Duffields Road
Marysville Marysville Fun Park  ? < 1983 > Grass skiing. Located on Buxton Road
Yinnar South Dunalton Grass Ski Rope tow 1970's - >1983 Located on Brewster Road
Rubicon Hydro Scheme Tracked cable haulage 1927 -c.1999 Only timber / hydro funicular or cable haulage to regularly take passengers. Now unused
Tasmania .
Hobart Showgrounds Double chair c.1980-c.2009 Made by Dr Vladimir Hayek's Australasian Ropeway
Hobart Hobart Grass Ski Centre  ? < 1983 > Austins Ferry
Launceston Cataract Gorge Double chair 1972 - present 457 / - Claimed longest chairlift span in world (308 m), builder Ron McCallum Web page
Launceston Cataract Gorge Incline elevator 2009 - present ? / - Inclinator. Track runs parallel to long staircase, assists the disabled (or lazy). Builder P.R. King & Sons. Inclinator Web page Cost $2.31 million
Stanley The Nut Double chair c1988-present 250 / 95 Web page. Lift previously located at Mt Baw Baw
Queenstown Double chair ?<2009>? No website, so no details. Appears to be no longer operating. Photo.
South Australia .
Adelaide Mt Thebarton Conveyor/carpet 1987 - 2005 World's first indoor ski slope
Adelaide Showgrounds Double chair 1980 - 2002 Installed when Wayville Pavilion built, ran from Northern gate to east of oval
Kersbrook Kersbrook Grass Ski Pk Drag tow? < 1983 > Located on Kersbrook Road
Adelaide Grass ski park  ? 1980's? Unconfirmed second grass ski park
Victor Harbour Granite Island Double chair 1964 - 1996 Link to dates
Western Australia .
Perth Showgrounds Double chair 1971 - present 546 / - Built by McCallum Engineering. Cost $80,000. Originally named Cambridge Chair Lift after a cigarette brand
Wooroloo El Caballo Blanco Double chair >1974-<1993 Current website. Moved to Adventure World
Bibra Lake Adventure World Double chair 1993 - present Sky Lift, 43 chairs. Amusement park directory
Wanneroo Grass skiing Rope tow 1980's
Queensland .
Brisbane Showgrounds Double chair 1971 - 2009 Made by Australasian Ropeway. Removed when showgrounds redeveloped
Brisbane Samford Grass Ski Pk  ? 1983 - 1993 link.
Gold Coast Magic Mountain Double chair 1962 - 1987 Reinstalled at Dreamworld
Gold Coast Dreamworld Double chair 1989 - 2005 312 / - Skylink ex Magic Mountain. Designed by Ferrari Australia., 38 chairs. Parkz Web page.
Gold Coast Sea World Open pulsed gondola 1989 - 2015 480 / - Sky High Skyway. 4 Passengers per gondola. Parkz directory says made by Arrow Dynamics, a roller coaster maker, but looks like a Von Roll. Amusement pk directory
Woombye Grass skiing ? ? Apparently didn't last long. Possibly at Nambour rather than Woombye
Mt Bellenden Ker Telecommunications Open gondola 1971?-present 5229 / ? Maker, Waagner Biro. Used by Broadcast Aust. Provides access to antenna on summit. Photo
Kareeya Power Station - ? 1957 - present Near Tully. Used by Stanwell.
Caravonica-Red Peak Skyrail 6 seat gondola 1995 - present Combined 2 separate cableways, total 114 cars, capacity 700 hour. website
Red Peak - Kuranda Skyrail 6 seat gondola 1995 - present = 7.5 km 2 separate cableways, built by Leitner-Poma. website
The Portsea chairlift built by Australian manufacturer Ron McCallum.

The Portsea chairlift built by Australian manufacturer Ron McCallum.

In addition to these passenger lifts, there were dozens of aerial freight cableways and hundreds of tracked steep cable haulages built for dam construction, timber harvesting, mining, hydro electricity, etc.

More on Albury grass ski lift. The original owners of the park Peter King and his brother Graeme employed a local engineer in Albury named Jock Hutton to design the lift and it was built by a local engineering shop. He thinks they commissioned it in 86-87 for grass skiing and after grass skiing died a natural death in the late nineties, a local guy along with Peter built some wheeled toboggans and park guests paid to use it on and off up to 2006 when the park changed ownership... It was planned to be recommissioned by the end of 2013 for a mountain bike park...

Thanks to Pressman for info on Adelaide Showgrounds chairlift, Russell Diffey for details of the Albury lift, Maurie Copsey for info on FNQ ropeways and these posters from http://ski.com.au/forum for help with this section: SnowAndrew, ians 158, HiLo, jt-ski, Heinz, Dive, BLB, cashie, SAL, Claude Cat, pigface, Rowdy, PolePlant, K10, TACKIE, Mamabear, kimberlee81, currawong, D-eye, the following from http://www.railpage.com.au/f.htm : Johnmc, 2001, watchdog, and these posters fromhttp://www.parkz.com.au/forums : reanimated35, pinksmile, AlexB

19. Proposed ski developments outside snow fields

Location Date Proposed Notes
Perth area, W.A. 2007 - 2010 Proposed indoor 400 m ski slope. website
Kooralbyn, Qld 1990's Proposed outdoor 300m slope on artificial snow. website
Hobart, Tas 2010 Revival of 1990's plan for Mt Wellington cable car with slick video and Facebook page
Sydney, NSW c.2007? Proposed snow dome, was proposed to open in 2016. website

20. Cross country ski resorts (no lifts)

Surprisingly, the resort logos shown at the start of the sections on downhill ski resorts have been remarkably popular. So to complete the record, here are logos from cross country resorts with links to their websites.

Please send any older logos not shown on this page to: sisson dot dave at yahoo dot com dot au

 Corin Forest (ACT). Resort website.

 Dinner Plain (Victoria). Resort website.

 Lake Mountain (Victoria). Resort website.

 Mt Donna Buang (Victoria). No resort website. Donna Buang ski history article.

 Mt Stirling (Victoria). Resort website.

 Mt St Gwinear (Victoria). Resort website.

WikiSki notes on Australian backcountry ski touring in all states.

Older news stories.

See top of page for recent stories.

2 October 2015. Selwyn Snowfields has been bought by the Blyton Group, owners of Charlotte Pass. Media release. The resort logo was changed for the 2016 season.

21 July 2015. The $16 million Arthurs Seat Skylift has passed all planning hurdles, a 50 year lease has been signed and construction is due to begin shortly with a planned opening in 2016. It appears it will be a 'chondola', a detachable quad chair that also features gondola cabins. Link to newspaper article.

14 June 2015. Sea World on the Gold Coast closed its 'Sky High Skyway' pulsed gondola and removed the open cabins from the ride. Aus Parks report.

15 December 2014. $14 million Arthurs Seat gondola near Melbourne granted planning approval. This one looks likely to go ahead, the syndicate appears to be well organised and to have adequate funding. There is an informal NIMBY group, however they don't appear to have any tangible moral or legal arguments against replacing the old chairlift with a gondola. Newspaper article.

11 December 2014. A tubing lift (ex Mt Buffalo) arrived at Dinner Plain and will be operating for the 2015 snow season.

30 June 2014. Perisher's new Freedom chairlift at Guthega operated for the first time today. Report and video.

17 April 2014 The Hobart Cable Car proposal has been formally launched. It will involve a Doppelmayr gondola from the Cascade brewery to Golden Gully Park, approximately a third of the way up the mountain. Activities such as mountain biking and a high rope course will be based there. From Golden Gully an aerial tram will head up to The Pinnacle at the top of the mountain.  (an earlier proposal was for a funitel twin cable gondola) Details at their Facebook page and website.

22. Links

General

  • The Australian page of Skimap.org contains 80 historic lift and run maps of all Australian ski resorts and the club fields at Mt St Bernard and Mt Mawson.
  • A useful illustrated glossary of ski lift terms. It's American, so some terms may be a little different.
  • The well illustrated site Australian oversnow equipment has information on oversnow vehicles used in Australia, with a blog and a directory of manufacturers.
  • Chairlift identifier. Identify the manufacturer and age of lifts by parts such as grips, terminals, sheaves, etc.

Other ski lift directories

  • List of New Zealand Ski Lifts. A page which started well, but is no longer maintained, possibly due to overzealous interference from Wikipedia editors.
  • A directory of Swiss ski lifts. Despite a basic English interface, much of the text is in German.
  • Lift World includes lifts in most countries, but there are lots of omissions and only two Australian resorts have (incomplete) entries.

Ski lift manufacturers: local

  • McCallum Engineering. Ron McCallum built about 20 chairlifts and T-bars throughout Australia in the 1960s and early 70s from a base in Moorabbin, Melbourne. Hoepefully an article will be written soon on his achievements. Lifts built include Skyline rope tow, Gully chairlift and the Summit, Village, Saddle and Sun Valley T-bars at Falls Creek, the chairlifts at Portsea, Launceston, Perth Showgrounds and Frankston/Caribbean Gardens. Another lift that is probably McCallum is the Boggy Creek T-bar at Buller.
  • Gam / Ski Tows Pty Ltd. Run by John Gam and Geoff Hughes. Built the Gam portable T-bars that ran at Thredbo and Lake Albina in the late 1950's. Also built T-bars at Kiandra in 1958 and Perisher in 1959 and 1960. Gam's death in late 1959 put an end to lift design, although the company continued to operate as an agency for Mueller. (Not to be confused with Ski Tows Ltd, the original lift company at Mt Hotham.)
  • Australasian Ropeway. Another local outfit that built a few chairlifts. It appears to have been run by Dr Vladimir Hayek, a Czech who designed Australia's first chairlift at Falls Creek, but details are sketchy. Lifts definitely built by Hayek include Arthur's Seat (Mk 1), Hobart Showgrounds, Brisbane Showgrounds. Any further information would be very useful.
  • Hamilton. Most Australian nutcracker lifts are derived from the the design perfected by Bill (later Sir William) Hamilton in New Zealand. Hamilton installed his first lift at at Coronet Peak in 1947 and within a few years had perfected the Hamilton Model B design that has been used ever since. Most of the early nutcracker lifts installed in Australia were Hamilton products. Hamilton appears to have been the only commercial maker of nutcracker tows installed in Australia and New Zealand, although the Model B design was later widely copied by individuals and clubs. There is no website dedicated to Hamilton ski tows.

Ski lift manufacturers: foreign

 

  •  Riblet was an American chairlift manufacturer which grew to be the biggest in the world. But they failed to cater to the market's demand for detachable grip lifts. After atrophying for years, they finally closed down in 2003. The Ramshead and Merrits chairlifts at Thredbo were Riblet products.
  •  Wikipedia page on Mueller Switzerland which closed in 1992. Mueller North America web page. Mueller built a few lifts in Australia, notably the 1958 Crackenback chair at Thredbo and the Mt Perisher double at Perisher in 1961. The ill fated, 5.5 km chairlift between Thredbo Valley and Charlotte Pass which operated in 1964 and 1965 also used some Mueller parts.
  •  BMF (Bartholet Maschinenbau AG). A new Swiss entrant in the market. They haven't installed a lift in Australia or New Zealand yet. BMF website. BMF ropeways publicity book (big download).
  •  Von Roll was a legendary Swiss company that attracted stronger brand loyalty than any other lift manufacturer. They built chairlifts and gondolas throughout the world, but the only one in Australia was probably the Sky High Skyway on the Gold Coast that closed in October 2015. The company sold it's cableway and ski lift division to Doppelmayr in 1996. Wikipedia page.
  •  Harusch Lifts. 30 years ago Thredbo had four lifts made by this small Canadian surface lift company. It's possible that they also made the portable handle tows that were used at Falls Creek, Thredbo and the one that is still used at Cabramurra.
  • Sunkid. Austrian manufacturer of simple surface lifts: carpets, handle tows, carousels, etc.

Finally, this listing is regularly updated, so if you notice any errors or omissions, please send an email to sisson dot dave at yahoo dot com.au

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