Ski clubs: their rise and decline,their changing function and brief backgrounds on most of them.

 

 

Ski Clubs in Australia began like any hobby or sporting group, as conduits for interested people to get together and share their mutual interest.

In the early years they were often centred ondemographic groups such as employer, town, shared backgrounds, etc.

Many ski clubs thrived and prospered and continue to this day. But more have disappointed.

Having a lodge. Many of the pre war ski clubs which did not get around to building had fizzled out by the early 1960s. Clubs that had been major forces in skiing such as the Junior Ski Club and the NSW Branch of the Australian Womens Ski Club. Club activities and identities became increasingly focused on their lodges.

In the 20 years after the Second World War many 

Todays nordic ski clubs were new foundations rather than continuations of older clubs that didn't build.

Succesion planning, or the lack of it.

Choosing the 'wrong' area. Many clubs were centred on areas that did not become ski resorts and as the attractions of netwroks of ski lifts and nighttime activities grew gereater, they slowly died off. 

Examples are Warburton Ski Club on Donna Buang, Tallangatta Ski Club on Mt Wills and the Marysville 'Division' of the SCV on Lake Mountain. [who built Lind Lodge? Was it Corryong S.C.?] Perhaps the only surviving club with a lodge on a mountain that did not develop into a ski resort was Wang S.C., which was helped by not being too far from Hotham, built two ski lifts of its own on St Bernard and maintaining a strong tradition of cross country skiing.

Kiandra failed and while the lifts were moved to Mt Selwyn, the ski clubs based there either died or moved to Perisher and Thredbo.

In the post war years skiing became wildly popular with activity surging and buildings popping up wherever there was reliable snow. But no one knew which ski fields would turn into resorts along the lines Australian skiers had seen on visits to Europe and North America. Out of over a dozen post war ski fields in Australia Perhaps the only two that would obviously become sorts were Buller and Hotham and even then Hotham developed very slowly until the road could be ploughed in the late 50s and the Davenport subdivision circa 1963.

One of the impetuses to ski development was hydro electric schemes. The first ski lodge was built at Falls Creek in 1940 by employees of the Kiewa Hydro electic scheme and tthat resort developed into one of the 'big five' ski resorts in Australia. Guthega was established in 195X by men working on the Snowy Hydro Scheme and developed into a small resort before becoming effectively an outlier of Perisher.

The Rufus Ski Club was also established by employees working on a hydro scheme, in this case Butlers Gorge in central Tasmania. Within a year of being established in 1947? They had built their own hut and had begun work on two ski lifts. However when work on the hydro scheme finished, the local population was insufficient for it to survive, depite it having the most reliable snow in the state, and the club shrank as rapidly as it had grown. It eventually merged into the Hobart based Wellington Ski Club[/], which still has a very basic lodge with shelf bunks at the Mt Mawson club field.

So out of three ski fields established by those working on hydro electric schemes, all had good prospects. Falls Creek boomed and developed into a sizable town, Guthega survives as a small village near a large ski resort and Mt Rufus has disappeared entirely except for a planned tow hut which is now used as a walkers refuge hut.