The skiing potential of the slopes overlooking the Crackenback River Valley (also known as the Thredbo River) was known ever since the Charles Kerry party had climbed from the Crackenback River to the summit of Mt. Kosciuszko in 1897. Following ski expeditions with Chalet Manager George Day and others, to the area in 1937 and 1942, Elyne Mitchell had written:- "The valley of the Crackenback, below Dead Horse [Gap], is one of the few places in our hills where a small alpine village would not be incongruous. The slopes off the Ram's Head Range are like many of the ski runs above the smaller European villages; there are plenty of ridges and valleys descending from the main peaks and it is well tucked away from the wind – the curse of Australian skiing. Here there is a feeling of peace rather than the constant sense of the wilderness." (Australia's Alps, ANGUS AND ROBERTSON 1942, p124). 

 

No doubt numerous other skiers from the Chalet heard about the area from George Day at the Chalet and had also explored the Crackenback. For example, writing in the 1954 Australian Ski Year Book, W. Davy recalled a 1950 ski trip he made to the Crackenback area from the Chalet, with Charles Anton, Shan Turnbull and two other Victorian skiers. A downhill run of 1600 feet vertical descent existed without the need to clear any trees, and Bob Arnott plus a few helpers cut a track into the trees to extend the run, which they had named the "George Chisholm Downhill Course". In 1953, the Australian and State Downhill Championships were held on this course on 24 September. The course could only be readily accessed from the Chalet, as the Snowy Authority's planned access road along the Thredbo (Crackenback) Valley, was only a bridle track at that stage.

Tony Sponar, then a ski instructor at the Chalet, was well aware of the ski potential of slopes, like the George Chisholm Downhill Course, that descended steeply into the Thredbo Valley. His concept was a ski village built just below the snowline with safe, year-round vehicle access, which he discussed with Charles Anton and also with noted architect and town-planner Eric Nicholls. After lunching with STA Members Charles Anton and Geoffrey Hughes, Eric Nicholls suggested to Tony Sponar that the four of them form a syndicate to "do the preliminary work and actually secure the lease, etc.". The Kosciusko Chairlift and Thredbo Hotel Syndicate of these four keen skiers was formally inaugurated on 5 May 1955. At the first meeting with the Kosciuszko Park Trust later that month, the Syndicate proposed funding the development by floating a public company and selling shares. The Trust recommended the Syndicate "find a backer with real money, then come and see us again". Thyne Reid, a member of the Ski Club of Australia and a ski tourer, had been involved in the manufacture of building materials for the post-war housing boom and had the necessary funds. He joined the Syndicate and became Chairman of Kosciuszko Thredbo Limited. The search for the site for a new Thredbo ski village began.

The first site examined in the winter of 1955 was the slope below the George Chisholm Downhill Course in the area known as the "Twin Valleys". Whilst skiable snow frequently extended down to the 1300m level, the lower slopes were clothed with thick, almost impenetrable scrub. The valley floor was narrow with the Thredbo River at a level of 1270m. The valley walls sloped very steeply to the crest of the Ramshead Range and the only feasible location for a village was at river level. This meant that any chairlift built from that village site to reach the main ski areas at the 1800m level would involve major cost. The Syndicate looked for another site for their village.

[A chairlift was subsequently built by another company on this site in 1963 and was linked on the crest of the Ramshead Range to another chairlift that provided access to Charlottes Pass. Major weather problems (gales, icing and huge snow drifts) were experienced near the crest of the Ramshead Range that caused many lift breakdowns. Those two chairlifts were abandoned after many unsuccessful attempts to overcome the environmental problems.]

On 10 September 1955 Charles Anton, Tony Sponar and Geoffrey Hughes selected Friday Flat as the site for the new Thredbo ski resort, about 3 km further upstream from the "Twin Valleys" site. The Flat is about two kilometers long and about 300m wide, providing ample space for the village. The river bed is at 1360m elevation, 90m higher than the "Twin Valleys" site. Whilst the lower slope here is also clothed with thick scrub up to about 1580m elevation, the scrub does not extend as far up the valley walls as it did at the rejected "Twin Valleys" site. Fortunately the scrub does not possess thorns and can be chopped down to create ski runs. An experimental trail along the route of the projected chairlift was cleared the following summer. The target was set of having the nucleus of an alpine village at Friday Flat completed for the 1957 winter season.

On 10 September 1955 Charles Anton, Tony Sponar and Geoffrey Hughes selected Friday Flat as the site for the new Thredbo ski resort, about 3 km further upstream from the "Twin Valleys" site. The Flat is about two kilometers long and about 300m wide, providing ample space for the village. The river bed is at 1360m elevation, 90m higher than the "Twin Valleys" site. Whilst the lower slope here is also clothed with thick scrub up to about 1580m elevation, the scrub does not extend as far up the valley walls as it did at the rejected "Twin Valleys" site. Fortunately the scrub does not possess thorns and can be chopped down to create ski runs. An experimental trail along the route of the projected chairlift was cleared the following summer. The target was set of having the nucleus of an alpine village at Friday Flat completed for the 1957 winter season.

"After nearly two years of negation the NSW Cabinet announced on 29th January, 1957, that it had approved the application of Kosciusko Chairlift and Thredbo Hotel Syndicate for grant of an option to lease some 60 acres at Friday Flat in the Thredbo Valley. . . .The Snowy Mountains Authority has built a short access road from the Alpine Way to the hotel site and Tony Sponar, one of the Syndicate, is supervising the erection of a self contained lodge. This building is to house approximately 12 guests in double rooms during the winter of 1957. The Alpine Way has been very greatly improved during the summer of 1956-57, and the Snowy Mountains Authority expects to keep it open for 2-wheel drive vehicles 365 days a year." [Ski Year Book 1957] The Syndicate then invited clubs to apply for club hut sites on land over which the Syndicate had been granted an option to take up a long term lease, on completion of the Thredbo Hotel and the chairlift on Crackenback Peak.

Like the other Australian Ski Resorts, the early years of Thredbo's history are characterized by the enormous amount of volunteer work done by the skiers themselves. In addition to building its ten-bunk lodge overlooking the Thredbo River early in july 1957, the Crackenback Ski Club, undertook the construction of what was then the biggest rope tow in Australia along the survey line cut up to Crackenback Peak. The sled-mounted mobile tow engine (Photo No. 18) had been designed by Geoffrey Hughes to haul itself across the river and into position using the suitably anchored tow rope.

On 10 September 1955 Charles Anton, Tony Sponar and Geoffrey Hughes selected Friday Flat as the site for the new Thredbo ski resort, about 3 km further upstream from the "Twin Valleys" site. The Flat is about two kilometers long and about 300m wide, providing ample space for the village. The river bed is at 1360m elevation, 90m higher than the "Twin Valleys" site. Whilst the lower slope here is also clothed with thick scrub up to about 1580m elevation, the scrub does not extend as far up the valley walls as it did at the rejected "Twin Valleys" site. Fortunately the scrub does not possess thorns and can be chopped down to create ski runs. An experimental trail along the route of the projected chairlift was cleared the following summer. The target was set of having the nucleus of an alpine village at Friday Flat completed for the 1957 winter season.

On 10 September 1955 Charles Anton, Tony Sponar and Geoffrey Hughes selected Friday Flat as the site for the new Thredbo ski resort, about 3 km further upstream from the "Twin Valleys" site. The Flat is about two kilometers long and about 300m wide, providing ample space for the village. The river bed is at 1360m elevation, 90m higher than the "Twin Valleys" site. Whilst the lower slope here is also clothed with thick scrub up to about 1580m elevation, the scrub does not extend as far up the valley walls as it did at the rejected "Twin Valleys" site. Fortunately the scrub does not possess thorns and can be chopped down to create ski runs. An experimental trail along the route of the projected chairlift was cleared the following summer. The target was set of having the nucleus of an alpine village at Friday Flat completed for the 1957 winter season.

"After nearly two years of negation the NSW Cabinet announced on 29th January, 1957, that it had approved the application of Kosciusko Chairlift and Thredbo Hotel Syndicate for grant of an option to lease some 60 acres at Friday Flat in the Thredbo Valley. . . .The Snowy Mountains Authority has built a short access road from the Alpine Way to the hotel site and Tony Sponar, one of the Syndicate, is supervising the erection of a self contained lodge. This building is to house approximately 12 guests in double rooms during the winter of 1957. The Alpine Way has been very greatly improved during the summer of 1956-57, and the Snowy Mountains Authority expects to keep it open for 2-wheel drive vehicles 365 days a year." [Ski Year Book 1957] The Syndicate then invited clubs to apply for club hut sites on land over which the Syndicate had been granted an option to take up a long term lease, on completion of the Thredbo Hotel and the chairlift on Crackenback Peak.

Like the other Australian Ski Resorts, the early years of Thredbo's history are characterized by the enormous amount of volunteer work done by the skiers themselves. In addition to building its ten-bunk lodge overlooking the Thredbo River early in july 1957, the Crackenback Ski Club, undertook the construction of what was then the biggest rope tow in Australia along the survey line cut up to Crackenback Peak. The sled-mounted mobile tow engine (Photo No. 18) had been designed by Geoffrey Hughes to haul itself across the river and into position using the suitably anchored tow rope.

On 10 September 1955 Charles Anton, Tony Sponar and Geoffrey Hughes selected Friday Flat as the site for the new Thredbo ski resort, about 3 km further upstream from the "Twin Valleys" site. The Flat is about two kilometers long and about 300m wide, providing ample space for the village. The river bed is at 1360m elevation, 90m higher than the "Twin Valleys" site. Whilst the lower slope here is also clothed with thick scrub up to about 1580m elevation, the scrub does not extend as far up the valley walls as it did at the rejected "Twin Valleys" site. Fortunately the scrub does not possess thorns and can be chopped down to create ski runs. An experimental trail along the route of the projected chairlift was cleared the following summer. The target was set of having the nucleus of an alpine village at Friday Flat completed for the 1957 winter season.

On 10 September 1955 Charles Anton, Tony Sponar and Geoffrey Hughes selected Friday Flat as the site for the new Thredbo ski resort, about 3 km further upstream from the "Twin Valleys" site. The Flat is about two kilometers long and about 300m wide, providing ample space for the village. The river bed is at 1360m elevation, 90m higher than the "Twin Valleys" site. Whilst the lower slope here is also clothed with thick scrub up to about 1580m elevation, the scrub does not extend as far up the valley walls as it did at the rejected "Twin Valleys" site. Fortunately the scrub does not possess thorns and can be chopped down to create ski runs. An experimental trail along the route of the projected chairlift was cleared the following summer. The target was set of having the nucleus of an alpine village at Friday Flat completed for the 1957 winter season.

"After nearly two years of negation the NSW Cabinet announced on 29th January, 1957, that it had approved the application of Kosciusko Chairlift and Thredbo Hotel Syndicate for grant of an option to lease some 60 acres at Friday Flat in the Thredbo Valley. . . .The Snowy Mountains Authority has built a short access road from the Alpine Way to the hotel site and Tony Sponar, one of the Syndicate, is supervising the erection of a self contained lodge. This building is to house approximately 12 guests in double rooms during the winter of 1957. The Alpine Way has been very greatly improved during the summer of 1956-57, and the Snowy Mountains Authority expects to keep it open for 2-wheel drive vehicles 365 days a year." [Ski Year Book 1957] The Syndicate then invited clubs to apply for club hut sites on land over which the Syndicate had been granted an option to take up a long term lease, on completion of the Thredbo Hotel and the chairlift on Crackenback Peak.

Like the other Australian Ski Resorts, the early years of Thredbo's history are characterized by the enormous amount of volunteer work done by the skiers themselves. In addition to building its ten-bunk lodge overlooking the Thredbo River early in july 1957, the Crackenback Ski Club, undertook the construction of what was then the biggest rope tow in Australia along the survey line cut up to Crackenback Peak. The sled-mounted mobile tow engine (Photo No. 18) had been designed by Geoffrey Hughes to haul itself across the river and into position using the suitably anchored tow rope.

The club also hosted the 1957 NSW Championship Alpine events at Crackenback Peak. The view down the rope tow is shown in Photo No.19. Despite the very lean snow season in 1957, it was possible to ski to the river flats opposite the village from 7 July until 10 September 1957.

During the 1957/58 summer, Kosciusko Thredbo Ltd. took over from the Syndicate, continued the clearing of ski trails under Tony Sponar's supervision and connected services to 25 sites in Thredbo Village. Lodges completed for the winter of 1958 included the Ski Tourers Association's Roslyn Lodge (Photo No. 20)), Ski Club of Australia, Ramshead Ski Club, Youth Hostels Association, Thredbo Alpine Club and Candlelight Lodge. Using a helicopter (Photo No.21) to lift materials, such as steel and cement, to the various tower and unloading station locations, Transfield Pty Ltd completed the 1.6km long chairlift (Photo No.23) in time for the 1958 winter, which was characterized by some heavy mid-winter snowfalls (Photo No.22).
The Ski Tourers Association (STA) had named Roslyn Lodge (Photo No.20) in memory of Roslyn Wesche who was killed by the avalanche that destroyed Kunama Huette. Early in 1959, a simple bronze plaque in memory of Roslyn, designed by her father Venn Wesche, was placed in the living room of the lodge. A similar plaque was fixed to the stone basement of what was once Kunama Huette.
The 1958 NSW Downhill and Slalom Championships were held on Crackenback Peak at Thredbo, using the new chairlift for uphill transport, on 2/3 August in perfect weather on a good snow cover that had been turned to ice by mid-week rain followed by clear weather and a severe freeze. The start of the slalom was near the then top chairlift station (now Kareela Station) and the downhill races started about 90m higher up the slope. Most of the competitors had not previously skied at Thredbo. Two competitors are shown in Photo No.23, familiarizing themselves with the layout of the new resort. Chairlift views taken in Winter 1958 are presented as Photo Nos.24 and 25.

A major problem for Thredbo in its early years, was the unsealed roads in the area, including the village roads and the main access route - the Alpine Way. In an average ski season, the snow-line was at, or just above the level of Thredbo Village. The cars churned up the mud on the unsealed roads and visitors ski boots quickly became bathed in mud as they walked from lodges to the ski lifts. Thredbo was christened "Mudbo" by some of its patrons.

A major problem for Thredbo in its early years, was the unsealed roads in the area, including the village roads and the main access route - the Alpine Way. In an average ski season, the snow-line was at, or just above the level of Thredbo Village. The cars churned up the mud on the unsealed roads and visitors ski boots quickly became bathed in mud as they walked from lodges to the ski lifts. Thredbo was christened "Mudbo" by some of its patrons.

The bumper 1960 Ski Season helped Kosciuszko Thredbo (KT) make its first profit after two ski seasons with small losses. Heavy snowfalls commenced on 25 April 1960 and Thredbo's slopes were skiable until after the October Labour Day Holiday Weekend. The Basin at the top of the Crackenback Chairlift remained skiable right through summer and into the 1961 ski season.

KT's Option for Lease required construction of a 100 bed hotel by November 1962. Capital was hard to get in the midst of a federal government "credit squeeze", so KT sought a takeover and Lend Lease offered the best deal. The new KT management team were not interested in developing an Upper Thredbo Village around Kareela Huette, but were interested in purchasing Kareela to provide on-snow refreshment facilities for skiers. The STA flag was lowered for the last time at Kareela when it was sold in October 1962, leaving the Kareela members as "a project in search of a lodge site". The decision was made to build at Perisher and the Perisher Huette opened for the winter of 1963. Charles Anton died suddenly in Thredbo in September 1966 aged 49 years, from a virulent infection contracted the day after he had made a cross-country skiing visit to the STA Lake Albina Lodge.