Ski accommodation on Mt. Buller in 1940 was one commercial lodge (the Buller Chalet operated by Helmet Kofler shown in Photo No.2) and the Ski Club of Victoria (SCV) hut higher on the mountain at Cow Camp. The SCV hut held 12 to 14 persons overnight in rather cramped conditions, since the hut's floor only measured 6 metres by 3.6 metres. Vehicle access was possible along a bush track as far as the Chalet, facilitating weekend skiing trips from the nearby towns and also from Melbourne. Unfortunately the Chalet burnt down in 1942 and was not rebuilt. It had occupied a reasonably sheltered site near the "Chalet Corner" on the present road from Mirimbah to Mt. Buller Village.
Following the loss of the Chalet and the suspension of many recreational activities for the duration of the Pacific War, thoughts turned to possible developments in the post-war period. The SCV planned to build a larger lodge on Buller in memory of SCV member Ivor Whittaker, who died in a plane crash in the Middle East in September 1941, whilst on active service in the Australian Army. The Club decided to locate this new lodge adjacent to the site of the proposed Mt. Buller ski village at Cow Camp.
Construction of the Ivor Whittaker Memorial Lodge commenced in 1945 and by 1948 it was able to accommodate about 40 skiers (non-members as well as members) each night (Photo No.3). The project was completed prior to the start of the 1950 ski season and included the construction of satellite cabins, whose occupants could eat their meals at the main Ivor Whittaker Lodge.
Sixteen ski clubs had applied by March 1949 to the Forests Commission (which then controlled Mt. Buller) for building sites in the Cow Camp area. The Commission had announced on 1st June 1948 the establishment of a Committee of Management to develop the Cow Camp site as a residential area. Its duties would include setting appropriate building standards and ensuring sanitation, water supply and fire refuges existed and were maintained so as to safely cater for visitors.
Winter access to Mt. Buller from Melbourne up to the mid-1950's, usually involved taking a train or bus to Mansfield, where skiers boarded an old, rattly bus for the rough ride over a narrow, pot-holed road to the foot of the mountain. A four-wheel drive "blitz" ex-army truck then took the skiers to the point where the track was blocked by deep snow (there were no snow-ploughs at Buller then!). The "blitz" could usually get to within 2km of the village. Skiers walked the remaining distance carrying rucksacks and skis.
The Chamois, Postal Institute, CSIRO, YHA, and the Junior Ski Club were fully operational for the 1950 ski season. For the 1951 season they were joined by the Omega, Walking Club, Ullr, Harding, Moose, Women's, Monsanto, University, Yurredla, Dandenong, Morgan, Pattern, Buller and Grey Rocks Club lodges. This brought the total accommodation on Buller to a figure far in excess of that of any other Australian snowfield in 1951.
The first entirely commercial lodge to be built, was Kooroora Chalet (Photo No.4), which opened in 1953. The first ski tow was a rope tow on the Bourke Street Ski Run that operated for the first time in the 1950 ski season. Rope tows were also operating on Bull Run and Little Baldy by 1954. Buller had more than thirty club lodges in operation in the 1954 ski season. Skiers no longer had to carry all their food up the mountain when they arrived via the "blitz" truck. Kooroora Chalet provided fresh bread baked on the mountain, whilst the Ivor Whittaker Lodge, which had a large freezing chamber capable of holding 500 carcases, provided the fresh meat for the mountain.