The Victorian Railways Department, which operated the Chalet at Mount Buffalo for over 50 years, constructed Australia's first ski tow on the Cresta Run, Mount Buffalo, in August 1937 (Photo No.19). The tow was located in a clearing beside the actual Cresta Run, so as to keep the downhill skier traffic separate from those riding the tow back to the top. The rope moved at about 8 km/hr and initially no mechanical grips were used; the rope was simply gripped with both hands. There were no intermediate poles with pulleys, so as to prevent the rope from dragging in the snow whenever there were not several skiers spaced along it. This is an example of Australian inventiveness – a ski tow was needed and the engineers simply built it from whatever materials were available.
It was not long before the intense NSW – Victoria rivalry in the snowfields resulted in a reply from the NSW snowfields, most of which in the 1930's were operated by the NSW Government. At the same time as the new Charlotte's Pass Chalet was being built to replace the first chalet that burned down during the ski season on 8 August 1938, the first NSW ski tow (Photo No. 20) was constructed on the nearby slope. Like the Mount Buffalo tow, it was built from easily available materials by the engineering staff, in this case the NSW Government Railways. Built as a "J Bar" lift, it first operated in the 1939 Winter. The "Report for 1939" of the Ski Council of NSW stated "The ski hoist which was built close to the new Chalet has been a great acquisition. The effect of the increased amount of downhill running which practically everybody has been able to obtain, is a tremendous improvement in the general standard of ski-ing in the State." Stoppages did occur due to mechanical problems, adverse weather conditions and "carelessness on the part of skiers themselves". . . . "but on the whole such inconveniences were slight, and there can be few skiers, if any, who are not heartily thankful to the Department for providing the ski hoist." Ski clubs that stayed at the Chalet and used the lift in 1939 included the Kosciusko Alpine Club, Kosciusko Snow Revellers Club, Ski Club of Australia, Sydney Ski Club, Torchbearer Ski Club and the Cooma Ski Club (whose members were grateful for the snow reports regularly transmitted by radio Station 2XL Cooma).
Historical Note: Antarctic Explorer Captain Frank Hurley, the famous Australian photographer who first came to prominence with his film of the 1914 – 1916 Shackleton Expedition (Photo No. 21), took Photo No. 20.
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