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Mt. Bogong

Pre-war solid stone Cleve Cole hut was still intact. It had room for four paillasses on floor level and another four at head height. Hot water was provided by filling a kerosene tin with snow and putting it on the fire. You had to constantly poke the snow down because it melted instantly created an air cushion and almost stopped any more snow melting. After may be an hour you had enough water for a short shower. You carried the tin into the cubicle immersed the end of a pump taken from a petrol station into it and stood naked on an icy wooden grate. As you pushed the pump from the side to another, you slipped off the grate and made a header for the wall. After a few minor injuries the technique was mastered and you had a shower in the by-now cold water.

There was a second little room where the stores were kept. These had to be sent up in summer. The most eligible bachelor in Tawonga (whose name escapes me and who married the most eligible girl on the plains North of Omeo of the Treasure family whose christian name at present also escapes me) was the only person who would do this. In winter you had a similar system as to Hotham except the night was spent at the Tawonga pub. In the morning we walked out across the valley and then up the Staircase Spur to the cattle hut, hoping that we would not be forced to stay there by the weather. Onwards we would ski onto the summit hut and then along the semicircular top of Mt.Bogong till we dropped down to the Cleve Cole in the evening. Meat was stored in a "refrigerator", which was a water-tight tin buried in the snow, but with a sufficiently good marker, so hopefully one could find the "refrigerator" when wanted.

I remember one expedition I led. One of the girls rang me during the year asking whether my brother, who was chief chemist at McRobertson's chocolate, could please get some of it as it was very scarce for her fiancé, a Scot sailer. We obliged. Next we heard that this had broken up and that she was engaged to a ski instructor from Mt. Buller, who was presently with the army in Darwin. The arrangement was that we would all meet at midnight in the Tawonga Pub that is she, her fiancé, her sister and my friend, who was a shearer from the Western district and I. It was well past midnight and the pub was in total darkness. The doors were all open, as was usual in those days and by feeling our way along the wall we not only found the kitchen but also the fridge. No sooner was that door was opened than we heard a hoarse cry:" Get out of there". This came from a tame one legged magpie sitting on the mantel piece. The light from the fridge also revealed that the girl who needed the chocolate had acquired a third fiancé, who was the British consul in Yokohama. They had just got married and were jointly with us on their honeymoon. Next day, on the way up, one of the horses bumped the skis on its back against a tree and managed to break the tip off mine. Luckily I always carried an aluminium tip with me and skied on that all that week. Tactfully we arranged the little spare room to the honeymooners and managed to store some of the supplies under the floor boards. As a matter fact, I believe I still have a tin of dried onions and some other stuff there now well past half a century later. The honeymoon girl had a loose hip and several times a day her husband had to slip that back. Clearly his diplomatic experience was helpful to him in that task!

Wireless contact from Mt. Bogong to Mt. Hotham

Once every evening at the Cleve Cole Hut, we got onto the wireless and tried to contact Mt.Hotham. It was a staccato conversation with many "overs". On one occasion on my return to the Tawonga pub there was great hilarity in the bar. An amplifier shouted out a rude joke my brother at Cleve Cole exchanged with the Mt.Hotham counterparts.