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Baw Baw

Had a tin hut with bunks consisting of chain link covered steel frames around the walls. A cooking stove was in the middle of the hut and above it was a hood which was capable of giving the forehead a knock even to the shortest member of any party. As with most of the resorts one had to walk up to it with pack and skis on ones back. On one occasion we were well past our knees in snow when we heard the axe men at work. We heard a crash not far away as a huge trunk hit the ground. "Nearly killed a skier", was the applauding remark of a mate. On that occasion we also found that there were no paillasses. When we cooked, a member, who was on his own, made suitable noises to us in order to invite him to have a taste. This he did with gusto. He also must have had superhuman food instincts. Even in a thickest fog if one of us would unpack some chocolate he would appear out of nowhere clearly keen to participate. When we got up in the morning we found that he had stacked all the paillasses on his bunk and thus had a luxurious night. On one of my expeditions to Mt.Bogong I recalled this scene and to my embarrassment found that the lady on our team was his fiancée and they were going to get married and go to New Guinea together. At one time we actually constructed a ski jump at least 3' high. On the memorable occasion when my brother Stephen ventured on it he achieved something no physicist would believe. He took to the air but the skis and bindings took an altogether different route!

Donna Buang

Mt. Donna Buang was, of course, the nearest ski slope to Melbourne. In those days it quite frequently had a good covering of snow. One would take the train out of Flinders St. and get to Lilydale where there was a half an hour or so refreshment stop. All glasses and cups had the inscription: "stolen from the Victorian Railways" cast into them. We would get to Warburton and then start the steep track up to the turntable. From then on a fairly wide track would go to the SCV hut. On one occasion about midnight we found a tree had fallen across. It took us well over an hour to circumnavigate it. It was such rough country. Not far away was also the university Ski Club hut. Visits from possums interested in our diet were frequent. The skiing was limited to short runs occasionally interrupted by the local wombat crossing the run. I wanted to introduce my friend Charlie a glider pilot to skiing. I drilled into him that in skiing, contrary to the natural inclination one has to lean down hill. As a glider pilot he did not have this natural resistance and he leant more and more forward until he landed on his nose.


Fire burned down the only chalet in the early 1940's. There was still a cattleman's hut at Boggy Creek not too far from the summit. It was meant more or less for emergencies. Seeing that there was nowhere else and although it was considered an emergency hut I remember being there with literally some dozens. In retrospect I don't know how we managed this.

Very soon the Ski Club of Victoria proposed to build a chalet and we had an Easter working bee. It seemed to be very hot because we worked like galley slaves. At the end it was proposed to launch a beer fest, namely making use of a barrel someone had brought up. Bad luck, he did not bring up a bung. The then deputy chief engineer of the Melbourne City council who for this occasion was robed in a fluffy white pullover tried everything his engineering knowledge permitted. Suddenly hurrah and a stream of the liquid shot up into the air. He did not hesitate and sat on top pretending to be a bung himself. Soon foam climbed up the fluffy and into his hair to make him completely "be-foamed". Some actually licked this nectar. When all this was over and we came back to Melbourne we found out that all our labour was useless as we worked in the wrong spot and thus were above the spring that was intended to supply the future chalet.

They had another dramatic moment in the construction. The roof was on when a strong gust of wind blew into the open window almost making it all air borne. I only spent one night there in winter and that was many years later. By that time a "Poma" was introduced to tow people up the hill. It was a round disc as a saddle connected to the rope by a spring loaded rod.

Unfortunately the one I mounted had a broken spring and I received what seemed like hammer blow up my spine. It took me a very long time to get back to the lodge as every move was like a knife stab. I was sharing a room and we spent a hilarious night together. He also suffered an injury of some similar kind. When one of us issued an un-gentlemanly sound the other who had found a comfortable position would laugh. Sure enough the position would reverse. Next morning I beat a painful crawl back to the car and foolishly drove home under my own steam. Having arrived home and walking up the drive the pain suddenly disappeared and I could not explain to Gwen why I came back.

Over the years Buller became very popular and the road up extremely busy. We wondered whether we could not find another access and accordingly arranged for a small survey party in summer. My brother Stephen joined us from Sydney. Unfortunately he had some boots in which he kept slipping on the many rocks we had to climb down on. I did not realise how much it took out of him nor did he. Eventually having descended to the bottom of the valley we decided that the task was hopeless and started to return. After a few upward steps Stephen could not go any further. We decided for the party to go back and Stephen and I stay the night down there. Luckily it was a clear night with only the mozzies providing shade. As is usual when you are exhausted a short rest seems to you that you are fully recovered and Stephen suggested we should go up. O.K. After 10 steps he would collapse again. This was repeated a number of times. Some hours later we saw some lights up the slope. It was the rescue party approaching. As a mater of fact when they arrived at the Ivor Whittaker Lodge they woke up my wife Gwen, who had no idea I might have been in trouble and told her that I am alive! The rescue party was led by a stocky "New Australian" built like a gorilla, including exceptionally long arms. He brought out a bottle of whisky and offered it to Stephen. I pushed it aside, knowing well what effect that had on tired out people. The "New Australian" then drank the whole bottle in one swipe, he took hold of Stephen like a cement bag, swung him on his shoulders and ran up the hill!!!