Article Index

In the winters of the 1920's and 1930's, no bigger snowfield contrast existed, than that between the formal dinners served in the Hotel Kosciusko and the Chalet Charlotte's Pass and those prepared in the huts on the Kosciuszko Main Range, that were frequently smoke-filled due to food being cooked over wood fires. The attention of the skiing community was drawn to these huts when, on 28 July 1927, Herbert Schlink, Bill Hughes, Bill Gordon, John Laidly and Eric Fisher skied out of Kiandra and headed for the Main Divide and Mt. Jagungal, with the Kosciusko Hotel their ultimate destination.

As recounted in the Third Installment of Australian Ski Heritage, Schlink's party followed the track from Kiandra past the Nine Mile Hut, lunched at Temperance Creek about 19 km from Kiandra, spent their first night in the Farm Ridge Hut (homestead built by A.J.Rial 1908), their second night was spent in Pounds Creek Hut (now the Illawong Lodge) and their third night was in the Kosciusko Hotel. (Their route is shown by the continuous black line in Map No.1below). The pre-trip preparations were not mentioned in the Third Installment. In the late Autumn of 1927, Bill Hughes had placed a stock of tinned food at the Nine Mile and Farm Ridge Huts. These supplies included "many cans and jars of bully-beef, stew, soup, peanut butter, chocolate biscuits and whisky. Some tinned New Zealand butter was included – when frozen it tasted like mild cheese." (Hughes in Hueneke, 1987).

Schlink's Kiandra – Kosciusko tour group was the first of many ski expeditions that travelled from hut to hut along the Kosciusko Main Range in Winter. These touring skiers were often called the Main Range Rats, in recognition of their ability to survive the very primitive conditions in some of these mountain huts. In 1927 there were several Main Range huts that, like the Farm Ridge Hut, had been built by the mountain cattlemen and also two purpose-built shelter huts (Pounds Creek and Tin). A number of small gold mines were scattered through the northern part of the Kosciuszko National Park and some huts remained at the conclusion of mining activities. The original hut at the intermittently-worked Grey Mare Gold Mine (mine finally abandoned circa 1949) was used by ski parties up to at least 1944 (see photo no. 11 in the Second Installment). The replacement Grey Mare Hut was built

in 1949 and is still used today by skiers and walkers. Other huts on the Main Range in 1927 included Broken Dam, Boobee, Wheelers and Dicky Cooper. Several more were built between 1927 and 1937, including Round Mountain (early 1930's), Mawsons (1930), O'Keefes [also known as Bogong Hut] (1934), Grey Mare (1934), Pretty Plain (1935) and Whites River (1935).

Ski tourers regularly travelled between huts during their winter holidays often having left food supplies in these huts the previous Autumn or early Winter. Elyne Mitchell (1942) mentions leaving biscuit tins of food in Whites River Hut and Grey Mare Hut. Food provisioning trips to mountain huts, if done in periods of benign weather, provided ski tourers with opportunities to familiarize themselves with landmarks along their proposed Winter route.