ANARE Ski Club

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Ski Club History

Where it Began.

Nella Dan voyage south through the southern ocean.
Nella Dan Voyage South

Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition Program.

ANARE Ski Club History has its beginnings in Antarctica. In the late 1940’s and early 1950’s the Australian Government established Antarctic research stations. The Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditioners (ANARE) were recruited to work at Australian bases. Located in Antarctica, at Mawson, Davis and Casey on the continent and Macquarie and Heard Islands in the sub Antarctic. These stations, remain in operation today (except for Heard Island which closed a few years of operation.)

Inland Traverse - Tractor Train crevasse rescue.
Tractor train crevasse rescue.

Maintaining the Antarctic Connection – Formation of a Ski Club.

The expeditioners who helped establish those Australian Antarctic stations and support their scientific endeavour were resourceful and intrepid. After returning from year long expeditions they formed The ANARE Club. The idea of a Ski Club for Antarctic Expeditioners developed, later.

Glacier cromponeering Mt Henderson inland from Mawson Station.
Crampons on Glacier to Mt Henderson.

Opportunity Presents.

Prior to suggesting a ski club to the ANARE Club in mid 1963, Bill Birch, (founding President) made several research visits to the Victorian Forestry office for possible sites. He found suitable long-term lease-sites available at the developing Mt Baw Baw Alpine Village. The Forestry Commission, had recently made an accessible road from Neulyne’s Mill to the village. Site #14 seemed to be the best available, right next to the road.

A plan for the ski club was presented to the ANARE Club Annual General Meeting in mid-1963. Ian Bird and Frank Trajer supported the plan and immediately volunteered to join. The ski club had to be fully independent of the ANARE Club, so a ‘planning committee’ was formed to establish the club.

ANARE Ski Club Membership.

25 members had signed up within a couple of months, despite early misgivings, and the club had a near full ski club membership. The ANARE Club journal, ‘Aurora’, and individual mail-outs were used to recruit ANARE Club members to the Ski Club. Maintaining independence from the ANARE Club, ski club members need not be ANARE Club members.

Plans Drawn Up.

Peter Schwerdfeger was an early and most enthusiastic recruit to the planning team. Peter presented a balsa wood model of an ‘A’ Frame lodge that he said would be easy to build and fit with the landscape. The committee agreed and Peter had detailed drawings made up from his architect friend Uldis Merits. The drawings of the proposed building were submitted to the Forestry Commission for building approval.

Mercedies packing crate fashoned as work hut and bunkhouse.

A Packing Crate for a Work Hut.

A Mercedes Benz car crate, was found by Peter who arranged for it to be taken up to Mt Baw Baw to be fitted out as a work hut. Peter with a chain saw, and like a sculptor, neatly cut out a door and window opening and in no time the crate had a lockable door and opening window. After making a very serviceable hut for weekend work parties, the next improvement was the fitting of some rudimentary bunk frames for basic ski accommodation. In the early days of skiing resorts, lodges provided only basic accommodation for members. For information about development of buildings in ski resorts see early ski building history in Australia.

ANARE Ski Lodge - laying the foundations.

Site Works Begin.

In those days Bill Birch owned an FJ Holden station wagon, a valuable asset in carrying redgum foundation stumps up from Stoll Bros. sawmill in Rokeby.

ANARE Ski Lodge - Framing progresses.

Work started in late 1965 on the bush block and work parties over the next 5 years installed foundations, bearers, flooring, frames, cladding, windows, heating and a diesel generator. By 1970 the lodge was sealed sufficiently to allow for internal fittings and furniture.

ANARE Ski Lodge - Roof on and some windows.

Annual Work Parties.

Annual work parties continue with regular maintenance. Lodge maintenance respects the ANARE ski club history. No more cutting firewood for the wood fire, moving empty gas bottles and crank starting the diesel generator. Upgraded services now make for comfortable stay. With double glazing, ducted heating, reticulated gas and electricity the comfort of gusts is much improved.

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