Hotel Kosciusko

Hotel Kos1909

Percy Hunter, whilst Secretary to the first Federal Agent General in London, had seen the ski fields of Switzerland and recognised their tourist potential. Returning to Australia in 1905 he was appointed to the NSW Department of Intelligence and Tourism and the following year skied at Kiandra becoming an immediate convert to the sport.

Hunter suggested to the Joseph Carruthers Government of NSW that it erect a Hotel in the Kosciusko area to promote winter tourism. The Hotel Kosciusko opened at Diggers Creek in 1909 and remained the headquarters of skiing in NSW until the Chalet opened at Charlotte Pass in 1930.

The gently sloping area around the Hotel lent itself to the development of many pleasant ski runs for the skiing standards of the time. Between the Hotel and Dainer’s Gap there were the Grand Slam, the Vernon Course, the Kerry Course the Golf Course, the Bell Run, the Percy Pearson Run, the Gates of Heaven and the Plains of Heaven. The Kerry Course served as the main downhill run for races until 1930.

A variety of skiing historical events occurred at the Hotel between 1909 and 1930 such as the first winter ascent of Mt Kosciuszko along the Kosciuszko Road, the Summit Badge and Summit Competition, skiing proficiency tests, the Australian Championship, turning competitions, exploration of the Main Range, the first winter traverse from Kiandra to the Hotel Kosciusko, formation of a number of ski clubs and the start of the Kosciusko Ski School.

In 1928, the Hotel witnessed the first skiing tragedy in Australia when Laurie Seaman and Evan Hayes perished near the summit of Mt Kosciuszko. It became clear that the Hotel was too distant from the event for easy organisation of search and rescue parties and this led directly to the construction of the Chalet at Charlotte Pass in 1930.

Following the opening of the Chalet at Charlotte Pass, the Hotel Kosciusko declined in popularity although many ski clubs would book a week for their members at the Hotel followed by a week at the Chalet.

In 1951 the predominantly wooden Hotel burnt to the ground leaving only the massive concrete staff quarters building.

The NSW Government put a roof on the staff quarters building to help protect it from the weather but it remained unused until Tony Sponar took over the lease in 1959 and, with his wife Elizabeth, converted it into Sponars Lakeside Inn which has passed through several subsequent owners and has been a successful business.

 

Timeline

  • Opening of the Hotel Kosciusko

    The New Government opened the Hotel Kosciusko at Diggers Creek on 7 June 1909.  

  • Ski Trails around the Hotel Kosciusko

    When skiing began at the Hotel Kosciusko in 1909, most people were beginners, and confined themselves to skiing close to the Hotel. There were a number of gentle runs available. 1. The Grand Slam.  2. The Vernon Course. 3A. The Kerry Course (above Road). 3B. The Little Kerry Course (below the Road). 4. The Kosciuszko…

  • First Winter Ascent of Mt Kosciuszko along the Kosciuszko Road

    Dr H. Schlink, Dr J. Cosgrove, Mr A.G.M. Pitt and Dr O. Paul (photographer) leave Betts Camp on the way to the Summit of Mt Kosciuszko. The round trip, from the Hotel Kosciusko to the summit of Mt Kosciuszko and return, took 3 days with an overnight at Betts Camp on the outward and inward…

  • Kosciusko Alpine Club (KAC) inaugurates the Summit Badge and Summit Competition

    At the suggestion of Dr Herbert Schlink, KAC inaugurates the Summit Badge and Summit Competition. To win a Summit Badge men had to ski from the Hotel Kosciusko to the Summit of Mt Kosciuszko and return in 10 hours, women in 12 hours. The fastest time during a season gained the Summit Trophy. The Summit…

  • The Route of the Summit Trophy Competition

    The Route began at the Hotel Kosciusko (top right of map) and followed the Kosciuszko Road up to Charlotte Pass. From there some competitors continued along the road whilst the better runners took a diagonal run up the Snowy Valley to the summit of Mt Kosciuszko (bottom left of map) . After taking a photo…

  • The first summit record

    The first summit record of 15 h, 15 min was set by Drs Schlink and Shorney, Percy Pearson and J. Jacobsen.

  • Raffan 1914

    First group of Ladies to reach the summit

    First group of Ladies to reach the summit. L-R: Mr Raffan, Miss Creswick, Miss D. Pitt, Mrs Raffan.

  • The Kerry Course

    The Kerry Course, 600 m from the Hotel Kosciusko, was the principal downhill course for all races up to 1930.

  • Skating on the Lake

    Charles Maclurcan and Doris Pitt skating on the lake in front of the Hotel Kosciusko.

  • Herbert Lamble

    Herbert Lamble, of the NSW Tourist Bureau, first visited the Hotel Kosciusko at short notice in 1915 when the bookkeeper left suddenly. After dealing with the problem he returned to Sydney but was greatly taken by the Hotel, its surroundings and its potential. In 1916 he was asked to return to the Hotel  for the…

  • First Ski Proficiency Tests

    KAC introduces the first ski proficiency tests in Australia based on the Third Class Test of the Ski Club of Great Britain.

  • KAC Inaugurates the Championship of Australia

    KAC Inaugurates the Championship of Australia, an 8 km cross-country race. This remained the only race for the Championship of Australia until 1930 when the Ski Council of NSW took over the running of the Championship and changed it to 4 events, Slalom, Downhill, Langlauf (Cross-Country) and Jump.

  • The Championship of Australia Course

    The Race began by ascending the Kerry Course to the Percy Pearson Run, to the Gates of Heaven, the Plains of Heaven, to Dainers Gap, down the Kosciuszko Road and f finishing at the bottom of the Little Kerry Course.

  • Drs Schlink and Fisher set summit record

    Drs Schlink and Fisher set summit record of 11 h, 12 min.

  • Piet Speet and family

    The Speet family managed the Hotel Kosciusko from 1922-1939. L-R:Teddy, Corrie, Ronald, Cornelia, Sidney and Piet Speet.

  • First Crossing from Kiandra to the Hotel Kosciusko

    Dr Herbert Schlink leads the first Kiandra to Kosciusko Crossing. L-R: Dr Herbert Schlink, Bill Hughes, Bill Gordon, Dr John Laidley and Dr Eric Fisher.

  • George Aalberg instructs at the Hotel Kosciusko

    George Aalberg instructs at the Hotel Kosciusko and wins the first of 3 consecutive Australian Championships.

  • The Australian Ski Year Book is founded

    The Millions Ski Club is founded. Sydney University Ski Club is founded. The Ski Council of NSW is founded

  • Laurie Seaman and Evan Hayes perish near the Summit of Mt Kosciuszko

    Laurie Seaman and Evan Hayes, members of the Millions Ski Club, perish near the Summit of Mt Kosciuszko, the first skiing tragedy in The Australian Alps.

  • Reg Gelling and George Aalberg set summit record

    Reg Gelling and George Aalberg set summit record of 6 h, 9 min.

  • The Kosciusko Ski School is established at the Hotel Kosciusko

    The Kosciusko Ski School, the first in Australia, is established under George Lamble at the Hotel Kosciusko.

  • Ernst Skardarasy instructs at Kosciusko

    The NSW Government brings Ernst Skardarasy (Austria) to Australia to instruct the Arlberg technique. Skardarasy was the first overseas instructor brought to Australia and, in the three years he was at Kosciuszko, he was responsible for enormous improvement in our skiing.

  • Instructors at the Hotel Kosciusko

    L-R; Ted Shields, Friedl Pfeiffer, George Lamble and Roland Cossman (seated)

  • Ken Breakspear sets summit record

    Ken Breakspear set summit record of 6h, 1.5 min.

  • George and Bess Petersen

    George and Bess Petersen managed the Hotel Kosciusko from 1939-1951.

  • Hotel Kosciusko Instructors

    L-R; George Lamble, Bill Harris and Johnny Abbottsmith.

  • The Hotel Kosciusko burns to the ground

    On 18 April, 1951 the Hotel Kosciusko burnt to the ground. The fire, which began in the kitchen, took one hour to completely destroy the Hotel.  View the video filmed by Dr Harvey Dakin, a Cooma GP Further reading:  The Hotel Kosciusko Fire by G. Petersen, Aust Ski Yr Bk, 1952, p.45.

  • Hotel Kosciusko Staff

    Hotel Kosciusko staff 1951: L-R: unknown, unknown, Bobbie Collins, unknown, Lenore McManus, unknown, ‘Dickie’ Bird, Ernie Collins, Mamie (laundress obscured), Bert McManus, Minnie McManus, unknown, Dale McManus, Graham Chalker.

  • ‘One of the crudest drink shanties in the state’

    The Hotel Kosciusko temporary bar in the early 1950s

  • The new Kosciusko Roadside Bar

    This was built to replace ‘the crudest drink shanty in the state’.

  • Ross Martin sets summit record

    Ross Martin sets summit record of 4 h, 55 min going from Perisher Valley to the Hotel Kosciusko, back to the Summit of Mt Kosciuszko and returning to Perisher Valley.

  • David Hislop sets summit record

    David Hislop sets summit record of 4 h, 23 min.

  • Penny Miller and Peter Abbott

    Penny and Doug Miller and Colin Rae became lessees of Sponars Inn in 1989 and in 2000 Penny became sole owner. She married Peter Abbott in 2002. Further reading:  Life Above the Snowline – Penny and Peter Abbott at Sponar’s Chalet, Newsletter 12, p.1