The early days
By 1909 the general public’s interest in Mt Kosciusko and the snow saw the NSW Government Tourist Bureau construct the Kosciusko Hotel on the Kosciusko Road at Diggers Creek (the staff quarters remain as “Sponar’s Inn”). This became a very socially acceptable recreation and groups formed (e.g. Kosciusko Alpine Club) who took block bookings of the hotel.
The next development was the construction in 1930 of the Kosciusko Chalet at Charlotte Pass; again by the NSW Tourist Bureau. This building was to burn down in 1938 and the current building constructed.
Apart from the Hotel Kosciusko and the Kosciusko Chalet hotel the few early accommodation facilities commercially available were very rustic. There is a big opportunity to get into a lot of trouble in writing a condensed version of anything and this is no different. The objective is, as always, to provide a definitive resource and this will occur. At his point the subject material is limited to just ski clubs, other buildings, stockmen’s huts, shelter huts and commercial accommodation is to follow.
In due course individual ski clubs built their own lodges; the first of these in their areas being:
Charlotte Pass – Kosciusko Alpine Club (1952)
Perisher Valley – Telemark Ski Lodge & Kosciusko Snow Revellers (1952)
Guthega – Tiobunga Lodge (1955) then known as YMCA now Brindabella Ski Club
Smiggin Holes – Cresta Lodge (1960 approx.) burnt down 1964.
Now, in 2013, visitors are accommodated in 97 Ski Clubs, 32 Commercial Lodges, 5 Apartment buildings and 6 Hotels. A further 11 buildings provide accommodation for on-snow staff. As well there are 2 Churches and 12 buildings providing guest services such as Ski Centres, On-Slope Restaurants and Ski-In Coffee Shops for snacks. To this, add the necessary services buildings for Fire and Ambulance Stations, Snow Making, Sewage Treatment, Telephone, Workshops and Snow Clearing. Things have certainly come a long way.
Over the years the attraction of the snowfields have introduced thousands to the joys of outdoor life and the beauty of the Kosciuszko National Park. Plus the introduction to the wonders of ski and nature has meant many, many return visits to the area which has greatly assisted in the funding of National Parks and Wildlife Service to enable it to carry out good works all around the state of NSW.
Naturally, the rough and tumble times of the intrepid early skiers and their interesting experiences will make for interesting reading in a book currently being written for Perisher Historical Society and to be launched 9th June 2013 at the PHS Annual Dinner. The book will fill a gap in the published literature by providing detail and chronology to adventurous times that may come as a surprise to the molly-coddled skier of today who expects to be driven to the door of their accommodation hardly touching the snow. Some of the stories are also to be found on individual ski club websites.