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Chapter 17
Chapter 18



The Melbourne Bushies - Fifty years along the track (1940-90)
Chapter 7 - Skiing - The Bushies Take to the Hills in Winter

Graeme Thornton

As is fitting, the primary activity of the Melbourne Bushwalkers is walking. In the earlier days, during the winter and early spring months, when deep snow lay about the higher mountains, some of the more popular areas were inaccessible to walkers except for those determined and strong-willed enough to use alpine (downhill) skis. These days, another world is opened to bushwalkers, thanks to lightweight touring skis.

Whilst Club members did ski trips in the forties and fifties, by the early sixties skiing was effectively ignored if not actively discouraged by the Club. We were a walking club, not a skiing club. This attitude appears to have been part of those times; other clubs had a similar experience. It was this attitude that lead to the formation of the Winter Group, which specifically provided for those who wished to continue to visit their beloved mountains when the snow lay thick in winter. A significant proportion of the group's membership came from walking clubs. Doug Pocock's comment is characteristic but perhaps a fairly typical view of the time.

'When I joined (in 1961) the attitude was that there were ski clubs and there were bushwalking clubs and never the twain shall meet. I thought that bushies wanted nothing to do with skiers as they were almost immoral staying in lodges and maybe even drinking! ! Also we got to summits by our own efforts but skiers got tows to take them up. Nothing was ever said but it (skiing) was definitely frowned upon.'

Of course, ski touring has had its ups and downs (so to speak). Equipment and availability of suitable accommodation have greatly influenced this over the decades. The early tourers basically went from mountain hut to mountain hut. But the war started in 1939, and that year also saw one of the most devastating bushfires ever recorded. Many of the ski tourers' huts were destroyed, never to be rebuilt. And the traditional japara tent, then prevalent, was not the most reliable under