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Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18



The Melbourne Bushies - Fifty years along the track (1940-90)

Mastery of technique can be a subjective, if not ephemeral thing. On a tour in the Tawonga Huts - Mt Fainter area over the Melbourne Show Day period in 1980, Pearson Creswell was heard to shout the skiers' equivalent to 'Eureka!'. He'd discovered the secret of the elusive telemark turn, or so he claimed. Upon further investigation it turned out that in order to provide some sideways stability for the naturally weak lateral stance of the telemark, Pearson had found that if you plant your pole firmly at the beginning of the turn and lean on it at about a 45 ° angle all the way through the turn - and if the pole doesn't break - you've done a telemark turn. He defended this assertion stoutly, despite the grave doubts cast by his companions as to its legitimacy. Word has it that Pearson was seen for many a year after that practising telemark variations that relied a little less on the column strength of his poles.

Chris Hellerud put a lot of effort into promoting his beloved Nordic skiing. He often gave free lessons on technique and waxing at Mt Baw Baw and other mountains in the seventies, including at a Club beginners' trip to Mt Hotham in 1976 (Rod Mattingley's July 1976 trip referred to previously).

None who have persevered with cross-country skiing have regretted the effort. To be up in our magnificent alpine country free to go just about anywhere there is snow is almost the ultimate terrestrial freedom. And having discovered the delights of touring, it can rapidly become addictive, if not obsessive in the first few years. As an example, a sizeable group of Club members camped beside the Swampy Plains River the Friday night before Melbourne Cup Day, 1980. Most of the group were on a walk being led by Graham Mascas around the Geehi Valley. They were to start from Olsen's Lookout on the road to Geehi Reservoir, circumnavigate the Geehi in clockwise direction and then traverse the Main Range as far as Mt Alice Rawson. The trip was to finish with the steep descent down Lady Northcote's Canyon to the Geehi and up to the cars at Olsen's Lookout. Among them were four would-be skiers: Graham Wills-Johnson, Helen Dean, Geoff Law and me. We received a considerable ribbing from the walkers during breakfast Saturday morning. The general question was, 'where's the snow then?', amid much mirth and gesticulation toward the very lightly snow-clad and mostly rocky western flanks of Mt Townsend and The Abotts. They seemed to have a point - at the time.

We parked at Dead Horse Gap and climbed up into the Ramsheads until we struck snow. Initially we camped on snow grass about 10 metres below the snowline. The Ramsheads are an idyllic spot at any time of the year, but there is something special in spring. Perhaps it is that unique combination of soft snow grass to camp on with skiable snow but a few