Life Members of the Myrtleford Ski Club -   click here

A Brief History of the Myrtleford Ski Club

1938 Myrtleford Ski Club is formed

On July 12th, Mr Reg Watson convened a meeting of 13 interested people and proposed that a ski club be formed called the Myrtleford Ski Club (its constitution was modelled on the constitutions of other clubs that, in turn, were based on the Ski Club of Great Britain).

The Early Years: 1945 - 1960s

After being virtually disbanded during the war, the Club was reformed and fortnightly trips were taken to Mt Buffalo.

In 1949, Myrtleford Ski Club obtained permission for occupancy and began planning the MSC Lodge.... The building sub-committee met to discuss the design and a two-storey building with a single gabled roof was decided on and plans were drawn up. Work commenced and at this time, there were only three other huts on the mountain: Bogong Ski Club in an old Army hut, Skyline as the Ski Club of Victoria lodge and the Albury Ski Club lodge. Permits were needed to purchase building materials and these were hard to obtain. Subsequently the lodge was built mostly from donated materials. The basement was dug out and lined with stone from the Ruined Castle area, timber was cut (using cross-saws) from the Walpole properties and was milled then carted up to Falls Creek on either the Walpole or Calvert trucks. The iron on the roof was originally a tobacco kiln on Billy McNamara's property.

Long days working from dawn to nightfall resulted in the lodge being liveable by that winter - JUST! The walls were unlined, the only windows were in the lounge, the roof leaked, the beds consisted of sacking bunks and the toilet was situated 200 metres down the road.

Junior membership was introduced in 1950 and the first life memberships were awarded to Gordon Muller and John Robertson in 1957. During this decade improvements were made with a second storey being added, the installation of windows, stove and chimney, a new staircase was constructed as well as a woodshed being built. The lodge was painted yellow in the mid 1950s.

Dick Walpole was the third club member to be granted life membership in 1960 after representing Australia at the 1960 Winter Olympics held in Squaw Valley, USA. In 1960 the lodge was painted blue and further renovation work was done in the late 1960s (see later).

The Next 20 years: 1961 -- 1980

This period of time saw lodge improvements, high level achievements by Club Members and positive changes in Lodge Management and Club activities ...

Lodge Improvements

1966-7 saw further improvements made to the lodge which saw the second storey over the woodshed built, and the whole lodge was re-roofed. The kitchen and common room were remodelled, the balcony and glass doors were built in and central heating was installed. Planning commenced in August 1977 to bring the lodge up to the regulatory standard for 25 beds and this work was completed in late 1978. A building permit is obtained and in 1979-80, more renovations were made, when a new wing was added, comprising a new lounge room and bunkrooms. The old iron stairs were taken out, and a whole new entrance including wooden stairs, was built. To add to this, a new boiler room was built, and the old stairs leading up from the basement were blocked off.

Achievements and Life Members

At the Australian National Championships in 1963, Club member Ross Milne came equal 1st in the Slalom and 2nd in the Giant Slalom. His younger brother, Malcolm came 5th in the Slalom and 11th in the Giant Slalom. Following this success, Ross was selected for the 1964 Winter Olympic team to go to Innsbruck to represent Australia. Unfortunately, he did not reach the Olympics as he was tragically killed when he skied into a tree during a training run at Patscherkofel Mountain, Innsbruck. A quote from Ski Year Book of 1964 states "Ross died doing what he loved - skiing."

Malcolm continued to compete at the World level and became the first Australian to win a World Cup event at Val d'Isere in 1969. He also won a bronze medal at the 1970 World Downhill Championship at Val Gardena in Italy. His time was only half a second behind that of the winner. It was the first Australian medal ever in a world ski championship. Malcolm also represented Australia in the Winter Olympics in 1968 and 1972.

In the 1980 Intra-club Nordic races, Roy Walpole won the Over 35 Men and Wayne Pethybridge won the Under 35 Men. Wayne's sister, Kerryn, won the Junior Women's event and this was an early hint of the talent that would take Kerryn on to very high levels. In 1980 Wayne represented Australia in a pre-Olympics events at Lake Placid and the World Junior Championships in St Montan, Canada.

Life Memberships were awarded to Malcolm Milne in 1973 and to Robert Watson and Alex Crameri in 1979

Ski club races

Whilst there were always some members who competed at a very high level particularly through the 1950s and 60s, the Club Races saw only a few competitors and the 1970s saw a further downturn in interest and race days did not happen at all. In 1979 the annual Race Weekend was re-introduced into the Club calendar renewing the club interest in competition. The Race Weekend has been a yearly event since 1979 but, unfortunately, the following year was unable to build on this renewal due to very poor weather.

Lodge Management

In 1979, after a several years where the management of the Lodge was done on a part-time basis and mainly by Club members, Phil Dodd was appointed as the first full-time manager of the Myrtleford Ski Lodge. Phil remained in this role until his last season in 1991.

Towards the new millennium: 1980 - 1999

As the Club moved towards the new millennium it would be fair to say this was a period of strong consolidation based on the past good work by Committees and members...

General Club Information

Significant Club activities during this time:

* In 1982 the Club introduces booking arrangements incorporating limits. At the time this was set at 3 weekends and one mid-week until the 'open booking' period.

* The Ski Club elected its first female Club President, Gloria Banks (now a Life Member) at the 1983 AGM.

* At the 1984 AGM the Committee (led by Gloria) recommended that the Club proceed with Incorporation of the Myrtleford Ski Club and the motion is carried. In 1985 'Myrtleford Ski Club Incorporated' comes into being.

* A new 24 year lease was signed on 16th December 1993

* In 1994 a club member, due to injuries sustained in the club races in 1988, decides to take legal action against the Lift Company. The lift company and ski school drag both the Alpine Resorts Commission AND, most unfortunately, the Club into the action as co-respondents against the wishes of our member. Finally in 1998, nearly 10 years after the accident, the issue is resolved with the Club having to pay a substantial amount to the settlement.

* In 1995 the Club trialled a shoulder season rate to apply for the month of June. This was originally set at 25% less than the full Winter rate. Following the success of this trial the shoulder season rate became incorporated into bed rates in 1996 and was extended to include the latter part of the season and is still part of our accommodation rates.

* In 1998/99 a building sub-committee is formed to finalise the renovation tender process. This culminates in the Committee presenting a final renovation design for approval at a Special General Meeting held on 9th July, 1999, this was approved however, due to the unfavourable resolution in the court case, the building was postponed until the summer of 2000/2001.

Lodge Improvements

A great deal of work was done on the extension/renovation over the 1979/80 summer, however the new areas were not able to be used as there was further work needed to get an occupancy certificate. It was reported at the 1980 AGM that "work of a 'finishing off' nature could be needed this summer" and also that a certificate of occupancy had been obtained.

The continual facilities improvement continued with the following notable additions:

* Completion of new lounge room (1981)

* Kitchen revamp -- an island bench, bar area, new fridge, 2 new stoves and electrical items, new entrance is built, finishing work in TV room, stairwell and the 'room 7' bathroom. Rock retaining wall work commences but is delayed by non-delivery of rock by Falls Creek M'ment Committee (1982)

* Rock retaining wall is completed, relining of kitchen storeroom and the 'cool store' was fitted with shelves and hanging space and storage areas constructed in each room (1983)

* The cavern (or as some know it the dungeon, officially Room 8), which was being used as a ski room/drying room was converted for use as accommodation for 5 people "for the time being". (1984)

Improvements during the late 1980s include:

* work done on improving the lodge grounds
* manual earth moving outside the lounge in preparation for an area of paving
* TV and video purchased
* upstairs bathrooms renovated
* paving outside lounge completed
* upgrading of windows and furniture in main lounge room
* planning for complete updated of kitchen commences

1990 & 1991 saw work completed on the southern retaining wall and courtyard paving and the stairs outside Room 8 commenced as well as the electrical and plumbing work upgraded to meet fire regulations. Kitchen renovation plans are completed, submitted and approved along with the outside storeroom (i.e. the coolroom) plans and both the kitchen renovation and the establishment of the outside store are done. Doonas and matching covers and pillow cases are first provided by the club.

Over the next 2 years, a great deal of landscaping work is done with beautification of the outdoor area including trees in the 'planter boxes', access steps to roadway completed and a rock washaway is constructed from entry to laundry door. The kitchen floor is re-laid due to damage caused by a burst water pipe. The TV and dining/lounge rooms are re-carpeted. A new drinks fridge and washing machine are installed and book shelves are constructed in the TV room.

In the late 90s, even though major building projects are postponed, Club members see a range of improvement purchases being made: new modular lounge suite installed into lounge room, new TV and video with remote control installed and new CD/tape/radio placed on bar counter and a code (combination) lock fitted to front door

Achievements and Life Members

Kerryn Pethybridge (now Rim) competed in the 1986 World Cup (Nordic) in Italy, Austria, Sweden and Norway and placing 4th, 7th, 9th and 10th. Kerryn continued to compete at an elite level, most notably in the World Biathlon Championships from 1984-1991 achieving her best results (10th out of 44 in 7.5km event and 13th out of 45 in 15km event) at the 1989 Championships held in Obertauern, Austria. Kerryn was also selected to compete in the biathlon for the 1992 Australian Winter Olympics team with the games held in Albertville, France. She was also in Australia's Winter Olympic teams in 1994 (Lillehammer, Norway) and 1998 (Nagano, Japan)

Junior members Scott Sanderson and Charles Showers were chosen to be part of a 7 person team representing 12-15 year olds from all over Australia in 1991. They spent 6 weeks away firstly attending a two week training camp then with further training and competing in Austria. In 1992/93, Charlie and Scott continued gaining good results in Rossignol and Salomon Cup events as well as Victorian Championships. As a result of these successes both were invited to go to Austria for further training.

1990 Life Membership is awarded to David Robertson and Kevin Wood

1992 Roy Walpole and Robert Walpole have Life Membership honours bestowed upon them

1998 Leonie Williams is awarded Life Membership. She has the honour of being the first female to be made a life member of the Club.

Ski club races, Junior Bus trips and snow seasons

The Annual Downhill Ski races were becoming more and more popular and, whilst there had been the occasional Junior trophy awarded earlier, by the late 1980s trophies being awarded in several categories from Under 8 to Under 16. One fantastic thing to note here is that of the children that competed and won trophies in this period no fewer than 7 have, in later years, gone on to win the Club Champion (fastest time) or Women's Club Champion (fastest female time) trophies. In 1993 these two categories were combined to an overall Club Champion trophy awarded to the fastest competitor on the day.

The growing interest in skiing amongst the Club's Junior members led to organised weekend ski instruction for juniors at Falls Creek. These started in 1986 and were organised by David Robertson for the first 3 or 4 years. The cost was $40 per day for return bus from Myrtleford, 3 hour ski instruction, day ski ticket and lunch at the lodge. These continued until the mid-1990s with Leonie Williams, Anne Browne, Pauline Frost and Graeme Sanderson all playing a part in the organisation of them.

The Seasons

1990 Good snow but fairly poor weather for much of the season, however there was great spring skiing. Downhill race was held on Saturday 28th August

1991 Another season of excellent snow but rotten weather and short lift queues. Downhill race was held on Saturday 27th July in blizzard conditions and .." Sound familiar?

1992 A season of quite heavy snowfalls but lots of bad weather and it was heard that Falls Creek only recorded 8 days of sunshine. Downhill race is held on Saturday 25th July and the weather gods turned on a good day!!!!

1993 Big dump at start to season but overall the season was a poor one. Downhill race was held on 31st July and the races were held in good snow. Snowboarding was introduced as part of our race day.

1994 Another season of poor natural snow falls. Downhill race held on Saturday 30th July and this year also saw the start of what is now a Club tradition with the first fancy dress Race Dinner (Medieval theme) being held.

1995 A good snow season and it was noted on 3rd August that the snow depth was over 1.5 metres. Race Weekend was held 28th/29th July
Fancy Dress theme: Christmas in July

1996 Season produced lots of snow but not too much sun. Race Weekend was held on 27th/28th July. The club races were exciting and keenly contested despite being postponed from the Saturday to the Sunday due to disgusting weather.
Fancy Dress theme: Italian

Whilst there may have been XC races held in previous year the first reference to a scheduled cross country race weekend is made. This was held on 20th/21st September and Col Byrne was the organiser

1997 Very slow start to the snow season with the first really big dump not arriving until 8th August and this hung on until the end of September. Race weekend was scheduled for 26th/27th July. Unfortunately the race was not held due to heavy rain and a general lack of snow.
Fancy Dress theme: Keeping up Appearances

1998 Race weekend held on 31st July/1st August. Downhill race held in foggy conditions yet again.
Fancy dress theme: Oriental

1999 Bucketloads of snow fell on opening weekend (40cm on ground by late Monday) which promised a good year, however after this great start the snow didn't quite happen. Race weekend scheduled for 30th/31st July but races were cancelled due to lack of snow.
Fancy dress theme: Beach Party.

Lodge Management

The 1991 season marked the end of Phil Dodd's time as manager of the Ski Lodge after 13 years 'at the helm' and Jocelyn Day and Chris Muller were appointed as new lodge managers for the 1992 season. In 1996, John and Caroline Thomas were appointed Lodge managers following Chris and Jocelyn's resignation at the end of the 1995 season after four excellent years of managing the lodge. John and Caroline also proved to be great managers and continued in this role for the next 6 seasons finishing in 2001. .

Later history (2000s to present day) will be updated soon...