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recreation and tourism

Crossing the Snowy Mountains on skis Graeme Handley provides a brief account of that first “Kiandra to Kosciuszko” mountain crossing:

Skiing had its beginnings in Australia in the mid 1800 s when the Ski Club of Kiandra was established in the small mining town of Kiandra at the northern end of the area generally known as the Snowy Mountains. In the early 1920 s members of the Ski Club of Australia located at the southern end of the mountains began to speculate about what lay between these two centres of skiing in Australia, and after some exploratory trips in the mid ‘20 s planned to cross the mountains on skis in the winter of 1927. On 28 July 1927 a party comprising Drs. Herbert Schlink, Eric Fishe , John Laidley and Mr. William Gordon from the Ski Club of Aus- tralia together with a representative of the Ski Club of Kiandra, Mr. William Hughes set out from Kiandra for the Hotel Kosciuszko. On the fist day they skied from Kiandra to Farm Ridge Hut via the Nine Mile Diggings and Boobee huts, a journey involving a waist deep crossing of the Happy Jacks River. After topping up with supplies left there the previous summe , they set out the following morning for Jagungal Saddle, past the Bulls Peaks to the Tin Hut. Sensing that they were past the worst and in familiar territory, they discarded their sleeping bags and extra weight in the form of food etc at the Tin Hut and made a dash for Pounds

Creek Hut. Howeve , they hadn’t counted on the weather and were enveloped in fog. Unable to see the ma- jor landmarks they were forced to feel their way to Consett Stephen Pass then into the Guthega River which would lead them to the Snowy River and the hut. One mistake and they were out for the night. Fortunately they got it right and found the Snowy River frozen ove , thus avoiding another cold river crossing. With the aid of a stiff whisky, they made their way the last quarter mile to Pounds Creek Hut where they slept until 11 the next morning. They found the last leg of the journey to the Hotel Kosciuszko a doddle and arrived back to the adulation of friends and hotel guests. Herbert Schlink s chronicle of the journey can be found in the 1928 Australian Ski Yearbook and is reproduced in Klaus Hueneke s book “Kiandra to Kosciuszko”.

Skiing timeline

Date 1856

1860-61 Skiing (or snowshoe-ing as it was called) was pioneered in Australia by the miners in Kiandra


The Bright Alpine Club was formed to help develop tourist facilities. A few years later the club published the first tourist guidebook to the area.


The Melbourne Amateur Walking and Touring Club was formed, and a little later the Mountain Trails Club in Sydney. The beauty, splendour and solitude of the Australian Alps continued to at- tract walkers who became the region’s first bushwalkers.


The NSW Government built the Kosciuszko Hotel at Diggers Creek and the Government Chalet at Yarrangobilly Caves.

1910 1920s

The Government Chalet at Mount Buffalo in Victoria was built.

Skiing became an organised sport in NSW, Victoria and the ACT. Organisations such as the Ski Club of Victoria, the Ski Club of Australia, the Millions Ski Club and the Canberra Alpine Club were formed. Walking clubs flourished and large numbers of people visited the Alps to explore the mountains on foot.

1930 1938 1950s Present

A chalet was built at Charlotte Pass.

A Ski Chalet was built on Mt Franklin in the ACT

Resort development becomes widespread in Victoria and NSW.

Recreation in the Alps has become more organised with the availability of many facilities such as walking tracks, ski runs, visitor centres, ski villages with flats, restaurants and hotels. People can join commercial operators to go on organise sightseeing, walking, horse riding and camping tours.


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