Australian ski tow directory
30 June 2014. Perisher's new Freedom chairlift at Guthega operated for the first time today. Report and video.
The Hobart Cable Car proposal was launched on 17 April 2014. It will involve a Doppelmayr gondola from the Cascade brewery to Golden Gully Park, approximately a third of the way up the mountain. Activities such as mountain biking and a high rope course will be based there. From Golden Gully a funitel (twin cable gondola immune to high winds) will head up to The Pinnacle at the top of the mountain. Details at their Facebook page and website.
This article lists all 400 ski lifts and passenger ropeways that have operated in Australia, including a few dozen lifts away from the snowfields. The dates cited are the ski seasons a lift operated (or if a particular lift didn't run in poor snow seasons, the years it was available to operate). Also included are a few planned lifts where details have been published.
Lift Companies. Lifts at most resorts began with individuals and clubs taking the initiative. This meant that except at Thredbo, Mt Mawson and Charlotte Pass, skiers had to choose which lifts they would buy tickets for. In the 1950's there were four different groups running lifts at each of Buller, Falls Creek and in the Perisher area. The early 1960's saw most of the small operators close down or sell out, but Baw Baw only gained a single lift company in 1981 and Buller's lifts only came under a single company 1985. The four adjoining ski areas in the greater Perisher region were finally combined in 1995. The last resort with two lift companies was Ben Lomond where Alpine Enterprises and Tasmanian Ski Lifts competed with each other until 2001.
Ski lifts outside resorts. Generally the clubs that operate lifts on Mt St Bernard, the Bogong High Plains and at Cabramurra only permit members and their guests to use the lifts as their liability insurance doesn't cover outsiders. But if you know someone or even just smile sweetly, you may be able to hitch a ride. For more detailed information see the separate article non resort ski lifts. The pre-war ski resort at Donna Buang had at least four ski lodges, six cleared ski runs and a huge ski jump, but it never had ski lifts. Likewise both the Feathertop Bungalow and Mt St Bernard Hospice were very popular commercial ski lodges before they were burnt in the 1939 fires, but no lifts were built at either location until the 1950's when a couple were installed on St Bernard. In NSW the Hotel Kosciusko at Diggers Creek was a popular pre war ski destination, but no lifts were built nearby until about 1950 when the heyday of the resort was already over and most skiers were heading further up the road to Perisher and Charlotte Pass. The present cross country ski resorts have never had lifts either except for the former lift at Corin Forest.
Proposed resorts. A system of chairlifts complete with an access gondola was proposed for Mt Rufus in Tasmania in the early 1970's. At about the same time Florentine Peak (near Mt Mawson) was assessed for it's viability as a modern ski resort, but sadly nothing eventuated at either location. A plan for developing Mt Stirling in Victoria was released in the early 1980's and another was produced in the mid 1990's, but nothing happened there either. A 1950 report on developing Victoria's ski fields recommended development of an 'alpine village' at Mt Wills, but the only things built there were a single lodge, a refuge hut and two lifts. Since Thredbo was established in 1957, the only new lifted ski area has been Mt Blue Cow in New South Wales, now part of Perisher ski resort.
Resort logos. I've added every resort logo I can track down, but there are some missing from the early days. Please email me any older ones you may come across.
Sources. This web page began five years ago as a small personal project out of frustration at less than accurate reports relating to historic lifts in books and magazines and I didn't bother to cite sources. However it's grown into a bit of a monster with 400 lifts and over 210,000 hits on this web page, so in hindsight I wish I'd footnoted it. However I've been careful to only list lifts that have been reported in reliable histories (resort histories are noted at the end of each section) or which appear in contemporary publications. The only exception is the backcountry NSW lifts section where I've had to rely on verbal reports. If you want to know the source of any information on this page, please email me and I should be able to respond within a few days.
Copyright. This article is copyright, so please don't reproduce it without permission. If you use parts of it in compiling articles or books, I'd be grateful for an acknowledgement of my work by name and a link to this web page. Thanks.
Finally, this sort of research takes a lot of time and it will probably always be a work in progress. In particular, details of early lifts at Perisher and backcountry lifts in NSW are a little shaky and the Mt Buffalo section needs more information. If you notice any errors or omissions, please email the information to sisson dot dave at yahoo dot com.au --© David Sisson 01:05, 5 July 2007 (EST)
Types of ski lifts
Only the "Big Five" resorts (Buller, Falls, Hotham, Perisher and Thredbo) have quad chairs, the smaller resorts have a combination of surface lifts, double chairs and triple chairs. Victorian resorts tend to replace their lifts far more often than their NSW counterparts. In the last 60 years there have been 17 lifts built to serve Bourke Street on Mt Buller. By contrast the Mt Perisher double chair is over 50 years old and several other lifts at Perisher and Thredbo are not much younger.
Chairlifts in Australia have been built to seat 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 8 people per chair. Most chairlifts are fixed grip, with chairs directly attached to the lift cable, most cables move at about 2.3 metres per second. Detachable chairlifts remove the chair from the cable near the top and bottom stations and move it slowly through the terminals, allowing passengers to get on and off a slow moving chair (around 1 metre per second). This means the main cable can move much faster, around 5 metres per second (18 km/h). However detachables are much more expensive to build and maintain, so the more economical, but slower, fixed grip chairs are still being at built at major resorts around the world for lifts under about 1 km long.
Chairlift capacity is determined by the speed of the cable, the number of people per chair and the spacing of chairs. The highest capacity for a quad is 3000 per hour, which would mean a fairly quick 4.8 second interval between chairs. However most quads have a nominal capacity of around 2400. The real number moved is usually lower due to stoppages, not all chairs carrying the maximum number of people and the lift not running at full speed. Some lifts also have 'generously' spaced towers, meaning that chairs have to be spaced further apart to keep the weight on the cable down.
Australia's first (and only) single chairlift was built at Falls Creek by Bob Hymans in 1957. The first double chair was Thredbo's Crackenback in 1958. Triple chairs appeared in 1979 when Grimus at Buller and the Mt Perisher Triple were built. 1984 saw the advent of the quad chair with Big D at Hotham and Blue Bullets 1 and 2 at Buller. Australia's only eight seat chairlift is Perisher's Village built in 2003 and the only 'six pack' in the country is Holden which opened at Buller in 2008. Buller's Blue Bullets were also notable for being the first detachable chairlifts in the country.
Australia's longest chairlifts were the two that briefly connected Thredbo Valley to Charlotte Pass in 1964 and 1965 at 4757 and 3323 metres. The longest existing chairlift is the Kosciusko Express (formerly named Crackenback) at Thredbo which at 1860 m is marginally longer than the Horse Hill quad at Mt Buller. The shortest ski chairlift was the Valley chairlift at Mt Buffalo which last ran in 2006. It was under 200 metres long. The shortest existing ski chairlift is probably New Chum at Selwyn.
Gondolas. A gondola is an enclosed cabin where passengers walk in and sit facing each other. There are usually racks on the outside for skis and snowboards. At overseas ski fields and in Australian tourist areas, gondolas are a separate type of lift. While there are no dedicated gondolas in Australian ski fields, there are a couple of chondolas; detachable chairlifts which can also have gondola cabins attached to the cable. They are Horse Hill at Buller and Thredbo's Kosciusko Express. Buller appears to have abandoned it's gondolas, but Thredbo regularly uses theirs to transport passengers at night to the restaurant at the top of Kosci Express. The longest gondolas in Australia are Skyrail between Cairns and Kuranda in Queensland. Skyrail is two different lifts (passengers change over at a mid station), they have a combined length of 7,500 metres.
In 2009, the Falls Creek resort plan proposed replacing the Gully triple chair with a gondola. Similarly the 2010 Buller master plan included a proposal for a gondola connecting the overnight car parks with the town centre. Finally, in 2009 the local tourist authority proposed putting a gondola on Mt Buffalo, a little to the south of the toll road. However they didn't mention any financial backers for their dream.
The most realistic proposal for gondola is for Mt Wellington on the outskirts of Hobart incorporating a Doppelmayr gondola on the lower slopes of the mountain with a funitel (twin cable gondola immune to high winds) on the upper slopes.
All resorts started out with surface lifts (also called drag tows). They are much cheaper to build and maintain than chairlifts and are not as vulnerable to high winds. However they are not as 'beginner friendly', and they usually have a much lower capacity. They also need a consistent uphill slope. Sadly, surface lifts have been phased out by most major resorts except for areas high above the treeline that are exposed to strong winds. However at Perisher and the smaller resorts, they continue to play an important role.
Carpets. (Also known as 'Conveyors'.) A carpet lift is simply a conveyor belt. They move quite slowly (around 1.2 metres a second) and are used exclusively for gentle beginners slopes as they do not require any technique to ride them other than the ability to stand up. Australia's first carpet lift was installed at Mt Thebarton in Adelaide in 1987 to service the world's first indoor ski slope.
T-bars. T-bars consist of several parts. The first is a stick with a bar across the bottom which looks like an inverted T shape. Skiers and boarders lean on this bar, holding on to the central stick. This is connected to a retractable cord running from a spring box which is permanently attached to the elevated moving lift cable. Because they are fixed grip, T-bars tend to run at fairly modest speeds. The first T-bars in Australia were the 1957 Township Hill T-bar at Kiandra and the short lived Gam Tow at Thredbo. The longest was probably the Tyrol T-bar at Buller which was 1,610 metres long before it was shortened.
J-bars. Essentially they are single T-bars. A few were built in the early days of ski lifts, but none have been built in Australia for half a century because they cost the same to build and run as T-bars, but only transport half as many people. However after snowboarders experienced difficulties riding the platters at Ben Lomond, some J-bars were added to lifts at that resort for the 2009 season. The first J-bar in the country was installed at Charlotte Pass in 1938. It was only the second ski lift in Australia.
Platters. Platter lifts look a bit like Pomas because skiers are hauled uphill by a button between their legs, but they are fixed grip and the platter has a retractable cord connected to a spring box, so they operate like single seat T-bars.
Poma lifts. Pomas are the only detachable grip surface lift. Sticks are stored in a rack at the bottom of the lift. Passengers move to the front of the lift queue, grab a spring loaded stick and put the button between their legs. At the same time, the grip at the top end of the stick attaches to a moving overhead cable. This can either by manually activated by a liftie or automatically by skiers tripping a switch as they move past. Pomas are the only drag tow found at resorts where self loading works in practice (although this is standard procedure for nutcrackers at club fields). There have been experiments with self loading T-bars and platters, but skiers and boarders don't seem to be able to cope with them.
Because they are detachable, Pomas are by far the fastest drag lift, the legendary International Poma at Falls Creek had a speed of 4.2 metres per second until a new and slower motor was installed. The speed record for any Australian ski lift belongs to the former double ended Howqua - Summit Access Poma at Buller which operated at 6.5 m/s for staff access, but was restricted to 4 m/s when open to the public.
Confusingly, many platters are described as Pomas, presumably because they are both use a button to move skiers uphill, even though they are different types of lifts in every other respect. Pomas are the only type of ski lift that can easily accommodate bends in their path (T-bars and chairs can have bends, but they are awkward and expensive to build). Half the Pomas built in Australia had bends, the Brockhoff Poma at Hotham had two. Pomas were very popular in Victoria and at one stage there were four of them running parallel to each other at Buller. However they never really took off in NSW. An early form of Poma first ran in 1960 at Smiggin Holes and at Sponar's Inn. More modern Pomas made their appearance in 1964 at Buller, Hotham, Charlotte Pass and Falls Creek. The longest Poma to run in Australia is the 1219 metre International at Falls Creek, which is one of only six Pomas still operating in this country.
Nutcrackers. Some modern skiers who don't venture beyond the main resorts are unfamiliar with nutcracker lifts. But all ski resorts in Australia and New Zealand began with them. While they have been replaced at the big resorts, nutcrackers can still be found at 'club fields'. A nutcracker (or rope gripper) is a device attached to a belt worn by a skier that clamps onto a moving rope at waist level, allowing the skier to be towed uphill. The height of the rope and the pulleys that support it are adjusted according to snow levels. While it may not be necessary to use a nutcracker on short, gently graded rope tows, it is impossible for skiers to hold onto a rope with their hands on steeper tow lines or where the rope passes over a pulley. Riding nutcrackers explained, Powderhound article on nutcrackers.
Most Australian nutcracker lifts were derived from the design perfected by Bill (later Sir William) Hamilton in New Zealand. Hamilton installed his first ski lift at Coronet Peak in 1947 and within a few years had perfected the Hamilton Model B design that has been used ever since. Because it was easily copied and readily available material could be substituted for Hamilton parts, (such as car wheel rims for rope pulleys), many nutcracker lifts were home made and built by the groups that ran them. As they don't have tall towers, nutcracker lifts are easily moved and some Australian tows have operated at four locations.
The first nutcracker in Australia was on Bourke Street, Mt Buller when a rope tow was upgraded to a nutcracker for the 1950 season. The longest nutcracker was probably the Crackenback Tow at Thredbo (as it was in 1957). One of the newest nutcracker lifts also claims to be the longest and steepest. The Heritage Express Tow at Roundhill in New Zealand first ran in 2010. It is 1473 metres long with a 626 m rise.
Handle tows. Short portable ski lifts with plastic handles permanently attached to a waist high cable. To move uphill, a skier just grabs one of the handles and holds on. They are also known as pony lifts at some overseas locations.
Rope tows. This term is often used to include nutcrackers and handle tows, but a true rope tow is one where the skier or boarder simply grasps the rope in their hands. They are only practical for short, gently graded slopes. Typical examples are the Canyon tows at Buller which assist skiers over slight bumps on a mostly downhill access trail. In this listing most of the old lifts described as rope tows were probably nutcrackers. The first ski lift in Australia was the rope tow made out of recycled railway lines that was built at Buffalo in 1937.
Carousels. Look a bit like oversized rotary clothes lines that pull small children around in a circle. At times, Mt Buller, Perisher and Charlotte Pass have listed them as lifts, but that is probably stretching the definition of a ski lift a bit far.
In recent decades ski lift manufacture across the world has been dominated by Doppelmayr and Leitner-Poma. While a few new lift makers have emerged in Europe and North America, so far none of them have installed lifts in Australia.
In earlier times there were many more lift makers, but by the end of the 20th century all had either gone out of business or been taken over. The advent of detachable chairlifts seems to have been a determining factor, mid sized companies appear to have lacked the capital and the economies of scale to develop, build and maintain the complex technology involved.
The Swiss manufacturer Mueller built early chairlifts at Thredbo and Perisher (the 1961 Mt Perisher Double is one of the oldest surviving Muellers in the world) while the American company Riblet also built chairlifts in NSW. However foreign products were not always successful in Australian conditions. Muellers Crackenback chair at Thredbo regularly derailed and had to be partially rebuilt using material supplied by Riblet. One case that pointed to the future was when Blue Lifts at Mt Buller installed the world's first Doppelmayr double chair, rhime build up in Mt Buller's damp and foggy conditions became a major problem. In contrast to Mueller (which appears to have left Thredbo to sort out it's own problems with the Crackenback chair), when Doppelmayr received photos and a description of the severity of the problem, they sent engineers to Buller to study and rectify it. Perhaps that is a pointer to the reasons why Doppelmayr survived and prospered while most of it's competitors went out of business. In any case, Buller has retained a strong brand loyalty for Dopp products ever since.
Local manufacturers were initially on the scene too. Many rope tows and a few nutcrackers were home made in small workshops (although the most reliable nutcrackers were Hamilton branded ones imported from New Zealand). Some local products like Gam T-bars were not a success, but others like Vladimir Hayek's Australasian Ropeway built a number of chairlifts. The most successful local lift maker was Ron McCallum who built reliable and long lived T-bars and chairlifts at several ski resorts as well as tourist chairlifts at locations away from the mountains.
Links to lift makers websites are in Section 21 at the end of this article.
Australian Capital Territory
|Mt Franklin||Nutcracker||Canberra Alpine Club||1957 - late 60's||Brumby Tow||Operated on Little Ginini, Slalom Run, Nursery Run|
|Mt Franklin||Hook Tow||Canberra Alpine Club||1965 only||Austin A40 Tow||Operated on Slalom Run|
|Little Ginini||. ?||John Dowling||1959 - 1960||-||Moved to Mt Selwyn|
|Mt Ginini||. ?||RMC Ski Club||1957 - mid 60's||-||-|
|Corin Forest||Platter||Corin Forest||1980's - c.1995||-||The lift was a Schippers “Bambi” button tow|
More on ACT ski history.
Matthew Higgins. Skis on the Brindabellas. Tabletop Press, 1994.
|unknown*||'ski tow'||?||< 1958 >||-||Passing reference made in Skiers novice handboook. c.1958 p. 24|
|Thirty Second||Rope tow||-||1963 - 1984||370 / 85||Above current Bass tow||NTAC. Originally c.244/76. Extended at base 1973, at top 1975|
|Big Ben||Rope tow||-||1967 - 1984||425 / 78||B/w Fanny's & Bill's||NTAC. Used parts from Mt Buller's Bourke St rope tow|
|Summit||Platter||Yac||1973 - 1991||327 / 86||-||Alpine Enterprises. 370 m long, 80 m rise|
|Fanny's||Platter||Yac||1973 - 1978||-||-||Alpine Enterprises. 300 m long, 73 m rise|
|Beginners / Village||Platter||Yac||1973 - present||260 / 55||-||A.E. 300 m long, 35 m rise. Renamed in 1980's|
|Giblin||Platter||Yac||1976 - present||245 / 52||-||AE. Closed 09, PWS refused maint access to tower by vehicle or heli|
|Fanny's||T-bar||Doppelmayr||1979 - present||254 / 68||-||Alpine Enterprises|
|Creek Run||Platter||Yac||1979 - 2010||325 / 28||-||Relocated Fanny's platter. Relocated in 2011 to Big Ben|
|Bill's||T-bar||Doppelmayr||1985 - present||-||-||Alpine Enterprises|
|Thirty Second||Poma||Pomagalski||1985 - 2002?||-||Above current Bass tow||NTAC. Formerly on Mt Buller Summit|
|Big Ben||Poma||Pomagalski||1985 - 2002?||-||B/w Fanny's & Bill's||NTAC. Formerly on Mt Buller Summit|
|Summit||T-bar||Doppelmayr||1992 - present||-||-||Alpine Enterprises|
|Bass||Poma?||-||? - present||-||-||Built on lower section of 30 Sec, used some of its parts|
|Big E||Platter||Yac||2011 - present||-||Big Ben slope||Relocated Creek Platter|
|Creek Inn-base of Bill's||2-Chair-F||Doppelmayr||c.1990||-||Thirty Second||TSL. Formerly Mt Buller's Bourke St chair. See note below|
|Village - Thirty Second||T-bar||Doppelmayr||2009||-||-||Relocate & extend Fannys. Base of Village - top of Fannys|
|Big Ben slope||Platter||Yac||2009||-||-||Relocated Village Platter|
In common with Mt Buller and Mt Baw Baw, for a time Ben Lomond's ski lifts were run by two companies. Alpine Enterprises (AE) was established in 1973 by Eryl Williams, Brian Hill and Arvids Endelmanis. The Northern Tasmanian Alpine Club's (NTAC) first tow was built by Eddie Hausegger and Bill Mitchell in 1963. In 1990 the lifts were split off from the club to become Tasmanian Ski Lifts (TSL).
Installation of the chairlift that formerly ran on Bourke St at Mt Buller, was repeatedly delayed by bureaucracy, eventually TSL simply gave up trying to get around the new barriers that were constantly put in the way of installing the lift and abandoned the project. Early this century the chairlift was still stored on a nearby farm, but apparently the drive terminal was then sold to a horse breeder to be used for training purposes while the rest was sold as scrap metal, a sad end for what was the first Doppelmayr double chairlift in the world. :(
Some years after the chairlift fiasco, TSL was refused permission to operate their Pomas by the former Ben Lomond Skifield Management Authority and told to remove their lifts. Eventually AE was given salvage rights to them and Thirty Second and Big Ben were removed.
* So far, I have only found a single mention of the first tow in this list and it may only be a confused reference to Cuming's lift at Mt Mawson. Any further information would be appreciated. Update. In May 2014 I spoke with a couple of people who worked at Ben Lomond in the early 1960's and they are pretty sure that this lift never existed. If I don't hear something suggesting that it could have existed after all, I will remove it from this list by the end of the year.
Run names. Other than runs with the same names as lifts, the only named runs at Ben Lomond are:
Little Slalom to skiers left of Summit lift, loops around to the lift line half way down.
Milk Run to skiers left of Fannies to top of Village left.
Coal Mine to skiers right from top of Giblin.
More on Ben Lomond history.
David M. Harvey. The Ben Lomond Story. The author, 2000.
Thanks to "Ben Lomond Brad" and "Bulldozer" for help with this list. --© David Sisson 20:10, 4 August 2007 (EST)
|Ski Hoist, aka. The Meat Hook||J-bar||NSW Railways||1938 - 1952||-||Pulpit Rock||2nd ski lift in Aust. Replaced by rope tow|
|Sponar's||Rope tow||-||1952?||-||Wood Run||Was to operate in '53, but Sponar ill with T.B.|
|Pulpit Rock||Nutcracker||-||1953 - 1962||-||-||Rope tow 1953, converted to nutcracker in '54|
|Woodrum||Nutcracker||-||1958 - 1962||600 / ?||Chalet Dam-Lit Stillwell||600 metres long, replaced by double chair|
|Thredbo Valley-Stillwell Restaurant||2-Chair-F||Carlevaro or..||1964 - 1965||4757 / -||-||Abandoned due to strong winds & derailing -|
|Stillwell Restaurant-Charlotte Pass||2-Chair-F||...Mueller???||1964 - 1965||3323 / -||-||- Combined length = 5 km. Cost £1,200,000!|
|Pulpit||Poma||Pomagalski||1963 - 1966||-||-||Replaced by a T-bar. Poma moved to Basin|
|Rope Tow||Portable rope||-||19?? - 2007||-||-||Usually operated between Basin & Kangaroo|
|Guthries||Poma||Pomagalski||1963 - present||580 / 133||-||Occasionally spelt 'Gutheries' on trail maps|
|Basin||Poma||-||1968 - present||260 / 43||-||Moved from Pulpit|
|Pulpit||T-bar||-||1968 - present||310 / 95||-||Replaced a Poma. Was a duplex T-bar in 1970's|
|Kangaroo Ridge / Kosciusko||3-Chair-F||Pomagalski||1980 - present||670 / 154||-||Name changed 2009?|
|Kosci Carpet||Carpet||-||2008 - present||-||B/w Basin & Kosci trip||-|
|Charlotte's Carousel||Carousel||-||2012 - present||-||In front of Chalet||Probably doesn't quite qualify as a lift?|
Thanks to Bob McLennan for information on lifts in the 1960's.
Around 2009 a double chair with markings indicating it came from Mt Baw Baw was moved to Cooma Airport. Rumours said that it may have been destined for Charlotte Pass. In late 2013 the scattered components were still there, quietly rusting.
Information on the 1960's Pulpit lifts is a bit ambiguous. Sponar's tow had previously run at St Christoph, Austria in 1949, it was the first tow at that resort. Woodrum may have been demolished at the end of the 1962 winter rather than after the 1963 season. Current trail map.
The former Thredbo Valley - Charlotte Pass chairlifts have their own WikiSki page here. Parts of them have been reassembled to make a chairlift at Wollongong which still operates. See Section 18 of this page Other passenger ropeways.
More on Charlotte Pass history.
Rick Walkom. Skiing off the roof: the Kosciusko Chalet at Charlotte Pass and its place in the history of the Australian snowfields. Arlberg Press, 1991. Reprinted by Tabletop Press, 2000. --© David Sisson 15:22, 16 July 2007 (EST)
|Myrtleford Ski Club tow||Rope tow||Gordon Muller||1951 - 1960?||90 / 25||?||Initial site uncertain, moved closer to Nissen in 1953|
|Nissen||Nutcracker||Hamilton||1951 - 1960||568 / 213||Summit||Nissen Alp Club (Toni St Elmo) Capacity 5=long queue 6/- day in 1951|
|Hyman's Skyline||Portable rope tow||Ron McCallum||1954 - ?||-||Mostly on upper Grand Couer||Bob Hymans, operated top left of summit in '57|
|Alpine Chair Lift||1-Chair-F||Locally made||1957 - 1961?||380 / 120||Near Grand Couer run||Bob Hyman. 1st chairlift in Aust. 40 chairs, 1.5 m/s. See notes below|
|Village (left side)||Nutcracker||Jock Wilson||1958 - 1960||? / 50||Went to Raceline||Fred Griffith, Bill Bridgeford & others|
|Village (right side)||Nutcracker||Jock Wilson||1958 - 1960||-||Village run||Fred Griffith et. al. Double the length of left side|
|Dog Patch / Collis||Nutcracker||-||1958 - c.1962||-||Sth of Nissen on Summit||Marshall Collis and others, moved to Hotham|
|Nursery Tow ||Rope tow||-||1961 - ?||-||Below Dogpatch||Shown on map below|
|Nursery Tow ||Rope tow||-||1961 - ?||-||Site of current Tube lift||Shown on map below|
|Summit||T-bar||Ron McCallum||1961 - 1991||793 / 204||-||Alpine Developments, designed & built by Ron McCallum|
|Village / Spur||T-bar||Ron McCallum||1961 - 1999||466 / 122||-||Replaced & ext Vil nutcrackers. Length/vert also cited as 470/114|
|Gully||2-Chair-F||McCallum/Dopp||1964 - 1981||456 / 76||-||Mostly McCallum but had Dopp drive & other moving parts|
|Nursery / Baby||Poma||Poma||1964 -2001?||153 / 30||Near current Tube lift||Still in operation 1998. Length/vert also cited as 170 /38|
|Sun Valley||T-bar||Ron McCallum||1967 - 1988||826 / 168||-||Replaced by Scott quad. May have had 210 metre vertical|
|International||Poma||Poma||1969 - present||1219/ 277||-||See notes below. Length/Vert also cited as 1149/263|
|Saddle / Link Lift||T-bar||Ron McCallum||1969 - 2000||265 / 30||Access b/w Summit & Sun Val||Still operating '98, towers standing '10|
|Nursery (Baby) duplicate||Poma||Poma||1972 - 2000?||170 / 38||-||-|
|Ruined Castle||Poma||-||1973 - 1994||732 / 140||-||Replaced by Ruined Castle quad chair|
|Mitey Mite||Portable handle||-||1975 - ?||? /various||Various||-|
|Lakeside||Poma||M/Mautino||1976 - present||737 / 140||-||Length/vert also cited as 688/140|
|Dogpatch||Poma||-||1979 - 1992?||148 / 27||B/w Nursery & Summit||-|
|Panorama||Poma||Poma||1979 - 2003?||790 / 135||-||Replaced by Drovers Dream quad. Length/vert also cited as 590/71|
|Playground ||Platter||Schippers||1980 - 2005||278 / 28||-||Replaced by Monkey Bar Platter|
|Playground ||Poma||Poma||1984 - 2005||300 / 28||-||Replaced by Monkey Bar Platter|
|Eagle||3-Chair-F||Poma||1980 - present||693 / 190||-||Length/vert also cited as 700/193|
|Headwater||Poma||Schippers||1980 - 2000||490 / 56||B/w Summit & Ruined C||Still operating in 1998. Length/vert also cited as 428/55|
|Towers||Duplex T-bar||Leitner||1981 - 1998||692 / 138||-||Replaced by Towers quad. Length/vert also cited as 704/134|
|Gully||3-Chair-F||Poma||1982 - present||475 / 76||-||Replaced Gully double chair. Length/Vert also cited as 407/70|
|Big Dipper||Duplex T-bar||-||1983 - 1999?||800 / 140||South west of Ruined C||Possibly gone by 1998|
|Tom Thumb||Platter||Schippers||1986 - 2005||124 / 14||Present Mouse Trap site||Replaced by Mouse Trap enclosed carpet|
|Halleys Comet/ Bilia/ FC Express||4-Chair-D||Doppelmayr||1986 - present||920 / 207||-||Bilia Bullet '02?-'04, Falls Express '06 -|
|Scott||4-Chair-F||Doppelmayr||1989 - present||758 / 155||-||Replaced Sun Valley T-bar|
|Summit||4-Chair-F||Doppelmayr||1992 - present||587 / 187||-||Replaced Summit T-bar|
|Ruined Castle||4-Chair-F||-||1995 - present||650 / 150||-||Replaced Poma. Has conveyor to speed loading|
|Towers||4-Chair-F||Garaventa||1999 - present||613 / 137||-||Replaced Towers twin T-bar|
|Boardwalk||Carpet lift||-||2004 - present||-||-||-|
|The Tube||Carpet lift||-||2004 - present||-||Site of Nursery Poma||-|
|Drover's Dream||4-Chair-F||Poma||2004 - present||-||Replaced Panorama||Bought from Leitner-Poma Canada, not Poma Aust|
|Mouse Trap||Enclosed carpet||-||2006 - present||-||Site of Tom Thumb||Replaced Tom Thumb poma|
|Monkey Bar||Platter lift||-||2006 - present||-||-||Replaced Playground Duplex Platters|
|Rocky Knolls||"Chairlift"||-||?||587 / ?||Beyond Big Dipper T-bar||Approved circa 2004|
|Damsite||"Surface lift"||-||?||750 / ?||West of Rocky Knolls||Approved circa 2004|
|Mt McKay lifts||Chairlift system||-||"Before 2012"||-||-||Mentioned in E.E.S. for above in 2002|
|McKay south||Unknown||-||-||c.750 / 380||McKay summit-Pretty Valley Ck||Shown on map apparently produced by lift company|
|Gully||Gondola||-||Proposed 2009||-||Site of Gully triple||Mentioned in section 2 of resort plan|
It appears it was intended to build Damsite from components of Big Dipper that were in storage. The storage shed was burnt in the 2003 wildfires and afterwards the rumour was that if Damsite is ever built, it will be a chairlift.
Lift companies. In the 1950's every lift had a different owner. In late 1960, Bill Bridgeford's Alpine Developments Holdings (ADH) bought Nissen and Village and by the 1961 season had replaced them with T-bars. ADH continued to expand the lift network until 1983 when the lifts were sold to Transfield. Then in 1996 B.C.R. took over and in 2004 the lift company was sold to MFS Living and Leisure, a listed Gold Coast land developer that also owned aquariums and treetop walks as well as the lift company at Hotham.
When MFS L&L went bust, Jamie Packer's leisure industry holding company took control of Living and Leisure for the 2009 season. As a Packer controlled company also owned Perisher, for a couple of years three of Australia's five largest ski resorts were under one owner and a season ticket bought at one resort was valid at all three. In December 2011 L&L was bought by Merlin Entertainments, a UK based tourist group with attractions worldwide including theme parks and the LegoLand and Madame Tussauds chains. Merlin does not own any ski resorts except for Falls and Hotham so whether they plan to hold on to Falls Creek Ski Lifts Pty Ltd is unknown.
The International Poma was ready to operate in 1969, but due to a poor snow season, the 'Inter' didn't open to the public until 1970. It is a unique lift (or 'iconic' as the Falls Creek marketing department calls it) and even has it's own fan page on Facebook. It received it's name because it serviced the area where a F.I.S. international race was held in 1960. The race required 1500 feet of vertical descent, so a ski bridge was built over the road and the race ran from the summit right down to Rocky Valley Creek. The bridge was removed in the mid 1960's, but the name for the area remained. The International Poma could have sticks attached every 6 metres along it's 1216 metre length and it's V12 diesel engine powered it at up to 4.2 metres a second, making it the second fastest drag lift in the southern hemisphere (after Buller's Summit Access / Howqua Poma). Kids riding the International could get serious air time going around the corner!
The combination of high speed and loading punters close together gave the Inter a similar capacity to duplex T-bars such as Towers and Big Dipper. Now the (single speed) electric drive only powers the lift at 2.4 metres per second, so it's much slower and slightly less fun. But it remains the longest cornered Poma this side of the equator and even with a much lower speed, it's lifting capacity still matches that of some chairlifts, which is probably why it hasn't been replaced, despite it's extreme age.
Bob Hyman's Alpine Chair Lift was the first chairlift in Australia. Built from poles that might have been intended for use on the nearby Kiewa Hydro Scheme, it lasted until the 1960's when it was condemned by a state government lifts and cranes inspector. As a completely new mode of transport, it attracted a lot of interest. Here is one description of it.
Australian ski-ing history was made at Falls Creek on 21 July 1957, when the first passengers were carried on the first Alpine Chair Lift to operate on our snowfields. Available to all visitors, the lower end of the lift is about 100 yards above the Upper Kiewa Road and it rises 400 vertical feet to the top terminal above the race-line, a length up the slope of 1,280 feet. Forty chairs transport skiers continuously at a speed of five feet per second, the upward trip taking just over four minutes. Each chair has a safety bar above the rider's knees, so the maximum height above the snow of about forty feet is quite safe.
Outstanding impressions of every skier riding the lift is its simplicity, one's perfect relaxation, and the immense increase of downhill ski-ing it provides.
At the lower terminal a skier hands over his ticket to the starting attendant, stands on his skis on a slight snow platform, gives a glance over the left shoulder as a chair gently tucks itself under his bobo - and he is cosily chairborne and bound upwards. Four minutes and 400 vertical feet later he approaches the upper terminal in its huge shelter. As he his skis touch down on another snow platform, he slips out of his chair and obeys the attendant's request to 'move off to the right, please" - and he skis downwards again.
There are no jerks or tensions as the skier settles into his chair and commences his ascent up the hill. The chairs run smoothly in complete silence, broken only by the clicking made by their attachments passing over the pulleys at each pylon. The impression is of floating slowly and quietly in space in complete relaxation, independent of the surface conditions underneath. One may chat with the occupants of adjoining chairs and with others on the slopes below - or just continue to relax.
Bill Beatty. The white roof of Australia. Cassell, 1958. pp 62 - 63.
McCallum lifts. After a two year stint as manager of what became Orange Lifts at Mt Buller, Ron McCallum was a founder of Alpine Developments, the company that unified the lift network at Falls Creek for the 1961 season. It appears that his first lift was the Skyline portable tow at Falls Creek in 1954. As an engineer, he went on to build about 20 chairlifts and T-bars in the 1960's and early 1970's including at least five at Falls Creek. Many of the earlier lifts were hybrids, mostly of McCallum origin, but incorporating parts from other manufacturers. The Village and Summit T-bars had McCallum towers and hydraulic drives but had a few bits from other manufacturers, including Dopp spring boxes (which caused a lot of trouble). The original Gully Chair had a Doppelmayr drive, but otherwise was McCallum. Initially the Saddle / Link Lift T-bar had T's hanging from Poma sticks until they were replaced with conventional T-bar spring boxes bought second hand from Buller (possibly of Dopp origin?). The Sun Valley T-bar was 100% McCallum and was one of the most reliable lifts to operate at the resort.
Early buildings at Falls Creek. This list is very incomplete and is still a bit rough. In addition to hydro buildings and mountain cattlemen's huts, the following lodges were built in the early decades of Falls Creek:
St Elmo's hut 1946, Skyline Lodge 1947-1973, S.C.V 1947-1948 (relocated to become Red Hut), Bogong Ski Club 1948, St Elmo's House 1948, Albury Ski Club 1949 (burnt 1959, rebuilt 1960), Myrtleford Ski Club 1949, Red Hut aka Spion Kopje Lodge (½ way b/w Howmans & Falls) c.1950-2003, Dawn Ski Club 1950? (later Rocky Valley S.C.), Grande Coeur 1950? burnt 1961, Nissen Lodge 1952.
Mid and late 1950's buildings include: Snow Crystal (since demolished & rebuilt), Nelse <1958 (extended c.1964, demolished & rebuilt 198?), Gundamurri, St Trinians, Kiewa Valley S.C., T & T (Transport & Trading) store (2 x old SEC huts on Winterhaven site, extended many times in the last 60 years), Diana Lodge, Galleon (ex SEC building, aka Cooroona), Bowna S.C., Mulligatawny (burnt c. 1956, replaced by Limlimbu), Four Seasons, Snowhaven (on site of Freuauf Village), Frying Pan Inn 1958, Arundel 1959 (extended 1964 & 1976, renamed Julian's in 1971), Snowden (later renamed Rim Rock) 1959.
1960's: Wat Thai 1961, Falls Creek Home Units (later renamed Alcatraz), Woomargama S.C. (aka The Roundhouse) c.1961, Rocky Valley Staff Camp (used as ski accom c.1962 until demolished in 1965), Cumming's Ski Hire c.1962, (First) Australian Alpine Club (later Red Onion) 1963, Alpen Rose Flats c.1963, Ripparoo S.C. 1963, Pretty Valley (top floor was former mess building at Rocky Valley hydro camp) c.1963, Runaway Lodge c.1964, Molonys ski hire at base of Gully 1964, Lions Club snack bar (on site of St Elmo's first hut) c.1964, Karingal Flats 1964, Geelong S.C. 1964, Koki c.1965, Avondale (later Feathertop) mid 60's, Pfefferkorn c.1965, Southern Cross Flats 1966, Spargo's (later Halley's) c.1966, The Man 1967 (extended 1978), Kilimanjaro Flats c.1967, Carey Alpine Club c.1967, CSIR S.C. c.1967, Naarilla Flats c.1967, Rainbow Club c.1967, Hukarere (later Alpha) c.1967.
1970's. Haus Innsbruck (called Karelia from '72) 1971, Attunga 1971, Les Chalet flats 1973, (New) Australian Alpine Club c.1972, Vikings S.C., early 1970's, (First) Falls Creek School 1972, The Hub shops 1978, Cedarwood c.1979.
More on Falls Creek history:
Julian Newton Brown. Falls Creek: how it came to be. Janby Productions, 2005.
Bob Howe. Melting tracks: history and memories of Albury Ski Club and early Falls Creek. The author, 2004. --© David Sisson 14:17, 9 July 2007 (EST)
Mt Baw Baw
|Hut||Rope tow||1955 - 1976||-||-||Baw Baw Ski Club. Cost £200. Replaced by a platter.|
|Painted Run||Rope tow||1960 - >1982||245 / 50||-||Baw Baw Ski Tow Club. Later duplicated. East of T-bar that replaced it|
|Access ||2-Chair-F||1970 - 1988?||960 / 320||-||Gippsland Chairlift Co. Access from carpark, also for skiing. Prob relocated to Stanley, Tas|
|Maltese Cross||T-bar||1973 - present||460 / 70||-||Dartos Ltd.|
|Hut Run||Platter||1975 or 77-present||395 / 57||-||Baw Baw Ski Tows. (formerly Baw Baw Ski Tow Club). Extended 2004|
|Beginners?||Rope tow||1977 - >1983||150 / 22||B/w Hut & Maltese||BBST. Short tow from Base of Hut Run Platter towards Old Hut Run|
|Summit||T-bar||1979 - present||750 / 90||-||Baw Baw Ski Tows|
|Big Hill||Platter||1980 - c.2002||230 / 48||-||Dartos Ltd.|
|Big Hill Access||Poma||78><83 - present||250 / 50||-||Dartos. Used as tubing lift from 2002? until 2007. Now for skiers|
|Tank Hill||Platter||1983 - present||174 / 25||-||-|
|Painted Run||T-bar||1985 - present||-||-||B.B.S.T. Nicknamed Fawlty Towers due to alleged chronic unreliability|
|Access ||2-Chair-F||1989? - 1999||-||-||Access to village from carpark, also for skiing. Doppelmayr|
|Magic Carpet||Carpet||2003 - present||-||Behind Skiosk||-|
|Summit chairlift||?-Chair-F||2012||-||-||Mentioned on p. 104 of Alpine Resorts Co-ordinating Council Draft alpine resorts plan|
From 1971 to 1980 skiers had to choose between two lift companies, Dartos and Baw Baw Ski Tows. The combined lift company merged with the chairlift in 1988. In 2001 the state government decided to not renew the lease of Mount Baw Baw Ski Enterprises, but as they were unable to find another company to bid for the lease, the lifts have been operated by the government since then. In the dates operated field "78><83" indicates that the lift was installed at some time between 1978 and 1983.
The second Access chairlift was in storage at Drouin for many years, but a chair from the lift is on display on the veranda of Kelly's Cafe. Local gossip said it may have been sold to Charlotte Pass and the owners of Charlotte Pass did have a double chair stored at Cooma airport in 2009, although what they would want with Baw Baw's 20 year old, fixed grip double chair is anyone's guess. (Note: This chairlift was replaced in 1988 (I think) so it was not so old when it was sold, IRC the old chairlift 1969-1988 went to Tassie. 'djam Aug 2009')
|Cresta||Rope tow||1937 - 1938||180 / ?||Cresta||Built by Gill Afflick. 1937 = 108 m, ext to 180 m in '38 and changed to nutcracker. Burnt Jan 39|
|?||2-Chair-F||1964? - ?||-||Cresta Saddle||Part of Ollie Polasek’s Tatra development|
|?||T-bar||1964?-<1984||-||-||Part of Ollie Polasek’s Tatra development|
|?||Poma||1964? - ?||-||-||Part of Ollie Polasek’s Tatra development|
|?||2-Chair-F||>1984 - ?||-||-||Cost $200,000, many teething problems|
|Beginners||Montaz fixed grip||< 1983 >||180 / 27||-||-|
|Operating in '06||.||-|
|Cresta||Poma||<1983 - 2006||427 / 127||-||Some of these are original 1960's Tatra tows|
|Gully||Poma||<1983 - 2006||165 / 33||-||Some of these are original 1960's Tatra tows|
|Cresta Valley||2-Chair-F||<1983 - 2006||302 / 80||-||Some of these are original 1960's Tatra tows|
|Valley||2-Chair-F||>1983 - 2006||-||-||Some of these are original 1960's Tatra tows|
|Novice||Poma||>1983 - 2006||-||-||Some of these are original 1960's Tatra tows|
|Dingo Dell area||.||-|
|The Nutcracker||Nutcracker||1949 - c.1966||-||-||Cost £300. Built by Canadians Herb Hall & Paul Heikkila using parts from Cresta. 6d ride, 10/- week|
|Number One||Poma||196? - >1983||240 / 40||-||Cost $20,000|
|Number Two||Poma||? - >1983||216 / 37||-||-|
|Bambi||Portable||? - >1983||.90 / 6||-||-|
|Skyway||Gondola||2009||3 - 4 km||-||Proposed by tourist assoc. Newspaper article, Local TV news|
Dingo Dell’s last season was probably 1988, at the time there was a rope tow and two Pomas there. Cresta’s last season was 2006 when five lifts remained. Final trail maps for Dingo Dell and Cresta areas before they closed.
None of the histories of Mt Buffalo pay much attention to the precise dates, location or names of ski lifts, so the information in this table is rather vague. Any accurate information would be appreciated. Please email sisson.dave at yahoo.com.au
In December 2006, The Buffalo Lodge (formerly known as Tatra Inn) burnt down and in January 2007 the lessees relinquished their lease of the Buffalo Chalet. At the time the Chalet was still structurally sound, but it is unlikely to operate again. In 2007 the state government was unwilling to grant a lease long enough to justify the huge expenditure required to make the rather old fashioned Chalet attractive to guests. While they are now prepared to offer a long lease, it's probably too late. Unless the Chalet is occupied and maintained, it is only a matter of time until a storm or fire damages it irreparably. It all makes a sad end to Victoria’s first ski resort, Australia's oldest surviving ski lodge and the site of Australia's first ski lift.
Thanks to "Wangaratta_bloke" for info on Dingo Dell. --© David Sisson 14:17, 3 August 2007 (EST)
|Bourke St||Rope tow/Nutcrac||Home made||1949 - 1958||270 / 180||-||S.C.V & BMW S.C. Support towers added & converted to nutcracker in 1950|
|Bull Run||Port. nutcracker||-||1953 - 1954||-||-||Blue. Extended in '54, relocated to Mt St Bernard, still operates|
|Bull Run||Nutcracker||-||1955 - 1961||-||-||Blue (John Hilton-Wood)|
|Baldy||Portable rope tow||-||1957 - 1961||-||-||Blue (Ernest & Aurel Forras, sold to John Hilton-Wood)|
|Tyrol / Little Baldy||Rope tow||-||1956?- 1962||c.300/ ?||Tyrol||Maurice Selle.|
|Skyline / Little Collins St||Rope tow||-||1959 - 1961||488 / 75||Skyline||Blue Lifts (then named Bull Run Enterprises)|
|Koflers / Transportation||Nutcracker||-||1959 - 1963||-||-||BMW Ski Tow Group later became Orange (then named Ski Lifts Mt Buller)|
|Bourke St||T-bar||Locally made||1959 - 1968||-||Bourke St||Orange. Parts later used at either Guthega or Ben Lomond|
|Federation||T-bar||-||1959 - 1980||? / 190||Federation||Orange Lifts. Replaced by Federation triple chair|
|Bourke St||Double rope tow||-||1961 - 1963||-||Bourke St||Orange Lifts|
|Chamois||Rope tow||-||1961 - 1963||180/ ?||-||Konrad Koch, bought by Blue and replaced with a Poma. Possibly 1st ran in '62?|
|Bull Run||T-bar||Doppelmayr||1962 - 1984||638 / 240||Bull Run||Blue Lifts. Maybe 610 m long/ 245 m vertical|
|Skyline||T-bar||Doppelmayr||1963 -present||480 / 90||South of Bourke St||Blue Lifts. Oldest lift still operating at Buller|
|Shaky Knees / Swanston St||T-bar||-||1963 - 2004||300/120||-||Orange. Replaced by Emirates / Shakey Knees quad chair|
|Bourke St||2-Chair-F||Doppelmayr||1964 - 1983||610 / 90||Bourke St||Blue Lifts. First Doppelmayr double chairlift in the world|
|Summit||Poma||Pomagalski||1964 - 1983||244 / 68||-||Orange, rebuilt at Ben Lomond as 30 Sec & Big Ben|
|Summit Access/Howqua||Poma||Pomagalski||1964 - 83/90's||1070/ 136||*||* See notes below|
|Chamois||Poma||Pomagalski||1965 - 1987||608 / 213||-||Blue Lifts. Extended in 1968 or 69, originally 548 / 205|
|Boggy Creek||T-bar||McCulloch?||1967 -present||410 / 141||-||Orange. Made by a local company. Name needs to be confirmed|
|Summit duplicate||Poma||Pomagalski||1968 - 1983||-||-||Orange, rebuilt at Ben Lomond as 30 Sec & Big Ben|
|Whittaker||Poma||Pomagalski||1969 - 1981||-||Near Village run||Blue. Replaced by Village T-bar|
|Baldy||Duplex Poma||Pomagalski||1969 - 1985||274 / 138||Heli Flat - Baldy||Orange Lifts|
|Tyrol / Tirol||T-bar||-||1972 -present||1610/ 356||Orig ran to Baldy||Orange. Shortened in 1987. Spelling change c.2004. New mid-load added 2014|
|Beginners / Ski School||platter||-||1974 - 2003||-||Mid Bourke St||Orange. Replaced by Carpet|
|Baldy||2-Chair-F||Pomagalski||1974 - 1983||792 / 77||-||Blue Lifts|
|Beginners||Carousel||-||1976 - 1977||-||Helicopter Flat||Orange Lifts|
|Koflers||T-bar||-||1977 -present||300 / 130||-||Orange Lifts. Originally to the bottom of Howqua.|
|Enzian||Poma||Pomagalski||1979 - 1996||244 / 77||Upper Chamois||Blue Lifts|
|Grimus||3-Chair-F||Doppelmayr||1979 -present||800 / 192||Nth side of Summit||Orange Lifts|
|Burnt Hut Spur||3-Chair-F||Doppelmayr||1980 - 2009||310 / 105||-||Orange. Wrecked by lightning strike on 28/02/10. Pic. Replaced by Bonza quad|
|Sun Valley||Poma||Pomagalski||1980 - 1985||900 / 300||B/w Bull & Fed||Blue. Built pre '80 season, but may not have opened until '81. Accessed Federation slopes|
|Federation||3-Chair-F||Doppelmayr||1981 -present||1000/ 332||-||Orange Lifts. Replaced & extended original T-bar|
|Horse Hill||3-Chair-F||Doppelmayr||1982 - 1985||1700/ 390||-||Orange Lifts. Moved to Helicopter Flat in 1986|
|Village||T-bar||-||1982 - 2003||853 / 219||-||Blue Lifts. Replaced & extended Whittaker Poma|
|Beginners||Poma||-||1980 -present||310 / 105||-||Orange Lifts|
|Playground||Poma||-||< 1983 >||100 / 30||Helicopter Flat||Orange Lifts|
|Blue Bullet 1||4-Chair-D||Doppelmayr||1984 -present||-||Lower Bourke St||Not oldest detachable quad operating, some Euro '83 lifts still exist|
|Blue Bullet 2||4-Chair-D||Doppelmayr||1984 - 2007||-||Baldy||Blue Lifts. Replaced Baldy double chair|
|Summit||4-Chair-F||Doppelmayr||1984 -present||-||-||Orange Lifts. Replaced duplex Pomas|
|Howqua||4-Chair-F||Poma||1984 -present||-||Howqua/Family - Baldy||Orange. Eng, twr heads, bullwheels are for triple, other parts are quad|
|Spurs / Trainer||T-bar||-||1984 - 2011||-||Top of Horse Hill||Orange. Very short, allowed easier transverse to Bourke St|
|Bull Run||4-Chair-F||Doppelmayr||1985 -present||-||-||Blue Lifts. Replaced Bull Run T-bar|
|Horse Hill / Northside Exp||4/4-Chair/Gond-D||Doppelmayr||1986 -present||-||Mid station at Chalet Ck||Renamed 2012. 106 chairs 20 gondolas. 1st ski gondola in Aust Film of lift in '86|
|Helicopter Flat / ABOM||3-Chair-F||Doppelmayr||1986 - 2007||-||-||Replaced Baldy, moved from Horse Hill. Renamed 03. Sold to Selwyn|
|Dam||Rope tow||-||1987 - 2011||-||Near Spurs||Very short beginners lift, replaced by carpet from Burnt Hut|
|Southside||4-Chair-F||Doppelmayr||1990 -present||-||Federation area||-|
|Ski Kindy No. 1||Rope tow||-||1991 -present||-||-||_|
|Chamois/ Lydia Lassila||2-Chair-F||Doppelmayr||1993 -present||-||Chamois bowl||Has a mid station. Renamed before 2011 season|
|Canyon Rope Tow ||Rope tow||-||1997 -present||-||Sth of bus station||Very gentle grade, link between Chamois & Bull Run|
|Canyon Rope Tow ||Rope tow||-||1997 -present||-||Sth of bus station||Simple rope tows, rope gripped in the glove|
|Tube Park||Rope tow||-||1998 -present||-||-||-|
|Bluff View||Rope tow||-||2001 -present||-||Baldy rail park||-|
|Cattleman's 1||Carpet||-||2003 -present||-||-||-|
|Cattleman's 2||Carpet||-||2003 -present||-||-||-|
|Bourke St Carpet||Carpet||-||2004 -present||-||-||-|
|Emirates/Shaky Knees/Discovery||4-Chair-F||Doppelmayr||2005 -present||633 / 151||Upper Tyrol||2.3 m/s. Replaced S.K T-bar. Called Northside pre opening, renamed 2011, 2012|
|Holden||6-Chair-D||Doppelmayr||2008 -present||997 / 127||Heli Flat - Baldy||Cost $7m, speed 5.0 m/s Replaced BB2 & Heli/ABOM Initial press release|
|Burnt Hut 1||Carpet||-||2010 - 2011||160 / ?||-||Carpet (sourced from NZ?) after lightning destroyed BH chair|
|Burnt Hut 2||Carpet||-||2010 - 2011||160 / ?||-||Replaced by new fixed grip quad chair in 2012|
|Bonza||4-Chair-F||Doppelmayr||2012 -present||533 / 132||Burnt Hut||Repaced Burnt Hut triple chair. Cost $3.1 m. Speed 2.3 m/s. Link to webpage|
|Gliders||Carpet||-||2012 -present||-||-||Replaced Spurs T-bar. Located on Burnt Hut Spur 2010-11, previously in NZ|
|Happy Feet||Carpet||-||2012 -present||-||-||Replaced Dam rope tow. Located on Burnt Hut Spur 2010-11, previously in NZ|
|Kofler's||Rope Tow||-||1939 & 1940||122 / 60||Horse Hill||Foundations poured early '39. To be ready for '40 season, stopped by war|
|Kofler's||Funicular rail||-||1940||-||Mirimbah - Chalet||Hybrid of local logging cableways & 1930's European funicular railways|
|Village||Gondola||2010 plan||Horse Hill-town centre||Draft masterplan 2010|
|Playground||Unspecified||2010 plan||Spurs - Baldy||Draft masterplan 2010|
In common with Ben Lomond and Mt Baw Baw, Mt Buller had two lift companies for many years. They issued a joint ticket in 1984 and merged in 1985 when Bull Run Enterprises (Blue Lifts) took over Mt Buller Ski Lifts (Orange Lifts). The company is now called Buller Ski Lifts.
The current trail map for Buller's northern and southern slopes.
At least seven old ski lifts from Mt Buller were relocated to other Australian mountains. Buller seems to be the only Australian resort with a strong record of selling its discarded lifts.
- Ben Lomond bought several lifts including the Bourke St rope tow, both summit Pomas and the Bourke St double chairlift.
- The original 1953 Bull Run nutcracker lift still operates on Mt St Bernard and is one of the oldest ski lifts still operating in the world.
- Guthega bought a T-bar from Orange Lifts in the mid 1970's, (possibly the Bourke St T-bar, as both had arch type frames).
- Most recently, the Helicopter / ABOM triple chair was sold to Selwyn Snowfields.
* Summit Access / Howqua. This poma replaced the Koflers/Transportation nutcracker lift in 1964. In 1984 it was partly replaced by the Howuqa quad and two years later the other end was removed to make way for the Helicopter / ABOM triple chair. The poma loaded at both ends and ran from the current base of Holden chair over the hill and down to the where the queue for Howqua now is. (Although some say it may have gone further downhill.) The east side was named Summit Access, the west end was Howqua (this section was 536 long / 86 vertical).
It holds the speed record for the fastest Australian ski lift of all time (6.5 metres per second) but after a few accidents, it was restricted to 4.0 m/s when open to the public and only operated at full speed for staff. From the late 1980's to the early 1990's, a truncated Summit Access poma ran from near Fawlty Towers to the top of the Howqua chair.
More on Buller history:
Jim Darby. Mt Buller: the story of a mountain. tSm Publishing, 2008.
David Joss. Mt Buller: a history. Alpine Resorts Commission, n.d. (1995?). 36 page booklet.
Ernest Forras, Jan Henderson. Ernest escapades, or seriously for fun only: the autobiography of Ernest Forras. Ernest Forras, 1994.
Harry Stephenson. Skiing the high plains: a history of the ski exploration of Victoria's alpine area. Graphic Books, 1982. Pages 198 - 219.
I. C. Dillon. Tracks of the morning: a Timbertop history text. Geelong Grammar School, 1989. Pages 323 - 357.
Magazines. Most ski magazines have covered the development of Buller, but two Victorian ski monthlies, Schuss and Ski Horizon were published during the formative years of the mountain.
Club histories. Club histories tend to focus on work parties, lodge construction and administration, but they also give a good idea of skiers experiences over the years.
Lynette Sheridan. University Ski Club 1929 - 1979. U.S.C, 1988. Chapter 9, pages 130 - 161.
Janis Lloyd. Skiing into history: 1924 - 1984. Ski Club of Victoria, 1986. Pages 93 - 197.
Ann Crawford. A proud achievement: 50 years of YHA on Mt Buller 1947 - 1997. YHA, 1997. 58 page booklet.
Early buildings at Buller.
Dates are the first winter of occupation, but a few dates may be a year out. The list is not complete. Blue text indicates a link to a lodge's website.
Not terribly relevant to ski lifts, but since I've compiled it, I may as well put it here as someone may find it useful.
1880's Klingsporn's Hut on Horse Hill, c.1919 Lovick's Hut on Burnt Hut Spur (burnt early 1925, but one source says 1932), 1925 Mansfield Progress Association Hut on Burnt Hut Spur. Burnt summer 1933, 1929 Horse Hill bark hut used as construction base for Chalet, 1929 Buller Chalet (Horse Hill, extended 1932 and 1939. Had 67 beds. Burnt 1942), 1930 Cow Camp Hut (extended 1946, burnt 1951), 1933 SCV Hut Boggy Creek, (extended 1947, near base of present Grimus chairlift), 1934 Koffler's Hut (near current Koffler's cafe),
1941 First summit fire observers hut (replaced 1969), 1943 Junior Ski Club Hut on Chalet site, 1946 CSIR (One Tree Hill. Demolished & replaced at present location 1985), 1946+ There were also quite a few unauthorised huts and caravans hidden in the scrub in the late 1940's. Details are understandably vague, but two built in time for the 1946 season were Bogville and Bull Lodge (1946 - 48). Ullr was another illegal 'lodge' of the time. At least one hut was disguised with war-surplus camouflage nets. 1947 Ivor Whittacker Lodge (S.C.V. Extended 1949, 1953 & 1959, rebuilt 1967 - 1973. Original building demolished 1972), YHA (aka 'Shiver Shanty' replaced at new location 1952), Circa 1948 Dump Inn (renamed Welcome Mountain Lodge in 1954, burnt Nov 1955) 1949 Apira (formerly Australian Postal Institute. Extended 1959, 1969, 1983), Chamois, Harding (MUSKI from 1961 rebuilt 199?), Moose S.C., Omega, SCV cabins,
1950 Australian Women's S.C., Buller S.C. (burnt 1952 site to Chetwynd), Gray Rocks S.C., Junior S.C., Lazy Eight (to Southern Cross in 1952), University S.C. (cabin moved from Mt Donna Buang, replaced in 1983), Ullr S.C.(rebuilt in 1986), Yurredla S.C. (rebuilt 1979), 1951 Alpine Club of Victoria, Belmore, BMW S.C.(extended 1966 & 1985), Dandenong, Melbourne Walking Club (one source says 1949. Rebuilt in 1992), Monsanto, Morgan Pattern Social Club, 1952 Benmore, Bull Run Canteen, Gliss (extended 1965), Reindeer, Southern Cross demolished and rebuilt date uncertain, YHA (replaced 1948 shanty), 1953 Kandahar (extended 1960 replaced 1986), Firn, Kooroora (burnt 1961 rebuilt 1965), 1954 Cedar, Geelong, Timberline (replaced in 1986), Twenty Five, 1955 Breathtaker (Royal Aust Navy S.C. from 1956), Black Tulip, Chetwynd, Elk, Mawson S.C. (rebuilt as apartments in 1995), SCV Euroa branch cabin, 1956 Akla, Bomborra (replaced 2000), Caribou, Double B (may have been built in 1954), Edelweiss, New Buller Lodge, Tyrol?, University S.C. (extended 1962 & rebuilt 1986), 1957 Hima, Igloo, Koomerang (rebuilt 1980. Scotch College), Matterhorn, OLOS S.C., 1958 Arlberg House (burnt 1967. Rebuilt 1970), Mulligatawny, 1959 Cortina, Inca, Koffler's Cafe, Old Geelong Grammarians, Sorrento, Spark, St Albans, Wapiti,
1960 Icicles, Mt Buller Lodge, N'Everest (extended 1983), Pontresina / Engadin, SCV family unit 1, 1961 Aleko, Alpha, Bayerland, Benalla (extended 1983), Blizzard, Blue Eyes, Bracken (replaced 2000), Brighton, Candoux (Demolished and rebuilt as apartments in 2001. Club now operates from a unit in apartment block on original site), Cawarra, Down Hill Only, Duff's Ski Hire, Enzian, Etna, Four Winds, Howqua, Kida Hara, Macura, Mark II (rebuilt 1996), Nicholas, Perpetual Snow, Tatry, Planica, Port Phillip, Ringwood, Roos, Royal Childrens Hospital, St Christina, SCV family units 2 - 5 (site of 2 now occupied by Cobbler), Windy Corner, Wombats/Cuckoo, 1962 The Abom (extended 1968), Amber, Blitz, Delatite, Geebung, Heathcote Bus, Hoppers, Sundowner, Telemark, 1963 Anjarra, Auski, Holland, Iltis, Maganni, Mt Buller Home Units, St Bernards, 1964 ABV, Collegians, Coonamar, Currawong, Discobolus, Downhill, Firmow, Glacier, Lantern (later Duck Inn), Mansfield, Meki, Monash University, Neringa, Ski View, Snow Gum, White Star, Yokohama, 1965 Alaska, Alkira (refurbished early 90's), Army (replaced 1988), Avalanche, Corio, Gonzaga, Kooroora (rebuilt after 1953 lodge burnt), Nomad, Nutcracker, Medical Centre (replaced 1995), Schuss S.C., Ski Lib, Snow Down, Terama, 1966 Australian Alpine Club (Patscherkofel, extended 1972, rebuilt 1988), Cristal, Hu'ski, Puringa, 1967 Jungfrau, Opal (extended 2005), 1968 Resort management office, SCV family units, 1969 Bluff Flats, Cedar, Crosscut Flats, Primary School (replaced 1982), Summit fire lookout hut (replaced 1941 hut),
1970 Arlberg (extended 1974), The Avenue, Ivor Whittaker Lodge (SCV. Built in stages over the summers of 1967 - 1973), Pendergast ski patrol hut on Baldy, 1971 Mitre (rebuilt 199?), Twin Towers, 1972 ... 1973 Ajax (extended twice), Beehive Apartments, Snowflake, 1974 Pension Grimus, 1975 Entrance gatehouse at Mirimbah, 1976? Ski patrol base (aka The Chook Shed, replaced 1983), 1977 Preston, 1978 Merrijig, VSL, 1979 17 The Avenue, Eltham, Pol-ski, Star Alpine, Yurredla, The last four of these were all built on the 1950 Yurredla site),
1980 Koomerang (replaced 1957 building), 1981 Breathtaker, 1982 Aeski, Burwood, Molony's, Omski, Shaky Knees Flats, Primary School (replaced 1972 school, moved to La Trobe building c.1997), Summit, 1983 Alpine Retreat, Ski Patrol (replaced 1976 base), University S.C. Cabin (replaced 1950 Cabin) 1984 Medical Centre, 1985 Cresta, CSIR (replaced former lodge at One Tree Hill), 1986 Kandahar (replaced 1953 building), Timberline (replaced 1954 lodge), Ullr (replaced 1950 lodge), University S.C. (replaced 1956 lodge) 1987 Club 25 (later Ace of Clubs), 1988 Apres, Army, Mt Buller Ski Lodge, Noorinya, Number 96, Patscherkofel, Spurs Cafe, 1989 Downhill, Chalet Apartments stage 1,
1990 ... 1991 ... 1992 Duck Inn (former Lantern Lodge), Melbourne Walking Club (replaced 1951 lodge), Winterbrook, 1993 Alpine Chapel, Black Forest, 1994 Chalet Apartments stage II, 1995 Chalet Hotel, Mawson (replaced 1955 lodge), Medical Centre (replaced 1965 centre), Woolybutt, 1996 Christiana, CFA Station, Mark II (replaced 1961 lodge), Whistler, 1997 Elkhorn, La Trobe Uni building (alter R.M.B.), 1998 Bluff View, 1999 ...
The list is incomplete. Some buildings with unknown construction dates include: Police station, Snowflake Factory, Clocktower, Corviglia, Winterhaven, Ski School buildings, Chamois race hut, Tyrol Lodge.
--© David Sisson 13:28, 10 July 2007 (EST)
|Blue Ribbon||Nutcracker||Hamilton||1952 -72, 3 or 4?||560or610/235or253||-||Cost £3000, capacity 12 at a time. Length & vert figures vary|
|Higginbotham||Rope tow||-||1958? - >1965||61 / -||Davenport||Probably owned by Ski Tows Ltd.|
|Basin||Rope tow||-||1958 or 9- 62?||61 / ?||Basin Run||Ski Tows Ltd. Replaced by a Poma|
|Jack Hedley's||Rope tow||-||1962 - 1964||-||Pimples - Swindlers||Lift had previously run as Dogpatch at Falls Creek|
|Basin||Poma||-||1963 or 4-1970||-||Today's Basin Run||Ski Tows Ltd. Moved to Davenport|
|?||Rope Tow?||-||1963 - ?||-||Above Blue Ribbon||Formerly "Novice tow at Hotham" before being moved|
|Jack's Tow||J-bar||-||1965? -1968?||-||Sun Run||Unreliable. May have originally been a rope tow|
|Pole Line / Summit||Poma||Poma||1966 - 1987||790 / 95||Summit||Ski Tows Ltd.|
|Playground||2-Chair-F||Poma||1969 - present||614 / 199 now||< Originally 954 / 300||Initially planned for Aust Drift. Shortened c.1992? 1000 p/hr|
|Davenport||Poma||-||1971 - 1983||240 / 43||Big D area||Moved from Basin, replaced by a quad chair|
|Brockhoff||Poma||Poma||1973 - 1986||790 / 290||North of Heavenly Valley||Partly replaced by Heavenly Valley quad|
|Basin||Platter||Doppelmayr||1974 - 1992||175 / 44||-||Moved to Koala Park?|
|Sun Run||T-bar||-||1977 - 1994||350 / 98||North side of present Sun Run||-|
|Summit||T-bar||-||1979 - 1994||580 / 87||-||Moved to Australia Drift|
|Blue Ribbon||3-Chair-F||-||1981 - present||710or560 / 271||-||Capacity 1600 per hour|
|Plains of Heaven/Ski School||Platter||-||1981 - 1983||153 / 36||Lower Blue Ribbon||Moved to Dinner Plain|
|Big D||4-Chair-F||-||1984 - present||396 / 64||Davenport||Replaced a Poma. Capacity 2400 per hr|
|Heavenly Valley||4-Chair-F||Doppelmayr||1987 - present||845 / 314or395?||-||Replaced Brockoff Poma. Capacity 2400 per hr|
|Summit||4-Chair-F||Poma||1988 - present||595 / 98||-||Capacity 2400 per hour|
|Village||4-Chair-F||Poma||1993 - present||800 / 275||-||Capacity 2400 per hour|
|Koala Park||Platter||-||1993 - 1997||-||B/w Zirky's & White Cryst||Moved to summit. Renamed Summit Trainer|
|Road Runner||4-Chair-F||Poma||1995 - present||671 / 153||-||Capacity 2400 per hour|
|Australia Drift / The Drift||T-bar||-||1995 - present||370 / 88||-||Moved from Summit. Capacity 1285 per hr|
|Gotcha||4-Chair-F||Doppelmayr||1997 - present||472 / 140||-||Capacity 2400 per hour|
|Keogh's||4-Chair-F||Doppelmayr||1997 - present||383 / 188||-||Continues over valley as Orchard, loads in middle. 2400 hr|
|Orchard||4-Chair-F||Doppelmayr||1997 - present||573 / 154||-||Continues over valley as Keogh's, loads in middle. 2400 hr|
|Summit Trainer||Platter||Doppelmayr||1998 - present||132 / 22||-||Formerly at Koala Park. Capacity 500 per hour|
|Big D Trainer||Rope tow||-||1999 - 2008?||-||-||-|
|Pups Playground||Carpet||-||? - present||17 / ?||Davenport||-|
|Harry's Hideaway||Carpet||-||? - present||50 / ?||Davenport||-|
|Australia Drift||2-Chair-F||-||1968||-||-||Planned location for double chair. Location changed before installation|
|Imagine - Summit||Chairlift||-||2014||-||Top of Slalom Gully-Summitt||In RMB plan (not lift co's). Aims to reduce congestion in Slalom Gully|
|Higginbotham||Chairlift||-||2014||-||North side of Higgi||Connects Village chair with Big D. In RMB plan (not lift companys)|
Information on lifts at Hotham in the 1960's is conflicting. After the monthly magazines Ski Horizon and Schuss ceased publication, there was no reliable record of exactly what was happening in Victorian skiing. Wendy Cross's excellent book Australian skiing: the first 100 years doesn't cover events after 1962, but she states that Basin was the second lift, running from 1958 - 59 before being moved to Davenport.
Lift companies. The original lift company: Ski Tows Limited was operated on a cost recovery basis by members of the University Ski Club and the Alpine Club of Victoria. It never paid a dividend. Jack Hedley also ran a couple of lifts for a few years. Ski Tows Ltd's lack of capital hampered further development of the mountain. After the 1968 season a controlling interest was sold to Desmond Schumann who built the Playground double chair. It was originally planned for the Australia Drift / Avalanche Gully area, but the location was changed to the current site just before it was installed. In 1995 the Schumann family sold Ski Tows Limited to BCR Management so they could concentrate on Silver Star and Big White, ski resorts in B.C. Canada which Schumann family interests had acquired.
In the latter years of Schumann ownership a number of old surface lifts were replaced with chairlifts. When BCR Management took over, they continued the chairlift construction programme and in 1997 built Gotcha, Keogh's and Orchard in areas that had never had lifts before. Infrastructure development continued in 1999 with the opening of the airport at Horsehair Plain.
All this development appears to have over extended BCR Management and the lift company was sold to MFS Living and Leisure in 2004. They were a listed Gold Coast land developer that also owned aquariums and treetop walks. MFS L&L had great plans for expansion of both lifts and buildings. As they also owned the lifts at Falls Creek, a lift ticket was valid at both resorts. However the plans came to nothing when MFS L&L went broke in 2008. The company was bailed out when a controlling shareholding was acquired by the Jamie Packer controlled outfit that owned the ski lifts at Perisher. In December 2011 L&L was sold to Merlin Entertainments, a UK based tourist group with attractions worldwide including theme parks and the Lego Land and Madame Tussauds chains. Merlin does not own any ski resorts except for Hotham and Falls so whether they plan to hold on to the renamed Mount Hotham Skiing Company is unknown.
--© David Sisson 14:49, 19 July 2007 (EST)
Recent trail map.
More on Hotham history:
Donald Bennett. Hotham horizon: the Alpine Club of Victoria. The author, 1987.
Jennifer McLennan. Not below 5000: a history of the Ski Club of East Gippsland. S.C.E.G., 2001.
Lynette Sheridan. University Ski Club: 1929 - 1979. U.S.C., 1988.
Gillian Salmon. The king of Hotham: my father. Lindsay Salmon - the Drift Chalet - Mount Hotham. Gillian Magnabosco, 2013.
Early ski accommodation in the Hotham area
1863 St Bernard Hospice Mk 1.(aka Mother Morell's). c.1882 Mother Johnson's (Brandy Creek, abandoned late 1890's). 1884 St Bernard Hospice Mk. 2 (aka Sailor Bill Boustead's). 1921 Rundell's Alpine Lodge (Flour Bag Plain, rebuilt 1921 & burnt 1928). 1925 Hotham Heights Mk 1 (burnt 1939). 1925 Feathertop Bungalow (burnt 1939). 1925 St Bernard Hospice Mk 3 (burnt 1939).
1939 Hotham Heights Mk 2. (demolished 1970's). 1946 Alpine Club of Victoria, 1946. Wangaratta Ski Club (at Mt St Bernard). 1947 Edelweiss Ski Club. 1949 University Ski Club. 1950 Boondoo Ski Club. 1951 Drift Chalet. 1952 Murray Valley Ski Club (at Diamantina). 1953 Ski Club of East Gippsland.
In addition to these lodges and hotels, there have been numerous cattleman's, miners, tourist and road patrol huts.
Ticket prices in 1965. A 7 day ticket for all tows cost £7. Blue Ribbon nutcracker cost 30 shillings for 10 rides or 5/- for a single ride. Basin Poma and Higginbotham rope tow: 30/- for 40 rides or 1/- for a single ride.
A few details on the Blue Ribbon nutcracker tow.
Hamilton 'Type B' rope tow. Cost of purchase and construction £3,000. 1836 feet (560 metres) long, vertical lift 770' (235 m.), average slope 25 degrees. Powered by a 28 horsepower (21 kilowatt) Bedford Truck engine which was housed in a hut at the top of the tow near the road. The tow rope was 1 inch ( 2.54 cm) sisal. It was supported on 9 poles with waist height pulleys that could be raised or lowered according to the depth of snow. Capacity 12 at a time. The trip took four minutes at a speed of 6.8 miles per hour (11 kph) compared to a 40 minute walk up the slope. A canteen was added to the tow hut in 1957.
Building the Blue Ribbon nutcracker tow. An extract from: Donald Bennett. Hotham horizon: the Alpine Club of Victoria: reminiscence. Pages 95 - 97.
The first ski tow on Hotham was a major development. This too was conceived and brought about by the joint efforts of the University Ski Club and the Alpine Club of Victoria...
... The subject of tows was first raised during a... meeting on 22nd June 1950. The minutes... state, 'George Chisholm opened the subject of a ski tow for Mt. Hotham and produced detailed information of the Hamilton tow widely used in New Zealand. A meeting of a group of interested people was arranged for Monday, 3rd July 1950, to discuss the type of tow and the financing of the project'.
George Chisholm had visited New Zealand in 1949 as Captain of the Australian Inter Dominion Team. He had been most impressed by the Hamilton rope tow manufacturers at Littleton near Christchurch. This rope tow was used at Coronet Peak and gave George ample opportunity to assess the practicability of the device.
A company, rejoicing in the name of Ski Tows Ltd., was formed in 1950 with four U.S.C. and three Alpine members earlier mentioned as directors. We determined to purchase a Hamilton Tow and, as usual, the immediate problem was finance. This elusive commodity was acquired by our joint contributions and the practice of a polite species of highway robbery, brow beating and moral suasion on our unfortunate friends. In all there were over fifty shareholders of touching faith.
Nobody ever expected that the company would pay a dividend. Their expectations were absolutely correct.
The Hamilton tow consisted of an endless one inch diameter sisal rope passing over pulleys, mounted on brackets adjustable in height to cope with varying snow depths. The pulley brackets were attached to nine inch steel pipes some 20 feet high, set at appropriate intervals down the slope. A 'nut cracker' attached to a waist belt, clipped onto the moving rope. These waist belts were fabricated from old war time aircraft belts. Power was derived from a 28 Horsepower, 6 cylinder, Bedford Truck motor, located in an engine house just below the road. The engine house also provided accommodation for the tow operator in separate living quarters.
A certain skill was required whilst stationary and awaiting uphill transport to clip the nut cracker onto the moving rope. Failure to adequately connect, or careless ski orientation, resulted in undignified collapse or being dragged up the slope on your posterior. Another hazard was the possibility of loose clothing being wrapped up in the moving rope. On its upward journey the rope sometimes revolved slowly compounded with forward motion. Legend has it that a lady of superb physical charms became thus caught up. First the parka was shed, then the pullover and finally the shirt. The tow operator, a man of rigid moral principles, is alleged to have stopped the tow some distance from the expectant uphill onlookers. This allowed the deprived damsel to fade gracefully into the bushes. Topless skiers were rare in those days.
Despite these hazards the ascent out of the Drag was reduced from 40 minutes on climbing skins to about 4 minutes over 770 vertical feet, the rope tow carrying ten skiers upwards at a time. Initially, there was much debate amongst the directors on a suitable location. After all, the tow was to be the longest in Australia at that time and the first at Hotham. The chosen site was on a slope now occupied by the Blue Ribbon chair lift and effectively serviced the Drag, Blue Ribbon and the Wood Run downhill descents. The final location was surveyed and cleared during the weekend of 16th and 17th February 1952.
An alternative site was considered near the later situation of the Brockhoff Tow. This was ruled out partly because of doubts if a rope tow and passengers could negotiate a bend in the tow line, obviously needed at this location because of the terrain. It is of interest to note that during our explorations in the valley around this area we discovered a small grass grown flat on which could still be seen the outline of a log cabin. The outline was nothing more than moss lines with cross-over points at four corners. We surmised that it had once been an overseer's quarters when the water race to Brandy Creek Mine was under construction in the sixties of the last [19th] century. Today, of course, the water race, partly dug into the hillside and partly supported by stone escarpments, is a convenient track for skiers passing between runs off Loch Spur.
The company was unique in that the Directors were also the installation engineers, fabricators and general labourers. A shop steward of the Builders Labourers Federation would have been completely non-plussed. A major labour was pole erection, much of it over a rock scree slope. In some locations base holes had to be blasted out of the rocky soil. Hamish Pearson was O/C gelignite and he developed a playful habit of letting off a charge with scant warning. If one was working down the pole line the drill, on hearing the explosion, was to immediately cease all activities and gaze intently at the blue sky. Thus the observer skipped nimbly aside to avoid falling rocks descending out of the heavens.
To assist in correct installation, we imported a New Zealander, one Snowy Hansen, to supervise the project. Snowy was a man of iron nerve, having been in a Bomb Disposal unit at the Middle East Front during the 1939-1945 war. However, like many New Zealanders, he had somewhat of a complex about snakes - New Zealand is free from these reptiles. On arriving at Melbourne Airport his anxious queries concerning snakes at Hotham were soothed by soft and oblique answers. Even we did not then know that the Blue Ribbon scree slope housed a significant number of tiger snakes and copperheads.
Snowy was installed at Hotham and all was peace and joy until one day he noticed various directors at work down the scree slope suddenly leaping downward or sideways for no apparent reason. Naturally he queried this eccentric behaviour and, perforce, we had to tell him about the snakes. His immediate reaction was to arm himself with a pale blue broom handle as a defensive weapon. This never left his side and rumour has it that he even took the broom handle to bed with him! Our duplicity pained him and he sorrowfully stated that 'if he had known he would not have left New Zealand'. Fortunately nobody was bitten and it is probable Hamish Pearson's mighty gelignite blasts dispersed the snakes to more peaceful quarters.
The tow commenced operation in the winter of 1952 and gave many years of service until 1965. Subsequently Ski Tows Ltd. was disposed of to Desmond Schuman. It was the forerunner of the network of chairlifts, pomas and T-bars now reticulating over Hotham slopes.
|Cuming||Rope tow||1958 - 1960||153 / ?||Golden Stairs - Picnic Boulder||Owned by Harold Cuming. Burnt Jan 1961|
|Mawson||Nutcracker||1963 - present||198 / 50||-||Extended in 1982. Most southerly ski lift in Australia|
|University||Nutcracker||1968 - present||250 / 58||-||-|
|Rodway||Nutcracker||1973 - present||275 / 80||Eastern end of Rodway Range||Reputedly the steepest ski lift in Australia|
|Beginners||Rope or Platter?||<1982- present||.70 / 15||Sitzmark||Has not operated in recent years|
Unlike Ben Lomond in northern Tasmania, Mt Mawson never developed into a full scale ski resort. It is the last 'club field' in Australia still open to the public. (Although there are still three club run nutcracker lifts in Victoria, a club owned Poma and handle tow at Cabramurra in NSW and plenty of club fields in New Zealand).
The lifts are operated by volunteers drawn from the seven clubs with lodges on the mountain. In recent years they have only operated on weekends and midweek during school holidays. Rodway is probably the steepest surface lift in Australia, but due to a shortage of volunteers, it often doesn't operate even when other lifts are open. --© David Sisson 14:39, 25 July 2007 (EST)
Resort website: http://mtmawson.info/
Click for resort map showing the day shelters, four lifts and seven club lodges.
New South Wales, outside resorts
|Main Range||Ski Tourers Assoc||1954 - 1956||Northcote Tow||Hamilton Tow. c.500/160. Blew up. Parts used to build Crackenback nutcracker at Thredbo|
|Main Range||Ski Tourers Assoc||1957 - 1958?||Albina Lodge||Info in Cross Australian skiing: the first 100 years & Southwell-Keely Highway to Heaven. p.58|
|Diggers Creek||Hotel Kosciusko||Late 1940's?-51?||Port rope tow||Kerry Course, dates uncertain. Johnny Abbotsmith, moved to Perisher after fire|
|Diggers Creek||Tony Sponar||1960 - ?||Poma||Kerry Course, near Sponar's Lakeside Inn|
|Kosciusko Road||Unknown||1950's||Port rope tow||North of Kosci Rd between Sponars & Smiggins, more details soon (hopefully!)|
|Kiandra||Wally Reed||c.1945- 1956||-||Township Hill, 60 m long|
|Kiandra||Kiandra S.C.||1957 - c.1977||T-bar||550 m. Township Hill, moved to other side of hill in '61, later moved to Selwyn|
|Kiandra||Tumut Ski Club||1958 - c,1977||Rope tow||New Chum Hill, lift originally located at Kings Cross|
|Kiandra||Colin Myers||?60's -late 70's||Rope tow||-|
|Kings Cross||Tumut Ski Club||1954 - 1957||Rope tow||Half way between Kiandra & Selwyn, moved to New Chum Hill, Kiandra|
|Kings Cross||Cabramurra S.C.||1961 - c.1970||-||One source says after closing this tow used to extend the SMA Tate tow at Guthega, but dates clash|
|Cabramurra||Cabramurra S.C.||1955 - ?||Village Tow||Built 1954 but didn't operate. Some material donated by SMHEA. Extended 56 & 60|
|Cabramurra||Cabramurra S.C.?||1960's - present||Handle tow||Now operated by Cabramurra Ski Club|
|Cabramurra||Cabramurra S. C.||? - present||Village Poma||Replaced Village rope tow|
|Round Mountain||Corryong S. C.?||1960's?- 1970's?||-||Some poles remain|
|Tooma Dam: Montagues Hut||?||1960's?- 1970's?||-||Pulleys attached to trees, dismantled each year|
All non resort lifts in NSW were probably nutcrackers except Sponar's Poma, the Cabramurra Poma and handle tow and the Kiandra T-bar. Thanks to Craig Doubleday for his reports on sites near Selwyn Snowfields and the Northcote Tow and Kerry Symes for an email about the rope tow between Sponars and Smiggins. For more detailed information see the non resort tows article. --© David Sisson 14:52, 24 July 2007 (EST)
|?||Rope tow||-||1952 - 1955?||-||?||Johnny Abbotsmith, moved from Hotel Kosci after it burnt down|
|Big Tow aka Tow Hut Tow||Nutcracker||-||1955 - 1961?||600 / 182||North Perisher||Cost £7,500. Perisher Valley Enterprises (Sverre Kaaten) Photo|
|Village||Rope tow||-||1956 - 1959?||-||b/w Cronulla & Telemark||J. Abbotsmith, moved 1957? & 59? Replaced by Sundeck T-bar|
|Cooma Ski Club Tow||Rope tow||-||c.1958 - 59?||-||Cooma S.C. lodge||Cooma Ski Club. Bought by Ken Murray and demolished|
|Sundeck (No. 1)||T-bar||Gam-Ski Tows||1959 - ?||-||Below Sundeck Hotel||Cost £5,000. Ken Murray’s “Murray Publishers”|
|Mt Perisher Double||2-Chair-F||Mueller +||1961 - present||1075/ 275||-||Mueller supplied plans & grips built & fabricated by Transfield Cost £80k|
|? No. 2?||T-bar||Gam-Ski Tows||1962 - ?||-||-||Replaced Village tow|
|Big Tow||T-bar||-||1962 - ?||-||North Perisher||Kaaten. Replaced the Big Tow, sold to K. Murray for '63 season|
|Sundeck Poma||Poma||-||1963 - ?||-||Tom Thumb area||-|
|Lawson (No. 6)||T-bar||Doppelmayr||1963 - present||540 / 125||-||-|
|Blaxland (No. 5)||Duplex T-bar||Doppelmayr||1963 - present||510 / 110||-||Duplex with Wentworth|
|Sturt (No. 4)||T-bar||Doppelmayr||1964 - present||470 / 50||-|
|Flat||T-bar||-||? - c.1976||-||Perisher Creek||Used to access North Perisher|
|North Perisher||T-bar||-||1968 - present||565 / 175||-||-|
|Mitchell (No. 1)||T-bar||-||1968 - present||420 / 70||-||-|
|Sun Valley||T-bar||-||1969 - present||530 / 165||-||-|
|Wentworth (No. 5A)||Duplex T-bar||Doppelmayr||1969 - present||510 / 110||-||Duplex with Blaxland|
|Olympic||T-bar||-||1973 - present||345 / 65||Above Sun Valley||Cornered T-Bar, accessing some of the hardest terrain|
|Eyre||T-bar||-||1974 - present||735 / 205||On Mt Perisher||Built summer of 1972-3, first ran 74. Furthest west lift in Perisher|
|Flinders (No. 3)||Duplex T-bar||-||<1976 - 2002||545 / 100||-||Duplex with Bass, replaced by Village 8|
|Bass (No. 2)||Duplex T-bar||-||<1976 - 2002||420 / 100||-||Duplex with Flinders, replaced by Village 8|
|Leichhardt (No. 7)||T-bar||-||1976 - present||540 / 40||-||Called The Self Loader by those who recall when it was|
|International||T-bar||-||1977 - present||890 / 255||Between Eyre & Mt P double||-|
|Tom Thumb||J-bar||-||1977 - present||140 / 55||-||May have been a T-bar circa 1983|
|Pretty Valley||2-Chair-F||-||1978 - present||990 / 153||-||-|
|Pretty Valley||3-Chair-F||-||1978?-1985?||1707/ 264||-||Moved to Mt Dobson NZ, replaced by Perisher Exp Photo|
|Mt Perisher Triple||3-Chair-F||-||1979 - present||1230/ 280||On Mt Perisher||-|
|Happy Valley||T-bar||-||1979 - present||697 / 111||-||Ext by 90m in 2010. Eviro Effect Statement Was 608/96|
|Home||Handle Tow||-||1982 - present||-||-||-|
|Telemark||Poma||-||<1976 - ?||-||-||-|
|Telemark||T-bar||-||1982 - present||455 / 65||-||-|
|Piper||Poma||-||<1976-1981?||-||Same as Piper T-bar||Marked on '76 trail map, replaced by T-bar|
|Piper||T-bar||-||1982 - present||640 / 70||-||Built on site of a Poma|
|Perisher Ex/Freelander/Forester||4-Chair-D||-||1986 - present||1540 / ?||-||Changes names according to sponsorship|
|Interceptor||4-Chair-F||-||1995 - present||-||-||Connects Perisher Valley to Blue Cow area|
|Village 8||8-Chair-D||Doppelmayr||2003 - present||-||-||Replaced Flinders and Bass T-bars|
|Borer||Portable rope tow||-||< 1983 >||-||-||-|
|Ski Carpet||Carpet||-||? - present||-||-||-|
|Ski School||Rope Tow||-||? - 2007||-||-||-|
|Ski School 2||Carpet||-||2007 - present||-||-||-|
|Kids Carpet 1||Carpet||-||? - present||-||-||-|
|Kids Carpet 2||Carpet||-||? - present||-||-||-|
|Carousel||Carousel||Sunkid||2012 - present||-||-||Manufactured by the Austrian company Sunkid.|
|Mt Perisher||6 or 8 chair||Announced '08||-||Mt Perisher||To replace 2 old chairs|
|Ski Haven Tow||Rope tow||-||1952 - 1959||-||?||Johnny Abbotsmith, moved to Guthega|
|?||Poma||-||1960 - ?||-||-||Moved slightly in 1961 to where Cook J-bar now is|
|No. 1?||T-bar||-||1961 - 1968?||-||Replaced by Burke/Wills duplex||-|
|?||T-bar||-||1963 - ?||-||B/w the a lifts above||-|
|?||T-bar||Mueller||1961 -present||-||Mt Piper||Possibly move this to Perisher section?|
|Link||T-bar||-||1964 - present||610 / 130||-|
|Hume||T-bar||-||1964 - present||520 / 80||-|
|Burke||Duplex T-bar||Doppelmayr||1968 - present||610 / 155||-||Duplex with Wills|
|Wills||Duplex T-bar||Doppelmayr||1969 - present||610 / 155||-||Duplex with Burke|
|Scott||J-bar||-||1973 - present||280 / 35||-||Converted from a Poma pre 1983|
|Captain Cook||J-bar||-||1975 - present||275 / 35||-||Converted from a Poma pre 1983|
|Kaaten||3-Chair-F||Doppelmayr||1979 - present||477 / 85||-||-|
|Ski School||?||-||? - ?||-||-||-|
|Harry’s||Rope tow||-||? - 2007||-||-||-|
|Herman’s||Rope tow||-||? - 2007||-||-||-|
|Zappy’s||Rope tow||-||? - 2008||-||-||-|
|Zoe’s||Carpet||-||? - present||-||-||-|
|Harry's & Herman's||Carpet||-||2008 - present||-||-||-|
|SMA Tow||Nutcracker||-||1957 - 1965||800 / 330||Mt Tate East Ridge||Island Bend Ski Club. Extended 1960 & 63, burnt 1965|
|Beginners Tow||Rope Tow||-||1961 - 1975||-||Above Walter's Hut||Ex Ski Haven Tow at Smiggins Cost £600. YMCA SC then W. Spanring|
|Blue Calf||T-bar||Pomagalski||1965 - 1980?||-||Western Blue Calf slopes||Poma brand T-bar. Walter Spanring|
|Cow Pastures or Powder Val?||Rope tow||Bruckschloegl||1976 - 1981||-||Near Cow Pastures||Bruckschloegl Austrian tow|
|Beginners?||Rope tow||Bruckschloegl||1976 - ?||-||Near Cow Pastures||-|
|Blue Cow||T-bar||McCallum||1976 - 1980||-||Mt Blue Cow||McCallum brand, ex Mt Buller. Replaced in 1981|
|Blue Cow||T-bar||Doppelmayr||1981 - present||670 / 149||Mt Blue Cow||Replaced the 1976 T-bar|
|Cow Pastures||J-bar||Doppelmayr||1981 - 2013||320 / 70||Cowpastures basin||Replaced by Freedom fixed grip quad chair|
|Blue Calf||T-bar||-||1981 - present||570 / 133||-||Built as a duplex T-bar|
|Beginners||Rope tow||-||1982 - ?||150 / 10||Top of chair (Saddle area)||Cow Pastures tow relocated after J-Bar built|
|Beginners||J-bar||-||< 1983 >||140 / 30||Off home run||Served runs named Romeo, Juliet and Fred|
|Carpark||2-Chair-F||Doppelmayr||1982 - present||610 / 130||Carpark-base Mt Blue Cow||-|
|Rope Tow 1||-||-||<1992 - 1993?||-||-||-|
|Rope Tow 2||-||-||<1992 - 1993?||-||-||-|
|Freedom||4-Chair-F||Doppelmayr||2014 - present||. ? / 200||-||Announcement Replaces & extends Cow Pa, will have load carpet|
|Ski Tube||Rack railway||-||1988 - present||8500/ 755||Bullock's Flat - Blue Calf||Official webpage, Tunnels webpage, Wikipaedia|
|Ridge||4-Chair-F||-||1987 - present||1000 / ?||-||-|
|Summit||4-Chair-F||-||1987 - present||-||-||-|
|Early Starter||2-Chair-F||-||1987 - present||-||-||-|
|Terminal||4-Chair-F||-||1987 - present||-||-||-|
|Pleasant Valley||4-Chair-D||-||1987 - present||1200 / ?||-||-|
|Brumby||T-bar||-||88><92- present||-||-||Moved from Guthega - formerly ½ of Blue Calf Duplex|
|Pony Ride 1||Rope tow||-||88><92- present||-||-||-|
|Pony Ride 2||Rope tow||-||>92 - present||-||-||Previously named Ski School?|
|Donkey Ride||?||-||>92 - ?||-||-||-|
Perisher Valley Unlike many resorts that have replaced lifts on the same site several times, Perisher has mostly stuck with the original lifts and some of them are over 50 years old. By 1964 Perisher had 12 lifts and by 1972 there were 14 lifts. Ken Murray sold the resort to Australian Consolidated Press after the 1972 ski season. Originally, the Perisher T-bars on Front and Centre Valleys were not named. Number 1 was Wentworth on Front Valley, and they were numbered consecutively westward to what is now Leichhardt. The Mt Perisher T-bars, Sun Valley, International, Olympic and Eyre have always had those names. Current Perisher and Guthega trail maps.
Guthega. For an updated history of Guthega and its ski lifts, go to Guthega History.
Mergers. Perisher and Smiggins merged after the 1972 ski season. Blue Cow and Guthega merged in 1991 (under the ownership of Transfield Kumagai). Both these combined companies merged to become Perisher Blue in 1995. In 2009 'Blue' was deleted from the resort name and it became just 'Perisher'.
Perisher. Thanks to "VSG", "Ian S", "Golds70", "shadow1" and especially the person who wishes to remain anonymous who supplied many of the dates.
Guthega. thanks to "Atlantisau" for contributions that helped to untangle the confusion of hearsay and conflicting information. --© David Sisson 14:00, 20 August 2007 (EST)
More on the history of the greater Perisher area:
Peter Southwell-Keely. Highway to heaven: a history of Perisher and the ski resorts along the Kosciuszko Road. Perisher Historical Society, 2013. Some of the information on early lifts conflicts with other sources.
- Appendix F, pp. 249 - 251 lists all club and commercial lodges built in the area (although it excludes staff accommodation, retail premises, etc.)
|?||Rope tow||1961? - ?||-||-||John and Helen Dowling, tow formerly ran in the A.C.T.|
|The Quarry||Rope tow||1966 - ?||-||Township run||Colin Myers.|
|Car park||2 x rope||< 1983 >||250 / 27||South of Selwyn Centre||-|
|Beginners||2 x rope||< 1983 >||200 / 20||Near New Chum chair site||-|
|Township 1||T-bar||1972 - 2008||500 / 75||-||Moved from Perisher. Replaced by Township chair in 2009|
|Township 2||T-bar||1978 - 2008||500 / 75||-||Moved from Kiandra. Replaced by Township chair in 2009|
|Bullock Head||Poma||< 1983 >||450 / 90||North of Selwyn Centre||-|
|Racecourse||Poma||< 1983 >||500 / 110||-||-|
|Racecourse||T-bar||<1984 - present||-||-||-|
|Ski School||Rope tow||<1984 - present||-||-||-|
|New Chum||2-Chair-F||1988 - present||-||-||-|
|Powerline||Rope tow||< 1983 >||300 / 42||-||-|
|Powerline||Poma||? - present||-||-||Was to be replaced by the extended triple chair, but still intact|
|Homerun||Poma||? - present||-||-||-|
|Boomerang||Platter||? - present||-||-||-|
|Home Run||Poma||<1984 - present||-||-||-|
|Snowflake||Snowtube||? - present||-||-||-|
|Wombat||Rope tow||< 1983 >||250 / 35||-||-|
|Wombat||T-bar||<1984 - present||-||-||Converted to snowtube circa 2003, back to T-bar 2009|
|Gentle Annie||Carpet||? - present||-||-||-|
|unknown||?||<1998 - ?||B/w Ski Sch & Home Run||-|
|Township||3-Chair-F||2009 - present||709 / ?||Township||Buller's Helicopter Flat / ABOM chair relocated|
Either Powerline or Homerun Poma was moved from Smiggins. Colin Myers and his family have built and operated all tows on Mt Selwyn since 1966. More information on dates of lift construction would be appreciated. Current trail map.
In the past there were 11 other lifts nearby at: Kiandra (4), Tumut Ski Club (1) Kings Cross (1), Cabramurra (3), Round Mountain (1) and Tooma Dam (1). All were removed long ago except the Poma and a handle tow at Cabramurra which still operate. For details see the article non resort ski tows. --© David Sisson 15:41, 12 August 2007 (EST)
Tasmania: proposed resorts
|Mt Rufus||Late 1940's||Rufus Ski Club. Work began on two lifts but was never completed|
|Black Bluff||1960||Part of Ellis brothers scheme to build a chalet & 16 cabins at Lake Lea near Cradle Mountain|
|Mt Rufus||1971||Planned to include a gondola, 4 chairlifts and 2 pomas. Access from Lake St Clair area|
|Florentine Peak||Early 1970's||Proposed resort development with several lifts. May have been intended to link with Mt Mawson club field|
|Mt Wellington||1993||Planned as part of a $31 million, fourth scheme to build a Mt Wellington cable car. The ski field was to be at the back of the mountain|
Despite a number of proposals, there have been no successful attempts to build ski lifts at locations other than the ski resort at Ben Lomond and the club field at Mt Mawson. For more detailed information and a map of the proposed Mt Rufus resort, see the non resort tows article.
|Crackenback||Nutcracker||Various||1957 only||c.800/ 287||Mid half of Kosci Express||Cost £1870, used parts of Northcote Tow *|
|Gam Tow||T-bar||John Gam||1957 - ?||275 / 76||Below C/back nutcracker||Light & underpowered. Probably 1957 only|
|Crackenback||2-Chair-F||Mueller / Riblet||1958 - 1989||1835/ 560||Same as Kosci Express||Originally to Kareela, lengthened 1962. Orig vertical = 435 m. *|
|?||Rope tow||-||1958 - 1963||. ? / 122||Kareela - Upper C/back||Relocated 1957 Crackenback nutcracker lift|
|Middle||T-bar||-||1962 - 1967||-||Middle Snowgums||Later moved to Merrits, renamed Ski School|
|?||Rope tow||-||1963?||-||Upper Snowgums||Original Crackenback rope tow moved again|
|Basin||T-bar||-||1963 - present||650 / 145||In Basin, top of mountain||-|
|Ramshead||2-Chair-F||Riblet||1963 - 2011||1770/ 480||Base to bottom of Basin||Top stat moved uphill, orig prone to drifts. Notice of closure|
|?||Rope tow||-||1964 - 1967||-||B/w Kosi Ex & Ramshead||4th location for 1957 Crackenback rope tow|
|Merritts||2-Chair-F||Riblet||1968 - present||1350/ 299||Base area to Merritts||-|
|Merritts Duplex 1||T-bar||-||1968 - 1994||696 / 162||Merritts, Walkabout run||Replaced by Cruiser Chair|
|Merritts Duplex 2||T-bar||-||1968 - 1994||753 / 180||Merritts, Walkabout run||Replaced by Cruiser Chair|
|Ski School / Easy Rider||T-bar||-||1968 - present||now 275/65||Merritts Spur||Shortened & renamed in 1995. Originally 410/80|
|Anton's||T-bar||-||1977 - present||800 / 230||Central Spur||Originally self-loading (= chaos)|
|Harusch?||Rope tow||-||1978 - 1995||-||Valley Terminal||-|
|Harusch 100||Rope tow||-||< 1982 >||220 / 15||Beyond Harusch 500||-|
|Harusch 500||Rope tow||-||< 1982 >||131 / 15||Top C/back - top of Basin||-|
|Harusch 1000||Rope tow||-||1978 - 1995||148 / 40||West of Merrits T-bars||Under Merritts top station, remains still visible in 2006|
|Mitey Mite||Rope tow||-||< 1982 >||163 / 28||Merritts Spur||-|
|Karel's||T-bar||-||1979 - present||464 / 83||-||Highest remaining ski lift in Aust|
|Sponar's||T-bar||-||1979 - present||942 / 260||Central Spur||-|
|Snowgums||2-Chair-F||-||1980 - present||1735/ 472||Parallels Kosci Express||Fastest chair in Aust when opened|
|Gunbarrel Express||4-Chair-D||-||1988 - present||1679/ 426||-||-|
|Easy Does It||4-Chair-F||-||1988 - present||448 / 49||Friday Flat||-|
|Crackenback/Kosciusko Exp||4/4-Chair/Gond-D||Doppelmayr||1990 - present||1860/ 560||-||Replaced Crackenback, renamed 2001|
|Cruiser||4-Chair-D||-||1994 - present||1000/ 214||Merritts Spur||Superseded Merrits duplex T Bar.|
|Snowrunner 1||Carpet||-||2000 - present||. 80 / 13||Friday Flat||-|
|Sundowner / Snowrunner 2||Carpet||-||2000 - present||. 85 / 10||Friday Flat||-|
|The Burrow||Enclosed carpet||-||2013 - present||. ? / ?||Friday Flat||-|
|Twin Valleys||?||-||Planned 1983||-||Nth east of Friday Flat||-|
|High Noon||Sextuple chair||-||Recent plan||-||Upper slopes||-|
|Golf Course Bowl||Chairlift||-||Recent plan||-||Upper slopes||c.1820 - c.2030 metres|
|Lower Golf Course||Chairlift||-||Recent plan||-||9th hole-mid Ramshd Chair||-|
|Golf Course Beginners||?||-||Recent plan||-||Near Crackenback estate||-|
|Fiveways||T-bar||-||Recent plan||-||500 m west of Sponars||-|
|New Kosciusko Express||6-Chair-D||-||Recent plan||-||-||Replace & extend current quad|
See the Charlotte Pass entry for details of the two chairlifts that operated between Thredbo Valley and Charlotte Pass in 1964 and 1965.
- The Crackenback nutcracker lift was built from components of the Northcote Tow. Gelignite was used in the Kunama Basin to stop further build up of the avalanche causing snow which had demolished nearby Kunama Lodge. When faulty heating in the Northcote Tow hut caused a minor fire, the occupants bolted outside before the gelignite ignited, blowing the hut to smithereens. But the poles and sheaves were in good condition and these were utilised in the Crackenback tow. The engine for Crackenback was second hand from a rock crusher which had been used on the Snowy Hydro Scheme, the gear wheels and bullwheels were from cranes. The engine was put on a sled and winched itself up to the top station where it was installed in a shed made from bush timber and second hand iron. The lift was designed by Geoffrey Hughes who had been chairman of the Northcote Tow sub-committee. It cost £1870 to buy and install. After it was replaced by the Crackenback chairlift, the nutcracker tow was moved up hill to provide access to the higher slopes.
- The Crackenback double chair was origninally 100% Mueller product, as was the 1962 extension. The towers and sheaves on the upper section were later replaced with Riblet components due to 'technical issues' including derailing. The lift was built by Transfield with on mountain transport provided by Helicopter Utilities. The cost (before the extension) was £35,000 (one source says £45,000).
A few areas of this listing are still incomplete. Names are missing for some Thredbo rope tows and dates for a few lifts on the same sites overlap, so they may be a year out. Current and historic trail maps. Thanks to 'Ian S' for help and to 'Richardo' for details of manufacturers of early chairlifts.
More on Thredbo history.
Jim Darby. Thredbo 50: 1957 to 2007. tSm Publishing, 2006.
Helen Swinbourne. Accordions in the snow gums: Thredbo's early years. Thredbo Historical Society Inc., 2006.
Geoffrey Hughes. Starting Thredbo. The author, 2008. pp. 28 - 33.
--© David Sisson 15:29, 31 July 2007 (EST)
Readers comment. The changes in lift names and locations reveal a lot about how long someone has been skiing a resort, and their familiarity with it. This contributor knows people who call Merrits, 'Falls' (and it is probably called something else now) at Thredbo Merritts (no Falls), because that is what it was called before the Merrits Chair was put in. And there is Little Merrits. I call what is now called 'Meadows' at Thredbo, the 'Middle Slopes', because that is what they were called when the old Crackenback Double had a middle station. And I still call the quad chair Crackenback. In the same way, at Perisher, the people who have been skiing the place forever always call the T bars by the numbers, not the explorer names.
Victoria, outside resorts
|Mt St Bernard||Nutcracker||Wangaratta Ski Club||1955 - present||Mt St Bernard||Tow was originally at Bull Run on Mt Buller|
|Mt St Bernard||Nutcracker||Wangaratta Ski Club||1958 - present||Nursery Tow||-|
|Bogong High Plains||Nutcracker||Rover Scouts||1968 - present||-||Langford West Aqueduct. Didn't operate 2003 - 2005|
|Mt Wills||Nutcracker||Tallangatta Ski Club||1950's-late 90's||-||2 km north of summit near lodge. Wire rope nutcracker|
|Mt Wills||Rope tow||Tallangatta Ski Club||. ? - c.2000||_||Hand help rope tow. Used after unable to get insurance for main lift|
|Dinner Plain||Platter||Dinner Plain||1985? - present||Cobungra Platter||175 m, 18 m rise. Capacity 731 p/h. Formerly at Plains of Heaven, Hotham|
|Mt St Gwinear||Rope tow||.||2009||Portable rope tow||Claimed in Warrigul Gazette article in 2009, but no sign of it yet|
Other passenger ropeways (non snow)
|Area||Name||Type of lift||Dates||Length/vert||Notes|
|New South Wales||.|
|Sydney||Taronga Zoo||Gondola||2000?-present||Sky Safari Cableway. Web page. Photo gallery on Poma website.|
|Sydney||Former showgrounds||Gondola||1970's - 1997||Reinstalled at Wonderland.|
|Sydney||Former showgrounds||Double? chair||1960's? -1997||-|
|Sydney||Wonderland||Gondola||1999 - 2002||Ex showgrounds, renamed Skyrider|
|Sydney||Moore Park grass ski||Rope tow||?||-|
|Kurrajong||Grass ski & cart||Drag tow?||<1983-present||Now only carting. link|
|Camden||Razorback Grass Ski||?||< 1983 >||Located on Mt Hercules Road|
|Fernleigh||Fernleigh Grass Ski Pk||?||?||Located on Fernleigh Road|
|Port Macquarie||Grass ski||Drag tow?||?||-|
|Katoomba||Skyway||Cable car||1958 - 2004||330 / -||Amusement park directory|
|Katoomba||Skyway||Cable car||2005 - present||384 / 15||Web page. Amusement park directory|
|Katoomba||Cableway||Cableway||2000 - present||510 / 215||Web page. Amusement park listing|
|Katoomba||Scenic Railway||Funicular rail||1994 -present||310 / 206||Built 1878, passengers from 1928. Web page. Amusement park lising|
|Wollongong||Jamberoo Action Park||Double chair||1980 - present||500 / 130||Ex Thredbo-Charlotte Lift history & Amusement park directory|
|near Urunga & Mylestom||Grass skiing||c.1982||.||.|
|Albury *||Grass ski/wheeled toboggan||?||86 or 7 - 2006||At Great Aussie Holiday Park To be recommissioned in 2013 for mountain bikes|
|Melbourne||Showgrounds||Double chair||19?? - 200?||-|
|Montrose||Fox's Point Scenic Railway||Funicular r/way||1956 - 1962/3||3 rail & passing loop, 34m vertical, 45° angle. more info|
|Dromana||Arthur's Seat||Double chair||1960 - 2003||Made by Australasian Ropeway (Dr Vladimir Hayek). Rebuilt 2003 - 2004|
|Dromana||Arthur's Seat||Double chair||2004 - 2006||950 / 225||Speed 0.8 m/s. The website is still available|
|Dromana proposed||Arthur's Seat||Quad & gond||2012||Announced 30 Oct 2010 Cost $5 million. Herald Sun article Age article|
|Portsea||Back Beach||Double chair||1962- c.1971||Built by Ron McCallum. Article. Photo. Colour promotional photo|
|Frankston||Whistle Stop Amusement Pk||Double chair||1969 - 1970||Land in Skye Rd sold & redeveloped, lift relocated to Carribean Gardens|
|Scoresby||Carribean Gardens||Double chair||c1970-present||Built by Ron McCallum. The Frankston chairlift relocated|
|Torquay||Grass Ski Torquay||Handle tow?||1980's||Located on Duffields Road|
|Marysville||Marysville Fun Park||?||< 1983 >||Grass skiing. Located on Buxton Road|
|Yinnar South||Dunalton Grass Ski||Rope tow||1970's - >1983||Located on Brewster Road|
|Hobart||Showgrounds||Double chair||? - ?||Made by Dr Vladimir Hayek's Australasian Ropeway|
|Hobart||Hobart Grass Ski Centre||?||< 1983 >||Austins Ferry|
|Launceston||Cataract Gorge||Double chair||1972 - present||457 / -||Claimed longest chairlift span in world (308 m), builder Ron McCallum Web page|
|Stanley||The Nut||Double chair||c1988-present||250 / 95||Web page. Lift previously located at Mt Baw Baw|
|Queenstown||Double chair||?<2009>?||No website, so no details. Appears to be no longer operating. Photo.|
|Adelaide||Mt Thebarton||Conveyor/carpet||1987 - 2005||World's first indoor ski slope|
|Kersbrook||Kersbrook Grass Ski Pk||Drag tow?||< 1983 >||Located on Kersbrook Road|
|Adelaide||Grass ski park||?||1980's?||Unconfirmed second grass ski park|
|Victor Harbour||Granite Island||Double chair||1964 - 1996||Link to dates|
|Perth||Showgrounds||Double chair||? - present||Built by McCallum|
|Wooroloo||El Caballo Blanco||Double chair||>1974-<1993||Current website. Moved to Adventure World|
|Bibra Lake||Adventure World||Double chair||1993 - present||Sky Lift, 43 chairs. Amusement park directory|
|Wanneroo||Grass skiing||Rope tow||1980's|
|Brisbane||Showgrounds||Double chair||? - 2009||Made by Australasian Ropeway. Removed when showgrounds redeveloped|
|Brisbane||Samford Grass Ski Pk||?||1983 - 1993||link.|
|Gold Coast||Magic Mountain||Double chair||1962 - 1987||Reinstalled at Dreamworld|
|Gold Coast||Dreamworld||Double chair||1989 - 2005||312 / -||Skylink ex Magic Mountain Web page.|
|Gold Coast||Seaworld||Open gondola||1989 - present||480 / -||Sky High Skyway. Web page. Amusement pk directory|
|Woombye||Grass skiing||?||?||Apparently didn't last long. Possibly at Nambour rather than Woombye|
|Mt Bellenden Ker||Telecommunications||Open gondola||<1972-present||5300 / ?||Used by Broadcast Aust. Provides access to antenna on summit. Photo|
|Kareeya Power Station||-||?||1957 - present||Near Tully. Used by Stanwell.|
|Caravonica-Red Peak||Skyrail||6 seat gondola||1995 - present||Combined||2 separate cableways, total 114 cars, capacity 700 hour. website|
|Red Peak - Kuranda||Skyrail||6 seat gondola||1995 - present||= 7.5 km||2 separate cableways, built by Leitner-Poma. website|
In addition to these passenger lifts, there were dozens of aerial freight cableways and hundreds of tracked steep cable haulages built for dam construction, timber harvesting, mining, hydro electricity, etc.
- More on Albury grass ski lift. The original owners of the park Peter King and his brother Graeme employed a local engineer in Albury named Jock Hutton to design the lift and it was built by a local engineering shop. He thinks they commissioned it in 86-87 for grass skiing and after grass skiing died a natural death in the late nineties, a local guy along with Peter built some wheeled toboggans and park guests paid to use it on and off up to 2006 when the park changed ownership... It will be recommissioned by the end of 2013 for a mountain bike park...
Thanks to Russell Diffey for details of the Albury lift, Maurie Copsey for info on FNQ ropeways and these posters from http://ski.com.au/forum for help with this section: SnowAndrew, ians 158, HiLo, jt-ski, Heinz, Dive, BLB, cashie, SAL, Claude Cat, pigface, Rowdy, PolePlant, K10, TACKIE, Mamabear, kimberlee81, currawong, D-eye, the following from http://www.railpage.com.au/f.htm : Johnmc, 2001, watchdog, and these posters from http://www.parkz.com.au/forums : reanimated35, pinksmile, AlexB
Proposed ski lifts outside snow fields
|Perth area, W.A.||2007 - 2010||Proposed indoor 400 m ski slope. website|
|Kooralbyn, Qld||1990's||Proposed outdoor 300m slope on artificial snow. website|
|Hobart, Tas||2010||Revival of 1990's plan for Mt Wellington cable car with slick video and Facebook page|
|Sydney, NSW||c.2007?||Proposed snow dome, now proposed to open in 2016. website|
Cross country ski resorts (no lifts)
. Corin Forest (ACT). No WikiSki page. Resort website.
. Mt Donna Buang (Victoria). WikiSki page. No resort website.
WikiSki notes on Australian backcountry ski touring in all states.
- The Australian page of Skimap.org contains 80 historic lift and run maps of all Australian ski resorts and the club fields at Mt St Bernard and Mt Mawson.
- A useful illustrated glossary of ski lift terms. It's American, so some terms may be a little different.
- The well illustrated site Australian oversnow equipment has information on oversnow vehicles used in Australia, with a blog and a directory of manufacturers.
- Chairlift identifier. Identify the manufacturer and age of lifts by parts such as grips, terminals, sheaves, etc.
Other ski lift directories
- List of New Zealand Ski Lifts A fairly new page which is progressing well, despite apparently overzealous interference from Wikipedia editors.
- An incomplete directory of North American ski lifts. Choose US or Canada on the left of the page.
- A directory of Swiss ski lifts. Despite a basic English interface, much of the text is in German.
- Lift World includes lifts in most countries, but there are lots of omissions and only two Australian resorts have (incomplete) entries.
Ski lift manufacturers
- McCallum. Ron McCallum built about 20 chairlifts and T-bars throughout Australia in the 1960's from a base in Moorabbin, Melbourne. Hoepefully an article will be written soon on his achievements. Lifts built include Skyline rope tow, Gully chairlift and the Summit, Village, Saddle and Sun Valley T-bars at Falls Creek, the chairlifts at Portsea, Launceston, Perth Showgrounds and Frankston/Caribbean Gardens. Another lift that is probably McCallum is the Boggy Creek T-bar at Buller.
- Gam / Ski Tows Pty Ltd. Run by John Gam and Geoff Hughes. Built the Gam portable T-bars that ran at Thredbo and Lake Albina in the late 1950's. Also built T-bars at Kiandra in 1958 and Perisher in 1959 and 1960. Gam's death in late 1959 put an end to lift design, although the company continued to operate as an agency for Mueller.(Not to be confused with Ski Tows Ltd, the original lift company at Mt Hotham.)
- Australasian Ropeway. Another local outfit that built a few chairlifts. It appears to have been run by Dr Vladimir Hayek who designed Australia's first chairlift at Falls Creek, but details are still sketchy. Lifts definitely built by Hayek include Arthur's Seat (Mk 1), Hobart Showgrounds, Brisbane Showgrounds.
- Hamilton. Most Australian nutcracker lifts are derived from the the design perfected by Bill (later Sir William) Hamilton in New Zealand. Hamilton installed his first lift at at Coronet Peak in 1947 and within a few years had perfected the Hamilton Model B design that has been used ever since. Most of the early nutcracker lifts installed in Australia were Hamilton products. Hamilton appears to have been the only commercial maker of nutcracker tows installed in Australia and New Zealand, although the Model B design was later widely copied by individuals and clubs. There is no website dedicated to Hamilton ski tows.
- . . . . Poma: Europe.
- Leitner: Europe.
- Leitner - Poma: North America.
- Doppelmayr: all areas.
- Riblet was an American chairlift manufacturer which grew to be the biggest in the world. But they failed to cater to the market's demand for detachable grip lifts. After atrophying for years, they finally closed down in 2003. The Ramshead and Merrits chairlifts at Thredbo are Riblet products.
- Wikipedia page on Mueller Switzerland which closed in 1992. Mueller North America web page. Mueller built a few lifts in Australia, notably the 1958 Crackenback chair at Thredbo, the Mt Perisher double at Perisher in 1961 and the ill fated, 5.5 km chairlift between Thredbo Valley and Charlotte Pass which operated in 1964 and 1965.
- Von Roll was a legendary Swiss company that attracted fiercer brand loyalty than any other lift manufacturer. They built chairlifts and gondolas throughout the world, but none in Australia. The company sold it's cableway and ski lift division to Doppelmayr in 1996. Wikipedia page.
- Harusch Lifts. 30 years ago Thredbo had four lifts made by this small Canadian surface lift company. It's possible that they also made the portable handle tows that were used at Falls Creek, Thredbo and the one that is still used at Cabramurra.
- Sunkid. Austrian manufacturer of simple surface lifts: carpets, handle tows, carousels, etc.
- Wikipedia list of current and former manufacturers. Incomplete and excludes some companies such as Hamilton and Yac that have installed lifts in Australia.
- skilifts.org links pages for large lift manufacturers.
- skilifts.org links pages for small lift manufacturers.
Finally, I regularly update this listing, so if you notice any errors or omissions, please send an email to sisson dot dave at yahoo dot com.au