Hotham History

Gavin Crawford

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Aug 1, 2022
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My old man, Peter Crawford, has accumulated a few interesting things in his association with Mt Hotham. I have started to digitise them so I figured I should share them. First up is this old history from 1850 to 1950 written by Peter Cabena from Dept of Crown Lands and Survey.
 

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  • MT HOTHAM Its History From the 1850s to the 1950s.pdf
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Gavin Crawford

Early Days
Aug 1, 2022
27
85
18
My old man, Peter Crawford, has accumulated a few interesting things in his association with Mt Hotham. I have started to digitise them so I figured I should share them. First up is this old history form 1850 to 1950 written by Peter Cabena from Dept of Crown Lands and Survey.
Next up is a little number Peter Crawford wrote back in 1989 he calls the yellow pages:
 

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  • Mt Hotham Development Strategy Plan Analysis.pdf
    2.9 MB · Views: 50
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Gavin Crawford

Early Days
Aug 1, 2022
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Next up is a little number Peter Crawford wrote back in 1989 he calls the yellow pages:
Anyone remember the zoo cart? Here is the original design from December 1977 by Peter Crawford.



zoo cart.jpg
 
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Hermannator

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There is a thread with lots of good Hotham historical stuff:

 
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Bogong

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Amazing stuff Gavin, it's great that you are preserving this for us to enjoy. :D

Things like the Zoo Cart design would otherwise be lost to people who write mountain history. A quick question; is the Mt Hotham Development review attached to the second post in this thread a response to an earlier report comissioned by the RMB or lift company or did your father write it independently?
 

Gavin Crawford

Early Days
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Amazing stuff Gavin, it's great that you are preserving this for us to enjoy. :D

Things like the Zoo Cart design would otherwise be lost to people who write mountain history. A quick question; is the Mt Hotham Development review attached to the second post in this thread a response to an earlier report comissioned by the RMB or lift company or did your father write it independently?
It’s a response to the earlier report (1989) as you surmised. I have those earlier reports, plus a 1982 report and a 1972 report and will scan them to put up as well. They are bound though so will take a while. My father wanted me to drop all those documents off at resort management but I think scanning them first is best.
 
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Bogong

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Thanks, I had an email just three days ago from the president of a club lodge at Hotham asking about a proposed lifts, in particular a 2005-ish plan for a chairlift that went right down Australia Drift. I told him about the 2014 proposals and that in 1969 Playground chair was supposed to be built there, before it was relocated at the last minute. But he said there were other Drift chairlift proposals. So when you upload the other reports, l will be able to piece together a more full idea of proposed lifts (and other ideas) for Hotham over the years.

P.S. I write ski histories, so if Hotham RMB don't want the documents, I will travel anywhere at short notice to take them off your hands and I can promise that they will not gather dust on a bookshelf, rather they will be read and actively used in research and writing.
 
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Bogong

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Brockhoff Poma must've been a fun ride
I rode it as a small child, from memory it wasn't quite as much fun as the International at Falls Creek before they slowed it down, but it was still a ride on a steep and fast poma with a corner, so it was pretty damn good. :D

However, my hazy memory from childhood recalls that it served the "interesting" runs in the area much better than the chairlift on a different route that replaced it.
 

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I rode it as a small child, from memory it wasn't quite as much fun as the International at Falls Creek before they slowed it down, but it was still a ride on a steep and fast poma with a corner, so it was pretty damn good. :D

However, my hazy memory from childhood recalls that it served the interesting runs in the area much better than the chairlift on a different route that replaced it.
Slalom gully was an unpiped creek/gorge where they had to put up large orange netting to prevent folks ending up in the drink. It was a long traverse over to Imagine/Purgatory spur area which were just called A1 (ridge/gully), A2 (r/g) and A3. Imagine wasn't cleared, and was very pretty gladed terrain down to the creek.
The Poma corners were similar to International but it was much steeper, and in low snow seasons kids skis wouldnt touch the snow in parts.
 

Bogong

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Something interesting at the bottom of Blue Ribbon (1983?)
That was the Plains of Heaven / Ski School platter lift. My lifts list has it only lasting from 1981 to 1983, before it was closed and later moved to Dinner Plain where it still survived the last time I visted DP.

It seems an odd place to locate a lift. The bottom of Blue Ribbon has never had the deepest or most reliable snow, perhaps that's why it only lasted three seasons?
 

Boodwah

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That was the Plains of Heaven / Ski School platter lift. My lifts list has it only lasting from 1981 to 1983, before it was closed and later moved to Dinner Plain where it still survived the last time I visted DP.

It seems an odd place to locate a lift. The bottom of Blue Ribbon has never had the deepest or most reliable snow, perhaps that's why it only lasted three seasons?
Unused much, someone's thought fart of putting a beginner's lift down the bottom of runs impossible to ski if you're a beginner.
They should have lifted BR down to bottom of Plains of Heaven (and put a bridge over swindlers there for all of the off piste coming down from Golden Point), and of course lifted it up over the road to the top of Higginbotham.
 

Bogong

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Unused much, someone's thought fart of putting a beginner's lift down the bottom of runs impossible to ski if you're a beginner.
They should have lifted BR down to bottom of Plains of Heaven (and put a bridge over swindlers there for all of the off piste coming down from Golden Point), and of course lifted it up over the road to the top of Higginbotham.
Before they built the Davenport Poma (and later the Big D chair on a similar route), there was another tow on Higgi just above Blue Ribbon. That meant there was a lift serviced run going straight down from the top of Higginbotham all the way to Swindlers Creek. Of course they didn't clear the road back then, so people could ski the whole route, although it meant taking two lifts to get back up.

image_2022-08-03_142324537.png
 

Sandy

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Slalom gully was an unpiped creek/gorge where they had to put up large orange netting to prevent folks ending up in the drink. It was a long traverse over to Imagine/Purgatory spur area which were just called A1 (ridge/gully), A2 (r/g) and A3. Imagine wasn't cleared, and was very pretty gladed terrain down to the creek.
The Poma corners were similar to International but it was much steeper, and in low snow seasons kids skis wouldnt touch the snow in parts.
Before Imagine was cleared & the creek piped, Imagine was Harper's Gully..... should have left the name as it was.
 
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Sandy

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That was the Plains of Heaven / Ski School platter lift. My lifts list has it only lasting from 1981 to 1983, before it was closed and later moved to Dinner Plain where it still survived the last time I visted DP.

It seems an odd place to locate a lift. The bottom of Blue Ribbon has never had the deepest or most reliable snow, perhaps that's why it only lasted three seasons?
I used it maybe twice, just so I could say I used it.
 
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Bogong

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Climbed direct up old rope tow line this summer after a fishing trip, there are still a few old ropetow pylons and pullies about - when they were building the triple chair, the old rope was still mostly there.
The Ormond Ski Club history recounts that when they were building their lodge, they scavenged all sorts of things from the old tow to incorporate in their lodge. From memory they even used part of the tow rope to brace the building.
 

Gavin Crawford

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Aug 1, 2022
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That was the Plains of Heaven / Ski School platter lift. My lifts list has it only lasting from 1981 to 1983, before it was closed and later moved to Dinner Plain where it still survived the last time I visted DP.

It seems an odd place to locate a lift. The bottom of Blue Ribbon has never had the deepest or most reliable snow, perhaps that's why it only lasted three seasons?
It was a fun run. There was often a little ski jump on the side with some tracks in the trees and as a kid I’d do circuits with my brothers on it. As you said, odd place for a lift.
 
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Gavin Crawford

Early Days
Aug 1, 2022
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I rode it as a small child, from memory it wasn't quite as much fun as the International at Falls Creek before they slowed it down, but it was still a ride on a steep and fast poma with a corner, so it was pretty damn good. :D

However, my hazy memory from childhood recalls that it served the "interesting" runs in the area much better than the chairlift on a different route that replaced it.
I remember as a kid zig zagging up the summit poma and Steve Hall chewing me to bits for it… I learned some new words that day. You’re right though - not comparable to the kick on that corner half way up the international - that was insane and would have got your ticket pulled if they saw you launching off that…
 

benzerknees

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Anyone remember the zoo cart? Here is the original design from December 1977 by Peter Crawford.
I remember the zoo cart.
It would run up and down the road from Davenport to Hotham (central), pulled by a tractor. It collected and dropped off passengers along the way. There were slots to put your skis into, before you jumped onto the open air steel framed cart. So much better than a bus.

Found a photo on the Hotham facebook page: (Everyone on the cart looks very 1970's, with 200 cm skinny skis that pretty quickly sorted powder skiers from the groomer only skiers.)
zoo_cart.jpg
 

benzerknees

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I remember as a kid zig zagging up the summit poma and Steve Hall chewing me to bits for it
I remember as a first springtime stint as a 18 yo "towie" being put on the top of the summit poma. It was blowing a gale so I took refuge in a small shelter at the top of the lift.
Then Steve Hall came along and chewed me to bits for not pushing the skiiers getting off the poma against the wind and out of the way.
Well that lasted about 10 minutes until a woman pulled back on the spring loaded hanger (poma) she was riding, lined me up and let it go. Then it was down the doctor to get some stitches just above my eye.
 

Gavin Crawford

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Lachen Lodge was removed in about summer 1995-1996 to build the Lachen apartments. It sat across from Jack Frost next to Tinogra. The building was relocated to NSW near Finley.
It was built 71-72 foundations 72-73 complete. The original members were Richard Power and brother and sister, Kevin McCarthy, Garnet Edwards, Graham Tippett, John Doyle, Brian Watson, Brian Challinor, later Ken Anderson, Vicki Adamson, Bob Scott, Lee and Pam Stephens, Kerry Ryan but it ended up that Kerry Ryan and my dad were the final members. Sue, Kerry and my folks redeveloped Lachen and Rangers the following year (96-97). Circa 1979 smouldered out (slow burn) the main common room. Six beds with a double bed and single bunk - slept 18. Managers room later installed mid 80’s.
Kerry and Sue ended up with a Lachen apartment nearest Jack Frost (funky interior!) and my folks ended up with a Rangers apartment. Thank you Kerry and Sue! You guys rock.
Oh yeah. Kerry Ryan did a lot of design work for mountain management I recall. I think he painted some of the trail guide images (water colours from memory) and worked on the interiors of Hotham Central - the big rustic timber and stonework stuff. Very talented artist and designer, avid chook footer and mountain biker.
 
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Bogong

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Lachen Lodge was removed in about summer 1995-1996 to build the Lachen apartments. It sat across from Jack Frost next to Tinogra. The late Sue Livingstone arranged for the building to be relocated for charitable purposes. I think for some youth orientated charity. The building might be somewhere around Port Fairy now. Will check who the original members were - Ken Anderson, Vicki Adamson, Terry Sutherland, Bob… but it ended up that Kerry Ryan and my dad were the final members. Sue, Kerry and my folks redeveloped Lachen and Rangers the following year (96-97). Kerry and Sue ended up with a Lachen apartment nearest Jack Frost (funky interior!) and my folks ended up with a Rangers apartment. Thank you Kerry and Sue! You guys rock.
Oh yeah. Kerry Ryan did a lot of design work for mountain management I recall. I think he painted some of the trail guide images (water colours from memory) and worked on the interiors of Hotham Central - the big rustic timber and stonework stuff. Very talented artist and designer, avid chook footer and mountain biker.
Ah, that makes sense, now I know where it was. The newspaper article repeatedly mispells it "Larkin" which had me confused.

I maintain a basic list of ski club lodges in Vic and Tas with the dates they existed, so I thought "Larkin" had escaped me.
 

Tanuki

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Thanks, I had an email just three days ago from the president of a club lodge at Hotham asking about a proposed lifts, in particular a 2005-ish plan for a chairlift that went right down Australia Drift. I told him about the 2014 proposals and that in 1969 Playground chair was supposed to be built there, before it was relocated at the last minute. But he said there were other Drift chairlift proposals. So when you upload the other reports, l will be able to piece together a more full idea of proposed lifts (and other ideas) for Hotham over the years.

P.S. I write ski histories, so if Hotham RMB don't want the documents, I will travel anywhere at short notice to take them off your hands and I can promise that they will not gather dust on a bookshelf, rather they will be read and actively used in research and writing.
I've got an old trail map somewhere that shows the proposed avi gully lift.
 

Bogong

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I've got an old trail map somewhere that shows the proposed avi gully lift.
Thanks, I'd love to see a copy if you can dig it up.

After Gavin has uploaded a few more documents, I will be able to sit down, bang all the available information together and write up all the proposed lifts for Hotham in the last 50 or so years, hopefully with some sort of map. Then I will have something to send to people like that club president when I get questions about "the sleeping giant", which was a term used to describe Hotham's unused potential as a ski mountain.
 

Rimey

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I remember the zoo cart.
It would run up and down the road from Davenport to Hotham (central), pulled by a tractor. It collected and dropped off passengers along the way. There were slots to put your skis into, before you jumped onto the open air steel framed cart. So much better than a bus.

Found a photo on the Hotham facebook page: (Everyone on the cart looks very 1970's, with 200 cm skinny skis that pretty quickly sorted powder skiers from the groomer only skiers.)
zoo_cart.jpg
The tractor driver would come up th the bar at The Snowbird and request a TDC, Tractor Driver's Coke. Best described as an anti-freeze beverage.
 

Medicine_Shoes

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Just wondering what other ski resorts around the world are 'upside-down' like Hotham is? I mean with the main resort buildings primarily at a higher altitude than the bottom of the runs. Every other resort I've been to in Australia are the opposite of this.
 

Timmossy

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Lachen Lodge was removed in about summer 1995-1996 to build the Lachen apartments. It sat across from Jack Frost next to Tinogra. The building was relocated to NSW near Finley.
It was built 71-72 foundations 72-73 complete. The original members were Richard Power and brother and sister, Kevin McCarthy, Garnet Edwards, Graham Tippett, John Doyle, Brian Watson, Brian Challinor, later Ken Anderson, Vicki Adamson, Bob Scott, Lee and Pam Stephens, Kerry Ryan but it ended up that Kerry Ryan and my dad were the final members. Sue, Kerry and my folks redeveloped Lachen and Rangers the following year (96-97). Circa 1979 smouldered out (slow burn) the main common room. Six beds with a double bed and single bunk - slept 18. Managers room later installed mid 80’s.
Kerry and Sue ended up with a Lachen apartment nearest Jack Frost (funky interior!) and my folks ended up with a Rangers apartment. Thank you Kerry and Sue! You guys rock.
Oh yeah. Kerry Ryan did a lot of design work for mountain management I recall. I think he painted some of the trail guide images (water colours from memory) and worked on the interiors of Hotham Central - the big rustic timber and stonework stuff. Very talented artist and designer, avid chook footer and mountain biker.
As a kid we’d stay at Wongungarra and we’d dare each other to run outside and do a lap around Lachen with bare feet.
 

Gavin Crawford

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1972 Development Plan - a few of the map images need some stitching. The proposed direction for resort development was aimed squarely at MtHiggy (not Little Higgy - my bad). I think the pigmy possum stopped that. Also there are some rather interesting ideas, including proposed alternate access road and multiple possible new village sites. The maps alone are worth checking out. What could have been huh?
 

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  • Hotham Development VSA Clubs Report October 1972.pdf
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