Gems from the Mu­seum Store

Mt Buller News - - NEWS - BY MICHELLE STEVEN­SON, Cu­ra­tor NAMA

FOR many rea­sons mu­se­ums can never dis­play all their ob­jects at once.

Here (at Mt Buller’s Na­tional Alpine Mu­seum of Aus­tralia) I share some of my favourite ob­jects cur­rently rest­ing in the mu­seum’s store room.

Mt Buller has many leg­ends but one of the ear­li­est was Hel­mut Kofler.

Kofler mi­grated to Mel­bourne from his na­tive Aus­tria with his wife, Maria, in Septem­ber 1927.

The mu­seum has Kofler’s suit­case in the col­lec­tion – small, brown and slightly tat­tered it’s not much to look at, and I of­ten won­der what es­sen­tial items and prized pos­ses­sions Hel­mut chose to bring with him to Aus­tralia and what was left be­hind?

Born in Kla­gen­furt, Aus­tria in 1900 Kofler was an ama­teur ski­ing, div­ing and row­ing cham­pion, but came to Aus­tralia to teach swim­ming and div­ing at Port­sea.

How­ever, his ski­ing prow­ess was clearly im­por­tant to him, as he brought his ski­ing medals with him.

With the sum­mer sea­son over, Hel­mut and Maria spent their first Aus­tralian win­ter man­ag­ing the Hotham Heights Chalet.

The cou­ple then moved to the newly built Mt Buller Chalet for the win­ter of 1929.

They were the first to bring Euro­pean style hospi­tal­ity to the moun­tain, a tra­di­tion which con­tin­ues to this day.

Kofler reg­u­larly re­turned to Europe to keep up with the lat­est ski fash­ions, tech­niques and ideas and was of­ten quoted in the pa­pers of the day.

Charis­matic, al­ways a show­man, full of en­thu­si­asm and ideas he led the clear­ing of sev­eral ski runs at Buller, the first be­ing Shakey Knees.

Al­though it was longer than the Shakey Knees we know to­day and the align­ment was slightly dif­fer­ent.

The mu­seum holds a photo of Kofler ski­ing on Shakey Knees, slid­ing down the hill in a grace­ful arabesque dressed only in a sin­glet and un­der­wear; re­veal­ing that his show­man­ship and pride in his ski­ing skills weren’t with­out foun­da­tion.

Even to­day it would take a skilled skier to strike that pose.

Sadly Hel­mut’s life ended at age 40 in a tragic ac­ci­dent at the De­latite Sawmills along with his new (and preg­nant) wife ar­chi­tect and skier Peg Wilks.

Hel­mut and Maria had di­vorced in 1939 and she had re­turned to Aus­tria.

How­ever, Kofler’s legacy lives on in the restau­rant named af­ter him, the runs he helped cre­ate and the pieces of his life he valued enough to bring to Aus­tralia as well as those cre­ated here that are now in the mu­seum’s col­lec­tion.

KOFLER’S BAL­LET: Hel­mut Kofler’s fa­mous pose on the ski slopes of Buller was caught on cam­era - a copy of this photo sits in the Na­tional Alpine Mu­seum col­lec­tion.

KOFLER’S SUIT­CASE: With all his worldly pos­ses­sions packed into this small brown suit­case, Hel­mut Kofler mi­grated to Aus­tralia and forged the way for skiers on Mt Buller. His suit­case, a legacy to his ad­ven­tur­ous spirit is also in the mu­seum col­lec­tion.

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