The first ski lifts on Mt Buller

Mt Buller News - - FRONT PAGE -

THE very first day of ski lift op­er­a­tion on Mt Buller was July 3, 1949.

The devel­op­ment of this first tow came about as a re­sult of a dis­cus­sion at the an­nual gen­eral meet­ing of the Ski Club of Vic­to­ria in 1948.

One of the club’s ac­tive mem­bers Rob Sum­mers asked mem­bers if they would be in­ter­ested in a tow at Mt Buller and he sub­se­quently formed a com­mit­tee and took on the project.

Other than SCV mem­bers, the other ma­jor contributors to this first tow were the mem­bers of the Brighton Moun­tain Wan­der­ers (BMW) Ski Club.

The project group went and found an old truck en­gine and then had to mod­ify it to run on power kerosene as they couldn’t ob­tain petrol.

A ma­jor chal­lenge was find­ing ap­pro­pri­ate rope that could be used.

A lo­cal rope man­u­fac­turer called Kin­n­ears es­sen­tially sup­plied the prod­uct as the group was un­able to im­port rope from Europe.

Bourke Street was an al­ready es­tab­lished ski run.

It was de­cided to run the rope tow from He­li­copter Flat up the south­ern side of Bourke Street.

Per­mis­sion was sought and granted from the Forests Com­mis­sion to cut a trail up the south­ern side of Bourke Street thus sep­a­rat­ing the tow from skiers.

The project was worked on for 23 con­sec­u­tive week­ends lead­ing to the open­ing at the start of July.

Many prob­lems plagued the op­er­a­tion of the rope tow - in­clud­ing over­heat­ing, failed bear­ings, rope ten­sion and rope splic­ing.

Op­er­at­ing the tow also re­mained a chal­lenge and in­evitably peo­ple with an en­gi­neer­ing back­ground grav­i­tated to the role.

John Hilton-Wood had been part of the orig­i­nal con­struc­tion team and had sup­plied the dif­fer­en­tial from a troop carrier to help run it.

As John put it, “I ran that lift in 1950 be­cause I was the only one on the moun­tain who could splice the rope.”

It was Ernest For­ras who en­cour­aged Hilton-Wood to build Mt Buller’s sec­ond lift, an­other rope tow that ran down Bull Run through the Fun­nel in the cen­tre of the bowl.

Such were the times that a per­mit for the Bull Run tow was re­quested af­ter its con­struc­tion.

It was 1953 and bu­reau­cracy was some­what sim­pler.

And in 1954 Hilton-Wood ex­tended the tow to the bot­tom of Bull Run.

Rid­ing th­ese first two tows was a tricky chal­lenge, es­pe­cially Bull Run with its par­tic­u­larly steep pitch.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.