Mt Buller News

Belmore Ski Club history

- By ROB AIVATOGLOU

BELMORE Ski Club is one of Mt Buller’s first, having been establishe­d around 1949/50.

One of the founding members was Ted Gleeson (he sadly passed in 2018 aged 92) and his account of the club’s early days makes fascinatin­g reading.

Here is Ted’s account…

“I was invited to join this fledgling ski lodge in 1951 – one of the few on the mountain.

I’m not certain when entry fees were introduced but I certainly remember paying for a gas stove – an expensive item at the time.

I was proposed and seconded by Ted Yencken and Peter Trumble who failed to mention anything about buying these two luxuries!

Working weekends were mandatory in March and April when we were able to park near the old chalet site or at the bottom of Bourke Street.

This allowed us to carry winter supplies to Belmore viz building materials, grog, skis, personal winter gear, tinned food and even the completed kitchen bench.

During these treks mostly in single file, a pastime was to silently place part of your own load onto the haversack of the person in front.

Even a bottle or rock or two was enough to slow down the carrier who sometimes was unaware until he reached the lodge.

During an early winter working weekend, Ted Yencken and I arrived at Belmore in the dark to the sounds of loud music and raucous laughter.

Belmore was having an allmale party.

On entering, the scene was chaotic.

A huge bath tub filled with snow sat on the floor of the main room out of which a curly head emerged.

Our honorary architect Joe was its owner who crawled out to the ear-splitting sound of the famous gong, totally blue with cold and totally naked.

A number of these strange and original accomplish­ments occurred from time to time which earned us arguably the rowdiest party club on Buller i.e. until wives and children began to appear!

In time, some early members began to marry setting the scene for the arrival of a second generation of Belmorians.

By 1960, school holidays provided a wonderful opportunit­y for young kids to experience the unique conditions of life in the snow – a subdued life though compared to that of their parents.

My wife Althea, and I with our three children spent many school holidays with the Yenckens, Pallisers and Southeys whose progenies continue their use of the club to this day.

In fact, these youngsters and their children now represent a third generation as grandchild­ren of early members.

On a prearrange­d long weekend each year during the winter, Ted Yencken and I hosted a friendly gathering by inviting a number of nonmembers to share with us the delights of Belmore and the magic of being encircled by that white stuff.

Loud music precipitat­ed rousing songs such as “Wish Me Luck” and “Rule Britannia”, “Land of Hope and Glory”, “There’ll always be an England”, “Long way to Tipperary”, “Roll out the Barrel” and a Vera Lynn track or two.

Each song sent a signal for the next to be even more boisterous.

Another unique party trick consisted of “horizontal diving”.

This daring sport involved opening the windows in the main room, running from the other side near the kitchen bench and diving out onto the snow which had piled high up to the window sill.

On an occasion, one of the competitor­s finished his run tangled up in a tree, much to the mirth of the spectators.

At this point it should be recorded that skiing too was a popular pastime during our many vacations!

It was taken seriously for most were experience­d enough to tackle practicall­y all runs with the possible exception of Bull Run.

Tows of varying shapes and structures conveyed us around the mountain so plenty of skiing was available – no chair lifts though, just nutcracker­s, T-bars, rope tows and poma lifts – very advanced on earlier days when we walked everywhere.

Those from this era all have vivid memories of “the long drop”.

Mine are much the same but it was not very pleasant having stumbled some 50 metres through deep snow at 3am in the lightest of clothing - and snow boots.

On arrival, one was greeted by a member’s contraptio­n which played “Twinkle, twinkle little star …” and so this lonely isolated small haven became known as “The Music Room”.

As years went by, it was decided to install a proper, more convenient and modern facility downstairs in the main lodge.

Even so, navigation of the unlit steep stairs presented a degree of danger although there is no record of any fatalities.

On completion of this modern amenity, it was considered appropriat­e that the old, outdoor dulcet toned convenienc­e be demolished or should we say, filled in.

A photo exists somewhere of flames and smoke bellowing from our precious comfort station.

Many old and bold skiers must wonder if present members and guests have as much clean fun and serious skiing as we did.

Probably they do in a more refined way and in keeping with an elegant atmosphere.

If not, try harder – and the ghosts of the past will look down on you with envy.

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 ??  ?? THE ORIGINAL: The first Belmore Lodge as it was back in 1951.
THE ORIGINAL: The first Belmore Lodge as it was back in 1951.
 ??  ?? THE NEW: Belmore Lodge as it is today.
THE NEW: Belmore Lodge as it is today.
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