In the beginning
The Ski Club of East Gippsland is one of the oldest ski clubs in Victoria, beginning in the 1920’s as the Omeo Ski Club, a branch of the Ski Club of Victoria. The great alpine fires of 1939 burnt many of the old High Country huts used by skiers on their travels, and the ravages of World War II put the club into recession for the duration of the war. Once the war was over, it became clear that the Omeo population could not support taking on a lease of a site for the lodge at Mt Hotham, so the residents of the Bairnsdale area were introduced to the ski club. For a while the club was known as the Gluhwein Club, before becoming the East Gippsland Ski Club in 1952. Finally, in 1957, the committee changed the name to The Ski Club of East Gippsland, and this name is maintained today. In early times, members walked, skied and found transport as best they could to Mt Hotham, staying in cattlemen’s huts along the way.
Our own lodge
The time came for the club to build their own structure at Mt Hotham, and in 1953 Fred Ward (Life Member) selected the site on the side of the Davenport run, where the lodge would be sheltered from northerly winds, have a ready supply of spring water whilst having commanding views from Whiskey Flat Swindlers Creek and out to the High Plains. Initially, the hut consisted of one room with four bunks. In 1957 a toilet and storeroom were added. 1959 saw the addition of a kitchenette and 2 more beds. This building was used long after the new lodge was completed and it became known throughout the club as “the Annexe”. It was finally demolished in 1988. 1961 saw the building of “the new lodge”, a building with a large stone fireplace, lounge, kitchen, dining room, men’s and women’s bathrooms, drying room and ski-room, as well as 4 bedrooms, each with four beds. The new lodge was opened on the Queen’s Birthday weekend, 1961 and weekend accommodation was available for £4 10/- , which included all meals! The club still provides wonderful breakfasts and dinners to all of the members and guests who stay at the lodge. The lodge was extended again in 1983, 1988 and has been renovated many times since, including renovation of the bathrooms in 2004, upstairs bedrooms and outside cladding in 2012, and it is hoped that 2013 will see the completion of this phase of renovations and extensions. Over the years, the club has endeavoured to maintain it’s East Gippsland identity, and boundaries have been drawn to determine eligibility for membership. Today, membership for our non-profit club is considered for those living in the portion of Victoria east of longitude 146∘35’E and south of latitude 35∘S.
In 1959, the committee held a competition to design a club emblem. The winning design was that done by Betty Pearson, incorporating the colours red, white, black and blue. The original club emblem showed Mt Higginbotham flanked by blackened snow-gums, so prominent in the area, and a pair of skis and poles with the letters SCEG on them. Over the years, the club emblem has been changed and modified, always with history in mind. The original club emblem is maintained on the verandah of the lodge today.
Not Below 5000
Club member Jenny McLennan has written a detailed history of the Ski Club of East Gippsland. This book is a wealth of knowledge for members and guests. We thank Jenny for her valued contribution to the club archives. Copies of the book are available in the lodge, and by contacting the club secretary.