Introduction: Peter Southwell-Keely is a well-known and respected keeper of the history of skiing in the Perisher Range area. Most recently, he completed "Highway to Heaven", a history of Perisher and the ski resorts along the Kosciuszko Road. This wonderfully illustrated volume is available from the Perisher Historical Society. PHS is actively working to preserve the skiing history of the area. Get in touch with the organization if you are interested in things historical, have some interesting old stuff that you think should be preserved or just want to be informed about the activities of the group.
As many will know, recreational skiing in NSW began in 1861 as a by-product of the short-lived Kiandra gold rush (i). The fortunes of Kiandra waxed and waned and, for almost 50 years thereafter, it was the site of the only snow sports in Australia. The type of skiing practiced at Kiandra was downhill (a straight schuss without turns) and jumping. There is no evidence in newspaper reports that cross-country skiing was practiced at all (ii).
In 1909, the NSW Government built the Hotel Kosciusko (now
Cross-country skiing began in earnest when KAC introduced the Summit Badge and Summit Trophy in 1913, the first cross-country competition in Australia. The aim was to go from the Hotel Kosciusko to the Summit of Mt Kosciuszko and return within 10 hours for men and 12 hours for women. A completed trip gained the successful person a Summit Badge and the fastest trip in any season won the Summit Trophy for that year
Within a few
This five-mile Australian championship race began at the foot of the Kerry Course, ascended the Kerry, then up the Percy Pearson Run to the Gates of Heaven, went across the Plains of Heaven, around Mt Sunrise to
The formation of the Ski Council of NSW coincided, almost directly, with the opening of the Kosciuszko Chalet in 1930 by the NSW Government. From then on until the late fifties, all major skiing competitions, both alpine and cross-country, were held at the Chalet. A
With the development of Perisher Valley as a resort came the recognition that it possessed ideal terrain for cross-country trails and competition. Apart from the Perisher Cup, the first major cross-country competition involving Perisher was the inaugural Paddy Pallin Classic in 1965. The course ran from Round Mountain to Perisher Valley and involved only six competitors. Bad weather made the event treacherous and the
From 1966 onwards the Paddy Pallin Classics followed different courses until they settled on a route that, in general terms, went from Perisher to Charlotte Pass, back to Perisher, to Smiggins and then returned to Perisher (xi)(photo at left - Paddy Pallin classic start - 1984). The longer Paddy Pallins used two circuits of the course. The Paddy Pallin Classic ceased in 1999 but its tradition continues as the Snowy Mountains Classic (xii).
The opening of the Sverre
Other major cross-country races include the KCros Tour, Boonoona Open, NSW Night Relays, the KAC Cross-Country Classic, Laser Biathlon NSW, Charlotte Pass Open, the Sundeck Handicap and, frequently, the Australian Open Championships.
i. The Sydney Morning Herald (1861), 6 August.
ii. Lockyer, N. (1900) The Town and Country Journal, August 11, p.38-39.
iii. Ward, G.R.T. (1969) The Diamond Jubilee of the Kosciusko Alpine Club, p.39.
iv. Southwell-Keely, P.T (2009) Out on the Tops – The Centenary of the Kosciusko Alpine Club, p.39.
v. Ward, G.R.T. (1969) The Diamond Jubilee of the Kosciusko Alpine Club, p.41.
vi. Southwell-Keely, P.T (2009) Out on the Tops – The Centenary of the Kosciusko Alpine Club, p.35.
vii. Ward, G.R.T. (1969) The Diamond Jubilee of the Kosciusko Alpine Club, p.47.
viii. Southwell-Keely, P.T (2009) Out on the Tops – The Centenary of the Kosciusko Alpine Club, p.51.
ix. The Australian and New Zealand Ski Year Book (1934), pp.140-142.
x. Pallin, P. (1966) SKI Australia, pp. 32-33; 63-64.
xi. The Australian Ski Year Book (1969), p. 63.
xii. Southwell-Keely, P.T. (2013) Highway to Heaven – A History of Perisher and the Ski Resorts along the Kosciuszko Road, pp.211-212.
xiii. NSW Ski Association Annual Report (1980), p.8.
Link Legends (maps and photos):
1. AusChampCrs01c; Map showing original Australian
2. AusChampCrs02c: Australian Cross-Country Championship course, 1933. ASYB collection.
3. PallinP03c: Start of 1984 Paddy Pallin Classic. Hearl collection (photo on the top left)
4. The Nordic Shelter circa 1995 (photo on bottom left)