HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF KAC
Kosciusko Alpine Club (KAC) was formed in 1909, the same year that the Hotel Kosciusko was opened. The founding President was Charles Kerry, father of Australian skiing (1857 - 1928), who had enjoyed the challenge of the early days of the Kiandra snow shoe races, piloting parties of Sydney enthusiasts to the old mining town, placing them on locally made skis, with leather toe-straps and leading them into the surrounding snow-swept mountains.
It was Charles Kerry who led the first winter ascent of Mt. Kosciusko on 19th August, 1887, having established a base camp at Friday Flat on the Thredbo River. Stimulated by Kerry’s exploits and the annual ski races of the Kiandra Snow Shoe Club - later known as the Kiandra Pioneers Ski club - a group of Sydney visitors to Kiandra formed, about the year 1898, what Mr Percy Hunter (one of KAC’s original founders) has called "a loose kind of ski-ing organisation in Sydney, known as the N.S.W. Alpine Club" (Australian Ski Year Book, 1928). The KAC archives list Major J. C. Waine (who fortunately had snow shoeing experience in Canada) as President of that group in 1907. The N.S.W. Alpine Club merged with Kosciusko Alpine Club in 1909.
“In about 1900 the Government had built a hut at Bett’s Camp with a view to making Kosciusko a summer resort. The hut was situated above the Thredbo escarpment. In those days the Summit trip involved a three-day horseback ride from Jindabyne with one night being spent at Bett’s Camp on the outward and inward journey. The route proved to be most impractical and a new road was built to replace it. It was at this time that the suggestion of an hotel arose. The idea was originally conceived by Percy Hunter who had visited Europe and envisaged the possibilities of snow sports and their attraction for tourists. Hunter’s idea was widely ridiculed, but with approval given by Sir Joseph Carruthers, the Premier of New South Wales, the site at Diggers Creek was chosen and the hotel built, on the side of the existing Sponars Lakeside Inn.” (Bottrill G., Devine R., Fox M., Glover J., House M. (1984) (eds.). The Kosciusko Alpine Club 1909 - 1984, St Leonards, NSW: Dinkum Press.)
Hotel Kosciusko. After taking two years to build, the Hotel Kosciusko was opened by the N.S.W. Government in 1909. Kosciusko Alpine Club took up residence in the Hotel for two weeks each July thereafter and a Club Room was provided. The Hotel remained the KAC’s base until 1938 when it moved to the Chalet at Charlotte Pass.
Huts. In 1934, White’s River Hut was built for use as a shepherd’s hut. In 1937, the Club came to an arrangement with Bruce Haslingden’s family to use the hut during the winter months in exchange for making some improvements, such as adding an extra bunk room, sleeping bags and chairs. The hut is important to KAC because it was the inspiration to obtain its own Club lodge. White’s River Hut is located just to the south of Schlink Pass, which is named after Sir Herbert Schlink, (President of KAC in 1918) and who was one of the early pioneers of skiing and ski touring.
In 1939 the Alpine Hut Company was formed by Oliver Moriarty. Individual members of KAC and KAC itself held shares in this company. The Alpine Hut was located at Brassy Gap, about 6km due east of Valentines Hut. Members of the Club used Alpine regularly until the 1960’s when it began to lose popularity.
Ibis hut was located on the slopes of Mt. Guthrie on the Summit road, a kilometer from the Chalet and overlooking Spencer’s Creek. It was a hewn granite building originally called Adams Hut. The Hut had been built by the N.S.W. Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission and was acquired in 1956 by the KAC. It provided low cost accommodation for those who wished to experience “rough and ready” hut life. It was advertised as “comfortable accommodation for six, with hot water service, gas laid on, inside toilet facilities, ample wood supply for £3/10/- per week (children half rates). The hut was sold in 1968 to the Park Trust because few members were using it.
Hotel Kosciusko remained the Club’s winter quarters until 1930 when the new Kosciusko Chalet was opened at Charlotte Pass. The Club officially moved its annual two week pilgrimage to the Chalet in August 1938 but had only been in residence one day when fire gutted the building.
KAC Lodges - In 1947 KAC was the first club to approach the Kosciusko State Park Trust to obtain a lease on which to build the Club’s first lodge at Charlotte Pass, which was completed in 1952. The original lodge was unfortunately burnt down in 1963 and rebuilt in 1964.
In 1969 the Club expanded its activities to the Thredbo area with the purchase of the 14-bed Jubilee lodge. The Board decided to sell this lodge in 1973 due to its small size, its inability to support a Manager and the rather basic accommodation. A small 20-bed lodge Alpenhof in Perisher Valley was purchased in 1974 with a plan to expand the site in the future.
In 1993 the Club purchased a 48-bed lodge in Thredbo and carried out extensive renovations in preparation for the opening of the 1994 season. The purchase provided Club Members with the opportunity to ski in all three major resorts as well as enjoying the many recreational activities offered to guests in Thredbo during summer. The Club remains a dynamic force in the skiing fraternity.
Betts' Camp July 1910