The Early Days
Thredbo in 1957 was not much more than an idea, road access through the valley from Jindabyne having only opened in 1956 thanks to the requirements of the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric Scheme. Thredbo Alpine Club (www.tac.org.au) was one of the first lodges built in the fledgeling resort and was the initiative of a group of Sydney University students who spotted an opportunity and had the enthusiasm and commitment to turn it into a reality.
Between September 1957 and June 1958 this hard-working group managed to secure a site, found a club, raise finance, and design and build a lodge that could accommodate up to twenty-eight people (eight double bunk rooms to sleep sixteen and six double bunk beds in the hallway spaces under the stairs as overflow space for twelve). Most of the original one hundred and fifty members came from the Sydney University Ski Club, the Faculties of Law and Architecture and the residential colleges.
The more things change….
In the sixty-five years since then, much has changed. Like the resort itself, the club has grown and now has a membership of four hundred and fifty, among them many second-generation families of original members. The building has undergone one major and several minor renovations and now provides accommodation for thirty-two people in sixteen twin bedrooms. What began as a ski club mainly focussed on winter in the mountains is now one that aims at promoting all alpine sports both winter and summer.
…the more things stay the same.
While there have been many changes, there remain some constants that speak to the culture at the heart of the club. Just as they did when the club opened, the members share a love of the mountains and the alpine outdoors, and this shared interest forms the basis of the club’s collegiate and connected community. The club was built with the blood sweat and tears of a volunteer workforce and continues to be run on a purely volunteer basis by a committee of its members. And probably most importantly, the opening party in 1958 set the benchmark for the continued importance of inclusive sociability in club life.
Where to next?
How a group of uni students came to be involved in creating a ski club and building a lodge in the very early stages of the establishment of what has become one of Australia’s major ski resorts is, to me, an intriguing story. That the club’s story continues to be vibrant sixty-five years later is equally interesting and I hope to be able to trace the arc of that history through old documents and photos so as to pinpoint the major moments that make up the Thredbo Alpine Club timeline.