House of Welcome Table Talk

I discovered House of Welcome (HoW) following a discussion with a friend. I was talking to her about this class, telling her that I wanted to find an organisation that worked in the refugee space. One of the reasons for this is I strongly believe that refugees and people seeking asylum should be treated with respect when they come to Australia.  I know that our government doesn’t always do this and it makes me very angry, especially as someone whose family was once in this situation. How we treat migrants, refugees and people seeking asylum eventually makes it into our history books. I don’t want to just sit back and see these experiences and injustices pass by. 

In 2022, following the Novak Djokovic scandal, where he was held in an immigration detention facility, I became aware of the Park hotel in Melbourne where refugees were being held. After reading a newspaper article talking about the hotel; detailing the stories of people who were living there, how they worried about Covid, and that the health and living conditions were subpar, I was angry. I was angry and shocked that I did not know that this hotel existed. I was aware of the offshore detention process however I was not aware of the hotel in Melbourne. I was angry because neither the news nor newspapers were reporting on it. 

I kept asking myself why a country as rich as Australia was putting people through experiences like that? People who had been deemed as refugees by the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation. In my mind, my Australia could not do that. After all, I believed that we were a fair dinkum country that celebrated egalitarianism. I was also angry because the migrant experience is integral to Australia, to its identity and historical narrative. We are a country of migrants, whether it be recent migrants or migrants from 1788. As of the 2021 census 27.6% of the population were born overseas. That is why when I was talking to my friend I was immediately drawn to House of Welcome because I realised that this was my opportunity to get involved and have a say. 

House of Welcome is an organisation that welcomes, shelters and empowers people seeking asylum and refugees. It helps people of all ages, genders, sexualities, nationalities and religion. Their purpose is to ‘[t]o uphold the intrinsic dignity of each person by providing support and advocacy to empower the most disadvantaged and marginalised within our community.’ They achieve this through their activities and programs which address homelessness, destitution and social isolation among people seeking asylum.

For my project I am organising a Table Talk. A Table Talk is part of the listening component of the organising cycle. A listening session is a collection of table talks – where a small group of people discuss their experiences/stories in relation to an issue, or topic together around a table. It is a gathering of people where they share stories and hear the pressures that their community faces, usually on a particular topic and issue. These stories will decide on the pressures the majority of people face and what an organisation will first work on to solve.

My project will be the report that I write after the event, because that report will become a historical document. It will record the event, what happened, what was discussed, who attended and it will be of use to the organisation as it will guide their future actions. 

A Unique Perspective of Migration and Diversity

The Australian National Maritime Museum

Before this project, I was quite unfamiliar to the unique and important work achieved by the Australian National Maritime Museum. What I previously did not realise was the highly complex and diverse nature of Australian waterways and its associated stories of resilience and loss.

Upon our recent visit to the museum, I was amazed at my initial sighting of their Welcome Wall which has almost 30,000 names of people who have travelled from various locations to make Australia their home. The inscriptions not only highlight the diversity of the Australian community but further stress the museum’s central message for national unity and multiculturalism. Herein, while the Maritime Museum is home to significant naval vessels and boats, it is more importantly a centre for the many unique stories of human triumph and tragedy.

Welcome Wall at the Australian National Maritime Museum.
A Focus on Migration

Since the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788, approximately 10 million settlers have moved from across the world to start a new life in Australia. This significant figure is reflected in the over 10,000 objects in the Maritime Museum’s collection which relate to Australia’s rich immigration history. Whether beginning from Indigenous fisherman who initially explored the Australian waterways, or to the over 15,000 asylum seekers accepted in Australia between 2019-20, migration through the Australian waterways has continued to be a highly prevalent experience within the national identity.

My initial interaction with Australian naval matters was through previous readings about the SIEV-X incident of 2001. This tragedy brings to light the highly politicised nature of Australian maritime control, in conjunction with revealing the complexity of the waterways for being both a symbol for hope and immense loss. In this realisation, my research extended to the Maritime Museum’s work in displaying Australia’s rich immigration history.

Here, I found their 2020 National Maritime Collection conducted by Peter Dew. Drew’s repurposing of photographs from the National Archives incites commentary on the treatment of asylum seekers specifically during the White Australia Policy, but further extends his critique on current issues of non-European immigration. The striking images of Monga Khan and Gladys Sym Choon dressed in cultural attire is superimposed with the word ‘AUSSIE’. Through highlighting the struggles of integration for asylum seekers, Drew captures the paradoxical experience of non-European immigration to Australia and provokes important conversation about what epitomises a ‘real Australian’. In doing so, the museum does essential work to humanise the marginalised and difficult experiences of migration by sea. Through its exhibits, it challenges traditional narratives of national identity, to rather empower the diverse communities who lack agency to tell their story.

Monga Khan (left) and Gladys Sym Choon (right), AUSSIE poster by Peter Drew, 2020. National Maritime Collection.
Future Project

Despite not having begun volunteering work with the museum, the project will be based upon a donated object which can be potentially brought into the National Maritime Collection. I hope to positively assist the museum through continuing their work in growing awareness of the migrant experience to Australia. Through developing my understanding of the curatorial process, I hope to learn how to effectively empower and give agency to marginalised communities who reside outside traditional national frameworks. The Australian National Maritime Museum plays an important role in conveying the tumultuous experience of migration, where I look forward to future collaboration with their team to further investigate this rich history of Australia.

‘Sanitary Camp, Between Little Bay and Long Bay’

In so had proclaimed the New South Wales Government Gazette newspaper publication on Tuesday 30th August 1881, in response to a widespread deadly outbreak of smallpox only months earlier. The Coast Hospital, as it then became known, had formally opened in Sydney’s eastern suburbs area two years later – right on the ocean’s doorstep. Its sole purpose: as the NSW colony’s first infectious disease hospital, to operate in dealing strictly with the smallpox strain and other infectious diseases in an urban quarantined-based area.

The Coast Hospital in Little Bay NSW in 1883

For more than century later, the hospital – later renamed as the Prince Henry Hospital – continued to service world-class and pioneering medical healthcare, such as: utilising a state-of-the-art Operating Table engineered by the Zoeller & Ross firm in 1890; the Bubonic Plague of 1900; the construction of army wards in 1917 for First World War military personnel; the 1918 Spanish Influenza; the establishment of the first virus diagnostic laboratory in NSW in 1951 – which led to the discovery of Coxsackie viruses on Australia’s northern-eastern coast; pioneering the first kidney transplant operation in NSW in 1965; and opening in 1987 of Cardiac Catheterization Centre, Lithotriptor Centre (eliminating kidney stones with ultra sound waves) and AIDS unit.

The Prince Henry Hospital formally closed down in 2003, and thus, is now an established museum dedicated to the history of the hospital, staff, and patients.

The Prince Henry Hospital Museum in Little Bay NSW

Just wanted to be there…

‘Just wanted to be there.’

The reason given by Sister Alva Kelway Storrie for wanting to join the Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS) in World War II

My first day of volunteer work for the museum was to be rather exciting – but nothing I thought it seemed that was to be overall significant; I was instructed first to read over deciphered transcripts of old hospital correspondence, written at the turn of the century, by the hospital Matron to the Medical Supervisor. “Nurse A is now officially employed with us; so far, her conduct is good.” “Nurse B has resigned her position due to the recent death of a friend.” “Nurse C is unable to attend to work due to contracting typhoid fever; she will be on sick leave for at least two weeks.” Later, I was tasked to itemise (very) old nursing registration records and other credentials into an elaborate filing system. When I finally came to the very last two individual records, my fascination skyrocketed in wondrous illumination! Amongst the registration booklet for Sister Noreen C. O’Halloran was accompanied with a black and white photograph of her (in old age) and a letter. Upon opening the letter, I noted that it was dated 3rd June 1947 – and had been sent by the War Office in London acknowledging her national service. The last registration record was far more galvanising – the nurse (whom unfortunately I did not record her name) had far more documentation of her war service, including hand-written letters and numerous small photographs on location.

Photograph and letter from the War Office (London) to Sister Noreen C. O’Halloran
War profile display of Sister Margaret Augusta De Mestre at the Prince Henry Hospital Museum
War profile display of Capt. (Sister) Sarah Elizabeth Deane at the Prince Henry Hospital Museum

It then dawned on me, plainly, that the best thing I can offer to the Prince Henry Hospital Museum is to create a memorial – most likely an additional page to their own website, filled with profile texts, digitised photographs/documents (and perhaps a short film) – in tribute to the valiant nurses of the former hospital who gave their expertise, service and lives in times of war…

Nurses at the Prince Henry Hospital
Prince Henry Hospital Museum website

The A-Z of being an ABC: The Asian Australian Project

To be an Asian Between Cultures (ABC) is to be caught between two worlds: one of laidback sunshine and beaches, and one of family, culture and responsibilities. Created by and for young Asian Australians, the Asian Australian Project (AAP) creates a space where this unique cultural experience can be explored. AAP holds many social events throughout the year where community members can come together, engaging in everything from Clean Up Australia Day to AAP movie nights. It also offers professional development opportunities in the form of workshops and mentorship programs.  

However, AAP’s initiatives are nothing if not plentiful and varied. In addition to social and professional opportunities, it seeks to be a brave and forward-thinking voice within mainstream and Asian Australian communities, using its platform to challenge norms and preconceptions. To achieve this mission, it runs a journal that covers everything from Ramadan to interviews of the 2022 Federal Election candidates. AAP also runs fireside chats on topics such as being an Asian LGBTQIA+ person and food’s relationship with identity. 

Some of AAP’s initiatives – (from left to right: “In Conversation: Asian-Australians in Politics” article; Fireside Chats “Food, Identity & Culture”; Personal Branding 101 workshop)

 

While being progressive and interested in young people and contemporary issues, AAP also recognises the distinct connection Asian Australians have with family, culture, and language, and put out language resources to help Asian Australians initiate tough conversations with their families. For example, resources have been made to cover relevant vocabulary to be used in talking about colonisation and Indigeneity in languages ranging from Tagalog to Vietnamese.  

AAP’s social media post: “Acknowledgement of Country in Different Asian Languages”

Growing up as an ABC, I have always been interested in questions of identity and culture. I started volunteering as a writer with AAP in December 2021 and through their journal, have been able to explore the history of monolids and the double eyelid surgery and the development of Asian fusion foods. I strongly believe in the work that they do and am constantly impressed at the range of initiatives and loyal following they have, especially as they are a young organisation, having been established in 2019.  

For AAP, I will be creating a cookbook, with recipes sourced from the volunteers and the community. Food for ABCs is an incredibly multifaceted issue. While many of us are teased and taunted when we are younger for the way our food smells or differs from other kids’, many of us also find food to be a way in which we connect with our families and cultures. I hope to capture stories like these in the cookbook, exploring everything from the history of popular dishes to the family recipe carried down through generations, to the way someone developed their favourite hangover food.  


For AAP, this will provide a base for a project they may expand on after the semester, as well as being an experiment of what could be effective or ineffective in a project such as this. Additionally, the outreach to the community will be good exposure for the organisation and it will provide a platform for its volunteers to share recipes and stories about food.  

SJM: A Museum, A Memorial, and A Monument to Hope

The Sydney Jewish Museum is not just a museum; it is also a memorial, a place of remembrance, a figurative gravesite for a multitude without one.

This sentiment was presented to our class on our visit to the Sydney Jewish Museum (SJM) in early September. It has been a sentiment that has stuck with me. The power a place like this can have, the meaning it embodies, the facilitation of significant connection it enables – these ideas have rattled around my brain in the weeks following the visit. An idea like this challenges our understanding of what history means, what it does, what its purpose is to both individual lives as well as the life of society.

The visit to SJM was captivating to me, and immediately drew my attention as an organisation I wanted to approach to undertake this subject’s major project with. Alongside History Beyond the Classroom, I am also taking a subject this semester titled The Holocaust: History and Aftermath. The obvious link of subject matter seemed like a perfect opportunity to focus my semester’s study on this specific area. While being a History major in my degree, I also have a second major in Biblical Studies and Classical Hebrew, a part of the Hebrew, Biblical and Jewish Studies Department at the University. As such, this also felt like a perfect opportunity to link my broader subject areas together. In many ways, noticing these connections across the semester and my degree to SJM feels very poignant as a part of the concluding semester of my degree.

Inside the Sydney Jewish Museum, courtesy of SJM Collection (sourced from the SJM Website)

My first session volunteering with the museum occurred this past Friday. I had various opportunities to meet with several members of staff who were exceptionally warm and welcoming. I then received a brief orientation to the museum, particularly focusing on the curatorial department, from the museum’s head curator Roslyn. My project began with a day spent scanning the pages of an old scrapbook, an item donated to the museum in 2010. Contained within the scrapbook was a collection of newspaper clippings from 1960-1961. The story goes that this scrapbook was put together by the mother of the writer of these articles. Working my way through the scrapbook, I tried to conjure up a picture of the circumstances that lay behind its creation. A loving mother, immensely proud of her son who is off reporting as a correspondent in New York, or deployed to various other places over the globe including Jerusalem and Havana depending on current events. Each week, possibly eagerly awaiting a new edition of the paper to scan through for any reports written by her son, she would cut out any that were there in order to memorialise them within the scrapbook.

What struck me is the many ways this item has potential to hold significance. The stories that are told not just in the reports throughout the scrapbook, but also in its creation. The personal, familial significance behind its creation. For SJM, a section of reports covering the trial of Adolf Eichmann are their primary section of interest in the object. The remainder of my time volunteering with SJM will primarily focus on reading, analysing and reporting on the Eichmann related material in the book. What they offer the museum, how the reporter approaches reporting it, what he has to say about it will all be part of my analysis. For the museum, my work will hopefully help further colour in the broader narrative of justice, and the theme of upholding human rights through the prosecution of a major architect of the Holocaust. Through this, my hope is that this work might help SJM (even if only in a small way) to continue to be more than just a collection of objects, but that it might contribute to their goal for the Museum to be a place ‘where history has a voice,’ as their tagline states. That the museum may continue to be a monument to hope. That for those who enter the museum, that it may be a place that ultimately encourages and facilitates deep reflection on the past and the present, and the upholding and advocating of human rights today.

Sydney Jewish Museum: An Educational experience.

My initial expectations:

When I first contacted the staff at Sydney Jewish Museum, I was apprehensive. Jewish history is not something I am familiar with, and to be honest, it did not feel like it was my place to tell it. I worried that the history I would end up involved in would be too far away from what I knew. But then, isn’t that what a good historian does? Push out of their comfort zone, engage with projects that, whilst unfamiliar, excite them. The history the Museum involves itself with is delicate, it needs to be carefully considered before engaging with it. There is real tragedy within the objects I handle. It is quite something to hold in your hand a medal emblazoned with the Nazi emblems. It feels heavy. Not just in weight, but in responsibility. Am I the right person to tell this story?

The reality:

The reality of what I have experienced is very different from my expectations. The highlight of working at the Museum for hasn’t been about what objects they have, but the staff there too. My main contact in the Museum has been nothing short of wonderful. Accommodating and always willing to impart his knowledge upon me. The staff are incredibly welcoming and eager to help, this immediately quelled my fears.

Working with the Education side of the Museum is fantastic, as the work they do is so vital. Educating Sydney’s students about the horrors of the Holocaust and giving children a transformative experience is something to be treasured. There is so much experience in the Education team, and the care I saw them put into their work was inspirational. The Museum staff are truly dedicated to providing the highest quality educational experience to kids. It is a shame to me that my first interaction with the Museum was in university, and not in High School. Staff informed me that my former High School does now take classes there, which is good to see, as exposure to new perspectives in history is always important.

The project:

I have spent, and will spend my time at the museum cataloguing objects in their Education Collection. Personally, for me, it was a real joy to spend time cataloguing some German bank notes from 1922-1923. Having learned of the hyperinflation a decade ago at school, it was incredible to hold in my hands notes from this time. My colleague had so many interesting stories attached to not just the notes but their journey into the Museum’s possession too. But they showed so many signs of life too: A rip in the right corner, a fold down the middle, water stains and sun damage. Signs of a life well used. To get to hold something from a century ago is not something that one can experience every day. It speaks to the amazing work the museum does in curating their displays. Working in the Education office has impressed upon me that the students aren’t the only ones learning here.

The Australian National Maritime MuSEAum: The centrality of waterways to the Australian story

So much of the story of Australia is in the story of its waterways. Yes, the stories of Cook and invasion and European migration. But also the stories of First Nations communities connections with waterways, how these bodies have provided for and been cared for since Deep Time. The Australian National Maritime Museum is deeply aware of these huge and varied stories that they have the opportunity to tell. A new permanent exhibit, ‘Under Southern Skies’ has been designed to interweave these histories and perspectives, to create a coherent timeline and find connections with these many stories.

Constellation by Gail Mabo, 2014. An Indigenous artwork featured in the Under Southern Skies exhibit.

There is something fascinating about the many worlds that are encompassed by a maritime museum: boats of course, but also stories of migration, of dock unions, of coastal fashion, of aquatic life. There is somehow intriguing about the interplay of this incredible sense of eclecticism and coherence; of the many things tied together under this umbrella. I am not entirely sure as of yet what my project will look like, but the scope of this museum really excites me. As with so much of history, it is simultaneously huge, global, expansive – yet also intimate, specific, personal.

The social justice agenda of the museum really sparked my interest. Looking after the seas, they do incredible work around climate change. One of their ongoing exhibits displays artworks made out of found, discarded fishing net, done by Torres Strait Islander artists. The different ways that they are able to engage the public in these environmental issues is so interesting to me, and they have such an array of approaches. Currently they also have multiple temporary exhibits that use marine science to demonstrate the wonders of the oceans, the threats to it and the innovations working to save it. The museum does an amazing job of utilising a diverse range of disciplines and modes of engagement to try and engage with the public in a myriad of ways.

I am particularly excited by their integration of Aboriginal ways of knowing and understanding throughout many exhibits. It is evident that they take their role as storytellers on Gadigal Land very seriously and make an effort to go beyond acknowledging custodianship to championing it. This is especially vital for a museum that houses a replica of the HMB Endeavour, which is such a symbol of violence and oppression for First Nations Australians. I am hoping to learn how they go about engaging in processes of truth telling and working to champion these voices, as it is some of the most important history that can be told on this land.

Kisay Dhangal by Alick Tipoti. This is an artwork that features in a temporary exhibit called Mariw Minaral (Spirtitual Patterns). This exhibit shows the works of Tipoti, a Torres Strait Islander artist whose art shows what it means to be a sea person.

In a museum of this scope, it is easy to see the huge collection of boats as the most noteworthy or important acquisitions, but of course there are so many smaller artefacts and exhibitions that have so much to tell. My project will most likely involve writing the story of one such donation, that is still waiting to be fit into the larger narrative of Australia’s maritime history. It is such an honour and a privilege to be a part of this process and to have the opportunity to contribute to this public history.

Irish-Sydney in Transition.

Newspaper advertisement for the Irish Australian Welfare Bureau and Resource Centre Annual General Meeting – found in a pile of documents I’m cataloguing and digitising for this project.

A short way up from the corner of Devonshire and Randle St, right next to Central Station in the metropolitan heart of Sydney, sits the Irish National Associations building, the Irish Cultural Centre. Most know this building for the Gaelic Club. However, at the back of the club room, through a little door, sits the office of a perhaps lesser-known organisation, the Irish Support Agency (ISA).

The ISA was established in 1995 by Frank O’Donoghue under the name of the Irish Australian Welfare Bureau & Resource Centre NSW Inc. Today, the ISA, rebranded in 2015, is a registered charity responsible for a series of public-facing community wellbeing initiatives and events. Current service initiatives include things as diverse as men’s mental health walks, wellbeing seminars for mothers, visa information evenings, book clubs, and much more, giving a sense of the diversity in their work. The ISA also directly supports individual Irish and Irish-Australian community members, supporting people through crisis, unemployment, immigration, housing and accommodation, funeral, and repatriation.

As with Irish and Australian society at large, since 1995, the ISA has undergone unprecedented change. It is in understanding the nature of this change that my project sits. With increased community demand and funding, notably in 2005 with financial assistance from the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade, the ISA has grown from an entirely volunteer organisation to now employing two Outreach Workers and a Project Officer. In addition, with the organisation’s 2025 thirtieth anniversary approaching, the ISA has felt the need to understand better how they have developed over the years. Accordingly, the ISA has identified their desire to record a much-needed oral history, presented in video format, for their anniversary commemoration.

I will work closely with the ISA team to develop a clear outline of the organisation’s early years, including key personnel, service developments, and achievements. Through this project, by establishing a more transparent, more objective understanding of the ISA’s early history, we can look toward the planning and execution of interviews with early members of the organisation.

These interviews are critical to the ISA and offer the opportunity to shed light on the history of Irish Sydney at the turn of the millennia. One of the strengths of oral history is the ability to capture the stories and reflections of the past still in living memory. As many members within the Irish community here closely associated with the ISA start to age, there is a growing urgency to capture these stories. The stories attached to these members also hold the potential to not only tell the story of the ISA but also shed light on the motivation and experience of Irish immigration in the second half of the twentieth century, more generally.

My interest in the organisation stems from my ongoing interest in Irish history throughout my degree. I felt like it was time to give back to the Irish community in Sydney, those whose history has already given me so much. With my initial engagement and work to date, I’ve been met with great enthusiasm from the ISA team.

I’m looking forward to the weeks ahead.

Outloud: The RESPECT Program

Outloud is a social impact arts organisation which facilitates meaningful creative and performing arts opportunities and experiences for culturally and linguistically diverse young people in Western Sydney. Many of Outloud’s programs serve as early intervention harm reduction projects that target issues affecting young people in the Canterbury-Bankstown community. My project will focus on the history of RESPECT, a music program which educates boys in Years 5 and 6 about gender equality and family violence in a school setting.

In September, I visited Outloud for the first time to meet with Craig Taunton and Van Nguyen who both work on the RESPECT Program. Outloud is based at the Bankstown Arts Centre, and entering the premises, you very clearly get the sense that it is part of a thriving, interconnected hub of artistic activity. The night before we met was the first Tuesday of the month, and so the famous Bankstown Poetry Slam had taken place downstairs. Craig was pleased to inform me that an alumnus of the RESPECT Program had taken up the mantle of timekeeper for the night.

We quickly fell into a discussion about some of the most recent music videos uploaded to Outloud’s YouTube channel, including some very impressive fast rapping in Punchbowl Public School’s “A Good Foundation”. Craig and Van then guided me through some of the framed pictures on the opposite wall of rap performances that had taken place at Bankstown Shopping Centre during pre-pandemic years, explaining that hundreds of boys would usually take part.

Check out “A Good Foundation” below. I hope you appreciate the green screen backgrounds as much as I did— my personal favourite is the Bankstown Sports Club!

“A Good Foundation” – Punchbowl Public School (2022)

After visiting Outloud, meeting Craig and Van, and watching past musical performances, the community impact of this incredibly special program was undeniable. The sheer amount of young people that Outloud has supported to engage with the arts is such a meaningful feat to begin with. RESPECT goes above and beyond even this.

In Craig’s words, while Outloud as a community arts organisation is constantly cultivating artists in the Bankstown area, for this particular program, “art is a tool for engagement”. Over the course of 12 weeks, the boys learn from facilitators and family violence counsellors in a school setting, and write an original song which distils what they have learned. Not all the young boys will be transformed into career musicians (although their rapping is beyond impressive!). Most significantly, 98% of the boys come away from the program having developed a vital understanding of the harms of family violence and the characteristics of healthy relationships. Former participants have overwhelmingly expressed that promoting gender equality and preventing family violence are matters that are important to them.

In November of 2021, Outloud launched UNITY, a sibling program to RESPECT for girls and gender diverse students. This is a testament to the success of the RESPECT Program, as well as Outloud’s ongoing commitment to educating young people about healthy relationships and consent. With the launch of the UNITY Program, Outloud will continue to empower young people in Western Sydney by amplifying their voices in their community through art.

“I Want To Be Treated Equally” – The UNITY Pilot (2018)
“Stand Up and Make a Change” – Georges Hall Public School (2022)

Thredbo Alpine Club – a student initiative

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.

Thredbo Alpine Club in 1958
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.

Thredbo Alpine Club after the renovation in the 1980s (the original stone wall is still visible at the base of the building)
…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.

The Mountain
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.