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Kiandra Pioneer Ski Club Life Members
NORMAN W. CLARKE
Kiandra is an abandoned gold mining town and the birthplace of Australian skiing. The town was situated in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales, Australia, in the Snowy River Shire inside the Kosciuszko National Park. Its name is a corruption of Aboriginal ‘Gianderra’ for ‘sharp stones for knives’. It was earlier called Gibson’s Plains, named after Dr. Gibson, a settler in the district in 1839.
In November, 1859, gold was discovered by mountain cattlemen, the Pollock brothers, and by March 1860, some 10,000 miners and storekeepers had raced to the scene. Initial returns were very good. A 9 kg nugget was discovered in river deposits under what became known as New Chum Hill. Kiandra post office opened on 1 June 1860 and 15 hotels and 30 stores set up shop. But by 1861, the Sydney Morning Herald was reporting a “mass exodus” and the easy pickings were exhausted.
The last mining operations finally ceased around 1905. Official total production recorded was 48,676 kg.
By late 1861 the population of Kiandra had dwindled to around 250 persons, but these hardy residents formed the nucleus of Kiandra Snowshoe Club which was to become Kiandra Pioneer Ski Club (1861) Limited.
Norwegian miners introduced recreational skiing to the snowbound mining settlement and before the winter of 1861 had manufactured over forty pairs of authentic skis using Mountain Ash and Spotted Gum timber. Ski races were held regularly with townsfolk, within a few short years races were held annually for locals and visitors. In 1861 the Kiandra Snowshoe Club was formed. The original purpose of the club was to organise ski racing and recreational events for the residents of Kiandra. As skiing as a recreational activity became more popular and access to the snowy mountains improved the club drew members from further a-field especially Sydney and in the 50’s and 60’s the workers on the snowy scheme. Over the years the clubs purpose evolved into facilitating accommodation for members and guests as well as organising intra and inter club competitions.
For almost 100 years the club operated from various public and private buildings in Kiandra. In 1954 it was deemed necessary that the club purchase land and build a lodge to accommodate club members, construction of the lodge was completed in 1956.
In 1962 it was decided that the club lodge in Kiandra be sold and the club seek an alternative site to build a new lodge. Initially Charlottes Pass was deemed the best location and plans for the new lodge were developed, however Charlottes Pass ultimately proved unsuitable (mainly due to the failure of the Thredbo to Charlottes Pass ski lift). Investigation into sites and lodges at Thredbo, Perisher and Selwyn ensued.
The original KPSC ski lodge at Kiandra was destroyed by fire on the 27th January 1969. Nothing remains of the old clubhouse.
In August 1966 the Tyrol Ski Club lodge at Perisher was purchased by KPSC.
As of 1966 the”new” lodge consisted of two four-bunk rooms, a living room with an attractive open fire place opening onto a sun balcony, a well equipped kitchen with a double stainless steel sink, a small drying room, and one bathroom containing all facilities. In the first week of March 1967 building began to extend the lodge to ten beds in three double rooms and the addition of a second bathroom.
In 1974 the lodge was again extended to enlarge the kitchen add a sauna and drying room and to increase the number of bedrooms to six. Further work was carried out in 1986 the bedrooms were enlarged and another bedroom and bathroom were added. In 2001 the kitchen and common area was modernised and the heating system replaced.