History of Club
Highway Alpine Club's Perisher Lodge received it's first guests in winter 1964 the famed bumper season. Most of building was buried in snow, access in and out was via a tunnel dug from the winter entrance out and under the deck. It was not possible to open the windows more than a few centimetres as there was a solid wall of hard packed snow up to and over the eaves. Only the front part of the roof and front lounge room windows were visible above the snow. There are stories abound about members skiing straight over the roof.
The building was designed by Gunar Braccs a founding member, an architect employed by the Electricity Commission ofNSW.
The lodge accommodated 16 guests in the four by 2 bunk rooms and two by 4 bunk
family rooms, which was modern for it's time as ski lodges of that era usually only
provided large communal bunk rooms. Guests shared the communal lounge, dining and kitchen facilities as well as the communal men's and communal woman's bathrooms. Heating was provided by a huge oil furnace located in the basement drying room, the heat circulated throughout the building via a vent in the lounge room floor located roughly under the current gas heater.
In the basement there was a large bunk room know as the 'crash' officially intended to
provide safe refuge for skiers caught in bad weather, but more often use as the bachelor quarters or for weekenders with somewhat primitive bathroom arrangements which unfortunately remain the same to the present day. The 'crash' was later subdivided to form the number 17 bedroom and a games room.
Guests paid a deposit with their tariff which allowed access to the well stocked food store operated on an honor system by the lodge captain. The food store was necessary as the only shop in Perisher being the ski centre which sold and hired out ski equipment and provided limited supplies of bread and milk. The Man from Snowy River and the Sundeck were the only hotels and social gathering point for lunch, apres' ski drinks with bistro style meals and live music.
The lodge operated similar to today being self care with a Lodge Captain to roster shared chores each week As there was no garbage service, a roster was also drawn up for guests to burn off food scraps and paper in the basement incinerator, or to crush the cans in a primitive crushing device in the basement workshop. Cans and Glassware stored until summer for disposal.
Access to the lodge in winter was via a shuttle bus from the Sawpit Creek carpark, (now the Park entry pay station) and Smiggins Holes where you transferred into a snow cat which in most cases dropped you off at Ben Bullen as the heavy Bombardier or Nodwells regularly got bogged in the deep snow that built up across the back of the lodges along Wbeatly ridge. From Ben BuUen you dragged your suitcases along or sunk into the thigh deep snow while struggling under the weight of a backpack to reach the lodge, sometimes having to make several trips.
In 1995 when negotiations began on our third lease it was decided that time had come to upgrade the building to modem ensuite accommodation. At that time the club extended it's membership from the original limit of 110 to the current 160 membership and began the planning of the current building.
The lodge taken in 1970's (Alan Simpson, Jan Macfarlane and Venda Holland
photographed waiting for the Saturday Snowcat)