Skiing in Tasmania in the 1950s

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Many members of Spark Ski Club began their skiing days when skiing was a new sport in Australia. Jim and Fay Kerrison started skiing in Tasmania in the 1950s. At this time there were limited skiing opportunities in Tasmania with a club at Mt Field West in southern Tasmania and a club at Ben Lomond in the north, each with one rope tow. During this period The Launceston Walking Club attracted quite a number of Eastern European migrants who had been brought to Tasmania to work on the Hydro Electric Scheme. They brought with them an enthusiasm for the mountains which was lacking in the general population at that time.

"Why aren't you skiing?" ,they asked.

Skis were difficult to obtain in Tasmania, and beyond the financial capacity of many, so we did what the migrants did at home; made them! They taught us how to make them out of good old Tasmanian hardwood and fixed Kandahar bindings, which we got from Melbourne. Boots were regular boots with a groove cut into the heel for the bindings. These skis weighed a ton and certainly didn't have any flex.

Skiing at Cradle meant about a one and a half hour walk up to the snow line and about the same amount of time down. We enjoyed every moment. The photo is of Fay Kerrison in 1957, when she was 20, on her home-made skis.

This particular pair of skis didn't last too long as Fay managed to pick out one of the few bushes poking through the snow, came off and broke one of them. Jim Kerrison still has a pair of his homemade skis and bamboo poles with big baskets.