APIRA SKI CLUB
'This is your life'
During 1947 an Organising Committee including Kevin McDonald and Blanche Dall convinced the Australian Postal Institute – Victorian Division to form a new sports club, and on Nov.18,1947 Initial Application was made by the Institute to the Forest Commission for a site.
April 12,1948 Formal, detailed application was made: – construction to commence December,1948 for completion May,1949,cost 500 pounds (£ ) to be funded by a £ 7.10s levy on the 25 foundation/life members and a £200 loan from the Institute. Club membership limited to 80. Bookings open to all 4000 Institute members with priority to club members.
Oct.16,1948 – First Work Party – “at Stores Branch dismantling 3 softwood packing cases yielding 300 super foot of timber. Present 9am-1pm Bert Grey, Ron Lamb, Noel Feltcheer, Bob Ubigang, Kevin McDonald. Excellent party – hard workers.”
Nov.1,1948 – First constitution approved by A.P.I.
Dec.16,1948 – Site allocation The Mt Buller Recreational Reserve Committee allocated seven sites from the twenty applicants. API was allocated Lot 13. The first permissive occupancy was issued by the Forest Commission on 24/1/1949 for 5s with a 12 month licence for 2s 6p.
Jan. 1-3,1949 Survey Party “K McDonald, H Grey, F Norman, D Akeroyd. Accommodation- unofficial – YHA porch. Transport – Bert Grey Studebaker. Petrol – coupons (Ak) Cost £ 2/17/6. Work – marked out foundations, septic tank, took levels, checked water supply”. Work Parties every weekend including a full week at Easter and King’s Birthday. Usual attendance 10 – 12 hard-workers. Under extreme difficulties, they not only got all materials on site but successfully constructed the first Lodge in time for the 1949 season – a remarkable achievement !!!
Formative Years - the fifties
Other prominent early members were – B Murray, Keith Beyer, B Olle, Bob Hooppell, Harold Bloxon, Eddie Sandbach, Joan & Jeff Reidy, Bill Coutts, G Fielden, H Davies, Marj Pinkerton, Eunice McDonald, Merv Foster, Dick Thompson.
The API continued to make small loans and grants and provide meeting rooms. The ski club had full responsibility for operational matters. The early committees established well organised regulations and rules which were rigorously enforced eg. two compulsory work parties per year, membership forfeited for late payment of any fees or non attendance at work parties, membership probationary for one year.
Some points of interest:-
– First spring mattresses 1953, first hot water service 1954, first generator 1955.
-1952 season had permanent, paid resident (caretaker), John Hilton-Wood, later owner of Blue Lifts, employed to light the coke heaters, start the generator and burn rubbish for £ 1 per week 1953-6. Also, there were well attended Club social functions several times a year and an annual Melb Cup sweep.
-1953 Lodge supplies – 44 gal drum petrol, 4 drums kerosene, 8 gal. Methylated Spirits, 4 gals oil, 3 ½ tons (80 bags) walnut size coke. (Club had to supply bags)
– The Club was formally named the API Mt Buller Ski Club on 30/7/1956.
– The first building extension – creation of a lounge room and raising the roof for the sunroom – 1958/9. Financed by an £ 800 loan from API, a £ 3 levy per member and interest bearing debentures. Two Mansfield carpenters employed to work and supervise members on work parties.
Spreading the wings - the sixties
API opened associate membership to any public servants and there was an influx of non PMG employees, particularly teachers as members. Some who were later to play important roles who joined during this period – Ian Bound, Les Christensen, Don Deighton, Ron Edwards, Peter FFrench, Janette Fly, Roy Keith, Jack Kile, Frank Magee, Val Royle, Ed Tame and Bob Wake.
In 1965 the API cleared the £ 800 loan by writing off the remaining £ 300. In 1969,it regularised an annual grant of $75 plus 50c per ski club member of the Institute
The second re-development project – increase in accommodation to 24 in 6 x 4 bed bunkrooms, mains pressure water, electricity, re-cladding in fibro cement boards, storage areas in the basement – cost $14,000 and was completed in 1968/69 funded entirely from savings. Again, there was a combination of members’ labour and professional expertise with Aural Forras engaged as the builder.
Growing up - the seventies
This was mainly a decade of enjoying the much extended Club, preparing for the future and raising concerns about our ties with API and security of tenure of the site given our prime position and developments on the mountain.
Again, a number of members who were later to play leading roles joined the Club in this decade. They include Allan Curtis, Barbara Davies, Judie Dobie, Ern George, Greg Gurr, Colin Rowe, and Bruce Smith.
There were significant improvements in amenities – electric mains pressure hot water was installed and sewerage connected. “Lucky Eddy” newsletters commenced.
Leaving home - the eighties
A major building development which negotiated a jungle of red tape for approvals, cost over $200,000, was funded by a complex system of member loans and an intake of 40 new members and was only completed through great efforts by many members; the complex, tangled legal webs of incorporation, securing of the 23 year lease and breaking away from the API; financial planning to cope with vastly increased costs; changes to Club name, booking regs and the constitution; internal refurbishment of the Lodge; black Club caps and red Club jumpers. Ray Buczachy’s 80th birthday party in 1987: quite a decade in the history of the Club.
Enjoying the fruits - the nineties
Consolidation and modernisation sum up the nineties. Re-furbished bathrooms and bunkrooms, new whitegoods in kitchen and laundry, dishwasher, gas heating, new electric hot water services, the ultimate in fire detection and new electrical fault protection, web page, brochure, fax. As well, more new members, end of indexing of members’ deposits, some good seasons and leasing of the Lodge to La Trobe University in summer has led to considerable debt reduction. Smoking was banned in the Lodge, regulations widened to encourage families and a new set of Club jumpers produced.
Thank you to all members and friends whose contribution over fifty years has made the Club what it is.
Ron Edwards – President, November 1998