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Mount Hotham comes alive with history

Mount Hotham held the Annual General Meeting of the Australian Alpine Snowsports and History Association (AASHA) over the weekend.

The meeting acted as a place for historically interested minds to share stories and learn history about Mount Hotham, and attracted visitors from all over Victoria who brought with them a diverse range of historical stories and information to share.

Many who registered were members of various alpine historical societies including Perisher Historical Society, Mt Buller Historical Society, Thredbo Historical Society, NAMA, Falls Creek Historical Society and representatives from Tasmania and Mount Hotham.

Chairperson Gratton Mullet of the Gunai Kurnai tribe, the traditional owners of the land, opened the AASHA Conference with Welcome to Country and acknowledged the association of the original owners with Mount Hotham.  Mr Grattan’s presence at the AASHA meeting was symbolic of keeping history alive, having carried their history from early times right through to modern day adaption.

There were three guest speakers on Saturday who spoke of their association with Mount Hotham and Dinner Plain.

Malcom Macpherson prepared a presentation on the history of Dinner Plain from the early days of cattle grazing to the present times and spoke about his published book Dinner Plain: History of the Alpine Village. Mr Macpherson said that his interest was in trying to understand how there was freehold land amongst an area that was dominated by public land.

“I was fascinated years ago, I couldn’t understand why Dinner Plain and other areas were islands of freehold in a sea of public land,” Mr Macpherson said.

“I traced the early history of land use and then the challenge the developers had over the years.

“June last year was the 30th anniversary of the village since it opened, and about a year ago, I was asked to write a book about the development of Dinner Plain as a ski village.

“The more people who understand the history in the region and its activities, are better informed when it comes to the discussions about the futures,” he said.

Malcom Pearse was also a guest speaker for the conference on Saturday who was an early Hotham skier and businessman who became associated with Mount Hotham in 1960.

Mr Pearse spoke about his association with the mountain starting out in the ski rescue services. On 13th February 1967, Mr Pearse received a site agreement for the purposes of building a ski lodge which he named Pearse Lodge. Later, he built what is known today as The General Store, the local watering hole for Hothamites.

Andrew Ramsay is a former Mount Hotham identity to the Resort Management Board and Mount Hotham Skiing Company who prepared a presentation on the ten people who have shaped Mount Hotham.

President of the AASHA Allen Fredricks said that it was important for people to collect history and preserve it in one place and the AASHA was an outlet to help reach that goal.

“Part of our charter is to give them support. If we see the possibility of someone wanting to collect that history and display that to the public, we have a role in trying to support them as we did at Falls Creek for a small degree, it was their initiative but we gave them moral support,” Mr Fredricks said.

Tasmania have quite a long history, there are collections in people’s garage and what have you, but a lot hasn’t really been documented in any one place.

“There are people who know the history but there is no formal body yet to bring it together in one place in either northern Tasmania or southern Tasmania,” he said.

01 May 2017