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More than 40 years of Hotham history through the eyes of Bev Lawrence

More than 40 years of Hotham history through the eyes of Bev Lawrence

Mount Hotham reflects on one of its most loyal mountaineers, who has been part of Hotham development and history for over 40 years.

Last week, long time employee of Mount Hotham, Bev Lawrence, celebrated her 70th birthday on the mountain.

As Bev says about her time at Hotham, “I literally started from the bottom up”. Bev came up to Mount Hotham forty-odd years ago, endeavouring to build a ski lodge with a group of people, known today as APIA Ski Lodge.

Around the time Bev was building the lodge, she was also looking for another job which would allow her to live more permanently on the mountain.

Bev ended up landing her first job cleaning the public toilets and helping with calls from the RACV.  She used to escape and help the ski patrol with sweeps, before doing her ski test and starting her career in ski patrol for the following 25 years.

“I started off doing downhill then moved on to cross country doing things like sweeps and helped out around the place,” Ms Lawrence said.

“I did night skiing too, which operated three nights a week from 6.30pm to 10.30pm, so it was quite long - had some hilarious times doing that – and in that time, I was managing the APEA Ski Club.”

Since then, Bev has also worked with the Mount Hotham Skiing Company removing the old Brockhoff poma, and building The Village Chair and the Summit lifts.

“When they were pouring concrete, and putting the towers in, there was always a chopper around.”

“I was taught how to marshal the choppers, which was always fun. You would always try to be around, at the end of the day, when they were coming back to the Corral Car Park, to get a lift back in the chopper.”

“I also helped with fitting and splicing with new lift cables which was a fascinating process.”

Over the years, Bev also worked as a roustabout in a shearing shed in Omeo, picked chestnuts and spent ten back-to-back winters between Hotham and Alaska.

Her skiing journey started when she landed a job with the Blind Institute. She had never skied before but before she knew it, she was going on two to three ski camps a year and staying at Howmans Gap Camp near Falls Creek.

“I learnt to ski by doing a half hour lesson with one of the staff and then they went back to Melbourne and left me there,” she said.

“I practiced madly and worked in the kitchen at Howmans Gap to pay my way, and then they came back and I was starting to teach blind people.

“I eventually took them up the Summit T-Bar at Falls Creek, which was always very exciting having someone totally blind relying on you.”

Bev Lawrence now works for Mount Hotham Alpine Resort Management Board as an Environmental Officer, and spends most of her summer on revegetation projects around the mountain.

In 2016, Bev and the revegetation team of four planted over 37,000 plants into Slalom Gulley. The Green Army joined them for a week and gained valuable insight into the rehabilitation work.

“It was getting busy at the lodge and ski patrol was getting busier and busier – I had no time to myself at all so I decided to retire from patrol and was approached to get involved with environmental initiatives which have since grown from there.”

“I always had an interest in the outdoors but I didn’t have an environmental background, it was all taught here by undertaking ecology courses.

“I made some interesting identifications in my early days and was guided by Liz MacPhee who is a horticultural scientist and specialist in high altitude rehabilitation – so I had an excellent teacher.

“Staff from La Trobe University and Biosis were also available for advice and info. It has been an interesting time on Hotham and always lots of fun,” she said.



05 August 2017