Tom and Elyne Mitchell are extraordinary people, both as a couple and as individuals. Their involvement with the Snowy Mountains covered multiple facets of their lives, grazing, skiing, writing, exploration and government.
Tom was born in 1906. He spent his early adulthood at Cambridge University from 1925 to 1930, when he returned to Australia, and the family property "Towong Hill" near Corryong, Victoria. At that time, the property was 17,000 acres of prime land beside the Murray River, but today has been reduced to 2300 acres, as sections have been split to various family members.
Tom joined the military and was on the Burma Railway and survived the hideous Changi Camp in Singapore between 1942 and 1945. It left an impression on him for the rest of his life, and resulted in the construction of a Chapel on his property, in memory of his mates lost during the war.
During his youth, he was an Australian champion downhill skier, and long time member of the Australian Ski Club. He and Elyne were the first people to ski the western slopes of the main range, including the demanding runs of "Little Austria".
From 1946 to 1976, he was a Member of the Parliament for Victoria, and Attorney General for two terms.
In 1947, he and Elyne, plus Ossie Rixon set off in two four wheel drive vehicles to become the first people to cross the Alps in a motor vehicle. One, a Willys army jeep, sits in Corryong to this day. While this journey would not be acceptable today, for environmental reasons, it was a serious undertaking at that time.
Tom passed away on 4 February 1984.
Elyne Mitchell (nee Chauvel) was born in 1913 in Melbourne.
Her father was General Harry Chauvel of WW1 fame. (He commanded the ANZAC Mounted Division Light Horse and the Desert Mounted Corps). At the age of two, she moved to Europe, and lived in difficult circumstances until her return to Australia.
She married Tom on 4 November 1935, and they had four children, Walter, Harry, John, Honor and Indi. Walter died in May 1972.
John was born in 1955 and is married to Sue (nee Findlay). They now run the family property at "Towong Hill".
Elyne is most famous as a distinguished author of numerous childrens books on the Snowy Mountains, in particular the Silver Brumby series, based on the area around Cascade Hut.
The books include Brumbies of the Night, Dancing Brumby, One Thousandth Brumby, Silver Brumbies of the South, Silver Brumby, Sliver Brumby Silver Dingo, Silver Brumby's Daughter, Son of Whirlwind and many others.
Her energy and vitality has always been extraordinary. In the seventies, she continued to ski in strong parallel style, well into her sixties, as I well remember trying to keep up with her on the steeper slopes of Thredbo.
Elyne was honoured by a Tribute Weekend of Festivities in the Snowy Mountains in 1999. Elyne passed away in Corryong, in March 2002, and is sadly missed.
"Life is about achievement and service and doing something for your country." - E. Mitchell.
Olaf Moon 2002, from an interview with John Mitchell.