Located near Mt Hotham on the Great Alpine Road at Mt St Bernard, 10 km from Hotham Heights village. Grid Reference 073 040. It is 300 metres north east of the site of the St Bernard Hospice.
The Wangaratta Ski Club was established in 1930 and for its first decade members skied at a number of locations. The most frequent trips were to the Feathertop Bungalow and the Horn Hut on Mt Buffalo.
The 1939 fires consumed both these ski lodges as well as another favourite, the St Bernard Hospice.
After the war the club decided to build their own accommodation and the relative merits of St Bernard and Feathertop were debated until a decision was made in favour of the former. The site was cleared in November 1945 before work on building a hut began in March 1946. The frame was prefabricated in Wangaratta, put on a truck and driven up the Ovens valley to St Bernard where it was erected relatively quickly.
Post war shortages meant that corrugated iron was unavailable, so an old tobacco kiln was purchased and the hut was clad in the second hand iron. A few kilometres up the Alpine Road, the Alpine Club of Victoria was also building a lodge close to the Hotham Heights Chalet. While the male members of the club built the hut, the female members concentrated on fitting it out and the hut was quite comfortable when the first skiers stayed there on the 8th of June 1946.
The hut survived the bumper 1946 snow season when other buildings such as Wilkinson's Lodge and Summit Hut (Mt Bogong) suffered structural damage. Like other early ski huts (such as the Rover Chalet) the Wangaratta Ski Club Hut, gradually grew into a lodge over the years.
Major renovations and extensions were undertaken in 1951, 1956, 1966, 1977 and more recently. The club also held the 'permissive occupancy' of the Feathertop Bungalow site from 1946 until the late 1950's, but took no action on building another lodge there. After it became apparent that Hotham Heights would develop into a ski resort, the club flirted with the idea of building there and considered Bill Spargo's offer of his hut at Golden Point for - 350. It also briefly held a site at Falls Creek in the 1950's, but again nothing was done.
In 1967 the club finally built its second structure, The Charles Derrick Memorial Hut at the top of Swindlers Spur, not far from Spargo's Hut. Derrick died nearby in 1965 while attempting to ski from Mountain Creek, Mt Bogong to Hotham in a day.
In 1955 the club bought the rope tow which had operated on Bull Run, Mt Buller and installed it on St Bernard. In 1958 it was supplemented by a home made tow on 'The Nursery Slope'. The St Bernard tow is 230 metres long with a drop of 70 m., while the Nursery tow is 150 m. long with a drop of 20 m.
Along with the Rover Lodge tow on the Bogong High Plains and the Tallangatta Ski Club tow on Mt Wills, these are the only ski tows in Victoria outside ski resorts.
Construction Sections of the lodge were built from 1946 onwards with additions built from materials that were favoured at the time. The lodge is clad in vertical wooden palings with a corrugated iron roof. It appears that none of the original corrugated iron cladding recycled from a tobacco kiln, remains.
Caretakers - Wangaratta Ski Club.
- David Sisson - pers comm.
- Notes above were compiled by David Sisson from personal observations, old ski magazines, discussions and from the book:
- " Snow on St. Bernard: 1930 - 1980, The Wangaratta Ski Club jubilee book." Edited by Bill Rowed & Graham Welsh. W.S.C., 1980.
Profile last updated 6 June 2004.