Established in 1962, we are one of the oldest clubs on Mt Buller and still retain the original feel of what it was like to stay on Mt Buller in the 60’s and 70’s with a modern twist.
In 1962 a group of friends decided to build their own ski lodge because of the shortage of beds available at short notice, and the costs of those that were available. A core of 20 people were at the first official meeting held at the Prince of Wales Hotel in St Kilda. A preliminary plan was designed and a second meeting was held and a committee was elected and a name was decided. The name Nutcracker was chosen. A “Nutcracker” was an implement used on the old rope tows that were on Mt Buller at the time and used to attach to the rope as the tow pulled the skier up the hill.
The initial members were:- Mike Morcom, David Langworthy, Max Cooper, Stan Darnley, Laci Toth, Don Williams 1 and Don Williams 2, Greg Anderson, Lee Chapman, Ian Thompson, Don Murray, Lou Jones, Imre Faraday, Joska Banhidy,Roman Sigel, Peter Coulson, Geoff Larkin, Ken Gaylard, Marie Anthony, Marilyn Garvey, Ross McIntosh, George Camakaris, Mike Lolagis and Geoff Wilkinson.
The necessary applications were made, plans lodged and construction details mapped out. The site was surveyed and in early 1964 work began on clearing away the trees and earth that needed to be removed. By Easter 1964, the first stumps were installed.
The Nutcracker building grew rapidly. One wonders whether we would have built it faster if we used the empty bottles from the beer consumed on site to add to the quality of the building.
In 1964 saw a tremendous snowfall and the framing was buried to within a few inches of the roof as some of our photos show. Due to the help of various people we managed to ski as a Club in 1964 usually staying at Mt Buller lodge. In those days, Saturday night was Club party night at one or other of the various clubs on the mountain. The Kooroora hotel had just been rebuilt after the fire that destroyed the original hotel in 1963. Alberg in its present form didn’t exist and “The Whit” was king and centre of the social life.
Came Spring 1964 and work recommenced. Work proceeded rapidly and despite some setbacks by early in 1965 the walls were complete and we proceeded to lay the roof. On the Labour Day long weekend of 1965 the whole roof was laid. First canite, then the roof battens, electrical wiring, followed by ACI pink bats, the prettiest insulation. (Pity you can’t see it coz its turned yellow with age.) After the pink bats the corrugated iron was laid and screwed down. We then had to wait to see if any of the screws had penetrated the electrical wiring. Fortunately none did. With the roof on the laying of the floor commenced and the rest of the building was completed without accident. All of the construction was done without the aid of power tools.
Easter 1965 saw a memorable event when Mike Morcom, David Langworthy, Lee Chapman and Ken Brain became the first people to reside in the building whilst others attending the work party stayed at Mt Buller lodge. On Good Friday the temperature fell to around minus 3 and the lodgers tried to get warm with hot toddies beside the kerosene heater that had been set up in bunkroom four. Huey sent it down and in no time snow covered the mountain. With no front windows the snow swirled through the main room which was only half floored.
However, by the Queen’s birthday weekend we had an operating lodge with temporary bedding, hot water and heating. The following summer saw further improvements but the loss of some members.
By the 1966 season was the Club was fully functional party when about half the people on the mountain wandered through at various stages of the night to partake of our hospitality. The club has over the past 50 years seen many members come and go. Members got married and divorced moved interstate and overseas, became successful and bought bigger and more luxurios apartments on the mountain. The seasons have been good bad and more often than not indifferent. Over the past 20 years snow making has contributed to the ongoing viability of the mountain as it has meant that despite there is always something to do some turns on even if the real stuff fails to come.
All during these years many of the Nutcracker members contributed to the development of Mt Buller by joing the ski patrol or serving as a members of the Mt Buller Rate payers association,the Victoria Ski Association and the Mt Buller Planning committee.
In the 1980’s the Club decided that it should have a resident manager for the ski season to welcome guests and ensure that the essential tasks around the lodge were completed. After a succession of people who did the job for a year the Club was fortunate to find Carol Renwick who has been the manager for many years. More recently Warren Smith has become our manager and he can be seen performing all round the mountain either for the kids at the skischool or in one in one of the bars late at night.
Like all organisations, the membership changes over time and the Club lost a number of members and gained some new ones. Michael Dawson, Matt Zapalla, Michael Griffiths, Gary Beith, Andrew Taylor and Mick Sheehan are the more recent additions to the membership whilst the Club has lost Roman and Dianne Sigel, George Long, Jimmy Colias, David Lester and Bob Jamieson as members.
The future challenge for Nutcracker is to adjust to the new market demands where people who ski, seem to want motel type accommodation rather than experience Club life. However if you want to experience a real ski experience then a Nutcracker Ski holiday is for you.