Brisbane, QLD

Sunday, April 3, 2011


My parents struggled for five years to build a house and then they continued working hard to pay off the home loan and to educate my brother and I. I knew not to ask for much because there was little money left after paying the bills. So when the PE (Physical Education) teacher said he was organising a ski trip to the Snowy Mountains during the school holidays, I knew I wouldn't be able to go because my parents couldn't afford it. Being a mad sports enthusiast, I couldn't think of a better sport to try than snow skiing, so I plucked up the courage to ask my parents if I could go. I didn't get too excited because I was pretty sure the answer would be, "No, we can't afford it." To my utter surprise, there was no answer for a while and after a short discussion between Mum and Dad, they said I could go, as it would be a good experience for me. My knees trembled and my heart was racing with excitement, I couldn't believe my luck! My Mum knitted me a jumper and sewed me a jacket and in September 1958 I went on my first ski trip, I was 16.

Canberra's National War Memorial
Early in the morning, a busload of excited teenagers, accompanied by a few teachers set off for Kiandra in the Snowy Mts. On the way we stopped at Canberra, the capital of Australia. We visited the National War Memorial. We were very interested in the Japanese midget submarines, that had been caught in Sydney Harbour during the war. However, we were more excited about getting to the snow. Many of the kids had never seen snow before and it was ten years since I had left England so it was a distant childhood memory. It took all day to get there and we arrived at night and there wasn't any snow around our accommodation, which was an old guest house and a collection of spartan huts.
Judy outside our hut.
There was no heating and a sheet of ice covered the shower floor. I shared with five other girls. The next day we couldn't wait to get started with our ski lessons. Our bus took us to the ski slopes. Skiing then was nothing like it is today. We had long wide wooden skis and leather boots. No fancy clothes, just a tracksuit or jeans.

Skiing down 
Walking up
But we learnt to ski and we had the best fun. There were no chair lifts, we had to walk up to the top of the hills and then slide down (sometimes on our backsides) in a few minutes.

(From Lto R) Me, Jean and Carol snowballing.

I googled Kiandra to find a map and to my surprise learnt that the town doesn't exist any more. It was an old gold mining town back in the 1800's and Norwegian miners introduced snowshoeing and  skiing. So Kiandra was the birthplace of skiing in Australia. Kiandra had one of the first Ski Clubs in the world. Now there is nothing there, and the grand ski resorts are situated a little further south and in northern Victoria. There were no fancy Apres ski clubs, we made our own fun in the evenings.
Apres Ski fun-our teacher presents the bus driver with an award.
We visited caves and The Snowy Mt Scheme. 
Besides skiing we were taken to caves and the famous Snowy Mts. Hydro-electric Scheme, which was still being constructed.   The Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme is by far the largest engineering project ever undertaken in Australia. It is also one of the largest and most complex hydro-electric schemes in the world. Another day we were taken to the hot thermal pools for a swim. It was freezing when I got out.

My parents were right, it was a great experience and I appreciated what they had done for me. 
Thermal Pool
We also had fun experiencing skidding around on a frozen lake.


  1. Diane

    You had wonderful parents.
    They gave all to bring up a wonderful daughter and son. That is a blessing which should be cherished.
    My God - did we really look like those photos many years ago???

  2. I agree with Colin: your parents were right!

    And the photos are a treat. Fancy having a camera to take them, but also fancy still having them after all these years - and moves. I was still using a Brownie Box camera in about 1966. It is only recently that I got the hang of taking photos. I love this way that you tell your stories.

  3. When I was young I thought Oz was very cold, seeing your frozen lake would make me believe it.

    Then when my parents moved to the Gold Coast, there was a heat wave. My mum said," My!!!!1 it is even hotter than sarawak.

  4. Re: Choko, some one suggested I sprinkle some salt to draw out the sap.

    After making the japanese Onigiri, they say to dip your hand in salt water to shape the balls, I had an idea with chokos.

    I wonder if you dust your palms with fine salt while peeling it, you might not feel the sap as much.

    You are right, in the past, I was too lazy to use choko, but this lot that was given to me, no prickles and hardly any sap. I put some cubes in my curry chicken. I first salted it just in case there were sap.

    Mum grew a lot on the Gold Coast.

    They were selling them at $1 each in the Chinese grocery.

  5. I did wonder when you said you stayed at Kiandra its isn't a ghost town its a paddock with signs telling you what used to be there .. not even a tumble down building left.

    My parents also funded me on a trip when I was 16. My first time ever away from the family ... I hadn't even had a sleep over at a friends place. It was on a camp in the Blue Mountains n winter ... saw snow for the first time.

    That trip set in my heart a dream to live here one day, which I have done for nearly 20 years. Snow is not so reliable here these days.

  6. it looks like a lovely time. i always love your photos. :)

  7. You sure had a lot of adventures.

  8. Thanks Joan for the updated information on Kiandra, I have changed the wording in my post.

  9. What a wonderful holiday - you look quite confident on the ski's -and you were able to bring home many happy memories!

  10. What a great adventure! I didn't know Australia had snow mountains. Your teacher looks very sexy in his pose indeed.

  11. What a fantastic trip! I can certainly understand why you had a crush on the instructor!

  12. these are wonderful memories, and what a blessing for you that your parents let you go. i am wondering if you took these photos with a brownie box camera. that is what we had back then

  13. As a parent to your own two girls and the proud Grandmother of your beautiful baby Grandson, you will know now that if we can make something happen for our children, to give them the opportunites we may not have had, we'll do anything, even if it means doing without, ourselves. Your Mum and Dad did for you, then, what you and Bill did for your own children. I think we all appreciate the role our parents played in our lives once we become parents ourselves.

    You obviously made the most of that opportunity they gave you and you're still able to benefit from the treasured memory. How lovely is that! They must have been so very proud of you as you are of your girls!

  14. Diane, I agree that your parents must have been wonderful! Although I didn't learn this from personal childhood experience, one of the best things we can provide for our children is opportunity to widen their world. It sounds as if you had very loving, involved parents.

    I enjoyed reading this post!

  15. I can imagine that it was a great experience for you ! When I was in school there were no school trips at all. So I never went except once but this was in Germany and not far from Bonn where I lived.
    I just heard that the last class in highschool(?) (18 years old)in Waterloo goes to Australia !! and for those who can't afford it there are special fonds supported by wealthier parents. Which I find very nice, so at least all students are able to go.

  16. It is wonderful that your parents wanted you to experience this school ski trip. I know it must have been great fun too. I enjoyed the photos and the story, Diane!

  17. Oh my goodness, you look just like Sonya skiing down that slope.

  18. Thanks for sharing one of your past memories and some great photos with us :-)

    Take care and have a nice week :-)


  19. Isn't it great when parents suprise you and say yes to something you really want.

    Sounds like you had a great time and love the photos they are fantasic. So many people would have lost the photos by now.

    Thanks for sharing with us

  20. Your pictures are so great and that experience must have been wonderful. I'm still enjoying your life story!

  21. Hi diane, wow you are a voice from the past! I had wondered what happened to you, just fogured you didn't care fo my blog. What a good story and great pictures of your memories from then. The midget submarines do interest me, but how could you ever see them when they are traveling, kind of an oxymoron. So you are the other person reading Anne's book!!! She said i was the inspiration for her to write it, but perhaps she is just being kind. Have you followed her for long? Your header is beautiful!

  22. OK now that WAS fun!! I learned to ski on those weird old skis (after Bill and I were married -- he taught me to enjoy the outdoors!)

    How strange for you to find out that the town is completely gone.

    Thanks again for what was again for me two chapters at once of the bedtime story ;>)

  23. Sounds like a wonderful time! I know you appreciated it more because it was a rare treat.

  24. You must have had a lot of fun :)
    Lovely to remember fun and let's say we all had lots of fun as children, teenagers etc. We all learn that not all parents say 'NO' all of the time and that is a really nice thing :)

  25. I think that 'poser' has pretty good form. :)
    What a wonderful experience at such a young age.
    I think your teacher looks a little like actor Alec Baldwin. :)

  26. I used to ski, too. There was a bus every Saturday at 6 am from the high school parking lot, and many of us would climb aboard in the dark and head up to the pass (Snoqualmie Pass in the Central Cascade Mountains). I took ski lessons there and loved my Saturdays on skis. Money was tight in my family, too, so I would save my babysitting money all year so I could afford to pay for at least half of the skiing expense. I just saw that lift tickets today cost $60/day!

  27. A truly wonderful experience for you Diane. Your parents would have received so much pleasure when you came back home and told them all about it. Your excitement and happiness would have been their reward :)
    Great photos too. Haven't things changed... all the fancy gear and things "needed" nowadays ;-)

  28. And I appreciate that you gave me the same opportunity when I was 16!! Xxxx
    Thanks Mum!