Mt Hotham Historical Hut – Boondoo Lodge (Hut).
The Boondoo Ski Lodge was built in 1940 or 1950 on a ledge overlooking Hogg’s Back. Its name was given because in certain seasons skiers could find their way onto the roof of the building. Boondoo was an army expression meaning out in the never-never.
The hut has Asbestos in it and is now condemned , the Winter Irving family built it in the 1940’s or 1950’s.
One source states Boondoo Ski Club was built in 1950 (one source says 1952) another states 1940’s.
Once source states it was built in the 1940’s and was once called Western District Ski Club before changing it’s name in 1949.
Boondoo Hut can be located on the Varsity Drag Ski Run serviced by the (Blue Ribbon) triple chair lift.
To learn more about Hotham Alpine Huts and exploring this stunning area, please click here.
History of Boondoo Update from Hamish Ramsay.
Boondoo History Update.
Happened on the Boondoo Lodge Hotham FB page today and annoyed at myself for not searching for something sooner as I definitely would have loved to have saved the lodge. So much history now lost although given construction material most likely contained asbestos probably not altogether bad but certainly the club could have been kept going somehow. I was told there was an offer put to the club on the eve of the “99 year lease” expiring in 1999 to relocate to another Alpine Resorts Commission – resort manager at the time- site as long as the lodge slept a minimum of 16. At the time the members were unable to fund such an endeavour and so the lease was relinquished at expiry and the club folded. From reading some posts on the FB page it would appear that this may not have been what indeed happened.
A little about myself;
I am Hamish Ramsay – 3rd son of Rob Ramsay original member and co-constructor of the lodge in 1951-my recollection from conversations with him. My guess he is the gentlemen on the right at the rear of truck in the photo of the truck being unloaded on the road directly above the lodge. (Edit) the gentlemen on the right could also be Tom Barclay a fellow founding member and constructor.
My last official stay at the lodge was in 1996 with some friends from NZ, from memory Coco Winter-Irving was secretary at the time.
Stories from Rob(dad) and myself Construction of the lodge;
All prefabricated by the main families involved at the time on their respective properties in the Western District, Victoria. Transported to site on the back of old Bedford truck and strung down from the road via a makeshift flying fox / windlass. The original crate that the original stove -Les Watts as it was affectionately known- formed the formwork for the septic tank which was directly under the entrance way with pipework from loo and shower draining directly into it.
Early pre-season procedures;
Usually at easter respective members would organise a pre-season visit to prep the hut with stores to minimise goods to be trekked in. Eggs were coated with “keep-egg” and stored in the flower tub to prevent freezing. Fresh linen, canned goods, lard and other non-perishables would be packed in as well as any running repairs, such as tap washers, flue replacement and of course firewood and briquettes stocked up.
Caught in the snow;
I’m not sure of the year but I believe 1952; when attempting to ski in – which was normal back then as the road was closed in winter- the decision was made to ski up the road instead of climbing Bon Accord Spur from Harrietville. The party unfortunately became snowbound and finally at around midnight made it to the Wangaratta Ski Club hut at Diamantina Springs. Pretty sure there is documentation of this in the WSC records as well some historical books of the early years of Hotham as I have read such – possibly Lindsay Salmon history.
Permanent Spring fed water to the lodge;
From memory prior to the construction Lindsay Salmon advised the club of the permanent spring (uphill and south). Rocks were removed and the pipe (galvanised originally replaced with poly in the early 1970’s I believe) run down to the lodge. Water needed to be permanently flowing through the lodge to prevent freezing of the supply. This was carried out by utilising a valve to divert water through the lodge when occupied – “one cold tap always on”
July 1981 – record snow and my first stay;
6 bags of briquettes (coal) plus supplies to be taken in. The briquettes were in old “Pivot” super Phosphate bags for waterproofing and the plan was to tie a rope to them and lower them down from the roadside to the ski trail just above the lodge then repeat the process from there to the Boondoo. All going well until the rope came undone and said bag of briquettes decided to make it’s own way to the Boondoo. A skier on the trail was quite non-plussed at the thought of being taken out by runaway briquette bag!!! Bag stopped well short of trail and with new found knowledge of such all subsequent bags were let loose from road above and collected at the trail. Rope was utilised for next leg to Boondoo.
When arriving at Lodge access was not achievable as only the stove flue “H” piece was visible due to the 4-5 meters of snow. Shovels out and access to door dug however door wouldn’t budge due to weight of snow on roof. With light fading option was to dig into front and access up through floor. With this achieved, water running and “Les Watts” lit we cooked dinner and opted to turn in for the night. Crawled out underneath again in morning to shovel snow from roof. After several cubic meters of snow were removed suddenly a shovel, about a cubic meter of snow and a teenage boy were sited sailing down the Varsity Drag below the lodge. The removal of the above however did enable the doors to now be opened.
Some dirty tricks on fellow members:
Upon arriving at the lodge to find one had forgotten to bring the alcohol down from the vehicle, which was now parked several kilometres away at the overnight parking, decided to raid another members stash of long necks in the larder. After realising that said booze was unlikely to be able to be replaced the decision was made to refill the bottles drank with cold tea and refit the crown seal. To this day not sure whose long necks they were but if one wants to prove such I’ll happily replace with new.
Attached are some photographs from a site visit today, I will endeavour to find some historic photographs and share as soon as able if you would feel obliged to allow my membership of the FB page.