Antique Ski Collection and Ski Memorabilia

When gold was discovered at Kiandra in 1860, the miners and their families used fence palings as a means of skiing on the abundant snow.
This was the birth of skiing in Australia. Within a year, the Kiandra Ski Club was formed, which ranks as one of the first ski clubs in the world. Tom Mitchell, local farmer, politician, Attorney-General, historian, skier, and Changi P.O.W., represented Victoria and Australia at national and international levels.

His wife, Elyne Mitchell, author (Silver Brumby Books, et al.) and conservationist (author of “Speak of the Earth” and “Australian Alps”) joined
her husband Tom in representing Australia at home and abroad in skiing. Tom Mitchell was able to use his position and expertise as a skier to encourage successive governments to set up ski villages and resorts in Victoria, and promote skiing as a family activity.

The historical collection of antique skis suffered a terrible blow when the Mt. Kosziouscko chalet burnt down in 1952, and later the Kiandra chalet in 1969.

Fortunately Tom Mitchell had a collection of historic skis, which he donated to the Man from Snowy River Museum. This collection was recognised in 1984 by the Australian government, who borrowed the collection to send to the World Expo in New Orleans (U.S.A.).

Within the Man from Snowy River Museum’s unique collection of early 20th-century snow skis are some of the original fence paling skis and, stocks and boots representing some of the earliest endeavors and achievements in Australian skiing. Tom and Elyne Mitchell donated much of this collection.

They include:

  • Skis and poles that belonged to Very Jackson (nee Haugh¬ton) who was one of the first women to compete for Australia in skiing competitions;
  • The skis used by Elyne Mitchell when she won the Inter Dominion Slalom Race for Australia in 1937, the Canadian National Downhill Race in 1938, came 2nd at Sun Valley in the USA in 1939 and 4th at the US National Championships in 1939;
  • Stocks used by Tom Mitchell when he won the National Ski Championship of New Zealand in 1948 and the ski championships of North and South Island;
  • An experimental ski by an unknown inventor;
  • Skis from the Junior Ski Club of Australia that was formed by Tom Mitchell and Graeme Austin in 1935;
  • A pram on skis constructed by Tom Mitchell so he and Elyne could ski with their four young children;
  • Several framed photographs of Tom Mitchell as ski champion and with team members; and
  • A Gold K Headband worn by Lord Roberts of Kandahar, the Viceroy of India. He was apparently the first person to specialise in downhill ski racing.