Skiers skiing down a slope in the early 1960s

Snow skiing in Australia

Australia's snowfields

Ski season gets underway
 Adam Blackshaw

With winter here and the ski season getting underway, many Australians turn their minds to visiting the snowfields.

To get you in the mood, our latest curated collection features newsreels, home movies, news reports and short documentaries about Australian skiing and ski resorts, starting in 1926.

The lighthearted newsreel from 1934 below features footage of skiers in the Snowy Mountains, referencing Charlotte Pass, Mount Kosciuszko, Mount Twynam and Mount Townsend. There are also snow dogs – and much yodelling!

'Ski-ing' from Movietone News, A0064: No. 03, 1934. Courtesy: Cinesound Movietone Productions. NFSA title: 65986

On the roof of Australia

While it may come as a surprise to some that Australia receives much snow at all, several documentaries in the curated collection repeat the claim that the Australian Alps have a greater snow area than Switzerland.

Australia has a rich 'snow history'. After gold was discovered in Kiandra, New South Wales in 1859, Norwegian gold miners introduced skiing as a form of recreation and Kiandra soon hosted ski races.

By the mid-20th century the Australian snowfields were well established and Australian skiers competed in the Winter Olympics for the first time in Oslo in 1952.

The European migrants that arrived to help construct the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Scheme from 1949 also brought with them centuries of alpine-region traditions.

See more footage of skiing, snow, champion skiers, the development of resorts like Thredbo and the heroic rescue of Stuart Diver in 1997 in our Skiing in Australia curated collection.


Main image: Skiers skiing down a slope in the Snowy Mountains, NSW from The Changing Hills (1961) © NFSA. All Rights Reserved.