The History of Perisher
Perisher is a relatively new company. It was formed in March 1995 and combines the resources and facilities of Perisher Valley, Smiggin Holes, Mount Blue Cow, Guthega, The Station and the Skitube alpine railway. It is the largest snow resort operation in the Southern Hemisphere. It has the highest terrain, the greatest number of lifts and the most reliable snow in Australia.
Perisher Valley and Smiggin Holes
Perisher Valley has its roots in the early pioneer days, when graziers used the surrounding valleys for summer pasture. The name Perisher is steeped in mystery, the myths surrounding its origin stem from the graziers attempting to rescue livestock trapped in the high country. Braving the full force of the blizzard as they crested The Gap, the feeling among the graziers were – “This is truly a perisher!”
Smiggin Holes is of Scottish origin. The trampling of hundreds of cattle consuming rock salt that graziers had placed there, caused depressions that filled with water. These depressions were called “the smiggin holes”. 1939 signified the start of Smiggin Holes as a destination for skiers. A cafe was established to service skiers en route to Charlotte Pass and Mt Kosciuszko.
The method of travel in those days consisted of horse drawn sleighs to Smiggin Holes, then arduous journeys oversnow on skis to Mt Kosciuszko. As the number of skiers increased, services, facilities and means of access were improved, and Perisher’s first lodges were constructed. Telemark and the Snow Revellers Club being completed in 1952. In the winter of 1953 the first oversnow transport operated to Perisher Valley. It was greeted by the inhabitants with cheers and celebrations.
In 1958 Sverre Kaaten, another pioneer of the mountains, built a sophisticated rope tow at North Perisher. Ken Murray, an old friend of Sverre’s built another rope tow and Perisher’s first T-bar. Development continued and Mt Perisher Double Chair was opened in 1961. After the opening of the first chairlift, T-bar expansion and rope tows, the Perisher area thrived. Murray Publishers Pty Limited was taken over by Australian Consolidated Press in 1972 and Kosciuszko Alpine Resorts was formed.
Murray Publishers then traded under the name of Perisher Ski Resort which incorporated the resorts of Perisher and Smiggins. In 1995, Murray Publishers Pty Limited and the Alpine Australia Group Pty Limited merged to form Perisher Blue Pty Limited.
Mt. Blue Cow
Some time after 1840 James Spencer, a grazier, obtained the lease for all the high country on the main range, including Kosciuszko and Blue Cow peaks. His homestead was situated at West Point (now known as Waste Point) near the entrance to Kosciuszko National Park.
Apparently Spencer crossed some imported black English Shorthorn cattle with white Shorthorns, obtaining offspring with blue roan coats. Blue Cow was named after one of these cross-bred cows, which would disappear after the thaw each year and would invariably be found on the mountain before the next winter.
In the 1970s, the National Parks and Wildlife Service carried out studies for the development of skiing at Mt Blue Cow, in response to the identified need for the expansion of suitable areas and facilities to enable the continued growth of alpine skiing within the Park. In November 1984 the bid by Mt Blue Cow Ski Bowl Pty Limited was selected. The resort opened in July 1987 and despite transport difficulties (caused by the delay in the completion of the Skitube alpine railway beyond Perisher) the response to the facilities and the mountain was overwhelmingly positive.
Today… Blue Cow includes the facilities of Blue Cow Resort Centre at 1905m and Guthega Ski Centre at 1640m. The highest lifted point on the Blue Cow Side of Perisher is 1960m reached by the Summit Quad Chairlift. The vertical drop to the base of the Ridge at 1605m is 360m. Blue Cow’s 14 ski lifts open daily during winter from 8:30am to 5:00pm weather permitting. There is also snowmaking over an area serviced by six lifts.
Guthega Resort was established in the 1950’s along with Perisher Valley and Smiggin Holes, when improved access to the mountains, created by the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric scheme, and the associated influx of European migrants with skiing experience, stimulated the growth of skiing in New South Wales.
Mainly because of its “out of the way” location, Guthega remained a separate small resort, operated by Guthega Development Pty Ltd, with only a handful of lodges, few lifts, and limited patronage from day skiers, who had to contend with more difficult road conditions than those to Smiggin Holes or Perisher Valley.
In 1982 the Car Park chairlift was installed, which overcame the need for visitors to walk some distance uphill to the upper end of the village to reach the bottom lift, thus making the resort more appealing to day visitors.
In 1991, Guthega was purchased by the Alpine Australia Group Pty Limited, the then operator of the Blue Cow Resort. This led to the operation of two resorts becoming integrated in 1992, thus providing day access into Guthega via the Skitube alpine railway and the Blue Cow and Link Management Unit ski slopes.
Skitube Alpine Railway
Initially, Skitube alpine railway was designed as a winter based access system to improve entry to the Perisher Range ski fields. Until then, these areas were served by a single road of limited capacity that was and still often is, adversely affected by snow and ice during winter. The Skitube was deemed to be the most efficient and environmentally acceptable alternative available. When it was decided to go ahead with the development of Mt Blue Cow in 1984, Skitube was the most practical option for providing access to the resort, and so Skitube was extended from Perisher to Mt Blue Cow. It is Australia’s longest ski lift!
Skitube is a Swiss designed rack-rail train that takes passengers from Bullocks Flat on the Alpine Way through a tunnel in the Ramshead Range to the Perisher Resort, stopping in the underground station at Perisher Valley. Skitube then proceeds to Blue Cow via another tunnel through the Perisher Range. The tunnel is Australia’s longest transport tunnel at 6.3km long, and at its deepest point it is 550m below the surface. Since its start of operations in 1987, Skitube has carried over 4 million passengers in comfort and safety.