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Racing in Kiandra – People and Environment Blog


On August 1, 1898, a group of people gathered in the township hills of Snow Mountain to participate in the annual competition of the Kendra Snowshoe Club.

KendraBetween 1859 and 1960, there was a brief gold rush in the snowy mountains of New South Wales. At that time, more than 10,000 people lived and worked in the field, but within a year, alpine weather conditions, diseases and limited building materials were driven away most. Over the next few decades, including a few miners from China continued to mine gold-bearing gold, and Kiandra grew into the highest town in the Australian colony.

Views of Charles Kerry, Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertisers (NSW: 1871 – 1912) on the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales, Saturday, August 22, 1896, No. 394 page. The bottom left corner shows the back of the Wesselmann Hotel.

When the snowfall in winter caused the mining industry to cease, the community turned to alpine sports, including snowshoeing, now called “skiing.” Norwegian miners have introduced long curly skis that are popular in their hometown, made from local mountain ash. Judith Hickson recorded the history of these Norwegian-style “snowshoes”, which we call snowboards. Article in Memories.

There has been fierce debate about when the organized snowshoe group was established.In his book Kiandra: From Jintian to Ski ResortNorman Clarke outlined a claim that the origins of the Kiandra Snowshoe Club can be traced back to 1861, which will make it the oldest ski club in the world together with the Norwegian group established in the same year.Wendy Cross in her book Skiing in Australia: the first 100 years, Raised an objection to this.

The beginning of the girls snowshoe competition, Kiandra.  Tyrrell photography collection, Powerhouse Museum.  A gift from the Australian United Publishing House under the Art Tax Incentive Program in 1985.
The beginning of the girls snowshoe competition, Kiandra. Tyrrell photography collection, Powerhouse Museum. A gift from the Australian United Publishing House under the Art Tax Incentive Program in 1985.

Nevertheless, by 1898, the annual snowshoe competition had been established, offering a large number of activities, including eight children’s competitions and ten adult competitions, where locals competed against Sydney tourists led by photographer Charles Kerry. The course is located on the east slope of Township Hill, with a total length of 22 chains (442.5705m) and a drop of 450 feet (137.1600m). There was heavy snow the previous week, and the game was played in hail, heavy snow and strong wind that day.

Kiandra Snowshoe Carnival in 1900. Alpine Club: Charles Kerry (NL 80/3227) http://www.kiandra.net/Kcarnival1900.html from Wikimedia Commons
Kiandra Snowshoe Carnival in 1900. Alpine Club: Charles Kerry (NL 80/3227) http://www.kiandra.net/Kcarnival1900.html from Wikimedia Commons

The museum recently acquired a set of skis worn by one of the contestants. The series includes a pair of handmade wooden skis with red and black decorations.

Snowboard made and worn by Fritz Weselman, 1898.  Photography by Jason McCarthy. National Museum of Australia.
Snowboard made and worn by Fritz Weselman, 1898. Photography by Jason McCarthy. National Museum of Australia.

The first read: “Won the first amateur championship on August 6, 1898”, and the second read: “Made and Ride by Fritz Wesselmann”. 22 chains in 22 ½ seconds.

Newspaper report Mark the race day as Monday, August 1, instead of August 6, as marked on the skis, and confirm that Weselman won the first amateur race and was awarded the trophy and 15 shillings from Mr. HL Puckle.Because there are too many contestants, there are many preliminaries before the last game, Wesselman Complete the course 5 times Before he finally wins.

Charles Kerry (Charles Kerry) kicked off for the championship, snowshoeing Kiandra. From Wikimedia Commons.
Charles Kerry (Charles Kerry) kicked off for the championship, snowshoeing Kiandra. From Wikimedia Commons.

Fritz Weselman was described as a “Canadian gentleman” in a newspaper report about the Kiandra snowshoe competition, but this may be a mistake in news dissemination, because similar reports in other newspapers describe another competitor in the same terms. As early as around 1890, a report of “Fritz Wesselman” appeared in Sydney newspapers when a man of the same name was investigated and Fined for selling alcohol without a license in Balmain. Weselman has appeared in the colonial media since around 1893. He was a miner who made various claims around the Kiandra area, especially squeezing on the Mons Meg Reef and working with Jacob Wilson in the Lobbs Hole copper mine. . Weselman purchased the Kiandra Hotel in New South Wales around 1894. Historian Klaus Hueneke pointed out that Weselman was able to “really profit from the crowds who came to conduct exploration work for new mining companies.” In 1899 Weselman also Opened a shop in townThe historian Norman Clarke points out that Wesselman’s mining partners Jacob Wilson and Kiandra’s most successful female ski champion Margaret Yan (Margaret Yan) married in 1900 and “acquired the lease of the hotel from Fritz and Sarah Weselman” in 1904. Wesselmann is an active figure in the hotel. The local community, including as a member of the Kiandra Snowshoe Club Organizing Committee.

Weselman is also an enthusiastic participant in the snowshoe competition organized by the club. He often participates in downhill competitions and jumping competitions.

Fritz Weselman broke the snow jumping record in 1900.  Tyrrell photography collection, Powerhouse Museum.A gift from the Australian Union Press under the Art Tax Incentive Scheme, 1985
Fritz Weselman broke the snow jumping record in 1900. Tyrrell photography collection, Powerhouse Museum.A gift from the Australian Union Press under the Art Tax Incentive Scheme, 1985

In the 1900 race recorded in Norman Clarke’s book, he was described as “a very cool rider”.Wesselman also Making snowboards and sledges.

Ladies sledding competition. Charles Kerry. From Wikimedia Commons.
Ladies sledding competition. Charles Kerry. From Wikimedia Commons.

It is said that this is the oldest snowboard made and worn in Australia, but the Sydney Power Museum houses a pair of snowboards donated by Kiandra in 1895. These snowboards are said to have been used by Y Weselman and the postmaster. department.This pair of skis related to Adaminaby’s Yen family Donald McClucken Collection It can also be traced back to an earlier period, probably around 1880. Nevertheless, Weselman’s 1898 ski was one of the first skis manufactured and worn by celebrities in Australia.

Sad, Kiandra Snow Races, by Charles Kerry, from Wikimedia Commons.
Sad, Kiandra Snow Races, by Charles Kerry, from Wikimedia Commons.

118 years after they brought Fritz Weselman to the Township Hill to victory, these two thin boards evoke Barcroft Boake in his The scene described in the poem ‘Demon Snowshoes (Legend of Kiandra)’:

The snow is buried deep in the hills,
In rocky canyons and grassy valleys,
Tiny, trickling, tumbling fall
Were frozen on their rock walls
The gray and brown look silent
In the shrouded town of Kiandra.

Eucumbene itself is dead,
It freezes quickly on a narrow bed,
Voices from a distance sounded very close,
The crystal clear air solidified,
People come and go
In the silent snow.

And, like a powerful gallows,
Derrick in the claim of a new close friend
Where it hangs, despite the cold,
Strong miners look for hidden gold,
Stiff and blue, half frozen,
The fickle rich lady.

In the distance, along the snow-capped mountains,
Strange noises sounded,
The snow-covered branches hang there,
Flickering icicles ring
A gay chorus, like to the plain
The Danish Karl quickly accelerated downwards.

His long, light snowshoes gallop past
Follow his songs with a relaxed rhythm;
Now slowly around the hill,
Now accelerate downward with will;
Crystal crashes, burns, flickers
Like a frozen shell, they sprint.

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Can you tell us more about Fritz Weselman and his ski success in Kiandra? Let us know in the comments section below.



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