Dopes on slopes and Dills on Hills
She-ing on the Piste ( as against the taking of it )
So many of my tall tales involve the Sun, Sand, Surf and what's happening on the Beach. For a change this story takes place smack bang in the centre of the Australian Alps at the Victorian Skiing Village of Falls Creek. I have no idea how long the so called resort we all visited back in 1961 had been there, but I recall there was still a considerable amount of building taking place when we arrived.
Today, Falls Creek would be Australia's prettiest and best appointed Alpine Village. When it was given the dubious honour of our presence all those years ago, it was still in its infancy and just beginning to grow. Nevertheless, even back then, all of us sun, sand and sea worshippers were amazed and highly impressed with how beautiful the village was.
It was winter and our little group of happy souls had spent the last few months playing Monopoly, Ludo, Snakes and Ladders, Chinese Checkers, Dominoes, Table Tennis, Darts and having Seances that put the fear of God into many of the participants, some of whom were known to experience premature bowel movements. There had been many visits to Drive Ins, Ten Pin bowling at Balgowlah and simply just driving around doing absolutely SFA apart from a bit of full on but harmless snogging in the car's back seat.
My girlfriend at the time was Michelle, but she for some reason was unable to come with us. Even I was a last minute addition to the touring party and six rowdy folk in the one car was going to be a bit cramped anyhow.
|Michelle and me under lock and key.|
I haven't the foggiest whose suggestion it was to spend a weekend in the snow, but the mob was unanimous, "Lets do it." The touring party was going to be the two sisters, Lesley and Paula, Tom the driver, Jim, Michael and your friendly teller of tall tales. Trouble was everything was booked out, as we had left it way too late for a long weekend, so we compromised and made a booking for a normal two day weekend. Paula was almost beside herself, she was the only one who had never seen snow and could hardly curb her enthusiasm. The girls Mum and Dad obviously trusted both us and their cute teenage daughters, for they were given the green light to be a part of the trip.
On the evening of our departure on a Friday, we all left work early, met at Parramatta Railway Station, climbed into Tom's Holden Station Wagon and away we went. One of the guys, Tom I think, had constructed out of masonite a home made toboggan, just in case our efforts at skiing were unsuccessful. It was stowed away in the car's boot. My memory of the route we took is simply too vague to recall, but I think we decided to travel south inland as there would hopefully be less heavy vehicles on the road. Whether we went through Bathurst and Cowra I cannot recall, but I do remember we stopped for a bladder relieving break somewhere and put on the nose bag, mainly take away from a local Chew and Spew. There is a possibility I may be entirely wrong about the route we took as my recollections are extremely vague to say the least. Tom refused to have a break and drove through the night so we would arrive at our destination by morning. Regardless of how we got there, I do know for certain we were eventually successful and arrived safely.
It was pitch black when the Holden turned onto what I think nowadays is known as the Kiewa Valley Highway and by passed Mount Beauty. We were most certainly in Victoria. The sky began to lighten as we pulled into a service station and were informed the roads were in good condition and chains would not have to be fitted. We continued along a well maintained and reasonably dry dirt road and rounded a bend and .....Bingo. There it was, our first encounter with ice from the sky.
Paula almost wet herself with excitement. "Stop the car, Tom, stop the car, please, pretty please," she pleaded. Before we knew it she was wading through it and tossing snowballs at us and just about anything else within range.
The car was slipping and sliding as we slowly and carefully made our way up the mountain and around 7:00 am, we arrived at the Falls Creek car park.
Tom parked the car and poured some anti freeze into the radiator and we approached a run down, almost ramshackled coffee and food shack positioned in one corner of the car park. What a quaint little place to purchase food and drinks. God only knows how the lass behind the counter kept warm as the shack was wide open to all the elements. We all made short work of a large cappuccino each, with Tom adding a slosh of overproof rum to his. On one side of the car park was an icy, well beaten down track that wound its way for 200 metres or so and it led us to the extremely picturesque village of Falls Creek itself.
At the fringe of the main group of holiday homes was a large building constructed of radiata pine. This was our accomodation, or it was going to be if and when they finished building it. The attitude of the builders was,"She'll be apples." We were told to come back in a couple of hours.
Into the ski equipment shop we trudged and hired a truckload of specialist skiing equipment and clobber and then spent the next 30 minutes trying to work out how to fit our boots to the skis. We did it, you beauty, lets go skiing. Out into the falling snow we ventured with our fitted skis and stocks in hand. "I'll show you how it's done," said Mike and launched himself off the side of the raised track we were on. Who needs skis, he made it all the way to the bottom of the slope flat on his back.
"Dickhead," we all called out and proceeded to show him how it's really done......Oops! spoke too soon, in only a matter of seconds there was carnage at the bottom as four male idiots all finished up in a massive tangled heap. Paula was the only one to negotiate the drop on her two feet, but was unable to stop her forward momentum up until she slammed into the side wall of the cafe with a squeal and a dull thud. Girls are lucky they have boobs, they help to break the fall.
Toboggan or not Toboggan
We were told our home made toboggan could not be used anywhere on or near the two main ski runs, but to the left of the beginners hill there was a prepared slope that was suitable. Jim was the first thrillseeker to have a go. Several times he slid down the slope, mostly sideways, as the masonite was minus tracks with a flat smooth bottom. The bob ski slope wasn't really that steep and at its end there was a large stacked mound of snow designed to prevent any further forward progress. All of Jim's runs would slide sideways into this mound and he would come to a complete halt at the finish of it.
Whatever inspired Lesley to ride tandem with Jim is something that only she could explain. She hopped on behind Jim and wrapped her arms around him and off they slid. Maybe it was the extra weight with two on board that did the trick, because for the first and only time the sled remained perfectly straight and pointed downhill.
Their speed wasn't that fast, but in this case it was fast enough to reach the snow mound at the finish and most certainly fast enough to disappear over the top of it and into the virgin bushland they descended. They were now on a very steep part of the mountain and before long they were threatening the current land speed record. It didn't last for long as sideways went the sled and two human cannonballs were observed flying through the stratosphere, landing with what was quickly becoming a familiar sounding squelch.
Other holiday makers witnessed what took place and went with us to assist with the retrieval of the bodies, that is if ever we were able to find them.
Find them we did. Jim and Lulu were lucky they were an item for what greeted our rescue party, was a tangled mess of humankind interwined on and around each other. On any Sydney beach they would have been either fined or jailed. Some one suggested throwing a bucket of water over them. Years later I would compare the end result of their slide with the bedroom scene from 'Last Tango in Paris,' minus the bed and all that butter. I truly wished I had a camera with me.
Jim's only comment was, "What do you think of it so far?" while Lulu was more concise and to the point when she simply said, "Fuck it."
As for the toboggan, it was last sighted flying downhill, still attempting to shatter that land speed record. As far as we know, it more than likely ended up over the border in NSW and was never seen again.
We all eventually returned to our beginners hill to continue our hilarious efforts at skiing and to await the completion of our sleeping quarters. Tom was getting the hang of it, but he seemed to spend more of his time sipping his OP rum than sheing on the Piste. I suppose one could say he was drinking it instead. Mike was still a bit wobbly but fearless and on two occasions extremely lucky that the wooden gate of the garbage bins storage area was left open. On both occasions his impression of an Olympic down hill racer came to a sudden end when he entered through the gate and into the collections of galvanised steel garbage bins that were directly in front of him. People in the cafe thought a snow plough had run amok and smashed into the cafe's side wall. Those who went outside to investigate only discovered a pair of feet protruding from underneath a scattered pile of rotting vegies and several garbage bin lids. Later on that day, one of the other guests in the lounge room commented to Michael there was a distinct odour of cabbage and over ripe watermelon about him. Praise the Lord the doors of the public toilets had not been open at the time.
After an hour or so passed by, Paula and I appeared to be getting the hang of it, probably because we were the only board riders in our group. The two of us were beginning to turn left and right and she was even able to do a quick 90 degree turn and come to a complete stop at the run's end. As for me, I was able to pull up occasionally, but because the cafe's wall at the bottom of the beginner's run kept looming up way too fast, I was forced to fall over to stop quickly.
When we went for coffee at the cafe, it was not open. It only opened from 7 to 9:30 am, 12 Noon until 2:00pm and from 6 to 8:30pm. Outside of that, stiff shit, what a holiday resort. We would practice our turning skills by sliding down the icy path to the packing case coffee shop in the car park.
One had to be extremely careful when heading off to the car park as the path was hard packed ice and was highly elevated. Every now and then one of our number would suddenly disappear over the edge and reappear as a down hill racer skidding across the icy parking area. Even at this stage the most efficient way for any of us to stop was to either fall over or run into a bush, tree. car or a brick wall. We managed to use all four. When our sleeping quarters were finally completed we entered and inspected. All we had was a small bedroom and a community lounge room. Everything had an overpowering smell of fresh sawdust.
The T Bar ski lift was open for business and in a very short space of time there was a lineup 30 metres long.
I purchased some tickets and after at least two dozen failed attempts to remain vertical I finally was heading uphill at last, albeit very shakily. All of a sudden some black jacketed fuckwit with poofy pink coloured skis plonks his arse on the right hand side of the T Bar, which caused me to get all unbalanced and wobbly. "Piss off you prick," he told me and pushed me off, leaving me flat on my face in the snow. I gave up and rejoined the others on the beginners hill who had made it an art form not to miss crashing into one another during every down hill run.
From where we were it was possible to see what was happening on the main slope and after a while my sharp eagle eyes spotted the foul mouthed,dark coloured Jean Claude Killy about to end his down hill run. I headed over to where he was taking off his gloves while chatting up some spunky female. As soon as she left I tapped him on the shoulder and when he turned around I enquired, "Remember me?" The straight left jab struck him right between the eyes and he hit the deck like the proverbial sack of spuds.
I returned to rejoin Paula and the others as passers by were attempting to revive him. Never got to see him after that. Hope I spoilt his holiday.....Prick!
That evening we avoided the cafe as it was too expensive and the service was non existent. We were perfectly happy to grab a burger and chips from the car park packing case. Before retiring, we decided to construct a snowman in front of our buildings entrance. Mike being familiar with the rubbish storage facility provided us with some neccesary items. Sliced cucumber for the eyes, some twigs for arms and a carrot for the nose.
Satisfied with our masterpiece we adjourned inside to check the evenings activities. That evening there wasn't a lot to do other than watch the goggle box in the lounge. Problem was there was an extremely rude German, or maybe Austrian nutter who insisted he had the right to decide who watched what. Back then television in the city was in the wilderness and in the wilderness as we were, it was even more atrocious. We had made friends with a bloke from Melbourne and he joined us and we contented ourselves playing various board games and listening to music on a transistor radio. Probably because there had hardly been any sleeping during the trip down, no body was too upset and we all ended up hitting the sack around 10:00pm and slept like logs. The rooms were tiny with just enough room to accommodate quad bunks. There was a wall mounted electric strip heater that kept the room cosy and warm.
I woke up at 5:45 am busting for a leak. I left the room and relieved myself in the toot opposite. I was about to return to the room when who should ghost up alongside me, the beautiful blonde headed Paula. She was keen to hit the slopes and wanted me to join her, which of course I did.
When I suggested to my fellow room mates that they should join Polly and I for some fun on the slopes, some of the things they told me to do were simply physically impossible.......ouch! I gave up on them and retrieved my boots from the drying room and waited for Polly. I happened to notice that some inspired folk had constructed a second snowman, except in this case it was female as it was wearing coloured material that passed for a skirt. Our magnificent construction was standing in front of and appeared to be staring at its new companion. Some smart arse saw to it that our fellow was now minus his nose, as the carrot had been used as a support for a hardened, fully erect penis. I laughed out loud, Paula however was not impressed.
As we were heading for the beginners hill it started to snow. Once again I was thinking, if only I had a camera, it was breathtakingly beautiful. There was not a single solitary footprint to be seen anywhere. Paula and I were the only two people left alive on the planet. The two of us had become so proficient we decided to give the babies hill a big miss and over we went to the main run.
|The big one.|
I remained towards the middle of the run while Paula had somehow finished up on the right hand side of a line of shrubs and small trees. Where these shrubs etc. ended there was a clear path back to the centre of the run, Paula headed for it. "Oh no," came her startled cry as she began swinging to her left and before anyone comprehended what was happening Paula became airborne like Astro Boy and with her skis going in all directions she crashed and disappeared in a cloud of powder snow, skidded up and over an icy mound to land bum first smack bang in the middle of an ice covered pool of water that was about 2 metres in diameter. Her butt hit the ice, the ice shattered and our cute little blonde headed surfer girl ended up sitting upright in an partly frozen pool with ice water up to her tits. Not known as a user of bad language, all she was capable of saying was "Bugger!"
I can't recall where we had breakfast that morning, but there is a vague recollection of it being takeaway from the main cafe. The other wimps finally fell out of bed and for a second day the slopes were taken over by our hopeless bunch of miscreants. In all fairness Tom was beginning to resemble a skier capable of remaining upright. Recollections of our last few hours in the snow are very vague, although all of it was spent going up and down our familiar beginners hill without falling base over apex as often as normal. No one seemed as though they wanted to go indoors as we had all gained enough basic skills to avoid the cafe's side wall and Michael's garbage disposal area. It was such a pity when we were forced to say our goodbyes around 3:30pm so as to make it home early the following day. We all had a decent hot shower and put on fresh, warm clothes and packed the few bags we had.
Paula needed to change her slacks as they were damp and uncomfortable from all the skiing, so into the drying room she went to retrieve the slacks that she had on when performing her Astro Boy impersonation. Ah yes, they were well and truly dry. After warming herself up in the shower, she put them on for the trip home. Ah yes, they were also well and truly shrunk. "Oh my God, how embarrassing," she said out loud. As for me, my mouth fell open and I began to dribble uncontrollably. You've heard the well worn expression, 'A picture is worth a thousand words.' Oh how very true.
|Lookin' good Pol.|
Paula took it all in her stride, she realised there wasn't much more she could flash in front of Mike and I that we hadn't already seen, so she sat there perfectly still in her silky little undies for several seconds or so, tapping her fingers on the seat, then said in a sweet, melodious voice,"Happy now?" We never answered her, but we most certainly were. She gave the white sheet a big miss and simply fumbled and stumbled until she managed to successfully pull on the new pair of slacks. Isn't it weird how certain situations can affect one. God only knows how many times I had surfed with Paula , who would be wearing her brief blue bikini and kissed and cuddled with her at the Drive In movies on a regular basis, yet an all too brief sighting of her in her pink panties had made it possible for me to pole vault along the Mid Western Highway all the way to Katoomba. In a very short space of time she began complaining of the cold and was only too happy to snuggle into me for warmth. She obviously was bearing no grudges and I had no objection to being blatantly used by this gorgeous little blonde. I made her warm, she made me hot.
Poor old Tom, he drove uninterupted all the way down and all the way back home. Jim, Lesley, Mike, Paula and I never stopped rabbiting on for what seemed like hours. We all were completely and utterly stoked with what had transpired and before anyone was aware of it the sun was rising. Nobody would admit it, but we were all well and truly cot cases.
I was dropped off at Nestles spot on starting time at 7:30 am and what became of the others I know not. Thank God I was assigned to working in the factory as there was no way I could have performed my duties in the Fitting Shop. I reported to the Fitter I was assigned to and told him what had gone down and he told me to get lost somewhere. It was 7:55am when I positioned myself along side the pulley that controlled the goods lift and fell sound asleep within 2 minutes. Upon waking I checked my wristwatch expecting it to be close to lunch time, but discovered it was only 15 minutes to knock off time. In other words it was 3:45pm.
I climbed down and bundied off and after the 25 minute bus trip and 5 minute walk up Nelson Street. I was home at last. It wasn't until our little group was reunited on the following Friday evening that all the fun and frolics of the previous weekend were recalled. As the weather began to slowly warm up we returned to what had become an intregal part of us, the Sun, the Sand and the Surf.
More than likely as the years roll on by the events that took place on that winter's weekend may not be forgotten, but will simply be recalled as just another fun weekend. For me, it was something special, something that I normally would not do. Having the company of such dear and close friends that we all were at the time made it another unforgettable experience. Bloody Hell! I've had a good life.