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Hotham brings the history out in people

Hotham brings the history out in people

Mount Hotham is a hub for intriguing history and significant findings and, for many others, it is a starting point for their own family history and stories.

People travel from all over in search of filling in gaps in their family history which might help them to gain a better understanding of their family movements and family events that took place well before they were born.

One man, Ivan Gribble was up this week in search of information on his grandfather Elisha Gribble and Grandmother Elizabeth Gribble.  The pair is known to have managed the renowned Hotham Heights Chalet between the years 1933 – 1935. During his time at Mount Hotham, Ivan discovered that the chalet was taken over and owned by the Victorian Railways in 1933 until 1952, who had employed Mr and Mrs Gribble to manage it for a period of time.

At approximately 6,000 feet above sea level, the chalet was known as Australia’s highest permanently inhabited house.

The old chalet was the “rendezvous” for skiers; a well-known place to stay over the winter months and in many winters it would get “snowed in”, with the only access to the attic.

Bill Spargo (1888 – 1959) served the original chalet as his depot, while he worked for the Victorian Country Roads Board (C.R.B). Tragically, the chalet was no match for the raging bushfires of 1939 which devastated bushland right through to the coast. Since then, it has been rebuilt twice, prior to the current one, which stands near the original location today.

Ivan’s grandparent also owned the old Beechworth Bakery for a period which was originally called ‘The Gribble’s Dining Rooms’.

“On Sunday, we went to the Beechworth Bakery and gave them a framed copy of the original photo,” Mr Gribble said.

“I have to go to Beechworth Historical Society and find the rate notices to find out when they actually had the bakery, whether it was after they left Mount Hotham in 1937 or before they arrived there.

“I can then provide that information to the people at the Beechworth Bakery, so I can say that the photo was between a certain period of time.

“My main motivation behind coming up here is to put some dates together and pass it on if someone is interested,” he said.

Mount Hotham’s Cultural Heritage Officer Andrew Swift encourages individuals who have historical connections to come up to Mount Hotham if they wish to find out more.

“If people have had family or ancestors who have had an association with Mount Hotham and looking to do a bit of family research, the Resort Management Board are happy to assist them in any way,” Mr Swift said.

“And in some instances, we might be able to share their historic information through signage, digital interpretation or other forms of historical information,” he said.

Mount Hotham will be holding the Annual General Meeting of the Australian Alpine and Snowsports History Association Conference on Friday 28 April – Sunday 30 April 2017. The meeting is open to anyone interested in the history of Mount Hotham, Dinner Plain and the alpine region. To register for the event visit 

06 April 2017