I dunno, I just like it

by John Holbo on April 23, 2009

I found this old photo on Flickr. (Click link, then click again, for larger image.)


Apparently it “was published by the Sydney firm Charles Kerry & Co. and is part of the Powerhouse Museum’s Tyrrell collection which contains over 2,900 glass plate negatives by Kerry & Co. Although a few appear to be from the 1880s most were produced between 1892 and 1917.”



Bill Gardner 04.23.09 at 4:14 pm

Awesome! Notice the length of the skis, the absence of camber, and the pole held by the second woman on the left (and the absence of ‘ski poles’ as we understand them). She will use it for braking and to help her turn. Skiing in skirts, however, is just a bit implausible, unless you keep the velocity really low.


Bloix 04.23.09 at 8:44 pm

If you go to Flickr, you’ll see this is called “Start of the Girl’s Snowshoe Race, Kiandra.” It’s from the Snowy Mountains of southeastern Australia. An aussie tourist site says that Kiandra is a ghost town today, but it was a gold rush town in the late 1800’s.

At Flickr, you can see a much enlarged image. You’ll see that the one with the stick appears to be the teacher. The one on the far left may also be an adult.


belle le triste 04.23.09 at 9:39 pm

i have long adored this picture of fridtjof and eva nansen: both with the single poles as was the fashion at the time


belle le triste 04.23.09 at 9:41 pm

she was considered very daring for ski-ing at all; he was considered worse for his avant-garde woollen jaegar trousers which REVEALED ALL (as you can’t really see in that small picture)


Emma 04.23.09 at 11:56 pm

The Powerhouse has been a real leader in putting its collection online and making it freely available — and as a result has had increased interest, visits, downloads of its great research material and also sales of the photos in high res. The online manager there, Seb Chan, has a great blog at which discusses all kinds of open access and museum issues. For Australian historians and researchers, having this collection online is a huge boon. We’ll be using it in the upcoming digital historical encyclopedia of Sydney that I work on, launching later this year. See for more info.


Emma 04.24.09 at 12:00 am

Damn. Sorry. Links are as follows:
Fresh + New
Dictionary of Sydney
Must try harder….


Jessica Pellien 04.24.09 at 12:19 pm

The hats seem an even worse bet than the skirts if any speed were gained. Thanks for posting.


Doug T 04.24.09 at 12:31 pm

Bin gar keine Russin, stamm’ aus Litauen, echt deutsch.
And when we were children, staying at the archduke’s,
My cousin’s, he took me out on a sled,
And I was frightened. He said, Marie,
Marie, hold on tight. And down we went.
In the mountains, there you feel free.
I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter


Laura 04.24.09 at 1:10 pm

Bloix they are all children.

Kiandra is not what I would call a ghost town. There’s nothing there but dints in the ground where stumps were. Its buildings were pulled down by the Snowy Mountains Parks management, in their wisdom. There is a long tradition in those parts of ripping towns down and shifting them elsewhere.


Alan 04.24.09 at 1:26 pm

:-) at Doug T for the Eliot quotation.


Bloix 04.24.09 at 1:39 pm

Laura, you’re right – they are all children. I think the two with the longer skirts may be a few years older – perhaps there was an age at which girls switched from short skirts to more adult dress.


watson aname 04.24.09 at 1:44 pm

Is it possible that anyone enjoying this not know about the Shorpy photo archive?


Mr 04.24.09 at 2:01 pm

Interesting that those are considered “snowshoes.” I assume that is a contemporary label.


LizardBreath 04.24.09 at 3:10 pm

Skiing in skirts, however, is just a bit implausible, unless you keep the velocity really low.

Why? Not as warm as pants, (I figure you’d want layer on layer of wool stockings underneath), but other than that, what would be the problem?


watson aname 04.24.09 at 3:46 pm

what would be the problem?

I can think two minor problems: more wind resistance, and cold, cold landings.


Jackie M. 04.24.09 at 4:08 pm

ah, they all have leggings. And I expect their velocity was being limited by their skis more than their skirts.


John Quiggin 04.24.09 at 7:57 pm

The original buildings weren’t pulled down (I think some dating from the 1950s were removed) but they have gradually fallen down. There were quite a few more standing back in the 1970s when I first went skiing there.

The whole area has lots of bits and pieces from the gold rush era.


Bill Gardner 04.25.09 at 7:16 am

Lizard Breath @14:
Leaving modesty aside… the answer is “not as warm as pants.” Skiing at speed throws up a lot of snow. Skirts would tend to catch it. That would get uncomfortable.


Martha Bridegam 04.26.09 at 6:45 am

Width of skirts is the damn problem. Most skirts constrict the stride unless they’re the ballet kind. It would be like skiing while your ankles were tied together with a two-foot rope

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