Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Anton, Charles William (1916–1966)

by Kerry Regan

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (MUP), 1993

Charles William Anton (1916-1966), ski-field promoter, was born on 23 November 1916 in Vienna and named Karl Anton, second child of Elieser (Alois) Schwarz, a Jewish timber-merchant who was later baptized, and his wife Stella, née Schwarz. Karl was educated at the Technisches Gewerbemuseum, Vienna, and worked as a clerk for the Sun Insurance Office Ltd in Austria. For his military service in 1937-38 he chose the dragoons, though he was no horseman. Dismissed from the army and forced to leave Austria after the Anschluss, he reached Sydney in the Orford on 14 December 1938. He changed his name by deed poll on 8 March 1939. Enlisting in the Australian Military Forces on 7 March 1942, he was posted to the 3rd Employment Company (for 'aliens'). Anton was naturalized on 15 February 1944 and transferred to the Australian Imperial Force in July 1945. As a member of the army team, he competed in the Allied Services Ski-Meeting in September at Charlotte Pass before being demobilized in December.

Debonair, 5 ft 4 ins (163 cm) tall, with blue-grey eyes and brown hair, Anton had married Betty Estelle Caldwell on 12 March 1942 at St Stephen's Presbyterian Church, Sydney. Full of ideas and a gifted organizer, he tackled situations head on: he often wrote to the Sydney Morning Herald and in 1942 defended 'stateless' Europeans. After the war he worked with Edward Lumley & Sons (N.S.W.) Pty Ltd and subsequently set up as an insurance broker within the firm. Divorced in March 1948, he married Margaret Evelyn Foster at the McNeil Memorial Presbyterian Church, Waverley, on 10 July that year; they were to be divorced in August 1960.

Frequenting the Snowy Mountains, Anton realized that more accommodation was needed on the main range to make use of descents on the western faces. In 1950 he founded and presided over the Ski Tourers' Association which, assisted by the Kosciusko State Park Trust, built a skiers' lodge at Lake Albina. He then encouraged his followers to build a second hut (Kunama) and a rope tow, thereby opening the downhill runs between the Chalet Hotel and Lake Albina.

Undaunted when Kunama was destroyed by an avalanche in July 1956, Anton looked to other areas to develop; he was also worried by changing policies of the trust, which later resumed Lake Albina lodge. With his friends, Thyne Reid and the hydrologist Tony Sponar, he explored the south-eastern side of the range in 1956 and found at Friday Flat on the Thredbo River a natural valley with slopes descending to an accessible road. Anton formed a syndicate and in 1957 the State government approved development. A public company, Kosciusko Thredbo Ltd, with Reid as chairman and Anton as a director, was formed to build a 300-bed hotel. In two years Thredbo had fifty-two lodges and the longest chairlift in Australia. At Anton's behest, in 1959 the S.T.A. built Kareela, an Austrian-style hut at the top of the Mount Crackenback chairlift, where he married 25-year-old Jutta Margaret Eva Olivier with Presbyterian forms on 3 October 1960.

Conflict between the trust and Kosciusko Thredbo Ltd loomed when Anton proposed to establish two ski-lifts beyond Thredbo. Frustrated after the takeover of the company by Lend Lease Corporation Ltd in 1961 and by the trust's stonewalling tactics, Anton established lodges at Perisher and Falls Creek as part of his plan for a network in the New South Wales and Victorian ski-fields. To reflect his vision, he unilaterally renamed the S.T.A. the Australian Alpine Club.

While he was never able to overcome his accentuated Arlberg technique, Anton was a keen competitive skier who promoted interclub racing, introduced summer events and brought the State Ski Championships to Thredbo in 1958. He helped to raise the standard of ski-racing in Australia by supporting instructors from Austria and by urging Australian skiers to compete abroad. Survived by his wife, their son and daughter, and by the daughter of his first marriage, he died of meningococcal septicaemia on 17 September 1966 at Cooma and was cremated with Anglican rites. His ashes were interred on Mount Crackenback behind a plaque unveiled by the minister for lands Thomas Lewis on 10 June 1968. Anton Huette at Mount Hotham and Mount Anton are named in his honour.

Select Bibliography

  • W. Cross (ed), Twenty-One Years of the Australian Alpine Club (priv pub, np, nd)
  • M. Norst, Austrians and Australia (Syd, 1988)
  • Hostel-Yarn, Jan-Feb, May-June 1961
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 1 Sept 1942, 8 Dec 1950, 28 Jan 1952, 13 July 1954, 13 July, 3 Aug 1956, 30 Jan 1957, 19 Sept 1966, 11 June 1968
  • Financial Review, 30 June 1960
  • naturalisation file, A435/1 item 44/4/1110 (National Archives of Australia)
  • private information.

Citation details

Kerry Regan, 'Anton, Charles William (1916–1966)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/anton-charles-william-9372/text16463, published first in hardcopy 1993, accessed online 22 October 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (MUP), 1993

View the front pages for Volume 13

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2018

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Schwarz, Karl Anton
Birth

23 November 1916
Vienna, Austria

Death

17 September 1966
Cooma, New South Wales, Australia

Cultural Heritage
Religious Influence
Occupation