Cover image for Weindorfer Memorial Service Committee
Weindorfer Memorial Service Committee
Agency Number:
Start Date:
01 Jan 1938
This Committee was formed to commemorate the life of Austrian-born Gustav Weindorfer (1874 - 1932) the naturalist, mountaineer and conservationist of Waldheim Chalet, Cradle Mountain and perpetuate his memory by organising the Weindorfer Memorial Service each New Year's day at his gravesite. Since the 1980's it has also screened a film and slide show for people attending the memorial service on that day. These depict the life style and activities of visitors to Cradle mountain during Weindorfer's time.
When he died at Waldheim of coronary vascalur disease on 5 May 1932 it was Weindorfer's wish to be buried there and this was arranged by his friends from Launceston Messrs. Charles Monds, Frederick Smithies, George Perrin and John Branagan and Major R. E. Smith of Ulverstone. A granite cairn over his grave was unveiled in 1938.
The area had already been proclaimed a reserve in 1922 due largely to his efforts. He and his wife Kate (nee Cowle, who died in 1916) first visited the Cradle Valley in January 1909 and both soon had a vision to protect the area and have people know about it and enjoy it. They settled in the area in 1912 and built Waldheim Chalet to encourage visitors and spread appreciation for the magnificent scenic area. From Christmas 1912 Waldheim was open to visitors and by 1914 had grown to eight rooms and a small hut nearby. Regular motorised transport started in 1921.
After his death Austrian relatives from his birthplace at Spittal an der Drau, Karten, an alpine province of Austria sent candles and Eidelweiss flowers each New Year's day to Waldheim. The tradition began in Novemner 1932 when Gustav's sister sent a bunch of everlasting flowers and four candles, asking that they be placed on his grave on New Year's day, as was the custom in their Austrian province of Carinthia.
This simple ceremony was continued until the outbreak of World War 2 and subsequently revived in 1954. The current format of a memorial servive on New Year's day, along with placing the flowers and lighting the candles, was instituted by the North West Walking Club in the early 1970's. Although local flowers are now used, candles are still sent from Austria to this day.
To ensure the tradition of a New Year's day service did not lapse the Weindorfer Memorial Service Committee was formed by a small dedicated group of about ten from the Walking Club. Minutes of meetings are kept and the late Dr John Pickford, who died in 2005, was a very devoted member. Other prominent members of the committee have been the late Mr Alan Richmond (Devonport), Miss Ann Stocks (Devonport), Mr Merv Summers (Burnie), and Mr Arnold Rowlands (Burnie). Some records of the Committee have been deposited in the Archives by Mr Rowlands and some archives and copies of photographs are kept by Mrs Jenny Pearce (Leith).
Information Sources:
Gustav Weindorfer, Australian Dictionary of Biography; notes provided by Mrs Jenny Pearce, Leith.
James "Philosopher" Smith and Family (NG234)01 Jul 182715 Jun 1897

Gustav Weindorfer (NG528)23 Feb 187405 May 1932

Frederick Smithies (NG573)16 Aug 188513 Oct 1979

Arnold Rowlands (NG2167)17 Apr 192501 Oct 2009
Series Created By Agency:
NS2523 Frederick Smithies Lantern Slides01 Jan 191901 May 1932