Helmut Gritscher

Helmut Gritscher (6 June 1933 - 24 November 2015) was an Austrian-born skier, ski instructor and photographer who worked in Australia 1961–70.[1]

Helmut Gritscher
Born6 June 1933
Died24 November 2015
OccupationSkier, ski instructor and photographer


Helmut Gritscher was born 7 June 1933 in Wattens, in the Austrian Tyrol. A ski instructor, he traveled and worked in the mountains of Europe, Lebanon and the United States[2] before coming to Australia in 1961 to join the Perisher Ski School in the Mt. Kosciusko ski fields,[3][4] producing his first book, Skiing, on ski technique, with fellow instructor Fritz Halbwidl.[5]


Gritscher stayed in Australia because he "wanted to photograph something which has only been partly explored visually" to produce his second book The High Country, on the Australian Alps photographed in winter and summer, for which he asked Craig McGregor to write the text.[6] Of the process of taking the photographs he remembered "with every day I spent in those mountains I discovered more beautiful things, and my life became richer,[7] sentiments on which he elaborated in interview;

"Some of the world's most wonderful and bizarre trees are here, unmatched in their variety of colour, texture, and shape. The most fascinating discovery for me was the huge stretches of untouched land I saw when I walked through and camped on the lonely high plains . . . There was not one sign that a human being had walked there before; only the weird and unreal shapes of dead trees and rocks and an unspeakable quietness and melancholy over the whole land."[8]

His subjects in the Alps included not only skiers and the landscape, but also the Snowy Mountains hydroelectric project.

To Sydney with Love, his third book, took as its subject Sydney's beaches and harbour, and there he also photographed the older suburbs, rugby, the Sydney Opera House and cultural events.[9]

Gristcher's photographs were published frequently to illustrate articles and covers for Walkabout magazine[10] and also in Pacific Islands Monthly, and he was profiled in Craig McGregor's 1969 survey of Australian arts In The Making[11]

Returning to Europe in 1970, Gritscher continued to produce illustrations there for ski stories.[12][13][14] and he was represented by Aspect picture library, London, which distributed his photographs to publishers including LIFE books, Readers Digest and National Geographic into the 1990s[15][16]

Gritscher died, aged 82, on 24 November 2015 in Austria in his home town of Wattens where his ashes are interred, and was survived by his wife Gerda, sons Thomas and Andreas and siblings Paula and Herbert.[17]

Reception and recognitionEdit

Peter Fenton, in reviewing The High Country for The Age writes that "Gritscher's camera work which dominates 'The High Country' and, ipso facto, gives the book a rather stronger coffee-table flavour, is generally as first-class as we expect of him. Occasionally it is beyond adjectives, notably hls color, in which his flair for catching the play of light on snowy mountaln•tops, sheep's backs, birds' feathers, alpine flowers, boulders chalets, trees and other objects is impressively expressed."[18] Craig McGregor regarded Gritscher as amongst a few who had "made the crucial breakthrough in Australian photography",[19] and in In The Making records that another photographer commented "Helmut has a love affair with every subject he takes." He worked alongside, and as the equal of, significant Australian practitioners; photographs by Gritscher were purchased, with those of David Beal, David Moore, Lance Nelson and Richard Woldendorp in 1969 for the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne through the KODAK (Australasia) Pty Ltd Fund.[20]




  • Gritscher, Helmut; McGregor, Craig, 1933- (1967), The high country : Photographs: Helmut Gritscher, Angus & Robertson, retrieved 12 December 2020{{citation}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  • To Sydney with love/ [Photography: Helmut Gritscher. Text: Craig McGregor, City of Sydney Archives, 1968, retrieved 12 December 2020[22][23]
  • Gritscher, Helmut; Wakla, Eric; Halbwidl, Fritz (1968), Skiing : a pictorial handbook of instruction, Ure Smith, retrieved 12 December 2020
  • Gritscher, H., & New South Wales. (1970). New South Wales, Australia: Professional ski race, Mount Kosciusko. Sydney, N.S.W.: New South Wales Dept. of Tourism.


  • Hueneke, Klaus (1990), Kosciusko : where the ice-trees burn, Tabletop Press, ISBN 978-0-9590841-1-5
  • Reader's Digest Association (1971), Australia : this land - these people (1st ed.), Reader's Digest Association, ISBN 978-0-909486-04-4
  • McGregor, Craig; McGregor, Craig, 1933-; Beal, David, 1936- (1968), Life in Australia, Southern Cross International, retrieved 12 December 2020{{citation}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)

Magazine articlesEdit

  • Elyne Mitchell, with photographs by Helmut Gritscher, 'The Dream That Is Mount Townsend,' In Walkabout. Vol. 32 No. 6 (1 June 1966), p.16-19, Australian Geographical Society.
  • Robin Boyd (1963-12-01), "AUSTRALIA'S SPLIT-LEVEL CULTURE (1 December 1963)", Walkabout, Australian National Travel Association, 29 (12), ISSN 0043-0064


  1. ^ "Artists | NGV". www.ngv.vic.gov.au. Retrieved 2021-06-21.
  2. ^ Paul Carpenter, The Snowy: where time turned back,' The Sydney Morning Herald, Sun, May 12, 196 p.98
  3. ^ "Instructors". Perisher Historical Society. Retrieved 2020-12-12.
  4. ^ Hueneke, Klaus (1990), Kosciusko : where the ice-trees burn, Tabletop Press, ISBN 978-0-9590841-1-5
  5. ^ reviewed in Wausau Daily Herald, Wednesday 29 Jul 1970, p.20
  6. ^ McGregor, Craig (2013), Left hand drive : a social and political memoir, Affirm Press ; North Sydney : Random House Australia [Distributor], ISBN 978-1-922213-08-2
  7. ^ McGregor, Craig (1969). In the making. Melbourne: Thomas Nelson (Australia). ISBN 0-17-001819-9. OCLC 72963.
  8. ^ Paul Carpenter, The Snowy: where time turned back,' The Sydney Morning Herald, Sun, May 12, 196 p.98
  9. ^ Gritscher, Helmut; McGregor, Craig (1968). To Sydney with love. Melbourne: Nelson (Australia).
  10. ^ Australian Geographical Society (1966-06-01), "THE DREAM THAT IS MOUNT TOWNSEND (1 June 1966)", Walkabout, Australian National Travel Association, 32 (6), ISSN 0043-0064
  11. ^ McGregor, Craig; McGregor, Craig, 1933- (1969), In the making, Thomas Nelson (Australia), ISBN 978-0-17-001819-7{{citation}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  12. ^ George Bush, photos by Helmut Gritscher, "Innsbruck, Skiing's Capital City", Skiing, Dec 1972, Vol. 25, No. 4, ISSN 0037-6264
  13. ^ Bill Tanler, photos by Helmut Gritscher, "Preview: The FIS World Alpine Championships," Skiing, Feb 1978, Vol. 30, No. 6, ISSN 0037-6264
  14. ^ John Skow, photos by Helmut Gritscher, "A Schladming Sampler," Skiing, Jan 1979, Vol. 31, No. 5, ISSN 0037-6264
  15. ^ photographer and agency credit in: The Sydney Morning Herald, Saturday 04 Jan 1986, p.92
  16. ^ photographer and agency credit in: Blashfield, J. F. (1999). Italy. United States: Children's Press.
  17. ^ Tageszeitung, Tiroler. "Traueranzeige von Helmut Gritscher vom 29.11.2015 | Tiroler Tageszeitung". Traueranzeigen | Tiroler Tageszeitung (in German). Retrieved 2020-12-12.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  18. ^ Peter Fenton, "The Book that came for coffee", The Age, Saturday 27 Jan 1968, p.19
  19. ^ Craig McGregor, "They have begun to look deeply beneath the country's surface," The Sydney Morning Herald Saturday, 01 Jun 1968, p.17
  20. ^ "Artists - Helmut Gritscher". National Gallery of Victoria. Retrieved 2020-12-12.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  21. ^ Ann Galbally, The Age, Wednesday 10 Dec 1969, p.2
  22. ^ Alan Ashbolt, "Through the camera lens", The Sydney Morning Herald, Sat, 22 Feb 1969, p.21
  23. ^ Australian Book Review. Issue 8, 1968, Australia