While the Australian ski industry is wrestling with the travel limitations and social restrictions created by a global pandemic, Mt Buller quietly hit a major milestone at the end of March.
Major earthworks for the new water storage reservoir for snow making were completed and the liner installed ready for the season ahead (should it go ahead).
The reservoir is an $11.3m investment for the resort securing 100 megalitres of water storage for the village, snowmaking, fire fighting and environmental use. When it reaches capacity the reservoir will hold 40 Olympic swimming pools worth of portable water for the resort.
The next step in the project is to install an aeration system to stop water freezing during the snow season. New pumps are also being installed to move water into and out of the reservoir, along with an innovative watering system to sustain the rare alpine bogs in the area.
Initiatives during construction minimised the project footprint, which has conserved existing plants in the area. The resort is also sourcing unique native plants specific to Mt Buller for the revegetation of the area. A speciality nursery at Mt Hotham is producing 15,000 plants to assist.
With the increased water capacity, Buller Ski Lifts was able to invest another $4m expanding the snowmaking network and installing a new compressor.
Skiers and boarders can anticipate an easier slide over to the Little Buller and Wombat runs and less effort to access the summit area following improvements associated with the new reservoir.
Another game changer enhancing the flow around the ski area is the new link between the bottom of Summit Slide and the Grimus chairlift across to the base of the Bonza chairlift.
This gentle connecting trail meanders through the snow gums offering stunning views to the north and will be popular with intermediates wishing to loop between the summit area and northern slopes.
The new trail makes the traverse to the northside a breeze and will help keep more skiers and boarders on the move. The construction and landscaping on the traverse is completed ready for winter including revegetation with native plants and soil preserving techniques.
The new Kooroora development
The Kooroora Stage 2 development has been surging ahead over summer with the upper level accommodation floors close to completion. The new retail colonnade level will house a spacious group rental facility, a new Altitude retail experience and in-store specialist boot fitting service ‘Orthoski’.
Like all of Australia’s ski resorts, the challenge is predicting what restrictions will be in place come winter and for how long. In an unpredictable pandemic world it’s a case of day by day for now as we wait out these between season days.