Mount Buller is one of the 3 major ski resorts in Victoria. Located only 225 km from Melbourne, it is a popular destination for day and weekend skiers. Mt Buller has a wide variety of terrain and a vibrant, cosmopolitan village with bars, restaurants, nightclubs, a cinema, university and accommodation choices ranging from luxury hotels & apartments to club lodges and a youth hostel.
- 1 Location
- 2 Pros
- 3 Cons
- 4 Contacts
- 5 Planning
- 6 Resort Facilities
- 7 Ride Guide
- 8 Other
- 9 Resources
At 225km or 3 hours from Melbourne, Mount Buller is the closest major downhill ski resort to the city's CBD, it is obvious why Mount Buller is popular with Melburnians. It is well within reach for a day trip, and many visit each weekend during the winter.
Mt Buller has a superb variety of terrain from cruisy greens right through to double black chutes. It features North, East and South facing slopes, meaning in poor weather it is often possible to find a sheltered area.
The South Side of the mountain is a series of bowls, which comprise some of the most challenging black mogul skiing in Australia, while the ridges between these bowls feature great blue cruising runs. Its aspect means it receives very little sun in Winter, preserving the snow quality.
The North Side of the mountain features a number of long cruisers, some challenging areas, and the unique experience of skiing amongst the tall Woolybutt eucalypts. As it is the sunny aspect of the mountain it is the first to soften on an icy day.
Snow levels can be a bit inconsistant limiting the amount of terrain open on the mountain, and whilst it's proxmity to Melbourne can be seen as a distinct advantage, this also means that weekend skiing can be crowded. However, with a new six seater chairlift as well as the original Blue Bullet Lift taking guests from the village centre, lift ques are much quicker. Over night visitors have no choice but to use a taxi to cart all your gear to you accomodation costing $14 each way.
Federation lift can break down on a regular basis.
Mt Buller Resort Management
- Phone: (03) 5777 6077
- Fax: (03) 5777 6219
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Postal Address: Post Office Mt Buller, Victoria, Australia 3723
Buller Ski Lifts Pty Ltd
- Phone: (03) 5777 7800
- Email: email@example.com
Driving to Mount Buller shouldn't be much of a problem.
Majority of the travellers from Melbourne who lives in the Eastern Suburbs use the Maroondah/Melba Highway (B300) which starts in Lilydale and ends in Mansfield, a mid sized town adjacent to Mount Buller.
There are multiple ways of travelling from Melbourne to Yea, which is about halfway to Mt Buller. From Yea there is only 1 way.
The absolute shortest route is up Plenty Road & via Whittlesea to Yea, whereas when there is heavy traffic those living near the CityLink Tollway will prefer to exit the city via CityLink / Western Ring Road / Hume Fwy & turn off either at Broadford or Tallarook then on to Yea. This route is a bit further, but can be offset by the lack of traffic lights & freeway speed. A hybrid route which makes the most of the lack of traffic lights on the freeways & the shorter Whittlesea route is to follow CityLink / Hume Fwy to Donnybrook Rd which cuts across to Plenty Rd.
From Mansfield it is about a 40 minute drive through Merrijig and up the mountain. You pass through the combined Mt Buller and Mt Stirling entry gates at the bottom of the hill immediately prior to the Mt Stirling turn off.
Drivers coming from the North on the Hume Fwy take the Mansfield turn off (just after the Benalla turn off), from where it is a further 60km to Mansfield followed by 45km to Mt Buller. .
There is a wide range of accomodation options on the mountain, most with the ability to ski in-ski out. The backpackers and lodges offer good value for money and there are plenty of more luxury options as well.
Endless options starting at Mansfield and working your way through Merrijig and Sawmill settlement and all along the road between them. Pubs, motels, B&B's resort style etc.
Lift tickets can be bought on the mountain or purchased at the Mount Buller ski hire shop on Main Street West in Mansfield.
- 1 Day: $94
- 2 Day: $184
- 3 Day: $264
- 4 Day: $351
- 5 Day: $400
- PM lift only (12pm onwards): $79
- 1Day family (2 adults/ 2 kids lift only): $260 (Additional child is $41 each)
- Children 1 day $50
"children" are counted up to year 12 with school ID.
Tertiary students recieve a 20% discount on lift tickets, (and equipment hire and lessons) and 50% on Tuesdays.
Ski & Snowboard School
Mt Buller boasts a large Ski & Snowboard School with up to 340 qualified and professional instructors from Australia and around the world.
It offers a wide array of Private and Group products to cater for guests of all ages and abilities.
Hiring equipment on the mountain shouldn't be a problem since the shops are comparable to the shops in Melbourne. The only drawback is that the price system for the shops on the mountain can be a bit steeper than the shops in Melbourne. If unsure, contact the Mount Buller Resort Management by phone or email for more information.
There is a Free IntraVillage Bus service that runs on three routes around the village. Everything is within walking distance if you want to make the effort though.
Due to limited amount of space in the Village, public parking in the village is banned during winter. Public parking is located 1-3km from the village square down the Mount Buller Road. There is a free village bus for day trippers from the Day Carpark and taxis are supplied for overnight visitors.
During Summer, parking is allowed in the village.
Pretend to be "The Man from Snowy River" for the day! Sounds like fun? Then book a horse riding activity from many of the stables located around Mansfield and experiance the high country from the horse back.
During winter, there is a XC ski resort just a (big!) stone throw away from the Mt Buller Village called Mt Stirling. Since you are most likely to already be in the village of Mt Buller, you can drive down the Mt Buller Road to the gate house and turn right into the road that leads directly to Mt Stirling for no extra cost (due to the gate of Mt Stirling and Mt Buller being combined into one).
For summer time, there are plenty of High Country activities to participate in such as bush horse riding and riding a hot air balloon during sunset.
Fine dining can be found at Hotel Pension Grimus, Breathtaker & The Black Cockatoo Restaurant at the Mt Buller Chalet. All 3 are pricy - similar to city equivalents, but have excellent food.
The hidden secret of the 2007 season was the Alpine Retreat. In the past it had not been renowned for culinary greatness, but it hired an amazing team and the food was superb, with reasonable prices.
The 'Duck Dinner for 2' at the Duck Inn can't be missed!
The Kooroora Kitchen has great value & excellent quality pub food.
Uncle Pat's is a great family pizza / pasta venue with what may be the cheapest food in the mountains. Pizza is also good at the Arlberg Hotel, and more Gourmet Pizzas can be had at Breathtaker. Abom's pizzas are expensive & service is often slow.
Wokworx is a welcome addition, although not cheap compared to the city. It's 3AM hotdogs & dim sims are priceless however.
For those that stay in apartments and want to cook their own the supermarket under Bourke St is amazing, probably the best in the mountains. Prices are reasonable and the range is fantastic so save your money of extra luggage with eskis full of food and buy most of your stuff up there and support the local business - it is open year round as well which is a bonus for those that venture up there in summer to walk, mountain bike etc.
Kofflers is a great on-mountain lunch option. It is in a convenient location accessible from the Summit & Wombat areas, and has a great menu of home cooked food. It is a little pricy, and can get very busy in bad weather but overall is a great option for Lunch, a snack, a coffee or even a beer.
Tirol CafÃÂÃÂ© is located at the top of the Tirol T Bar & Emirates Chairlift. It has a great menu but service can be slow in busy times. The deck is a wonderful place to be in good weather & for aprÃÂÃÂ©s ski drinks.
'The Whitt' located behind the Ski Patrol building is a bit of a hidden gem at lunchtime. Good portions of reasonably priced food & it is always deserted. It's especially good in poor weather as there are lots of places to hang up wet clothes & heaters to dry gloves.
Abom has cafeteria style food & is often very busy.
Hotel Pension Grimus is open for lunch on weekends, and represents good value for a restaurant style lunch.
Subway in the Village square is, well, Subway.
Uncle Pats, Wokworx & Kooroora Kitchen: See above as per dinner.
Bars & Entertainment
There are many bars around the mountain, but as the hour approaches midnight, all roads lead to the Kooroora Hotel in the Village Square. It is the main late night establishment, and once you hear the opening refrain of 'That's Amore' by Dean Martin, it means that it's 3 AM, the lights are about to come on, the person you were dancing with is about to look really ugly, and it's time to go home!
Hotel Pension Grimus has a charming small bar with true Austrian hospitality, but beware of Hans with his Schnapps & Snuff.
AprÃÂÃÂ©s bar at the Mt Buller Chalet Hotel is a vibrant venue after skiing, often with happy hour specials & good pub style snack food.
The Ski Club of Victoria is affectionately known as 'The Whitt' and is a popular spot for locals. There are often bands on weekends, but will be of little interest if you are under 40.
The Loft Bar at Breathtaker has a cosy atmosphere & good cocktails.
The Arlberg Hotel is renowned for it's 'Pot & a Shot' and Pool Comp nights.
Buckle up for a drink or 3 with the Materns at the Alpine Retreat, it's an experience you're unlikely to forget.
If you end up at the Avalanche, it means it's too late, you're too drunk and the cops are about to come to turn the music down.
Mount Buller has two main beginner areas - Bourke St, and Burnt Hut Spur. Bourke St is the location of the main Ski & Snowboard School building, and has a Magic Carpet lift for first time skiers. Lessons are also offered at Burnt Hut Spur, which is a popular location for day skiers as it is easily accessible at the top of the Horse Hill chair which provides a direct route to the mountain from the carpark.
Mt Buller can be justifiably proud of the quality of its grooming. Despite the challenging snow conditions in the Australian Alps, the grooming team rarely fails to produce high quality skiing.
Little Buller Spur, Wombat and The Summit are great, reliable cruising runs and usually open in even a bad season. Summit Slide, Tyrol, Shakey Knees and even occasionally Dam Run are fantastic groomers on the North Side.
For beginners and low intermediates, Bourke St, Baldy, Burnt Hut Spur, Family Run and Skyline are usualy groomed daily.
Mt Buller's Off Piste skiing is one of is greatest strengths in a good snow year. Unlike competing resorts, grooming at Buller is reserved for Blue runs, with the exception of Mens Downhill and Howqua Extension.
Excellent Off Piste skiing can be found off the Wombat, Federation, Southside, Bull Run, Summit, Howqua, Grimus and Tyrol lifts.
Numerous rocky outcrops,drop-offs, cornices, trees and other natural features provide excellent challenges for advanced skiers in these areas.
Out of Bounds
The area beyond Mt Buller's Summit Hut, known as 'The Chutes' provide some of Australia's most challenging lift-served terrain. Skiers have died in this area, so as a result it needs to be approached with caution and treated with a great deal of respect.
Groomed Cross Country trails are available from the village to Corn Hill, and further on to Mt Stirling in a good season.
Many Ski School instructors are qualified in Cross Country, and specialise in preparing skiers for Interschool races.
Most on mountain ski hires carry Cross Country equipment.
Parks & Pipes
Now under the moniker of MBP (Mount Buller Parks), Buller's rail park is typically located on Baldy just above the Bluff Views rope tow and the Jump park runs parallel to the rails on the skyline side of the fence.
The Halfpipe is just below the Skyline T-bar off load and situated below Bull Run chair. When constructed the pipe height varies around the 10 foot mark.
Both the Baldy and Skyline parks as well as the Halfpipe can be accessed (and re-accessed) using the skyline T-bar.
For some big air time, head towards the Summit and slide down the summit slide towards Grimus. These jumps are for experts, so be careful. Also to note, this jump may be icy at times. If you are uncertain about the ice conditions, it is best to leave the jump alone and find a ski petrol to query about the conditions.
Inspecting the Grimus Jumps on the first go by going around the base is recommened to get an understanding of how the landing is going to turn out.
In a good snow year, Mt Buller has an abundance of moguls, and has shunned the trend of its competitors to aggressively groom advanced slopes.
The bulk of the South Side of the mountain is challenging mogul terrain. Most notable for moguls are Wood Run, Funnel and Sun Valley in the Bull Run Bowl but there are also many other choices in the Federation, Chamois, Wombat Bowl and Summit/Fast One areas.
Wood Run is the preferred location for the ABOM Mogul Challenge, an annual FIS freestyle event.
As with the Bumps, Buller's South Side is where to head when the snow is fresh - its shady aspect keeps the snow fresh for longer and the prevailing northerlies blow the snow into these areas. Stick to the trees and follow the locals - if you can!
Buller is renowned for its fog, and on days where the weather is less than appealing up top the best direction to head is down. Runs to the South and North sides of the mountain typically get low enough to duck under the fog that typically makes runs such as Summit, Baldy and Bourke Street (and the traverse to Burnt Hut) difficult to navigate. If not familiar with the mountain, it is best to stay on these sheltered runs to avoid heading somewhere that exceeds your ability.
Buller has 2 designated snowplay areas which are perfect for tobogganning, snowball fights, making snowmen and anything else that's fun with snow. These areas are the Skating Rink, located next to the Horse Hill carpark, and also between the RMB office and La Trobe University.
The Village tobogann area has a designated snowcannon.
If snow conditions are limited then alternate snowplay areas may be provided. Please note that snowplay on open ski runs is dangerous and strongly discouraged, and in times of extremely limited snow, snowplay may not be available.
As with all mountain areas, the weather at Mt Buller has the potential to be extreme, and can change very quickly.
The more obvious dangers of the cold can be matched by the unexpected onset of sunburn, dehydration & snowblindness.
In poor weather, the biggest dangers are dampness and wind. As with all Australian resorts, wet weather is par for the course, but once soaked through it is very difficult to maintain core temperature & this often results in hypothermia. When it is below zero & snowing, hypothermia is also a possibility, but less likely as snow generally brushes off clothing instead of soaking in as rain.
The best way to mitigate these dangers is with quality equipment - at the very least a wind & waterproof outer layer, sufficient insulating warming layers & synthetic thermals. Cotton is a major no-no as it readily absorbs water which can be dangerous in cold & windy conditions. Waterproof gloves & appropriate goggles are also essential.
Conversely in warm temperatures there are similar dangers. As many people expect the snow to be cold & dress as such, in periods of fine weather this can result in overheating & dehydration. As well as this, due to the reflection of the sun off the snow, sunburn & snowblindness are a possibility, and good quality sunglasses and SPF30+ sunscreen are not optional. Also remember if you are chucking a sickie to go skiing, going back to work with a goggle tan is guaranteed to get you busted.
Fog is also a concern as it can result in disorientation. In this case it's better to avoid the upper slopers of the mountain & never ski alone. Many skiers carry a whistle to alert other skiers / Ski Patrol when lost. At Mt Buller if you are completely lost, walk uphill until you find a point of reference.
Mt Buller is part of Australia's Great Dividing Range that stretches from Queensland through to Victoria. All of Australia's major snow resorts are part of this major Geographical feature. Mt Buller lies at the mainland range's Southernmost extent before it submerges into Bass Strait reappearing again as the Tasmanian highlands.
Mt Buller is fortunate enough to possess an Alpine Museum which is a proud custodian of Australian Alpine Heritage.
In addition, the mural inside the restaurant at Pension Grimus lists opening and closing year of every lift to have operated at Mt Buller
A list of every lift to have operated at Buller, (including a couple not on the Grimus list) can be found in the Ski Lift Directory.