Difference between revisions of "Mt Buller"
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Revision as of 02:12, 28 December 2012
Mount Buller is one of the 3 major ski resorts in Victoria. Located only 234 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 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 234km or 3 hours easy drive from Melbourne, Mount Buller is the closest major downhill ski resort to the city and indeed any major Australian city. 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 green beginner runs 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 direct 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.
The Horse Hill Chairlift from the day car park means that you can be on the slopes within minutes of arriving.
In a good year when the snow is top to bottom Mt Buller is arguably the best resort in Victoria.
There is terrain to suit anyone from young kids to double black thrill seekers.
- Snow levels, like anywhere in Australia, can be inconsistant limiting the amount of terrain open on the mountain, although extensive snowmaking helps mitigate this. Mt Buller's proxmity to Melbourne can be seen as a distinct advantage for ease of access, however this also means that weekend skiing on popular days can be crowded. However, with an express six seater chairlift as well as the Blue Bullet Lift taking guests from the village centre, lift queues tend to move quickly.
- Over night visitors can only access the village accommodation via a taxi at a charge of $17.50 (adult - 2010). 
- The Ski & Snowboard School is located halfway up the hill, a 5 -10 minute walk up from the Village Centre.
- Access to Chamois can be difficult as it sits slightly separate to the main ski area, especially if Standard and Bull run are closed.
- Most expensive season pass in Australia
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 is straightforward on sealed and clearly signed roads.
Majority of the travellers from Melbourne who live 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 several ways to drive from Melbourne to Yea, which is about halfway to Mt Buller. From Yea there is only one direct route to Mt Buller.
The 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 slightly 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 Mt Buller and Mt Stirling resort entry gates at the bottom of the hill immediately prior to the Mt Stirling turn off. At the gates there is a final fuel and food stop - Mirimbah store.
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.
Mansfield is a good-sized town and a good place to collect your wheel chains, any alpine fuel and snacks before heading up the mountain.
There are a wide range of accomodation options on the mountain, most with the ability to ski in-ski out. The backpackers hostels and lodges offer very good value for money and there are plenty of more luxury options as well. Mt Buller has over 7000 on-mountain beds - the most of any Victorian resort.
Multiple options are available 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. and many well-appointed private homes and lodges.
[High Country Reservations have a wide range of options http://www.mansfieldmtbuller.com.au/]
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: $99
- 2 Day: $195
- 3 Day: $284
- 4 Day: $373
- 5 Day: $423
- PM lift only (12pm onwards): $84
- 1Day family (2 adults/ 2 kids lift only): $275 (Additional child is $45 each)
- Children 1 day $54
Mt Buller is the only resort to classify "children" right up to Year 12.
Tertiary students with a fulltime student ID card recieve a 20% discount on lift tickets, (and equipment hire and lessons) and 50% OFF 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.
Lessons in skiing, snowboarding and race technique are available. Specialist instructors for disabled skiers on request.
Ski School offers a wide array of private and Group lessons to cater for guests of all ages and abilities. Childrens programs start from just 3 years old in the Bunyips program with full and half day programs available. There is also a creche for 3mths - 3 years childcare with qualified carers and a wide range of play activities.
[For more information http://www.mtbuller.com.au/Winter/Ski-School]
Hiring equipment on the mountain is convenient and there are a number of operators all offering a wide range of rental and retail equipment, clothing and servicing.
For information and contact details for on-mountain stores: 
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 not available for guests during winter. Public parking is located 1-3km just below 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 and there is road access right up to the carpark below the Summit. In summer there is also no charge to enter the resort.
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 in the Kaptan's Restaurant, Breathtaker All-Suite Hotel's Signature Restaurant & The popular Black Cockatoo Restaurant in the Mt Buller Chalet Hotel. All 3 are higher end - similar to city equivalents in price but have excellent food.
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 popular 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 and ABOM.
Wokworx is a welcome addition. It late night opening for 3AM hotdogs & dim sims is sometimes lifesaving.
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.
Koflers is a great on-mountain lunch option right in the ski field. 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 Cafe 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 as all food is cooked fresh to order. The deck is a wonderful place to be in good weather & for apres 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 good cafeteria style food & is often very busy around lunchtime with ski school groups. The bistro at night is great value and good food. Family friendly venue with a children's secure play area and freshly made pizzas.
Hotel Pension Grimus is open for lunch on weekends, and represents good value for a restaurant style lunch.
Uncle Pats, Wok Worx & Kooroora Kitchen: See above as per dinner.
Burger Haus in the front of George's ski hire cranks out freshly made burgers available in lamb, beef, chicken or vegetarian options and very good coffee.
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 - Herbies - with true Austrian hospitality, but beware of your host Hans Grimus with his Schnapps & Snuff.
Apres bar at the Mt Buller Chalet Hotel is a vibrant venue after skiing located right off the Bourke Street run, often with happy hour specials & good pub style snack food. There is also a great wine list in the Black Cockatoo Bar and it's a good spot to be when the fire is crackling.
The Ski Club of Victoria is affectionately known as 'The Whitt' and has long been 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. There is a pool table and old-school arcade games. Wifi make it a popular spot for catching up online.
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. Unfortunately Bourke street is always very busy. 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. Burnt Hut is a better choice for beginners than Bourke street as it is not as crowded and has a more consistent grade. Although not marked as a run the area off to the side of dam rope tow is very beginner friendly. Also spurs is a good place for a beginner but riding the t-bar can be tricky.
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.
Some of the downhill bike runs that are used in summer provide great ski runs in winter. In particular the bike run called International off Burnt Hut can be great skiing and in a good season you can end up at the Horse hill mid load or Tyrol T-bar.
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. DO NOT SKI THIS AREA IF YOU ARE UNSURE OF SNOW CONDITIONS!
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! After heavy and low snowfalls it is possible to find freshies on the northern side. Dam run is great after a large dump. Also the runs that are around the old village T-Bar can be great as it is always deserted. Unfortunately this area is rarely skiable and because of it's low altitude can become slushy quite quickly.
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. A good choice for when the weather packs it in is Standard and the Bull Run bowl and the Chamois bowl.
Buller has two 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 next to the Community Centre as you arrive into the Village.
The Village toboggan area has its own snowmaking gun to keep it topped up.
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.
Mt Buller is a popular destination for seasonal work during the busy winter months. Buller Ski Lifts is the major employer although many hotels, restaurants and other businesses need staff for the ski season from June - October.
Positions are often advertised and listed on the Mt Buller website -- 
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.
There used to be 2 lift companies at Buller. Blue and Orange.