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Mt. Buller

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Mt. Buller

The home resort of the founders of Roxy, Billabong, Rip Curl and many more: Here's a vid in an Awesome Season of a stretch that impressed Warren Miller and Plake. But it's rarely this freaking good: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5Tn5Blcd9U http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5Tn5Blcd9U Here's something on the gnarliest skiing in the State of Victoria (capital is Melbourne) The Squaw Valley ski patrol comes here (and Mt Buller ski patrol goes to Squaw Valley). In a fantastic snow season (Mt Buller is Australia's equivalent to Squaw or Kirkwood, but do not expect powder. The best time to plan a trip is from late-July to late-August and anything on either side of that can either be brilliant, dismal or something in between. One fantastic blessing is the amount of snow making this mountain has invested in and keeps investing in. In all probability, the conditions can be likened to the east coast resorts of the USA. You are skiing at an altitude of about 5000 feet which partially explains the sort of conditions you can expect. In a fabulous year, Moonlight Ridge (famous in a poster for Ripcurl) and the chutes are to die for - so do not go on your own, and go with an instructor or a group of locals. The Aussies are extremely friendly. The resort is is very safe and kid-friendly But the cultural difference is the absence of self-catering condo units. A large proportion of the accommodation is above the snow line in club accommodation which is a lot more fun than staying in another hotel room. They're helpful, they won't put you in the wrong direction, and you'll be safe. (Incidentally they drive on the left hand side of the road like the US used to do until about 1910). Buller is the closest lifted mountain to Melbourne, which wins ' the world's most liveable city' award. (Vancouver, eat your heart out!). Buller is a easy 3 to 4 hour drive from Melbourne central business district and the same from Melbourne International Airport known as Tullamarine. The easiest route is along the highway called the Hume where you turn off at Seymour, head towards Yea, then Mansfield and then Mt Buller. Snowmaking is extensive. It's one great reason why Buller is briiliant. Tyre-chains are generally required and can be hired in Mansfield or at the toll booth at the entry of Mt Buller. (They charge you to enter the resort at a rate of approximately $40 for the first day and nearly $10 per night thereafter). After drive up from a toll booth, you will be parked either on the day car park or in the overnight car parks. From the day car park for daytrippers there is a free shuttle service up to the village. Those staying overnight or longer you must catch a shared taxi ride in a four-wheel-drive (even if you rented a four-wheel-drive yourself) to the village where your lodging will be. As a rough guide, the taxi fare is $20 per person one way. Children are slightly cheaper. You can be penalised extra if your luggage is more than the ski Bag, a suitcase and perhaps some food. One of the great things about Mt Buller is the village where your lodging will be in the snow. The lodging ranges from backpacker to Penthouse. If staying in the backpackers, it can be so basic there is not an electric charge to boil coffee. The next level accommodation up from backpacker are communal club lodges. . There's a variety of these type of club lodges. In some you'll be in a dormitory bedroom in a bunk bed with strangers and shared toilets, shared showers and a shared kitchen. In the better style places, you'll be in a small bedroom and ensuite. Shop around for the better style places. Recommendations are ski club of Victoria’s Kandahar Lodge (www.skiVictoria.com.au) and Schuss (wwww.schuss.asn.au). When searching for accommodation always look at the resort Village map to see the proximity to hotels and nightlife because the free (no luggage allowed) intra-village shuttle service operates Sundays to Fridays 8 PM to 6 PM and on Saturdays 8 AM to 11 PM. It will be a long walk back to your Lodge if you missed the shuttle. More upmarket accommodation are the ski club of Victoria's The Whitt, The Mercure Grand Hotel, Arlberg, Pension Grimus and Breathtaker All-Suite Hotel. Tip: use www.wotif.com.au or Google high country reservations. In the village operates a supermarket called Foodwerks which is very reasonably priced by Australian standards. Do not expect an American Safeway or the variety you'll find in the US. Despite that the supermarket is a good solid business operation where you will find what you need at relatively decent prices. Hiring ski gear: I recommend George's ski hire, pension grimus or black mountain. Georges and black mountain are in the centre of the village, and pension grimus is close to the ski school building higher up the main beginner ski run. Boutiques: there is an excellent stores up here with ski gear, clothing and the usual odds and sods. Ski school: the ski school provides an excellent crèche and children's minding service, and many instructors are internationals from Europe the USA and Canada. The Australian instructors are not to be scoffed at:- the tiny nation punches above its weight in winter Olympics, winter X , ski and boarder cross, and anything else they turn their minds to. Nightlife: the legal drinking age is 18, not 21. For those aged 18 to probably the late 20s, the place to go is called Kooroora. For the more mature set the best places are the Whitt, Pension Grimus, the fine dining restaurants at Arlberg And Mercure Grand, and the fabulous tucked away Duck Inn. There are quick eats at reasonable value at Wokwerks (Asian noodles), the pancake parlour, Pizza at the Abom and Uncle Pat’s and Arlberg. It are staying in a typical ski Lodge, they often have self catering with fully supplied communal kitchens (and clean up after yourself) where you can cook decently priced steaks or whatever you buy at the local supermarket called Foodwerks. Lift tickets: Around $108 (2012 prices) per day ticket. There are some multi-day ticket deals. A 2013 season lift pass costs $800 if bought by late November 2012. Events: go to www.mtbuller..com.au. Mt Buller has a very strong local community feel where the regulars throw wild parties and really live it up. Chat to your concierge about events run by I Ski for Tommy (ISFT) and the Buller Knights, charity nights thrown by ski school instructors, and grassroots skiing with world cup and winter X competitors for teenage girls through Chicks With Stiks. There are attempts to organise ski arounds for ladies and another set for gents. The skiers here are passionate and generally want to promote the sport. Search on Facebook for Chicks with Stiks, and Vic Snowsports both of which run programs that teenagers which are free. Yes free in a snow resort. (You will need to buy lift ticket of course). Useful general information on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/skiin.victoria or lok for facebook's "Ski-in Victoria"

Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC


Pros: its the best in Australia, closest to Melbourne International Airport and the people are super-friendly,

Cons: . Short seasons in Australia from mid June to end of Sept.

Mt Buller July 14 2011 007.JPG


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6MjmzcHjZ4 or go to youtube for mt buller's commercial 2013. But the footage is from an awesome season.




There are no pine trees: they have snow gum trees instead.


In the Southern Hemisphere and at Mt Buller  the ski season opens around 9th June and can run until the first week in October.


Locals tip: August is the best month.


Local's tip: If you are skiing for a week or longer, buy the early bird season pass by mid December for $799 adults/$499 children (up to age 18). The adult pass includes $50 of spending money, and the child's pass includes $25 of spending money.


Beat the immigration lines: Says US Ambassador Bleich:

Just in time for the holidays, traveling from the U.S. to Australia just got a lot easier.  After a long flight across the Pacific, the last thing any of us wants to do is stand in line waiting to get through customs.  Thanks to a new program that we’re piloting, you don’t have to.  Americans who have signed up for the U.S. Global Entry program (aka “Trusted Traveler”) can bypass those long lines and enter Australia through automated SmartGates when they arrive in Oz.  That’s why I’m smiling with my Global Entry card here.  My Global Entry card now lets me travel more easily on both sides of the Pacific. 


If you’re an American who hasn’t already signed up for Global Entry, you can do it by going here.  It took me about 90 minutes (so now you know what Ambassadors do when they aren’t doing their on-line ethics training . . . .).  Once you’ve filled out the online application, you complete the process with a quick interview at the airport.  Your card lets you get through automated gates without having to wait for a customs officer, by using data embedded in a microchip in your passport and face recognition technology.  So far over 700 American Global Entry card holders have already used the SmartGate system since the trial program began a few weeks ago, and the feedback from them has been very positive.    


So, on behalf of weary travelers everywhere, a special thank you to Minister of Home Affairs Jason Clare and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano for making this possible.  With some work on both sides, we’ve now made it easier for Americans and Australians to visit, do business, and get that first crucial cup of coffee even faster when you fly Down Under.": Ambassador Bleich, US Ambassador to Australia, 20 December 2012.




- 14-16 hours direct non-stop flight from Los Angeles on airlines like Virgin Australia/Virgin America/Virgin Atlantic, Qantas (the safest airline in the world according to Dustin Hoffman's character in "Rain Man"). Most of the flight is at night, so wake up refreshed. And when you return to the US, you'll arrive in LA about 4 hours before you boarded the return flight.


- 3 hours flight from New Zealand. (Keep an eye out for Air New Zealand's deals from California that offer a free trip to Australia's Melbourne Airport)


- Close to Marvellous Melbourne, home to the Phillip Island Penguins, Crown Casino, Australian Tennis Open, the Melbourne Cup horse race and the Melbourne Grand Prix. Melbourne is also home to big name entertainers at the Rod Laver Arena. The Melbourne Zoo isn't to be missed either: enquire about the twilight walks at the Zoo. The city is safe, cosmopolitan and has amazing restaurants with specialties from Asia and around the world (though Mexican isn't big).


- 3 hours drive from Melbourne International Airport (Tullamarine) on the Hume Highway which goes all the way to Sydney if you're heading north.


- 3.5 hours drive on the Melba Highway - and stop at the Healesville Sanctuary with its koalas, kangaroos, emus and other Australian creatures. At Healeville Sanctuary, feed and pat kangaroos, wombats, rosellas and cockatoo birds, emus, and frogmouth owls. Head through Eildon Weir (Lake town), and try the trout fishing. Horseriding: imo the best are Watsons in Mansfield: their place was the site of the downhill horse run in "The Man from Snowy River" with Kirk Douglas and, in the sequel, Brian Dennehy. Other great horse rides are High Country Horses, McCormacks and Lovicks. (Ride up to the old movie set called Craigs Hut on neighbouring Mt Stirling.


- a short drive to the sister peak called Mt Stirling. You can snow-camp in a tent (supplied by Craig at Stirling Experience located  in the kiosk at Stirling or google it). Stirling is for nordic skiing: there are no lifts.....among tall gum trees.


- traffic is light compared to US cities: remember the Australians drive on the left hand side and the car's peddles and steering wheel are 'on the wrong side too'.


- Served by bus lines if you're not inclined to drive: See their websites' Getting Here page at www.mtbuller.com.au;


- as is common everywhere, try to ski midweek to avoid crowds.


- Accomodation ranges from hostel-style to 5 star


- Local tips: Try the Apricot Moguls at Koflers Hutte near the Summit, and drop in to the genteel and refined Ski Club of Victoria (known as the Whitt) for fine fare and great company. They're a really friendly bunch, and you'll probably get a guided tour of their mountain and have the latest local insider's tips.


- Best places to stay in my view: World Award winning Pensione Grimus, Breathtaker Suites & Spa, Mercure Grand Chalet, Abom Apartments, Arlberg Hotel & Suites, Ski Club of Victoria's The Whit (3 star motel rooms with bar, restaurant and a very nice genteel clientele usually);


- Best mid-range places to stay Ski Club of Victoria's Kandahar Lodge, Alpine Retreat aka Sugarbush, Schuss Ski Club, Duck Inn, Candoux Ski Club


- Best backpackers: Buller Backpackers, and the old Youth Hostel Association place, now called Powder House (or something)  has been bulldozed and is being rebuilt in May 2013.


- Best and closest motel: Merrijig hamlet's motel.


- Closest local hamlet: Merrijig (which has the Hunt Club Hotel and various condos)


- Closest time share: Mansfield Country Club


- Closest town: Mansfield.


- Best budget lunches: Burger Haus' $10 burgers, the Hoo Haa Kitchen's bratwurst or soup, Kofler's Hot Dogs $8, Pancakes plus, and Uncle Pat's Pizza.


- Best ski hire: I think Georges in the village centre and Pensione Grimus Hotel are best service, top quality gear, and good prices. George owns and runs his ski shop so he looks after you himself.




















falls creek oversnow chariot.jpg


falls creek mogul ski club.jpg Ski Club accommodation - live, eat and ski with Australians: they're a friendly lot.


angliss champions


The Chutes, Mt Buller, Slide 09 948.jpg


Picture 237.JPG



- Best fine dining: The Whitt, Cattlemans, The Black Cockatoo, Pensione Grimus's Austrian fare, or Duck Inn.


- Party time: For the under 30s, you have to go to Kooroora and stay til they close.



Note: carrying snowchains is mandatory almost all the time, and certainly for overnighters. They can be rented at the ski shops in Mansfield's township. DON'T go up the mtn without them - police are known to check.


Mt Buller was and is THE place where most of Australia's Winter Olympians and World Cup and Freestyle podium winners learnt, skied and train.


It is the home mountain of the Founders of Roxy, Billabong & Ripcurl's surf and ski gear.


Their Ski Patrollers and expats work and live at Squaw Valley and Lake Tahoe in Northern California in the northern winter. In fact, one went on to run Powdr Corp's Alpine Meadows' ski resort, another named "Boomerang" Run at Alpine Meadows, and Squaw extends its college student pass to Australian tertiary students.


When Buller is great, it's awesome. However it in Australia, a huge dry continent and all resorts in the world are subjected to the vagaries of climate change.


Locals tip: Ski in mid to late August.


Locals tip: Resort car parking is almost $40 for day 1 and then under $10 per day thereafter. After parking, you and your luggage are taken by oversnow taxi to your lodging ($18 per person one way). It's a culture shock to pay for parking and to not park outside your room so just keep these things in mind.


Local's tip: Be aware that most rooms do Not have kitchens. Some lodging can be shared dorm rooms. When you book accomodation, ask questions. Do not assume that the room has an ensuite bathroom, mini bar, fridge, plates and cutlery or even towels, pillow cases or blankets 0- some places require you bring a sleeping bag and sleep in bunk beds . Just ask questions when you book. Do not assume that top prices equals 5 star.