First Timers' Guide
Bars & Restaurants
28 September 2020
For better and worse 2020 has been an historic year for Mt Buller so we’ve created a timeline of the highs and lows as a reminder of how far we’ve all come and to record this extraordinary year so we remember it in years to come; long after we’ve packed away our masks and done our last elbow bump.
Australia started the year which much of the country on fire. In Victoria there were over 3500 fires that started back in November 2019.
As we graze on Christmas leftovers fires nudge closer to Mt Buller.
Work on the Boggy Creek reservoir continues steadily over the summer and we watch the huge hole take shape on the live cam.
As Australia beats New Zealand in the third test the World Health Organisation looks into a ‘pneumonia type’ outbreak in Wuhan, China.
State of Disaster declared due to the fires and resort residents urged to leave as the mountains close to visitors. A small group of staff stay to defend the resort on 3 hour rotating shifts.
The world watches in horror at the fires engulfing much of Australia. Our friends at Alterra/IKON Pass donate $50k to the fire recovery funds in Victoria and NSW. China reports the first death from the novel coronavirus.
Mt Buller reopens for mountain biking and walks along the trails as smoke clears.
Mt Stirling reopens and visitors are back on the trails enjoying some clear air. Horse riding, 4WDing and walking is on again and Craig’s Hut is accessible for “Man from Snowy River” instagram moments.
Australia records first cases of coronavirus.
Mt Buller’s lycra levels skyrocket with the Jayco Herald Sun Tour stage from Mansfield to Mt Buller. World class cyclists climb the Buller road for a big finish in the Village.
The virus has a name. We add COVID-19 to our vocabulary. Exactly one month later it’s officially labelled a pandemic. We realise how often we touch our face.
Katy Perry headlines a concert in Bright to thank firefighters and we are encouraged to travel to country Victoria with “Empty Eskys” to support local businesses struggling after the fires.
Large gatherings are cancelled and Australians overseas are advised to return home. In the following week we learn the 1.5m distance rule and schools close early. Working from home is officially a thing and we download “Zoom”.
Victoria is in a State of Emergency for at least a month and some people are buying a lot of toilet paper. “Unprecedented” is a word we hear daily. We are wearing tracksuit pants more and some of us do the 'pillow challenge'.
Mt Buller’s gnomes are spotted wearing masks and applying for a new government package called JobKeeper.
Borders close and we sadly realise no international staff or European crew members will be able to join us for the winter.
State borders close and restrictions commence. We wash our hands. A lot. No one wants to go on a cruise again, ever.
To make things even stranger we are watching “Tiger King” and wondering if a lady called Carole Baskin killed her husband.
The most visited page on the Mt Buller website is the new COVID information page.
The resort works around the clock to develop detailed “COVID-safe” operating guidelines and a workable plan. Australian alpine resorts come together with government to get our heads around safely managing lift lines, capacity limits on the ski area, transport and sanitising rental gear.
Mt Buller is the first alpine resort to roll out a COVID-19 cancellation policy so if COVID scuppers your snow plans you can credit or refund lift tickets, accommodation and resort charges. It’s one less thing to worry about.
Distilleries are making hand sanitiser instead of gin and we start googling ‘how to make a facemask’, learning Tik Tok dances and baking sourdough bread.
We share this video of girls skiing in their backyard on the Mt Buller Facebook page.
2.2million people watch and think about constructing their own ski slope at home.
Hotels and lodges patiently wait for guidance if they can operate, measure their communal areas and work out how to keep guests safe.
We miss handshakes and hugs and elbow bump instead. We bake banana bread and post photos of it on instagram.
The AFL footy season starts and then stops after just one round.
Snow piles up outside the ABOM
The Bureau of Meterology forecasts ‘blizzards’. They are right. It dumps. Buller is all over the news and the papers. Everyone wants to know if we can open.
It snows even more.
By May 1 we are measuring 56cms on the ground. Locals go hunting for their cars, skis and snowboards. Small dogs and short people are issued with snorkels.
It snows again. Most of Victoria is at home staring at the snow on the the webcams, downloading Warren Miller films, wearing beanies and doing shots of Jägermeister. [Still wearing tracksuit pants]
The new dam is complete. On time!
The giant ‘pool liner’ is in. Pond Skim fans wonder if they might be able to train there. A fence is built to keep potential skinny-dippers and pond skimmers out of the new 100 megalitre village and snowmaking water supply.
New snow guns are in on Standard Run. A new, cruisy traverse is complete linking Summit Slide to Bonza.
Construction on the new Kooroora apartments is finished and the stonework looks beautiful. The crane and scaffolding goes and the village looks fresh.
Mt Buller is the first resort to confirm it will open when the Premier gives permission for resorts to operate from 22 June. Excitement builds.
A new webcam is switched on live-streaming Bourke Street views. Blake the Flake is spotted trying to break into a car and tampering with a snowgun.
A new webcam is also switched on beaming views from Standard Run.
Mother Nature reminds us it’s officially winter with another teasing snowfall. The resort team is steadily preparing for opening. Hand washing continues. Safety screens pop up on counters and the supermarket has a huge stack of sanitiser for sale.
The first big night of snowmaking on the mountain. The countdown is on and both SnowFactories are cranking out snow around the clock. It snows again on the 14th. Hopes continue to climb for the season opening.
Queen’s birthday long weekend is… different. There is a bit of snow on the ground but we are all social distancing and no lifts are rolling. No parties. No fireworks. Blake the Flake stays in bed all weekend watching Netflix. Students go back to school this week.
Lift tickets for the first week are available online. The website doesn’t crash. It finally feels like the season is going to happen. There is a new Whispir app for contact tracing in resort and kids teach their parents how to scan a QR code. We are all obsessed with ‘flattening the curve’.
TODAY Show broadcast live in resort. We ‘ski’ on Bourke Street and Anton Grimus does some superb Arnold Schwarzenegger impressions. Restrictions begin to ease from the 21 June.
A new satirical instagram account the The Bulltoota launches and keeps us entertained and guessing who is writing the clever posts.
Mt Buller is OPEN! With strict pre-booking and capacity limits and very clean hands.
Bourke Street Express gets rolling and it’s a perfect bluebird morning.
There are a lot of safety signs. Everywhere. We practice tip-to-tail and spacing out on the chairlift. We follow the one-way arrows into each building and open doors with our elbows. Ski School is open for beginner lessons with small private groups. Snowball fights are permitted but only if you can throw more than 1.5 metres. And don’t lick the snowball.
It’s school holidays and most kids have been home-schooling since April and are missing their friends. Parents are googling ‘how to do long division’, building desks and planting a veggie patch.
Restaurants and cafes open and we book ahead, sign in, scan our apps and give our mobile numbers out like it’s a speed dating event.
Everyone is excited for some ‘normality’ and hungry for our winter favourites – fondue, schnitzel, pizzas to go, ramen and toasties. We walk up to Tirol for Jimmy’s pasta. We get our foreheads zapped to check our temperature.
Harro opens a beautiful gallery in the Mt Buller village and everyone wants a new kitchen splashback.
Around 10 ‘hotspot’ suburbs are placed under restrictions to try and stop the spread of COVID-19 wider in the Victorian community. These outbreaks are linked to hotel quarantine programs in Melbourne.
It dumps snow again and ABOM Express opens. We walk to Koflers for lasagne and views.
The ABOM bar launches the world’s first socially distanced ‘shot ski’. A stylish new Altitude store opens in the Kooroora development complete with specialist boot fitters Ortho Ski and plenty of European ranges.
The snowmakers work hard to get more snow cover and on the 5 July Skyline opens and then Northside opens for sightseeing.
The next day the Victorian-NSW border closes for the first time in a century.
Just as we are getting more lifts rolling the news breaks Melbourne and Mitchell Shire are going back under Stage 3 for at least 6 weeks. No travel and only trips for medical services and essential supplies are allowed. Everyone in Melbourne is working and studying at home again. Our neighbours at Falls Creek and Hotham have enough snow to open the lifts.
Shock and sadness as we learn Alex “Chumpy” Pullin has died while free-diving in Queensland. The Buller community are stunned and the whole mountain pauses the following day to ring the chapel bell and silently remember a local, Olympic champion, talented musician and friend.
Mt Buller confirms the resort will continue to operate for the regional Victorians still allowed to travel. Hotham and Falls Creek announce they will close, after just 3 short days of lifted skiing and boarding. All AFL matches are now being played interstate.
Standard run opens and skiers embrace the new snowmaking and finally getting some new terrain to play on.
A state of disaster is again declared in Victoria. Feels like ‘disaster’ is the theme for this year. There is a nightly curfew across Melbourne as the metro areas goes to stage 4 and regional Victoria to stage 3 restrictions from August 5th. There are limits on buying meat, Mt Buller is required to close to all visitors with only registered residents allowed access.
Queensland closes its border (except for footballers and Tom Hanks). With no visitors allowed to access the mountain most hotels and venues close.
The lifts stop rolling and face masks are required at all times while out.
Mountain staff wrangle the logistics of how to return home. Some bunker down and decide to stay. Pension Grimus marks their final night of dining with the traditional mid-winter Christmas dinner and a visit from Santa.
Mother Nature dials up the irony and drops another 12cms of fresh snow on the day the resort closes to visitors. Locals embrace ski touring and pull out their snowshoes to ‘earn their turns’.
A small group of resident athletes have permission under the lockdown to continue training and get super fit hiking the slopes between runs down.
On the 19 August it starts snowing again. Dumping .
We get around 12cms of pow per day and by the end of the week nearly a metre of snow has blanketed the mountain. We log our deepest natural snow depth on 24 August.
Only a handful of locals living resort are here to enjoy the powder.
Freestyle athletes living in resort continue to practice (and hike) during the closure making the most of every opportunity to train
Everyone is holding out hope restrictions might ease in time to get back on the slopes and the skeleton mountain crew maintain the snowcover in anticipation.
In a year that feels like there has already been too much loss we are dazed to learn “Big Dave” Marsicano has died unexpectedly and again the community grieves together.
Mt Buller shares some much needed good news. Buller Ski Lifts announces a radical approach and lets Season Members choose how much credit or refund they wish to receive on their 2020 memberships. The Resort Management confirms all Season Parking Permits will be refunded.
The 2021 Early Bird Season Memberships go on sale and we figure it’s time to start looking forward to next season. Right?
It’s confirmed that the AFL Grand Final will be held in Queensland. Sigh. Enough already.
On Sunday 6 September Melburnians get the news restrictions are set to extend a little longer.
Then some positive news for regional Victoria comes through and country areas reopen for travel from 17 September.
On a cold clear day Dave Marsicano’s partner Niki supported by his closest family and friends hold an intimate memorial on the mountain. Dave is honoured by friends who carry him on skis down his beloved Mt Buller for a final time. A procession of bikes escort him from the mountain and locals turn out to line the route.
After mild temperatures the flame robins are flitting around and the green is starting to show through as the snow melts. The resort gate reopens and regional visitors can come up for a drive, some snowplay and a change of scene. The few remaining cafes welcome visitors and can again offer inside dining for 10 people.
SNOWS again. At least regional Victorians can enjoy the snow and free entry up to the resort for the spring sliding!
Mt Buller and Mt Stirling plan for spring and summer and focus on better times ahead.
Buller Ski Lifts roll Bourke Street Express for Season members as a special thank you on a perfect spring day.
The community here is close-knit and has supported one another through a year none of us would have chosen. We are grateful for this place, for the resilience of our people and hopeful as we look forward to 2021.
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