ENJOYING GOOD SNOW:
Skiers Marcus Brunnhofer (blue jacket) and Dennis Kaneider (red jacket), take to the runs on Mt Buller enjoying excellent skiing conditions.
MB (Mark Bennetts): I was hoping for a standard three year contract. But given the government’s alpine review, my contract is for one year with a one year option. So I need to make sure I do a good job. Hopefully either the Buller and Stirling board will then reappoint me if there are no governance changes, or there’ll be a role for me in any new structure that the government announces.
It’s been nearly two months since you started. How are you finding the role?
MB: Time has just flown. I’ve met and talked with so many people, who’ve all been very generous with their time. They’ve helped me learn about the mountains, current issues, and their views on what could be done to make things better.
BN: So what have you been hearing?
MB: Actually, it’s quite a mixture. Some things are immediate and easy, while others are longer-term and much harder.
BN: What are some of the immediate issues?
MB: Safety was high on the list. The heaters under the footpath outside the supermarket are broken, so we’re now regularly clearing that area.
The huge demand for snowplay is creating congestion on the toboggan slopes, so we’re rostering more marshals.
We’re also working with Guest Services and Ski Patrol to try to stop people tobogganing in unsafe areas.
Visitor experience is another issue. Many first-timers don’t speak fluent English, and navigating around the mountain can be hard.
So we’ve colour-coded and numbered the carparks to help people remember where they’ve parked.
Sox, Jimmy Hughes, John Perks, Steve Marshall, Laurie Blampied, Mal Rowsell and I have identified ways to squeeze in more cars and reduce the chance of having to turn away day trippers on busy Saturdays.
And we’re taking a different approach to managing departures at the end of the day, MB: Snowmaking water is key.
But the new dam won’t progress without a planning permit.
Two board members, Andy Evans and Michelle Croughan, are working hard to address government questions so that a permit will hopefully be issued.
In the meantime Tom Gibbs is looking at whether we can eke any more water out of the current system.
There’s also broad agreement about improving