A chat with Buller’s new CEO
WELCOME to the last of Buller News’ regular catch ups for the season with the Mt Buller and Mt Stirling chief executive officer, Mark Bennetts.
Buller News (BN): The 60th Victorian Interschools have now finished. What were your observations?
Mark Bennetts (MB): Well it really was a fabulous event.
It was great to see the excitement among the skiers during the medal presentations each night, especially the younger kids who were competing for the first or second times.
And some of the older racers are perhaps on the cusp of joining the band of Mt Buller Olympic skiers.
The BSL staff who prepared and set the courses did a great job.
David Spiers and his team pulled everything together wonderfully well, and he was quite hoarse by the end of the week.
It turns out that the Federal Minister for Sport, Greg Hunt, is a long time Mt Buller skier, and he dropped in to present some medals and officially close the event.
And of course Lydia Lassila was a favourite at the opening ceremony, with many young skiers keen to have their picture taken with her.
BN: Lydia also announced the Olympic training centre. How did that come about?
MB: I think it’s a great example of collaboration for the benefit of the mountains, our skiers and our visitors.
The Olympic Winter Institute of Australia (OWIA), Ski and Snowboard Australia, Buller Ski Lifts and the Resort Management Board are all contributing to make Mt Buller Victoria’s home for the development of future Olympic and world champions in aerial and mogul skiing for the next 20 years.
The RMB is making Alpine House available for athlete accommodation, which the OWIA will renovate internally and externally.
We’re also making half a court in the Sports Hall available for the OWIA to install an acrobatic facility, which will be available for the public to use when it is not being used for training.
And BSL will be making improvements to Chamois including a FIS dual moguls course, lights and additional snowmaking equipment – we just need more water.
BN: We keep coming back to water. What is the latest with the planning application for the new dam?
MB: We have submitted our Environmental Effects Statement Referral for consideration by the Department of Planning.
It seeks comment from other Victorian government departments before advising the next steps in the application process, which they will advise during September.
We also need separate approval from the Federal Government.
We’ve submitted all of the materials for that application too, and are hopeful of a positive outcome.
BN: What else is the RMB progressing at the moment?
MB: The marketing team is working on the mountain’s spring campaign, which focuses on the message of great skiing and plenty of fun events right through until the celebratory closing weekend on the grand final long weekend, wrapping up on Sunday, October 1.
We’re organising a broad group of stakeholders to help us review parking, bus, shuttle, taxi and pedestrian arrangements and agree what to do to improve the visitor experience, safety, and increase car parking capacity in time for winter 2018.
We’re progressively working through updating or creating internal policies to improve our governance practices as a result of the Ombudsman’s report.
And we’re working on a way of removing the subjectivity inherent in the Alpine Resorts Leasing Policy guidelines, so that everyone can understand how lease terms are determined.
BN: So while all that’s going on, what’s coming up for summer?
MB: The team is already preparing for another summer full of events and activities, kicking off with the Targa High Country motor racing event on November 10-12.
Following Targa, our official summer season opening weekend will be on December 2 and 3, where visitors will be able to enjoy the huge network of mountain biking, walking and running trails that the resort has to offer in summer.
Visitors will be able to enjoy a comprehensive range of events, including the Buller Mountain Bike Festival and Victorian Downhill Series, running events like the Mt Buller Sky Run and Oscar’s 100 Hut2Hut, the everpopular Picnic in the Park food, wine and music festival, Easter celebrations and more.
We are looking forward to welcoming back many of our winter guests to enjoy all the mountain has to offer in the ‘green season’.
IT’S OUT THERE: Representatives of all parties gather at Mt Buller to celebrate the announcement.