DEB­BIE Howie was the face and voice of the moun­tain for al­most three decades. Now run­ning her own busi­ness and en­ter­ing her 35th year liv­ing at Falls Creek year-round, Mount Hotham Falls Creek News sat down to talk about the past, present and fu­ture.

Mt Hotham Falls Creek - - FRONT PAGE -

You worked for a long-time at the Lift Com­pany. What was your role there?

I worked 27 years for Ski Lifts. My main role was Pub­lic Re­la­tions Man­ager. Be­ing a small com­pany, the role was broader, en­com­pass­ing not only all medi­ums of me­dia but also whole­salers, ski shops and spon­sor­ship.

I’d imag­ine that you have seen some mas­sive changes at Falls Creek?

When you’re here for so long, the changes seem in­cre­men­tal, then you re­alise there’s been quite a lot hap­pen in more than 3½ decades.

What do you think has changed the most about the in­dus­try – aside from the fact that there are a lot of peo­ple now on snow­boards?

One of the en­dear­ing things about the snow in­dus­try is the peo­ple. They don’t change … pas­sion is the driv­ing force. The things that do change are in­fra­struc­ture.

Snow­mak­ing is the ma­jor in­flu­ence now. It was very new when I first came to Falls Creek and over the years, 19kms of pipes were in­stalled around the moun­tain. This has had a dra­matic ef­fect. It has changed the re­li­a­bil­ity of the snow of­fer­ing. It has length­ened the sea­son. Even now when there is no real nat­u­ral snow, we can of­fer ski­ing, al­beit lim­ited, but it’s there and with­out snow­mak­ing that wouldn’t be hap­pen­ing right now.

Am I look­ing through rose coloured glasses or were the ski­fields of the ‘90s more colour­ful, big­ger char­ac­ters – I guess in some ways still the pi­o­neers of the in­dus­try in Aus­tralia?

I def­i­nitely think it was dif­fer­ent in the ‘80s and 90s. It was more care­free, less reg­u­lated and you could get away with a lot more. The char­ac­ters were more vo­cal, the par­ties louder and later and RSA didn’t ex­ist like it does now.

There were also dif­fer­ent reg­u­la­tions in the cities back then, where you couldn’t buy meat af­ter mid­day on Satur­day, shops and pubs were closed on Sun­days, and bars had to close by mid­night on Satur­day night. Only tourist li­cences could op­er­ate seven days a week un­til 3am. This meant hoards of party go­ers would flock to the ski re­sorts and party hard. Falls Creek even en­cour­aged the party at­mos­phere with the slo­gan ‘Ski All Day, Party All Night’.

It was ad­ven­tur­ous, wild and mostly un­reg­u­lated. And un­po­liced.

Colour­ful char­ac­ters were at­tracted to this he­do­nis­tic life­style and Falls Creek at­tracted more than its fair share.

A lot of peo­ple come and go – some last a sea­son, some a decade – but you now have your own busi­ness ven­ture on the moun­tain. Can you tell us a lit­tle about how that all hap­pened and how it works?

Af­ter work­ing for Ski Lifts for 27 years an op­por­tu­nity arose to start a busi­ness with one of my clos­est friends. I took the plunge, which was quite scary given the se­cu­rity of a full­time job and a net­work of col­leagues all around Aus­tralia. Snonuts Donuts & Street Kitchen was cre­ated, which op­er­ates in Slalom Plaza and ATS. It has been very suc­cess­ful and it’s ex­tremely pop­u­lar. We’re ranked num­ber 1 on Trip Ad­vi­sor in our cat­e­gory.

Food is big busi­ness at Falls Creek, af­ter all at peak sea­son there are 5500 peo­ple to feed, is there a new trend on the hori­zon?

Trends seem to pop up all the time, but in my ex­pe­ri­ence the sta­ple is qual­ity and tasty food. In the snow in­dus­try, peo­ple want quick easy snacks and meals, so they can get back on the slopes ASAP. They want some­thing warm, some­thing fill­ing to keep them go­ing all day. That’s where Snonuts Street Kitchen fits with quick, warm, qual­ity food, both savoury and sweet.

Deb­bie Howie catches a few turns with long­time Falls Creek per­son­al­i­ties Barry Id­dles from Elk restau­rant and Marnie Sear­les from Kil­i­man­jaro.

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