Clean en­ergy will power vis­i­tor hub at Mt Stir­ling

State chips in $210,000 to help bet­ter cater for vis­i­tors to the high coun­try

Mt Buller News - - FRONT PAGE - By PAM ZIERKMAHONEY

THE State Gov­ern­ment will pump $210,000 into the de­vel­op­ment of the vis­i­tor hub at Tele­phone Box Junc­tion (TBJ), to be wholly pow­ered year round by re­new­able en­ergy.

Par­lia­men­tary Sec­re­tary for Tourism, Ma­jor Projects and Re­gional Vic­to­ria, Danielle Green, vis­ited Mans­field on Mon­day to an­nounce the fund­ing, not­ing that TBJ is the piv­otal en­try point to the high coun­try from the west­ern side of the Great Di­vid­ing Range for vis­i­tors seek­ing to en­joy ac­tiv­i­ties on Mount Stir­ling.

The TBJ hub project, which has al­ready com­menced, in­cludes com­mu­nity shel­ters and in­for­ma­tion boards at Howqua Gap and the Machinery Shed, the in­stal­la­tion of pub­lic toi­lets at the Machinery Shed, as well as the creation of an all-weather ac­cess path­way from King Sad­dle to Machinery Shed.

The new mi­cro-hy­dro­elec­tric­ity sys­tem planned for the hub has been de­signed to have min­i­mal en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact and will re­place a large, noisy and smelly diesel gen­er­a­tor, which is no­to­ri­ously at odds with the quiet, un­spoiled nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment.

“Power is al­ways a chal­lenge and this hy­dro scheme will keep Stir­ling open all year round,” Ms Green said.

Roughly 200,000 AWD and 4WD ve­hi­cles pass TBJ on the way to the high coun­try each year, many of which pass through with­out stop­ping.

Ms Green said pro­vid­ing $210,000 for the project will de­liver Aus­tralia’s first Alpine Hub wholly pow­ered year round by re­new­able en­ergy.

“Mt Stir­ling is a vi­tal at­trac­tion within Vic­to­ria’s in­ter­na­tion­ally pop­u­lar high coun­try re­gion,” she said.

“We will work with the local com­mu­nity to strengthen the local econ­omy through sus­tain­able tourism ini­tia­tives.

“The La­bor Gov­ern­ment is up­grad­ing Tele­phone Box Junc­tion be­cause the cur­rent fa­cil­ity can­not pro­vide the ser­vices re­quired by vis­i­tors who want to get off the beaten track and ex­plore the beau­ti­ful land­scapes.

“This project is about jobs and en­sur­ing that we can con­tinue of­fer­ing the very best ser­vices to tourists vis­it­ing our best re­gional at­trac­tions each and ev­ery year.”

At a small gath­er­ing of moun­tain staff, con­trac­tors and Mans­field Shire councillors at the De­latite Ho­tel on Mon­day, Ms Green was full of praise for the way in which the Mt Buller and Mt Stir­ling Alpine Re­sort Man­age­ment Board pro­tected the prisitne en­vi­ron­ment of Mt Stir­ling.

Ms Green con­grat­u­lated all who came up with the con­cept.

“You guys are do­ing the right thing,” she said.

“To­day is a great day for Mt Stir­ling.”

It is an­tic­i­pated this part of the project will be car­ried out over the com­ing spring and sum­mer months.

Ms Green said in depth re­search was un­der­taken to iden­tify the best and most cost­ef­fec­tive form of re­new­able en­ergy gen­er­a­tion for the hub.

She said flora, fauna and na­tive veg­e­ta­tion as­sess­ments have been com­pleted, as well as a cul­tural her­itage man­age­ment plan.

Ms Green pointed out that the area at­tracts horse riders, moun­tain bik­ers, dirt bik­ers, hik­ers and sight­seers out­side of the snow sea­son and is fast be­com­ing home to the lat­est cut­ting-edge snow sports, such as split­board­ing and fat bik­ing.

The project will al­low local busi­nesses to cap­i­talise on these emerg­ing vis­i­tor mar­kets and sup­port a year-round in­crease in vis­i­tor ac­tiv­ity.

It also uses local sup­pli­ers and will cre­ate 14 jobs dur­ing con­struc­tion with an­other 27 jobs ex­pected to be cre­ated within the next two to five years of its op­er­a­tion.

ON WITH THE JOB: At Mon­day’s an­nounce­ment were (from left) ARMB CEO John Hu­ber, Mans­field Plant Hire’s Peter McEl­roy, Par­lia­men­tary Sec­re­tary for Tourism, Ma­jor Projects and Re­gional Vic­to­ria, Danielle Green, builders Alan Rice and Dar­ren Wheeler, Mans­field Plant Hire’s Claire McEl­roy, en­vi­ron­men­tal ser­vices Mt Stir­ling op­er­a­tions man­ager Louise Per­rin, and Sun Real Be­nalla’s Martin Ni­chol.

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