The history of snow making on Mt Buller
MT Buller has led the way in Australia when it comes to snow making.
In 2018 the total coverage skiable area is over 78 hectares.
Remarkably, this represents 25 per cent of the resort and equates to 19km of trails.
Snow making is now carried out at every available opportunity, dependent on suitable weather conditions.
Buller Ski Lifts has eight full time employees in the department, six of who work nights.
They control a total of 244 guns, of which 163 are automated.
Our Mt Buller snow makers are producing 530,000 cubic metres of snow per season, led by snow making manager, Paul Richmond.
The coverage area includes Bourke Street, Baldy, Skyline, Magic Forest, Chamois, Northside Discovery Area, Burnt Hut, Summit, Howqua, Howqua Extension, Family Run, Little Buller Spur, Whisky Creek Trail, Kofflers, Wombat, Chute, two toboggan parks, and Bonza Access Trail.
It really is phenomenal, and will get even better in the years to come.
In 1970 John Hilton Wood established a snow making pilot system on Enzian ski run and later moved it to Little Bourke Street.
Gus Syme and Bob Bateup were involved in the design and installation.
It was in 1990 that McMahon Holdings proceeded with the first stage of the present system and it was installed on Bourke Street with a temporary pump station near Faulty.
It was a great season in 1992, with skiing through to Melbourne Cup weekend.
However, 1993 was the opposite with the Mt Buller village shuttle having to transport skiers to the summit well into August just to get a few turns.
Back then the shuttle comprised a horse and cart.
In 1994 the Grollo family assumed total control of the lifts and snow making with significant investment in infrastructure.
This included the water storage dam, air compressors, pump station and distribution pipelines for compressed air and water.
This investment increased the snow making to Baldy, Skyline, Summit, Little Buller Spur and Wombat ski runs.
In 1995 the distribution system was expanded to include Howqua, Howqua extension and the lower section of Family Run.
During 1997 and 1998, further coverage expansion included Chamois (and the newly created World Cup Aerial site), Burnt Hut beginner areas, Pole line #6 access trail and the Tube Park.
With congestion growing in the LBS/Wombat area, in 1999 it was decided to expand operations down the Whisky Creek trail to Federation Chair.
In 2001, snow making was extended down the Kofflers lift line from the top of Wombat Chair to ensure people could get out of the Summit area in low snow years.
In 2002 fan guns were first mounted permanently on towers down Little Buller Spur.
And in 2005, Shakey Knees had 20 auto York Borax guns installed.
A year later similar automated equipment was installed on the Summit.
In 2008 the six seater chair was installed, now called Mercedes Benz Chair (yes, it has been almost a decade).
At the same time four Polecats and one Super Polecat snow makers were installed right of Bourke Street.
Also, two Polecats were purchased and installed for the RMB village toboggan run.
Since then there have been a number of updates to automated guns on Wombat, Howqua Extension, Little Buller Spur, the Ski School Area, Family Run, Burnt Hut and Chute.
Today, 163 of 244 guns are fully automated.
The result is amazing. For example, an operator can now turn on around 60 guns in less than 10 minutes.
Our Mt Buller snow makers are among the best in the world, recognised globally with work opportunities in many northern hemisphere destinations.
Mt Buller is now using approximately 200 megalitres of water per season.
Snow making on Mt Buller has been a massive collaboration between Buller Ski Lifts, Resort Management Board and the Mt Buller community.
It has been driven by an enormous commitment by the Grollo family, right from the very time they took over the lift company.
All skiers, boarders and snow play visitors have been the beneficiaries.
Once we get our new water storage facility in 2019/20, stand by for major new developments on the south side of the resort.
It will be fantastic.
MODERN TECH: Nowadays, the auto snow guns blaze in the early morning sunrise. PHOTO: Andrew Railton
STICK ‘EM UP: Mark (Cricket) Osler in 1990 with the original Bourke Street snow gun.