Mt Buller News
Exciting plans are being progressed for the Mt Buller and Mt Stirling resorts
IN 2016 the Victorian Government endorsed the Mt Buller Masterplan as a conceptual blueprint for future development, and in 2018 the Resort Management Board finalised the Mt Stirling 2030 vision.
Work has since focused on converting these into more concrete proposals to turn Mt Buller and Mt Stirling into vibrant and sustainable yearround tourism destinations.
“The focus has been on adapting to climate change and helping both resorts realise their potential in terms of tourism, jobs, health and wellbeing, education, and their contribution to the Victorian economy,” Resort Management Board chief executive officer (CEO) Mark Bennetts said.
“The Mt Buller masterplan envisages a vibrant Village Square in the heart of Mt Buller, with gondola access from the carpark and additional activities for visitors.
“Stirling 2030 is focused on cultural and nature-based education, tourism and recreation.
“We’ve been leveraging these to develop more detailed elements to the point that they can become a reality through public and private funding.”
Victoria’s four other alpine resorts, Falls Creek, Lake Mountain, Mt Baw Baw and Mt Hotham, are in a similar position, needing to adapt to climate change by becoming tourism destinations that are less reliant on natural snow.
So in 2020, the four Alpine Resort Management Boards, Tourism North East, Regional Development Victoria and the Alpine Resorts Coordinating Council commissioned Urban Enterprise, an expert consulting firm specialising in planning, economics and tourism, to develop an overarching Alpine Resorts Visitor Economy Development Plan.
“Our focus is on adapting to climate change by improving the year-round offering so that we can continue to
increase visitation by meeting the needs of a growing population,” Tourism North East CEO Bess Nolan-cook said.
“The six Victorian Alpine Resorts are already popular during winter, attracting 1.3 million visitors each year, generating the equivalent of 10,000 full time jobs, and contributing $1.1 billion to the Victorian economy.
“And this recent work shows their remarkable potential to further grow regional tourism by encouraging more Victorians and people from other states to holiday in Victoria.”
Urban Enterprise director Mike Ruzzene added “we started by assessing the benefits the six resorts currently provide to Victoria, before researching what it would take for them to become successful year-round destinations”.
“We then used economic modelling to determine what visitation could be achieved by adapting to climate change and investing in new infrastructure and activities,” Mr Ruzzene said.
“We found there was a substantial market interested in the green season as well as significant growth potential in winter.”
The numbers are impressive, with the plan estimating that government investment
of $439 million and private investment of $298 million would more than double the number of visitors to 2.7 million each year and the number of full-time equivalent jobs to 20,400.
The alpine resorts contribution to Victoria’s economy would increase to $2.1 billion each year, which is approximately five times more than the Australian Open tennis tournament and 35 times more than the Australian Grand Prix.
The plan calls for a significant portion of that money to be spent at Mt Buller and Mt Stirling - at least $140 million in government funding and $67 million from the private sector.
“This stems from climate change adaptation principles, the 2010 masterplan, updates focused on the Mt Buller Village Square which were strongly supported by stakeholders, and the Mt Stirling 2030 vision document which was developed collaboratively with stakeholders,” Mr Bennetts said.
“The proposals start at the point of entry to the resorts, with an integrated visitor centre and resort entry building at Mirimbah along with bookable camping sites nestled near the Delatite River and glamping sites with views up to Mt Buller.
“The plans at Mt Stirling are to seal the road to Telephone Box Junction (TBJ) to improve access, redevelop the building there into a fit for purpose educational centre, café, day shelter, hire outlet and ski patrol base, and increase the number of low impact camping sites in a similar manner to the existing Alpine Camp so as to accommodate additional school groups.
“Over at Mt Buller, the proposals include additional parking, a gondola to the village to reduce the use of
buses, a new transport hub to improve the arrival experience for coach passengers, turning Cow Camp Lane into a tunnel so that there’s a pedestrian only zone from the Chapel to the Abom, and redeveloping Village Square Plaza to block the chilly winds from hitting the square while addressing the chronic shortage of public shelter and toilets.
“The range of non-snow related activities would be increased including spectacular short walks and viewing areas, an alpine coaster, zip lines, tubing, adventure playground, and more beginner and intermediate mountain bike trails.
“Large parts of the Alpine Central building would also be re-established as a base for primary, secondary and tertiary education, and dedicated staff accommodation developed to address a critical shortage.
“Demand for property at Mt Buller has been exceptionally strong, and there are private investors interested in developing new attractions.
“The key is additional public infrastructure which will give the private sector the confidence to invest and help underpin strong visitor growth all year round.”
Ms Nolan-cook finished by outlining how the Alpine Resorts Development Plan will be progressed: “The next step is to discuss the plan with state and federal government representatives to try to attract the funding necessary for the resorts to adapt to climate change and reach their true potential as some of Victoria’s most iconic and desired tourism experiences.
“We hope they’ll be as excited as we are at what could be achieved and that by working together we can make it become a reality.”