Hotham's foolish marketing comments last weekend

Discussion in 'Hotham & Dinner Plain' started by Occasional Visitor, Aug 9, 2017.

  1. Occasional Visitor

    Occasional Visitor Active Member

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    I wonder how many people read the quotes from Hotham in an article on the ABC website on Saturday regarding the looming big weather event.... I quote - "Mount Hotham's Alyson Lamb said people did not need to be concerned by the conditions of the road. "We have our road clearers, they work 24-7, they do an amazing job and they clear the road for us. So long as you're coming to Mount Hotham with your chains on your car, everything will be okay"

    And by the middle of the next day when the snow had arrived as forecast - the Harrietville road gets shut and stays shut for the next 48 hours. Heaps of cars stuck down on the Harrietville side because the marketing department is incapable of doing the right thing and getting the message out suggesting people drive via Omeo.
     
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  2. currawong

    currawong Old And Crusty
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    When i heard it on the radio i thought it was bloody stupid. How many people will be put off hotham or snow holidays in general by that irresponsible marketing claptrap?
     
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  3. kirktab

    kirktab Active Member

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    Most likely all of the region's motorbike riders will be. Some of them don't even like getting rain on their bikes, let alone snow. Go ABC news team!!
     
  4. Ziggy

    Ziggy Addicted Member
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    Falls was talking up the snow on Facebook while turning away day visitors at Howman's.
     
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  5. Ziggy

    Ziggy Addicted Member
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    I'd say that's a skidoo.
     
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  6. Rimey

    Rimey Dedicated Member
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    Any more than a snow shower, the Vicroads contractors clear only one lane of the road. We end up with long waits for the procession along the GAR as a one way road. And then when an idiot who hasn't fitted chains runs out of traction, well we all get to wait because only one lane of the road is cleared.
     
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  7. snowgum

    snowgum Dedicated Member

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    Not two? Could they not start at each side of the summit and go up / down? Then one could do the whole lower section (say below Dargo Rd), while the the other goes down toward DP?

    Sorry folks, just a stab??
     
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  8. Thomas WHiteside

    Thomas WHiteside Active Member

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    couldn't agree more! we drove up on Sunday taking the Harrietville approach on this advice. Ended up having to stay in Bright, then drive back to Melbourne and then back up via Omeo. Lost a whole day's skiing!
     
  9. The Plowking

    The Plowking Part of the Furniture
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    Rookie. ;)
     
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  10. currawong

    currawong Old And Crusty
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    Cruel, but fair ;)
     
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  11. Ubiquitous Steve

    Ubiquitous Steve Addicted Member
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    I think the staff at Mt Blowhard have been doing a terrific job....it's a really difficult job ... perhaps they need more machines to support the operation and more staff to operate them...and some of the silly drivers don't make their job any less difficult....

    No doubt some dumb things were said by Hotham Resort Management......

    Vic Roads should have just said based on the appraisal of their skilled snow clearing staff that major disruptions and road closures were expected.
     
    #11 Ubiquitous Steve, Aug 10, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2017
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  12. rowdyflat

    rowdyflat Active Member

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    Maybe Utopia has been filming an episode at Hotham =promote the ease of access but dont actually clear the road .
    They did one in Yackandandah a few weeks ago ,the premier and all the suits were there talking up the $6 million for a railtrail. Some of the local bike riders were there as a rentacrowd.
    prolly $4 million will be spent on hype , marketing ,promotion etc .
    I like what the Texans say " All hat and no cattle "
     
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  13. FlatLander

    FlatLander Active Member

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    Snowgum, this is generally exactly what happens.

    The problems occur when someone gets stuck, usually because chain fitting and or instructions were not followed. Then when that car/bus stops it holds up the 100 cars behind it, the snow drifts in very quickly around/between the stationary cars, and also fills in the cleared road so everything is stuck. So the clearer that might be behind the stationary cars has to try and re-clear the road to get to the front and try and extract the vehicle that is stuck. By the time he has got to the front and done that the road has filled in above the stoppage, behind the stoppage again and along the stoppage every one is stuck again. Combine this a similar event further up the road, say at Diamintina cnr , and that drivers panic and try and turn around or go around the stoppage, they get stuck across the road preventing the clearers from getting through. So in a very short space of time, say 30-45 mins, you have 7 kms of unpassable road, with 200 stationary cars, and all this time more vehicles are leaving and entering the resort adding to the mayhem. The clearers cannot get through so have to work from the back and extract cars and try and turn them around, one by one. All the time the road is filling in between the stoppages, and behind them as the clearers are busy extracting vehicles.

    Remember this service is paid for by all Victorians, and is not funded by resort entry
     
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  14. Ubiquitous Steve

    Ubiquitous Steve Addicted Member
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    Sounds like the poor buggers trying to clear the roadway need more support from either SES.Police.Resort Management or a combo of all three...

    On those really bad days....all vehicles must have their chains checked before proceeding....then again up the roadway they again need to pull over to have them reinspected to tighten them if necessary....they need staff on the chainfitting bays to meticulously check vehicles....

    Then thought needs to be given to operate the roadway in one direction only.....holding vehicles in groups if necessary in other big chain fitting bays till all vehicles have past.....

    The snow clearers need to be given total priority and every effort made to keep vehicles out of their way.
    Broken down vehicles need to be dealt with quickly by towing them up and out of the way by special equipped vehicles with grunt and max traction....
    So on those really bad days you need extra staff and powerful 4x4 swith blades fitted stationed at a few chainfitting bays and they just keep driving around clearing snow in designated spots so vehicles can be pulled over safely while waiting for the ploughs to do their work.

    Otherwise just close the roadway totally for three days so the snow clearers can do the job.
    Either provide the resources when the demand exists or close the roadway....

    Let the operators at Blowhard draw up a management plan.....I am sure the actual plow operators have more of an idea than anybody else .....then take note of the ideas and solutions that they put forward .......
     
    #14 Ubiquitous Steve, Aug 10, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2017
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  15. FlatLander

    FlatLander Active Member

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    a lot of good points, definitely agree clearers show be given total priority and should be the ones making any road calls.

    I think this must have caught a few a little by surprise as over the last few years, when BOM was calling a serious weather event, the authorities (probs too many of them) have put the road under a management plan prior to the event, to try and prevent this exact problem. So under the "Management plan" effectively RMB staff and Vic Police manage traffic on the road, with measures such as closing gates in H'Ville and Hotham, vehicles only enter and leave under controlled escort conditions - eg the flashy lights scenario. This leaves the VicRoards appointed snow clearing contractors to do their job, and visitors get to enter/leave the resort in a somewhat timely fashion. RMB has been criticized heavily on these forums for doing this in the past for lesser events - although in previous situations the road stayed open, visitors arrived and left the resort and had an experience to add to their holiday :)

    And there is often RMB staff offering chain fitting assistance and guidance in busy periods, most other times this service is left to Hoys roadside service. Hoys, should get a special mention here - because so many times over the past 50 years, as was the case on Sunday, Sunday night and Monday, they have provided assistance, been on call 24/7, provided vehicles, staff, chains etc, all at their own expense to safely help visitors traveling to and from Mt Hotham.

    I just think that this event was better than expected, and the road situation "turned sour" with a matter of minutes. From then on it was all hands on deck in a emergency extraction situation, with all efforts going to getting people safely out of the weather without injury or otherwise. Everyone involved would have gone above and beyond what was expected and should all be praised. Did this prevent a few whiney locals from getting first tracks, so be it
     
  16. The Plowking

    The Plowking Part of the Furniture
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    And someone always does get stuck.
    Crikey. I wouldn't have wanted to be driving Harrietville side if I was inexperienced in the last storm.
    Pretty irresponsible Hotham press release imo
     
    #16 The Plowking, Aug 10, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2017
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  17. FlatLander

    FlatLander Active Member

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    absolutely, yep a bit more thought would not have gone astray!!

    I have seen grown men cry after traveling that section of road, pulled over the car at buckland gap, said he was going to have a weeee, then hid from the family on the steps of the old buckland gap ticket box!!
     
  18. Richard

    Richard Addicted Member
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    This is tricky stuff. The public are hard work. It's a comedy of errors scenario.

    How do you reach a better level of public education on what to do in this scenario beyond the 'carry chains, know how to fit chains, drive safe' messaging that is already in place and consistently pushed?
     
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  19. Ubiquitous Steve

    Ubiquitous Steve Addicted Member
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    They need somebody to supervise the chain fitting bay....giving advice ,and
    Guidance and making sure what rolls out of there is ganna make it up the road with chains properly fitted.....then a second bay in which to check chain tension.. on really bad days it has to pay off...

    Even checking that vehicles have alpine diesel or asking them to buy a conditioner before they go any further ....

    The snow clearers must certainly have a few unofficial comments that they wish they could make !!Their job is difficult enough without having to rescue stranded buses and cars...
     
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  20. Legs Akimbo

    Legs Akimbo Part of the Furniture
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    And huts.
     
  21. Ubiquitous Steve

    Ubiquitous Steve Addicted Member
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    Only important Huts were those being used by snow clearers at Mt Blowhard.....pretty important "Huts" those ones .....but Bears wonder how many hours the snow clearers worked non.stop..in those machines before they got back for a sleep??

    Because it's rather a skilled occupation!

    And the forum griping because they could not get to their trendy "digs" up the mt.

    Maybe the bus travellers partied on in the Blowhard Huts to pass the time and kept the place warm??
     
    #21 Ubiquitous Steve, Aug 10, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2017
  22. currawong

    currawong Old And Crusty
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    the main complaint is that hotham encouraged people to drive up via harrietville rather than advising them to go via Omeo when there was a decent blizzard forecast.
     
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  23. Ubiquitous Steve

    Ubiquitous Steve Addicted Member
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    Their management was totally irresponsible .
     
  24. Hermannator

    Hermannator Active Member

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    A case of 'one hand doesn't know what the other is doing' - lift Co giving bum steers but I'm pretty confident if you phone the resort mgmt board they will advise Omeo in sketchy conditions.
     
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  25. travelislife

    travelislife Dedicated Member
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    We went Omeo on Saturday in anticipation of bad conditions and to avoid any delay!
     
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  26. Occasional Visitor

    Occasional Visitor Active Member

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    Whether the person making the comments to the media was from resort management or from lift company - it was still utterly stupid.
     
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  27. LMB

    LMB Old And Crusty
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    Absolutely!
    Had to put chains on in NZ at one stage and there were local staff in the chain bay helping expedite and ensure everyone was fitting chains properly and quickly. It was brilliant.
     
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  28. currawong

    currawong Old And Crusty
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    And if it was the lift co, resort mgt should have put out a "clarifying" press release
     
  29. Ubiquitous Steve

    Ubiquitous Steve Addicted Member
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    It's a no brainer having staff to check chains are correctly fitted on the Hotham road...especially in periods of heavy snowfall.Staff can give advice and offer help....

    vic Rds have special licence requirements for bus drivers and are all over them with regulations....but the folk sharing the roads with them have no such licence requirements and are left to fit chains without demonstrating they are fit to drive up the roadway.

    I have always thought it's totally stupid to not enforce chain fitting to a correct standard.

    Flatlander has best summarised what happens on the Hotham Rd during Blizzard when the snow clearers get held up by Brocken down vehicles ,vehicles that have lost traction or crashed etc.

    At least minimise the traction problem.....and keep them out of the way of the snow clearers that need to go flat out non stop up then down for hours.
     
    #29 Ubiquitous Steve, Aug 11, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2017
  30. FlatLander

    FlatLander Active Member

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    Hi Richard how are you?

    Oh yes it would be sooo much easier without the public ;) been saying that for years, just ban them.....and snowboarders ban them too :D:D:D

    I actually do not think you can educate the public any more, they actively ignore all current information anyway. To add to this there are locals who refuse to fit chains when directed, semi-regular visitors who refuse to fit and/or do not carry chains as apparently they dont need to becuase they own an X5 or a Audi, and they "own property" on the mountain !!!!

    Standard response when extracting a Tarago out of the bank with 15 occupants - "I didnt know I needed chains", "What signs" (which is my personal favourite), and "the man at the service station said I probably wouldnt need them today" etc etc etc.

    The Hotham road is a beast, which is why it is so awesome and different every day. It rises up to about 1800m before dropping back into the village, so will be exposed to some pretty gnarly weather.

    Comparisons are fun:- OK in the worst weather imaginable picture yourself - 1.driving around 50metres above the highest point on Mt Buller with your only point of reference is the end of the bonnet, or 2. arriving at Falls Creek car parks with it snowing heavily and 20cm of snow on the ground, just to have the car park attendant lean in the window, "sorry we are full, you will have to drive up to Mt McKay, but its ok we have cleared a track....kind of" he mumbles when walking away!!
     
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  31. Hermannator

    Hermannator Active Member

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    Whilst bad drivers are a large part of the story, Stadelmanns (the road clearing contractor) are part of the problem. Clearing snow back to bitumen/ice so the remaining water refreezes into sheet ice doesn't help.

    How about leaving 1-2" of snow on the road so the chains have something to bite into.

    Being directed to fit chains on bitumen doesn't help.

    Resort mgmt not giving jump starts to stranded punters doesn't help (flat batteries tend to happen when they stop to fit chains and cut the engine. Stranded motorist potentially blocks road)
     
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  32. Ubiquitous Steve

    Ubiquitous Steve Addicted Member
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    All of those Resort Management vehicles should have provision to plug jumper leads straight into an external socket mounted in their grills or bullbars.....they should all be required to provide jump starts when ever asked......that's a good point that Hermannator is making.

    Sounds like Hotham Management need to have a rethink over strategy.....

    Also Vic Rds should also insist that all vehicles proceeding over the Hotham Rd are to carrying jumper leads(or another system to back up battery) plus chains.

    Most of the regulars already carry jumper leads.....
     
    #32 Ubiquitous Steve, Aug 11, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2017
  33. Gregah

    Gregah Active Member

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    My thoughts from 30 years travelling this road:
    - it is a total chameleon based on the prevailing weather - a hoot of a drive in good conditions (usually outside of winter) and easily lethal in bad
    - it is over regulated in 'standard' winter conditions (increasingly frequent trigger fingered 'all vehicles must fit chains' decisions when awd's with all season tyres can easily and safety navigate the road)
    - it is dangerously under serviced when conditions get really ugly two or three times a winter (serious blizzards) especially when these times coincide with the entirely predictable late Friday night surge of visitors. The lack of a human in either the (now removed) ticket booth or in chain fitting bays for inexperienced drivers to consult at these times is borderline negligent.
    - closing the Harrietville approach once or twice a season should be considered standard issue - it's a guenuine high alpine pass unlike any other in Australia. The Omeo approach should therefore be more proactively promoted by resort management. And FFS it only adds another 30 minutes to and from Melbourne so we punters shouldn't be so hellbent on taking the Harritteville approach. Be grateful we have two options to get up and down the best hill in the state.
     
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  34. FlatLander

    FlatLander Active Member

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    Absolutely agree 100 % with most of this Gregah, and same in 30 years travelling the road have pretty much, seen, been caught in, have ferried people out, and experienced it all. In all that time have only been stuck once, which was my bad as was a bit of alcohol fueled bravado (only slightly :whistle: ) in my old subie 1800 dl wagon with bald tyres trying to drive around a couple of stuck cars. I think it was Whitey (road clearer) that dragged me out, laughing all the while and I think took a pic for good measure!!

    The only issue would be who is expected to be stationed at the chain bays out side of the resort (eg below Buckland Gap and past MJ's), as RMB staff have no jurisdiction outside of the resort boundary!
     
  35. Ubiquitous Steve

    Ubiquitous Steve Addicted Member
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    I had not realised that the ticket offices had gone.A debarkle for those bad days /nights when talking to punters about conditions would be useful.

    As to who looks after chainfitting bays?They need to think this through....they need a much better plan of action in the heavy dumps.
    If they need more contractors then they need a plan...
    If the Hotham Resort wants its visitors it also has to have a plan and make monies available to provide safe passage of its visitors.
    Closing the Harrietville approach during blizzard and promoting the Omeo one has merit too. Maybe this road is just not viable during certain days in winter regardless of the outstanding efforts of those at Mt Blowhard.
     
  36. Rover

    Rover Dedicated Member

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    This thread is good reading....
    I travel the harrietville approach many times a season, and was stuck in Hooterville last Monday whilst the road was cleared.
    Its my understanding that whilst its in the best interests of the RMB to have the road open and to assist guests they have no say over the road/where chains are fitted or if the road is closed or opened. This falls onto the vic roads contractor.
    I am sure the contractor discusses with the RMB and the chain fitting service to obtain the best outcome.
    Its my understanding that vicpol took control of the road Sunday night/monday morning due to the buses that were stranded on the road and they did not give the clearance to reopen until mid morning Tuesday.
    My observations was that the RMB had someone at the gate in harrietville on monday providing information to arriving guests and again on Tuesday morning until the road was cleared to be opened.
    Once the road was opened it became very apparent two things. 1. the contractors did a great job getting the road cleared of snow considering the amount of snow that fell. 2. where the buses had broken down would have caused all sorts of problems in blizzard conditions.
    I think the main focus should be weather buses should be allowed the travel the harrietville approach on such days of blizzards.To send them around via omeo may be a wiser option.
    The other thing that should be considered is 4WD only on days like sunday....it used to be like that many years ago.
     
  37. Ubiquitous Steve

    Ubiquitous Steve Addicted Member
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    Oh good...so old ticket station can be manned in special cases....that is good.We see there are no easy solutions....best plans get stuffed when your at 1,600metres and it's Blizzard.Cops just did the best under the circumstances.Again everybody needs to get together and plan courses of action for these events.And I suppose you need to factor in such things as mechanical failure(even fires)on buses.Even possible for snow clearing machines to break drive shafts etc.a few back up strategies would be a good idea.
     
  38. Rush

    Rush Pool Room
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    For people living in the SE suburbs of Melbourne the Omeo road is often the fastest choice anyway.
     
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  39. Charlie

    Charlie Still the most depraved poster here
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    I would add..... also a snatch strap!
    (No @JoeKing, that's not a thong!)
     
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  40. Ubiquitous Steve

    Ubiquitous Steve Addicted Member
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    Suppose in light of blizzard conditions you could suggest that Hotham or Falls would also mention that a shovel also could be rather a brilliant idea..
     
    #40 Ubiquitous Steve, Aug 15, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2017
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  41. teckel

    teckel Old And Crusty
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    All very well having resort personnel checking chains etc. On the weekend of 5-6/8/17 an LM employee told a customer of mine that his chains were the wrong size. He came back to me demanding a refund of all that he hired, saying that I gave him the wrong chains (because of the employee's pronouncement). His tyre size was written on the box. The chains matched the box. So I fitted one of them to his car in my car park to demonstrate they were the correct chain for his car. If resort personnel are to be used, make sure they are properly trained to do so.
     
    #41 teckel, Aug 15, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2017
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  42. rowdyflat

    rowdyflat Active Member

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    Look the issue is really that Hotham Lift co cant have it both ways .
    Either its an epic best snow fall for a decade marketing wet dream and you take responsibility and keep both roads open and no excuses or its a blizzard and the marketing dept should say there is too much snow and dont come up via Harrietville .
    History tells me the latter is correct.
    You cant have it both ways and deceive the public and expect that no one will notice.
    Yeah sure people should have the correct chains and know how to use them but its inevitable there will be f***ups and buses on the road is just stupid.
     
  43. Rush

    Rush Pool Room
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    How flood affected is the Harrietville - Millawa route? There is a flood watch on the Ovens river at the moment. If this changes to minor flooding are there any Road impacts?
     
  44. currawong

    currawong Old And Crusty
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    the GAR often floods close to Wang. Not an issue now that the Hume Fwy is to the east of Wang, and certainly not if you are going via Milawa
    there are other trouble spots but there is usually a way through. Myrtleford is probably the biggest risk. in that case it might be possible to detour (eg via beechworth) to kiewa valley hwy and then back to ovens or bright. really need to look at the situation on the day
     
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  45. currawong

    currawong Old And Crusty
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    reverse that - i answered milawa to hooterville, not the return. if gar is flooded at myrtleford then go to kiewa valley hwy and then beechworth or even wodonga.
    minor flood tends to mean farms rather than main roads or towns
     
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  46. Rush

    Rush Pool Room
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    Thanks for that. If there is major flooding reported we will drive home via Omeo.
     
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  47. FlatLander

    FlatLander Active Member

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    Teckel this happens all the time, and is a major part of the problem.

    You cannot have untrained/un-qualified personnel giving advice, or providing assistance, or controlling a situation that they are not qualified for, untrained for, or outside their area of jurisdiction. I am not saying that this was the case in this situation though. What I am saying is that the road (as Rover indicated) is under the control of the VicRoads appointed snow clearing contractor and Vic Pol. The contractor makes the call on the road in most situations. All parties are in constant communication though as the situation can change and deteriorate very quickly, and yes while it is Ski Co and RMB's interest in ensuring visitors can enter the resort. It is in everyones interest that everyone can travel the road safely!

    Also jumpstarting vehicles, towing and extracting vehicles is a specialized area, and therefore rightfully so left up to services that are trained and have the correct equipment. eg RACV, other tow operators, Police, SES etc. I would not want a member of the public or some other random doing this to my vehicle. I still think that all parties involved managed the situation very well, once the s%$t had hit the fan.

    Buckland Gate ticket office has been relocated, so there is no permanent traffic control point below the "danger zone", and once the s%$t hits the fan its very difficult to get someone there.

    The Resort Managements have been criticized heavily in the past for perceived "over-reacting" when the forecast was calling for heavy snow. Yet now are being criticized for the opposite, could this have been called earlier eg reccomended route through Omeo etc etc, yes maybe although all speculation. It is quite possible that in this instance mother nature just decided to give everyone a wakeup call about who is really in control :)
     
  48. Rush

    Rush Pool Room
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    I see a small side road in Myrtleford has already been closed due to flooding
     
  49. currawong

    currawong Old And Crusty
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    Kiewa river had broken its banks at some points in mt beauty and tawonga, but not by much. Caravan parks both still looking ok. Rain has stopped at least temporarily
     
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  50. Occasional Visitor

    Occasional Visitor Active Member

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    Except - go back to what the resort spokesperson actually said "Mount Hotham's Alyson Lamb said people did not need to be concerned by the conditions of the road. "We have our road clearers, they work 24-7, they do an amazing job and they clear the road for us. So long as you're coming to Mount Hotham with your chains on your car, everything will be okay". That is akin to saying 'come on up - it'll be fine' . Even saying nothing would have been better. "Consider Omeo" would have been better again. "Omeo highly advised" smarter still
     
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