How come Merlin don't have an Ikon Pass or an Epic Pass

Discussion in 'Falls Creek' started by gaz35, Jun 26, 2018.

  1. Bogong

    Bogong Part of the Furniture
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    When Merlin bought the package deal of tourist destinations that included Falls and Hotham and then decided to hang on to the ski resorts, I thought they would "actively manage" them, try different strategies of running things to prove the concept. Then, once they'd got a management formula that was right for them, they would go off and buy a few dozen ski resorts across the world.

    But they haven't sold them, they haven't "actively managed" them and haven't bought any more ski resorts. Huge specialist companies like Merlin Entertainments usually don't just buy one or two assets in a category and passively manage them, they tend to either get big in the category or exit it. So I'm rather confused about what their medium to long term strategy is for the two ski resorts they own.
     
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  2. snowgum

    snowgum One of Us

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    I could add the lack of cams, and the lack of imagination in placement c/f Peri-Thredders.
    Small stuff!

    Hotham 360 cam though is the exception = very cool!
     
  3. Chaeron

    Chaeron One of Us
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    They bought a package, and the snow resorts were in it. I’m reasonably sure they’ll exit, but will want to do so optimally once they have amped the cash flows - reaped some easy returns and attracted a buyer. they bought Life & Leisure (off James Packer) in 2010, Merlin went part public in 2013 on the LSE. They’ll continue expanding, haven’t bought anything recently, and will look to rejig their portfolio.

    Difficult to see who would be a natural buyer. Wouldn’t make sense for them to exit before they see their real estate, green season and snow-making operations properly consolidated, so I give them another three to five years before they flip them.

    They’re currently optimising their ski resort returns via real estate sales - much like the Grollos...
     
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  4. Chaeron

    Chaeron One of Us
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    https://www.merlinentertainments.biz/776F24DF-7AB3-43FC-8CEE-BA1AE3E77D1D.CFILE

    Merlin’s milking it worldwide, and they are piling into experience based theme parks.

    Tourism in Oz has been picking up with growth exposure into Asia, so the revenue numbers at all the OZ assets are going up, not down, while the dominant expense (wages) is reasonably static...

    Merlin’s majority owner is the private family group owners of Lego and the international Legoland theme park expansion is their dominant new play globally, linked to resl estate development and link-ups with the film industry.

    Reading their financial reports its clear that the Oz operations are chump change and they have no intentions whatsovever of any significant capital investment.

    The ski resorts are a terminal investment for Merlin - all they might do is build more hotels and sell real estate in the resorts rather than invest in enhancing the experience- the people are coming anyway, they just want to find better ways of extracting more money from them.

    Merlin’s biggest recent Oz spend is the Melbourne Legoland....

    I reckon it’s a case of the last one out being left with the cheque, so We have no real hopes.

    Maybe we can get Disney (Marvel Entertainment) to make a play for the resorts.... if they’re willing to put their name on a footy stadium... more likely is a consortium of Chinese investors with a burning desire for real estate development.... Jack Ma, where are you in our hour of need? Or maybe Murdoch Jnr could be persuaded to have a go?

    A NZ operator might benefit from putting in a bid to increase the scale of their operations, but that would be strenghening their competition, so no.

    A Northern hemisphere ski resort group aiming for expansion might bite, but climate change makes buying new resorts a risk - rising costs, shrinking revenues - they’d rather invest surplus capital into future proofing the existing resorts green season revenue and real estate, lifestyle revenue streams..

    More returns in marketing spend or mechanisation or spending on ‘improving customer retail experience’ than returns on spending on improving skiing conditions or infrastructural investment, unless its about stuff to lift visitor numbers.

    If there are a couple of bad seasons in a row then they might be flogged off at a massive discount and face diminishing infrastructural and capital renewal.
     
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  5. Hully

    Hully One of Us

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    I was astounded when FCSL put the F&B businesses up for lease when they came up. F&B divisions are the major profit driver at many of their attraction operations so they have corporate knowledge/skill. I think if they weren't spending $9 million on Eagle it might have been a different situation as they would drive far more incremental profit from four well run F&B venues than an upgraded chairlift.
     
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  6. Hully

    Hully One of Us

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    There is very very little involvement by FCSL (Merlin) in green season, real estate development or accommodation (beyond booking service which is mainly aimed at packaging holiday with Lift Co product) at Falls Creek. They are essentially a 3 1/2 month winter snow holiday business. Can't see that changing soon.
     
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  7. Hully

    Hully One of Us

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    Falls has some new 360 cams and appear to have upgraded the others.
     
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  8. gaz35

    gaz35 Addicted

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    they still shows yesterdays pictures though!! At least they were 5 minutes ago
     
  9. snowgum

    snowgum One of Us

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    What I found illuminating at the Falls Creek end of year stakeholder meetings (city) in the mid late naughtiest was that the resort management would present data and take questions but the lift co. Would never show up. They have had a spy in the ranks but nothing obvious.

    I know they weren't a Lift co. Event but I thought it spoke volumes about their interest in the mountain per Se - particularly the Green Season. By the looks, nothing has changed. Not surprised.
     
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  10. snowgum

    snowgum One of Us

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    Addendum: Should have read 'may have had a spy in ranks'. They may not have.
     
  11. Hully

    Hully One of Us

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    The Lift Co at Falls do not have any significant assets that would be readily exploited to create an attractive green season business for them. Their chairs only lift a maximum of 200mts so a novelty ride only, hardly worth it for lift accessed MTB or walking. They don't have significant accommodation assets to market as green season destination. They would need to invest in adventure experience assets like zip line, water flume, dry luge to have a significant pay for use green season asset.
    I think the Accor group with QT (and probably the newly formed TAG/Astra/Huski group) are the only corporates in a position to significantly drive a viable green season business.
     
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  12. Budgiesmuggler

    Budgiesmuggler A Local
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    Just looked through their annual report and investor presentations - zero mention of either resort or snow.
     
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  13. Hully

    Hully One of Us

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    Green Season at Falls is driven nearly entirely by local government (RMB), funded by snow season revenue and delivering significant losses to financial results for the past few years.
    I love the Green Season in my local High Country but don't believe it has potential to drive significant income revenue to attract significant corporate investment or involvement and I'm not convinced that significant public investment in it for what is potentially not huge economic benefit is wise. This isn't necessarily a bad thing as most of it is National Park. Sub alpine investment/development that supports visitation to Alpine National Park areas is more cost effective, has less environmental impact and has potential year round utilisation makes better sense IMO.
     
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  14. Seth

    Seth Pool Room
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    Get yourself to Thredbo to see how green season can get pumping.

    Of the three resorts in Vic, Falls is the one for green season. Got something for everyone. I was surprised how busy it was when I was up there in Jan (the week after NYE). Runners, walkers, horse people, mountain biking, sailing, swimming. People were doing all these things.
     
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  15. Hully

    Hully One of Us

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    No disagreement with the above.
    Thredbo has had it together for green season for years and is going from strength to strength. Keys to its success aside from location is the head lease management model and that they have a chairlift with enough vertical to be worthwhile for MTBers and makes a significant difference to what walkers can access.
    Falls is super busy for Christmas/New Year, Easter and 3 Peaks.... the rest of the summer, though it is better than it used to be, visitor numbers are similar to the worst of winter days.
    Falls is a great location year round, it's not by accident that I live where it's my backyard, just that I believe a high infrastructure cost, high overhead cost, high asset value model is not the right one for summer.
     
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  16. snowgum

    snowgum One of Us

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    Agree Thredbo has got all the big guns over summer - having a Long chair to access Kosi & mtn bike trails is a big plus. Falls could use Halleys and open Cloud Nine as bike & site see destination but Merlin would have to 'give a'?

    When I rule world (Alps), any lift company appointed will have to run at least one (longer) access Chair on key summer/Autumn weekends. Sort of give back a little to Falls over the eight non ski months after raking in the dosh. (/:-/)
     
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  17. Hully

    Hully One of Us

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    Really??? I love Falls and the surrounding High Country but the top of Halleys is hardly a desirable sight see destination. Not enough vertical to provide any real benefit for MTB uplift.
    I realistically cannot see any increase in green season visitation or increase in village revenue being driven by Halleys running year round.
    A Falls Creek chairlift running regularly through the green season would be like the rest of the RMB facilitated green season activities.... subsidised by winter ski visitation and an additional cost impost on skiers.
     
  18. currawong

    currawong Old but not so Crusty
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    When they do run summit in summer it isn't as a good a deal as the shuttles. It has the advantage of not having to wait around so much but by far the most popular trail is flowtown which finishes at howmans. Riders would rather pay for the shuttle that services that run.

    I'd love to see more stuff in summer but I doubt that lifts are a panacea.
     
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  19. snowgum

    snowgum One of Us

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    It's a few years since I put my old hard tail mtn on the summit chair at Falls and must admit I haven't taken a shuttle.

    I thought for a slow old hack like me the lift was handy but yes if i was keen and half decent I can see a longer shuttle run would be the go.

    Fwiw: I rode up the top of summit this new year - the new trail down the front face of bowl is good fun - despite having to get off and push over rocks 5-6 times! (|:-0

    ...A nice little riding mountain now - and plenty of xc for us Ol' chickens!!
     
  20. Richard

    Richard Maintenance Dept
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    I heard on the grapevine that Merlin could not get to grips on the total variability of a snow seaon. One year you are up, the next you are burning cash (not unlike working the land in marginal rainfall). They understood that a couple of weeks of rain would keep people away from a theme park, but over 12 months that stuff smooths out - a snow season is either ok, great, or shite and there is nothing you can do until next year. This (apparently) was something the C-Suite got all salty about.

    Maybe they got plans to smooth it out with 'Summer' attractions. But the industry has had 50 years to get that business in order and only Thredbo has got there - and that's taken the better part of 30 years to do so.
     
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  21. Seth

    Seth Pool Room
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    Yep. Like I said earlier. 2013 (junk) following 2012 (great) just stuffed everything.
     
  22. Richard

    Richard Maintenance Dept
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    fify

    there's really only 10 decent weeks in the Oz snow business. tis a silly game.
     
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  23. ocker

    ocker Hard Yards

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    I do not buy the experience first skiing second business model. Merlin do not even run the chair lifts for mountain bilking at Falls at all out of the snow season. In a very short time Falls has become a well recognised mountain bike destination but the lift company has played no part in it and a vehicle shuttle is used to take mountain bikers to the summit. From what I can see Merlin is just interested in creaming the snow season.
     
  24. Hamburglar

    Hamburglar Hard Yards

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    I spent 5 days at Falls just after New Year and the place was dead! Tumbleweeds! A bunch of runners and a few MTBers. I was in heaven, the place is absolutely stunning, but the wife and kids weren't too unhappy to move on at the end of the week. It is far from a tourist destination outside ski season.
     
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  25. snowgum

    snowgum One of Us

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    Falls needs a pool like Thredders if it wants to be taken seriously as a summer location.

    For thousands of families staying in the the sub alp valleys, access to water is a key element of their holiday. And while most kids love splashing in a river or creek in 40C temps, Rock Valley is a tad cool for this demographic.

    I believe FCRM has done some 'below radar' work towards the pool idea. It would be a wonderful attractor
    For families and I would imagine all the running groups would incorporate a pool into their trading regime.

    It would be fabulous if the Feds got on board with a sizeable contribution - as they did Thredbo. Perhaps get the Buffalo Gondola folks on board with - a 'safer' alternative.

    Falls of course needs much more than a working pool but this would be a very good start and perhaps act as a nuclei attracting smaller businesses and perhaps approaching the sustainability threshold.

    But it gets a bit tiring and boring speculating year after year. Let's see a business case for the pool and ideas for funding. Surely as a community we're too poor for a pool??
     
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  26. currawong

    currawong Old but not so Crusty
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    Absolutely agree about the desirability of a pool. Finding is the issue. There is a "plan" for a sports training facility that includes a pool, which would of course be open to the public too. Falls is high enough that it does give benefit for altitude training.
    Whether anyone will ever fund it is the problem.
     
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  27. snowgum

    snowgum One of Us

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    Our warm fuzzy, pre-election state/fed Govts us a good start. Its a much a benefit for sport & rec development as a mtn /ski thing!

    Consider what is spent on airfares to Arizona.
    Falls us much lower but being free accessible by land athletes can stay & train much longer. For gtr long term benefit - I assume? Any SPort Med Docs around to advise?
     
  28. Seth

    Seth Pool Room
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    Falls isn't actually that much lower than where they were going Arizona. Where they were going just had shiny, fancy facilities to use.

    Plus teams have worked out the expense of going over there isn't worth it. The training benefits from altitude are gained in longer term blocks. Two weeks is not worth it.

    edit. checked Flagstaff elevation. it is at 2100m
     
    #78 Seth, Jun 29, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2018
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  29. snowgum

    snowgum One of Us

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    So time on the hill is the key?

    ...all the more reason to ramp up the pressure on our state & Fed Sports’ Ministers.

    If not our skiers, Maybe Deeks or ’Monna’ could have a polite word to the big wigs?

    ...as for local (Alpine Shire) help/interest?
    I wonder whether vested interested might see a pool & stronger tourism a potential threat to the valleys, rather than another attraction??

    Au’ Bright vs. MtB & co?
    ...be interesting to know what the Lords of the Shire think.
    (Couldnt resist on a Friday! (;-). )
     
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  30. currawong

    currawong Old but not so Crusty
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    Mt Beauty local swimmers would support it. No more busloads of triathletes coming down from falls to take over the pool. Council may not see it the same way.

    Bright doesn't have a decent pool of its own so probably would not be impressed if Falls got one. The Bright pool, while indoors and heated, is tiny and a bit on the grotty side. Don't mean unhealthy, just the lining in the pool feels horrible.
     
  31. Joe

    Joe Hard Yards

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    They are doing a great job considering the lingering dead wood of both FCSL & FCRMB. Sharon Raguse GM has been a good asset for FCSL, a proven performer in past gigs, great at building relationships and has good contacts having worked with local and state gov's. I'm told she has been spending time O/S working on building relationships. With the limited knowledge I have I wasn't at all surprised those leases were being offered up as I knew changes would come.
     
  32. currawong

    currawong Old but not so Crusty
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    i wish she could have built a better relationship with chris hocking - or are you regarding him as dead wood?
     
  33. Joe

    Joe Hard Yards

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    I can't comment on internal machinations, but changes always occur when a company makes a transition from its current state to a desired future state and there's always some resistance and a few casualties along the way.
     
  34. snowgum

    snowgum One of Us

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    I’d like to see local Merlin reps actually meet with key stakeholders once oer year in Melbourne to discuss their mid-ling term plans. Putting on my pinko lefty hat - its crown load they effectively lease under a licence via DELWP and MHRM & FCRM.

    Being public land, we the the public should at least have the oportunity to hear of ther plans first hand. The fact we dont says a lot about who Govt considers to be most important party - and its not the public or even on-mountain businesses.

    But I dream (digress) The recent Banking Royal Commission has demonstated clearly who control the shots in Australia - generally, not just on 5-6 hill tops.

    ...now if you’ll exuse me, I’m about to use the Merlin product again. X fingers on the wind abating Monday/Tuesday after a nice 20-30 cm top up!
     
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  35. currawong

    currawong Old but not so Crusty
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    So you can't comment on internal machinations but you are happy to slag off at staff as dead wood:rolleyes:

    I'm happy to wait a bit longer before deciding whether the new ceo has been a force for good. So far she has big black marks for the abnormally high number of delayed starts and breakdowns and for losing the best marketing asset they had. Maybe she can bring in enough positives to outweigh those. Hope so. External relationships don't matter that much when your ops department can't get lifts open
     
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  36. teckel

    teckel Old n' Crusty
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    Many here assume that MTB is the only way to go. Do they forget Falls' greatest summer asset - Rocky Valley Dam? I think they should make a big deal of that - boating, fishing etc. Sailing regattas, water skiing events, fishing competitions, flat water kayaking etc.
     
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  37. Seth

    Seth Pool Room
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    It’s a massive advantage that is for sure.

    I was up there in the first week of January this year and the lake was getting plenty of use.

    No one thing is the answer on its own.
     
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  38. Joe

    Joe Hard Yards

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    I'm sorry if I offended you with the term dead wood, I see it as a common term used in business. When stakeholders want a different result they put aside personal attachments and do what needs to be done. If you feel Falls was moving in the right direction prior to the appointed of the new GM I respect your right to share that opinion. I just hope I don't have to witness another property fire sale and Falls reaches its fullest potential in the near future. :)
     
  39. teckel

    teckel Old n' Crusty
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    Triathlons - running, swimming, cycling. Or, running, kayaking, cycling.
     
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  40. Seth

    Seth Pool Room
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    Plenty of runners and triathletes up there already.

    Off road triathlon isn’t that big. Standard triathlon isn’t what it was.
     
  41. teckel

    teckel Old n' Crusty
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    Good prize money could change that?
     
  42. Seth

    Seth Pool Room
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    From where will that money come from?

    More value in promoting it as a training base.
     
  43. Hully

    Hully One of Us

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    Rocky Valley Dam is not an FCRMB asset. They have within the resort boundary a small section of shoreline. It is a Hydro (AGL) managed asset which in the majority is in the Alpine National Park.
     
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  44. Hully

    Hully One of Us

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    Do you understand the FCRMB FCSL(Merlin) situation? The Victorian Alpine Resort arrangement is quite unique. FCSL only have a ski area lease, not a resort head lease. Their influence on things like real estate development, property prices etc is not significant. They don't have the level of influence/control to put a new $9 million chairlift on the preferred alignment.
    I personally like Sharon.....but the previous GM was hardly 'deadwood', he was given a significant advancement in the Merlin organisation.
     
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  45. Joe

    Joe Hard Yards

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    Yes I do understand the Merlin situation, and I never aimed the deadwood term at any specific person. Another poster mentioned a name and I made no comment. I think Falls can do much better as a collective and I won't shy away from my own opinion. And I also never said who was responsible for property values......Only that I hoped not to see a repeat of the 2011 fire sale.
     
  46. teckel

    teckel Old n' Crusty
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    Sure. But would that mean they can't organise things which utilise the dam? I'm sure they'd have regular meetings with the dam management, and could organise things, especially if they mentioned 'supported by AGL' or whatever.
     
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