Mt Buffalo Chalet - What's the current status?

Discussion in 'National Parks' started by snowplough, Dec 18, 2008.

  1. Hully

    Hully Dedicated Member

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    This is the type of reason why Buffalo Chalet will never be redeveloped.
    http://www.alpineshire.vic.gov.au/Mobile/Page.aspx?page_id=2011&resetnv=true
    There is less and less encouragement for visitors to look outside the town perimeter of Bright....or more correctly Bright will be attracting more and more visitors focused on a specific event based within Bright. Sure some will look beyond the event but not in the proportion of visitors heading there for a general 'High Country getaway'.
     
  2. Richard

    Richard Addicted Member
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    Concur, not going to happen.

    As DbSki points out, the place was built during a different era, when leisurely mountain chalets were in vogue, alternative attractions were few and a clear business objective to sell train tickets and accom packages the driver - not least of which was being owned by a well heeled govt utility.

    Renovations to today's travellers standards would be a nightmare moneypit.

    Best case scenario is the foyer & front of house is kept and restored and the accom wings totally demolished - replaced by small number of high yield luxury rooms. The front of house would need to be restored primarily as a day visit attraction with a 4 star destination restaurant that did lunch 7 days with the best service and wine list in SE Victoria.

    Even then the economics would be very marginal and marketing would need to be sustained for years to build reputation and momentum.
     
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  3. DbSki

    DbSki Part of the Furniture
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    Yep the fact the Buffalo is a just a bit far from the local township it would be hard to tap into the local tourism, as in passing trade.
     
  4. Mister Tee on snow shoes

    Mister Tee on snow shoes Dedicated Member

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    I like 'The Buff' the way it is , natural and beautiful ,wild, ancient and mysterious.If the great unwashed can't dig that then it is their loss .
    However paying nearly 60 clams a night to camp at Lake Catani is a rip off. The Hike in campsites at Mt McLeod and Rocky Creek are only about 14 clams per night and there no cars or hoons.
    So like many things of some quaint and aesthetic worth in Victoria today , the Chalet is doomed.
     
  5. wean

    wean Active Member

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    THE MINISTER 'REPLIES'.
    Got some news for you - the Minister for Regional Vic has finally 'responded' to the Community Action for the Chalet group (they actually met with her not long ago). She's said absolutely nothing of course regarding any support apart from saying she 'hopes to hear how things are going'. You can read her letter here
    https://www.facebook.com/CommunityActionForTheChalet/

    This is despite the fact that the govt is planning to spend $55.4 million on the State library even though it's had some $200 million spent on it in about 2004. I got a letter from her adviser recently after calling her office three times - all she says is "Parks Vic are working closely with the CAC group...". It's all BS of course. Pulford is ex regional Vic - I now suspect she is trying to divert funding to western Vic at the expense of the north east.

    http://www.jaalapulford.com.au/

    When I got the email response, I emailed her to say "What have all these other areas (she referred to other regional area funding) got to do with the chalet, and "Why is the govt spending $55 million on the State library when it could spend just $35 million on the chalet?". No reply yet of course.

    Hully, I doubt those projects you mentioned in Bright would affect the patronage of the chalet, but I see what you mean by the funding issue.
     
  6. absentskier

    absentskier Old And Crusty
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    2 million people visit the State Library every year. Arguing that money should be spent on the Chalet ahead of the State Library is not a winner IMO.
     
  7. VSG

    VSG Pool Room
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    I used to wite those letters. As in, that type of Ministerial reply. You got formula. Sucks.

    Nothing. Government are good at saying a lot about nothing.

    You knew that. What is in it for the taxpayer, if Buffalo rebirths? Answer that convincingly, and you may have an angle. Oh, and how to keep a developer or two flushed with cash in the process, always helps. Esp if they know the Minister.

    :)
     
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  8. wean

    wean Active Member

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    Thanks Absent and VSG - yes - it's basically vote buying...

    I brought the fact up with the Minister that I wasn't aware of the State library rotting or leaking water.
     
  9. Budgiesmuggler

    Budgiesmuggler Addicted Member
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    I wrote them to. Placate but say nothing
     
  10. snowgum

    snowgum Dedicated Member

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    Igor it, if in doubt spend the big dough in the city first, regional towns a distant second and the bush gets an oily rag. (Like PV funding)

    Such a synical people we've become!
     
  11. Seth

    Seth Old And Crusty
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    If you think you've got a good argument here comparing the money spent on the state library compared to what hasn't been spent saving the chalet you're wasting your time.
     
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  12. Mister Tee on snow shoes

    Mister Tee on snow shoes Dedicated Member

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    I was up there over the Football Long weekend. There seems to be some work being done to the Chalet.
     
  13. Richard

    Richard Addicted Member
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    Astounding!

    I’m happy to be completely wrong. I thought there was no way in hell the political will existed to repair and preserve the chalet to even a fraction of the standard that video reveals.

    Full kudos to the lobbyists for making it happen.
     
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  14. Seth

    Seth Old And Crusty
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    Yeah. I'm with @Richard on this.

    Was certain it would be left to rot so it could just fall over.
     
  15. Charlie

    Charlie Still the most depraved poster here
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    Renews your faith in Gummint!
     
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  16. teckel

    teckel Old And Crusty
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    That's a hasty comment.
     
  17. Chaeron

    Chaeron Dedicated Member
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    Summer tourism dollars win through. Buffalo & the chalet are a great attraction for those less physically active who are touring through the region. I wonder how they can monetise it without pissing people off. Certainly, a catering lease up there has now got to be worth more, for example. Wonder if they'll let the catering/coffee truck in the parking lot stay on...
     
  18. Ubiquitous Steve

    Ubiquitous Steve Addicted Member
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    That man that has staged a one man protest with his car down near Myrtleford .....

    we will shout him a beer when we pass again....

    Next time the DSE has a little community meeting (exception ....fire related) that it takes place up there.....so the next FHAW thingee meeting is held up there.
     
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  19. Chaeron

    Chaeron Dedicated Member
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    Now to have ParksVic restore the Feathertop chalet! :D
     
  20. Chaeron

    Chaeron Dedicated Member
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    And the lodges at Donna Buang!
     
  21. teckel

    teckel Old And Crusty
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    More chance of those things happening than the NSW equivalent rebuilding the huts they deliberately burned.
     
  22. Ubiquitous Steve

    Ubiquitous Steve Addicted Member
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    Well for a modest dollar we could have had another Hut in the Ruin area...keeping pressure off Federation Hut.The amount of money that already been spent on management drafts and consultant fees for the FHAW could have been used more constructively .....a new hut at the Ruin site would have provided more value for trampers visiting Mt Feathertop over the whole year.
     
  23. Chaeron

    Chaeron Dedicated Member
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    Just imagine stripping out the planning and environmental impact studies and permit costs out of building, and the insurance etcetera....

    And imagine what people would do....

    @cin...
     
  24. Ubiquitous Steve

    Ubiquitous Steve Addicted Member
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    Biggest problem is effluent.....Federation is close to Ruin so a heli pick up of waste could not be a big consideration .Foot Print of actual Hut site is tiny.....a couple of zoologists and botanists could quickly appraise site and pass it as a roadworthy proposition.

    Yes indeed keep the costs down....

    I reckon a new Hut site could work well.Weather is less severe there.
    Quite a few would rather stop there and pick up the last hill early the next morning.
    This being a less controversial plan than that of a proposed building high up near the top of Diamantina.
    Visual impact zero from other ridges....
     
  25. Mister Tee on snow shoes

    Mister Tee on snow shoes Dedicated Member

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    I argued this point in my 7000 word submission opposing the new FHAC.I see people in winter who should not be going past Picture point on the Bungalow spur who would benefit a lot by having a hut /refuge at the old FT hut ruins site.
     
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  26. gettingtooold

    gettingtooold Dedicated Member
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    Great news. At least it's a start and more than what's happened over so many years.
     
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  27. Chaeron

    Chaeron Dedicated Member
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    Today's reading. A fantastic resource - track it down if you can. A well-balanced overview. It obviously precedes the destruction of the Cresta facilities and the end of lifted skiing on the mountain as well as the closure of the Lodge, but still outlines all the key issues facing Australian Alpine National Parks and resorts. @Dave Clark & @Mister Tee on snow shoes - seems the current issues of Victorian alpine resort management are recurring themes. Where we are now we've been before. The insights into the tensions between industry, the environmental lobby, state government departments and political parties, as well as user groups are particularly enlightening.
     
    #277 Chaeron, Oct 2, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2017
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  28. Mister Tee on snow shoes

    Mister Tee on snow shoes Dedicated Member

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    It remains to be seen whether The Chalet will ever reopen for year round accommodation and catering.Maybe the powers that be don't want to see it keel over ( or be blamed for such a thing) and nor do they want to use it. A dog in the manger scenario perhaps?
     
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  29. Chaeron

    Chaeron Dedicated Member
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    I've been reading up on the history of Buffalo and it's chalet - it's consistently been dogged by controversy, factional politicking, budget constraints and overruns. It's also consistently seen the tensions between naturalists, skiers, graziers and developers, as well as the tensions between private industry and government institutions from the very start. It's history is a good summation of the tensions alpine areas and the resorts in them face - reading the Baw-Baw, Lake Mountain and Buller threads is like stepping into history!

    The Buffalo chalet was built below spec., always overran its budgets, never earned back its running costs, was always caught in fights between local interests and the big end of town in Melbourne, was always a State government football, and was consistently inadequate to its set purpose.

    The ski runs and amenities were always operationally hamstrung by bureaucracy and always caught out by social and technological change, and frequently upset by unpredictable natural events and often characterised by expense, discomfort and inconvenience!

    What comes through as a constant positive are four things -

    1) the immense enthusiasm of the public
    2) a willingness by government to accommodate public enthusiasm at the cost of initial financial overruns.
    3) the immense dedication and enthusiasm of larger than life snowfield characters who loom large in making the Australian snowfields an amazing place.
    4) the unique natural beauty of the winter mountain landscape


    The more things change the more they stay the same....
     
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  30. Chaeron

    Chaeron Dedicated Member
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    @Mister Tee on snow shoes - I don't see the Chalet as it is now operating as a year-round accommodational facility given its innate shortcomings compared to contemporary market and bureaucratic requirements.

    In my opinion meeting those requirements would require a new facility which would cost more than it could generate in income, and such a facility would never get past current planning constraints....

    I would LOVE to be wrong on both counts.

    The current setup has day tripping visitor centre written all over it: heritage, education, environmental, with some catering and a shop on the side - think of the visitor centres at the Buchan caves, or the Cranbourne Botanical gardens or The Rhododendron Gardens in Olinda and that's probably their operating model, possibly with an operating lease for the shop and cafe' at best. More people on a road up a mountain into a carpark, with some feeding into pre-packaged licensed activities on the mountain, and regular users bypassing all that. Only questions are whether they'd toll access and whether it would be a year-round facility - I guess they wouldn't toll it, and would keep it open all year-round, depending on initial visitor numbers - maybe shoulder season opening in the colder months.
     
  31. Ziggy

    Ziggy Addicted Member
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    Are we the only state without park entry fees? I can see value in bringing them back for all parks as a partial user pays system.

    The current funding system is 100% political and the amounts allocated inadequate to achieve the objectives listed in the Act.
     
  32. wean

    wean Active Member

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    Chaeron, you said the chalet "always overran its budgets, never earned back its running costs".

    Not sure if I posted this info here, but I was talking to one of the former staff members last year who told me anyone - up until perhaps the late 1980's - could go into virtually any suburban station and book (pay for) a holiday up there. "Where did this money then go?" he asked. Not back to the chalet...back into consolidated revenue if anything.

    Running short of time here, but I'm sure I mentioned discussing the revenue ins and outs with the former chalet manageress from the late '70's to the mid '80's a couple of years ago. This person is very clever as far as management goes, and she told me the place was - due largely to a couple of clever advertising packages - making enough money to cover ALL its expenses and more (she actually said it "was making a lot of money".).

    If there was any real reason that the place was not doing as well at times perhaps from the mid 1960's to maybe 1971, it was due to two reasons. Firstly, as far as I know, there were few really 'innovative' (got to be careful here) tourism packages offered, and secondly, due in part to the lack of upgrading by successive governments, the development at other resorts such as Falls Creek would have had an effect on guest numbers.

    This 'hidden revenue' was basically why those in the know called the place a 'cash cow' - the always revenue stretched railways used to 'milk it'. In the book above, I'm sure it says that in the early '60's, the then Premier Henry Bolte thought the place had 'too much of a monopoly' on the mountain, so this wouldn't have helped.

    A friend of mine - who has possibly done more than most to try to save the place - went up about three weeks ago and found this strange red substance leaking from under some of the newly replaced and painted cladding boards. One of the builders said they thought it might be 'tannin' but I've never heard of tannin leaking from mountain ash. I'd strongly suggest that if any of you can get up to the place, do it and have a good look and ask more than a few questions if you can. This friend said the 'place looked terrible' despite the amount of work. Maybe it's just due to post/repair...
     
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  33. Ziggy

    Ziggy Addicted Member
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    The last lease holder, who I believe was the former operator of Hotham, wanted a 99 year lease renewal which the state government denied. That put it in limbo.
     
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  34. Mister Tee on snow shoes

    Mister Tee on snow shoes Dedicated Member

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    The state LNP wanted to issue 99 year leases to all and sundry, including developers and miners/ prospectors/ loggers/ hunters etc. for all Nat. parks. The VNPA nearly had a heart attack when it heard about that and they opposed it vehemently. The State Labourals , once they were back in power ,blocked and overturned the 99 year lease policy / legislation.
     
  35. Billy_Buttons

    Billy_Buttons Dedicated Member
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    The NSW State Gov still has gone silent on the Charlotte Pass Resort lease as well. WTF is going on? Decades old Club Lodges just don't know anything after request, request and request!
     
  36. Charlie

    Charlie Still the most depraved poster here
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    if that was Dean, can't remember his last name, he was a brilliant operator!
     
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  37. Ziggy

    Ziggy Addicted Member
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    That was up 2 years ago, 3 years?
     
  38. sbm

    sbm Dedicated Member
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    Vic has no park entry fees, but as was mentioned upthread it costs four times as much to camp!

    Mt Buffalo NP, zero day entry fees, $60 a night for a campsite.

    Kosciuszko, $30 day entry fee, free camping.
     
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  39. Majikthise

    Majikthise Sage
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    Is there a market for accommodation to service trail running and road cycling? I could imagine a club being able to book out the chalet for a weekend of activity.
     
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  40. Seth

    Seth Old And Crusty
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    Why would you stay up there when all the other activities are down in the Valley?

    Riding up, around and then back down to Bright Brewery sounds a lot more interesting than riding down, around, smash beers and then riding up the hill to get home.
     
  41. Majikthise

    Majikthise Sage
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    See you have just made a case for a boutique brewery/ciderary at Buff
     
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  42. wean

    wean Active Member

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    Ziggy, the last lessees were Burbank - the company that is a project house developer. https://www.burbank.com.au They weren't very happy when Tatra burnt down...

    Fees are a bit of a double edged sword really - an entry fee (which they charged some years ago) might put some people off going up. If they didn't go up due to the entry fee, they might not see what the camping ground was like. Don't know what the camping grounds are like on other mountains, but if I'm allowed to suggest, I think the camping ground on Buffalo is delightful; many of the sites are surrounded by bits of bush. The facility block was rebuilt some years ago too.

    Seth, you said "Why would you stay up there when all the other activities are down in the Valley?" Do you mean on Buffalo? If this is the case, people travel up from Bright to do bushwalking on Buffalo due to its amazing environment - no other mountain looks or feels like it that I know of. In addition, if it's say 35C in Bright during the day, it might only be about 27/28C on Buffalo, so you get to cool down a bit too.

    I'm not in anyway trying to backstab Dean Belle, but like a lot of staff, he was under significant pressure at times to deal with issues that came up at the chalet and consequently he could be a bit difficult to work under (when he was stressed). Back in the late '70's and early '80's, quite a few staff used to drink alcohol quite heavily to cope with working there - particulary kitchen staff who didn't even get proper tea breaks and who had to work split shifts.

    Trust this helps a little.
     
  43. Seth

    Seth Old And Crusty
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    Yeah. I was commenting on the example of hiring out accom to groups, eg. cycling clubs. If you are going to the area for a specific reason you still want other things to do in the arvo or evenings, eating/boozing options, etc. If you were staying up on Buff those options would be very limited when compared to staying in the valley.

    Buff is awesome. I love the place. Just not convinced that the Chalet has any future as an accom option anymore. Day lodge, 100%.
     
  44. Ziggy

    Ziggy Addicted Member
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    A single use entry pass of 8 bucks won't be much of a deterrent. Or 60 all-parks annual. In the past when fees were charged you could go up and back after 5 without paying.

    Anyone know what's happened to the local planning initiative?
     
  45. Ubiquitous Steve

    Ubiquitous Steve Addicted Member
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    Just organise a few rock concerts up there....Those little animals like a bit of noise occasionally ...makes them breed bettter.

    But the cost of overnight camping is pretty expensive....

    Why would you Camp at Buffalo when it's free camping down in the mighty West Kiewa...

    Select one of Team Bears super campsites by the creek.
     
  46. Mister Tee on snow shoes

    Mister Tee on snow shoes Dedicated Member

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    Parks Vic. staff are so busy with so much work and so little funding , that you could probably camp somewhere , for nothing at Mt.Buffalo away from the popular car and foot traffic routes.
     
  47. Ziggy

    Ziggy Addicted Member
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    Lake Catani has a special vibe, like the whole of the plateau. Love those granite tors. Charlotte Pass is similar - another little world apart.

    Buffalo is effectively no longer a ski destination. With those numbers of paying visitors out of the mix a facility like the Chalet may never be viable for accommodation unless some other attraction is developed.

    I reckon a gondola down to the valley would be a hoot but not quite compatible with the preservation of natural values.
     
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