Mt Buffalo Chalet - What's the current status?

Bogong

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You have to see the old pile in person to get an idea of its enormous size. It's deeper than it is wide and had 100 guest rooms plus staff quarters, lounge areas, a ballroom, huge kitchens, etc. There are extension wings and courtyards in all sorts of places

Built 1911, with many extensions, the biggest was in the 1930s when they raised the roof to add an extra story to it.

Here's an ad for it from circa 1923 before the extensions, when it was managed by Hilda Samsing who probably did more than anyone else to make skiing a popular sport in Victoria.

1477997851130
 

Ubiquitous Steve

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That’s what is needed on the Bungelow Spur ...Donkeys.Get the gear up on donkeys !
And donkeys on steroids for the Staircase to Bivouc Hut!

Mr T could lug even more gear up the hill and even Xplora would warm to the new transport option!
Some additional annex’s would be necessary to house these donkeys till their return trip!
 
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currawong

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Yep, their reno was only 2.5M - Buffalo Chalet wont get change from $15M. The economics of the exercise is a real consideration. Each year of neglect just makes the value proposition harder.

FYI - Yarrangobilly House was also shuttered for about a decade prior to the restoration.
The running costs would also be much higher at the chalet. Closing off some of the big public spaces might help but that would also detract from the grandeur of the place.
I'd love to see it open again, just can't imagine how
 
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Mister Tee on XC Skis

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Maybe shoot a low budget remake of THE SHINING at the Mt. Buffalo chalet?. Could that raise its profile?. The Save Mt. Buffalo Chalet mob on FB are heading to the same Chalet /Lodge where the original film was made in Colorado. There may be some kind of belief that architecturally these two Mountain accommodation structures are long lost twins.
 

Ubiquitous Steve

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A mini series of the recent lost couple filmed on location could generate public interest!

Somewhat like the Hanging Rock enterprise after the film “Picnic at Hanging Rock”

Of course the bears would need to be offered cameo parts in the film!
 

Ubiquitous Steve

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Yes...that could work!

They make blood curdling noises from heavily vegetated parts and scare the be...Jesus out of the rescue parties!
Yes this has potential....even Mr T could do a cameo as a reporter stating that chances of survival after so many days were not looking good!
 

Pink

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Maybe shoot a low budget remake of THE SHINING at the Mt. Buffalo chalet?. Could that raise its profile?. The Save Mt. Buffalo Chalet mob on FB are heading to the same Chalet /Lodge where the original film was made in Colorado. There may be some kind of belief that architecturally these two Mountain accommodation structures are long lost twins.
Too late!
 

Pink

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That’s what is needed on the Bungelow Spur ...Donkeys.Get the gear up on donkeys !
And donkeys on steroids for the Staircase to Bivouc Hut!

Mr T could lug even more gear up the hill and even Xplora would warm to the new transport option!
Some additional annex’s would be necessary to house these donkeys till their return trip!
Transfers from Porepunkah bus stop to Buffalo Chalet by donkey would be awesome!
 

Ubiquitous Steve

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Put a large boulder in lake Catani....fabricate a meteor strike.....:eek:

Some flash bang fireworks providing evidence for those residing in Porepunkah...
Parks Vicco making some strange lights in the sky etc etc.

Then giant Parks Information board and a viewing platform etc etc;)
Guided tours with Rangers .....
Now if this ruse is done properly it could generate much more income than perhaps a mini series of a couple lost on Buffalo surviving on mars bars for a week!:thumbs:
 
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teckel

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You have to see the old pile in person to get an idea of its enormous size. It's deeper than it is wide and had 100 guest rooms plus staff quarters, lounge areas, a ballroom, huge kitchens, etc. There are extension wings and courtyards in all sorts of places

Built 1911, with many extensions, the biggest was in the 1930s when they raised the roof to add an extra story to it.

Here's an add for it from circa 1923 before the extensions, when it was managed by Hilda Samsing who probably did more than anyone else to make skiing a popular sport in Victoria.

1477997851130
Wasn't cheap! 15 bob for one night's accommodation only!
 
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Richard

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Bedrooms were fairly run down.

yup.

the state of the bedrooms is what brought the whole place down a notch. It was very difficult for the Belle's to run. There was 100 odd rooms with 50~60 different room configurations. Impossible to provide guests with a consistent experience, especially those that liked to return and get the same room type they had before..
 

Kletterer

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It was quite busy in the early 80s when i used to go there climbing. Mostly oldies playing croquet on the front lawn and watching hang gliders. The resaurant/ take away was busy too.
 

Bogong

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How good is the straight talking language in this advertisement. No BS marketeer speak whatsoever. To the point seasonal offerings with prices explained in full.
Hilda Samsing took over the Buffalo Chalet lease in 1919 for 800 pounds a year when it was a dump, complete with broken windows, wobbly furniture and dodgy heating. She spent a fortune on it and it became so successful and profitable that the railways forcibly took it over for the 1925 ski season and kicked her out. But she did manage to get them to pay her £4863 for the plant and equipment she was forced to leave behind. The railways also forced two other guest houses on the Buffalo Plateau to close down completely.

Samsing went on to co found the Feathertop Bungalow, but the railways didn't like her as competitor so they used their influence to have the Bungalow forced off crown land after 3 ski seasons when they bought it for 8% of what it cost to build. That's what a government controlled company could do to an entrepreneurial business person in those days.
 

snowgum

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The Bogans' fascination with Craig's Hut comes from a mainstream film that was a hit. A similar kind of white people on horses and sweeping Vic. Alps landscapes & scenery with a love interest thrown in kind of " plot" could help save the Chalet!

...I'm thinking of an Aussie (very Deep South) version of 'Gone with the Wind'.

(It could actually be true one day! In a force 10!!)
 
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Ubiquitous Steve

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Mad Max 3 or 4 whatever...filmed at Mt Buffalo....Parks Staff ensuring no “runoff”into Lake Catani !
But Team Bears would prefer our meteor project as it mean sustained visitor numbers !
 
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snowgum

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A climbing disaster/suspense movie set on the gorge cliffs. Climaxing with a game of croquet and Devonshire tea.

Yes bring Sly out for 'Cliffhanger 6.5' ?? Buffs got cliffs and haunted houses n everything!! ( ;-D

...maybe add a hang glider escape scene for good measures?
 
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Bogong

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With people suggesting hang glider escapes over the cliffs, alternating with croquet and Devonshire teas, it sounds more like a Bond villains mountain lair.

Apparently they're about to finish the final Dan Craig Bond film, so perhaps the next Bond could be introduced when we see him scaling the cliffs of the Buffalo Gorge? New Bond could even blow up the staff quarters out the back of the Chalet. No need for CGI, they could do it for real as the semi derelict wing will inevitably be demolished or fall over in the near future anyway.
 

Ubiquitous Steve

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Well these exciting ideas probably have more merit than the “Sky way walkway”
Let’s hope Parks Vicco senior management are making notes!
 
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wean

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CHALET WRAPPED UP...Not sure if anyone's mentioned this, but a friend who is a former chalet staff member went up and found out that the entire north wall (2 storeys) of the kitchen going back to the rear, and apparently the rear west facing wall (the underpass entrance from the main carpark is STILL fenced off) is covered in professionally fitted grey weatherproof wrap. Sounds rather like Bradford Proctor Enviroseal which is waterproof.

People usually wrap or cover things they want to store for an extended period of time like furniture or cars. Looks like the govt has wrapped the place up to 'store' it. After failing to obtain a proper response from the Minister for regional development (she's a bloody lawyer), I called her office and found that my second letter - which proved that the latest PWC business plan fits perfectly into the Visitor Experience Framework, I found that the letter had been sent on to the office of the Minister for Parks (environment). I called her office to find out when I would get a reply to my question of when the full restoration would start - due to that report - and the staff member said they would contact Parks Vic. I said that they couldn't do anything unless they were given the appropriate funding.

A letter from Parks quickly turned up from the same Regional Director as before which basically said absolutely nothing.

I need to write back to the Minister again.

Bogong, that info about Hilda Samsung is amazing. The payment the railways made to her for equipment costs works out to $398,222.31 in today's money... She must have been a real negotiator to get that.

Sean Hallam - who has done much to try to save the place - was amazed by it as it reminded him of the Stanley Hotel in the Shining... I think we could make a better film there than that...
 

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Bogong

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... Bogong, that info about Hilda Samsung is amazing. The payment the railways made to her for equipment costs works out to $398,222.31 in today's money... She must have been a real negotiator to get that. ...
Hilda Samsing was an amazingly gung-ho person and almost unstoppable. She was the only woman to land at Gallipoli in 1915 (she was an army nurse who landed against orders), turned the Buffalo Chalet from a loss making dump into a booming hotel, she did more to popularise skiing in Victoria than any other person but she was forced off Buffalo by the railways, so she made meticulous plans to make Mt Feathertop three times the size of Buffalo, but the railways forced her out of there shortly after she opened a preliminary 28 bed guesthouse on the mountain.

That may have sent her broke and seems to have defeated her emotionally. In the early 1930s she spent some time in Europe (she was born in Norway, which explains her passion for skiing) and from memory, she died in Melbourne in the 1950s. But over a period of 15 years she was the gutsiest nurse in the army, then a innovative hotel manager, tourism promoter and phenomenal entrepreneur. Someone wrote a chapter on her in a book about amazing women of WW 1 which filled in the gaps of her early life, but they stop at 1918, so I've pieced together her life for 15 years after that. However I have no idea what she did for the final 20 years of her life.

She had been totally forgotten when I first became interested 12 years ago, but now there is a bit more knowledge of her life. If they ever give out retrospective posthumous Orders of Australia, I'll be nominating her for one.
 

wean

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Gee, I hope she wasn't too tough on the staff. The place had a reputation by certain managers doing that... I feel a bit shameful that I didn't know that information about her - thanks for that.
 

Mister Tee on XC Skis

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Bogong

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There are vast amounts of money available for "worthy causes" from state and federal governments as well as private trusts.

BUT it takes skill and determination to get a grant. That's why many 'not for profit' outfits go to the expense of hiring someone expert in extracting money from them. Of course the informal keep Buffalo Chalet lobby doesn't have the money to hire someone to pressure politicians and the bureaucracy or to get grants.

Now senior bureaucrats are renowned for not taking any notice of public opinion and ploughing on with their own priorities. But conveniently the Commonwealth MP for the area is an independent, the state MP is a National and the Liberals would quite like to win both seats too. So with a three way contest for local hearts and minds, perhaps the Buffalo lobby could make appointments with the sitting MPs and then ask questions at meet the candidates thingys before elections. Now all politicians specialise in fobbing pressure groups off with polite but empty platitudes. So they should aim to get the pollys to offer some sort of iron clad guarantee of substantial funding and make it clear they will widely publicise which politicians offered the best deal. That is the sort of thing politicians actually take notice of.
 

Bogong

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Hasn't money been spent on preservation?

In any case, my recollection is that the previous operator spat the dummy because they weren't given a 99 year lease.
By 2006 the Buffalo Chalet was seriously run down. It had 100 small bedrooms with battered furniture, threadbare carpet and thin walls. Most rooms were without ensuites, the floorboards creaked and it was not much better than a giant backpackers hostel. So it would take truly vast amounts of money to bring the place up to even a rather basic 3 star standard, even more to 3.5 or 4 star level.

BUT the inflexible bureaucracy would only offer a 5~ish year lease and no operator could ever make back the huge cost of a renovation in so short a time. Prospective investors may have been angling for a 99 year lease, but they would have probably accepted a 25 year lease which would have given them time to repay the cost of renovating and make a modest profit.
 

Ziggy

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Given neoliberalism the government will have to spend big bucks and hand the result over to a business to run. There isn't an incumbent to bring pressure to bear. There's really no significant constituency.

And turn a NP into a theme park? For what purpose?
 

Mister Tee on XC Skis

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The VNPA are rather against further development within the Mt. Buffalo Nat. Park. Mr. Phil Ingamells from the VNPA has written about this and is not impressed with what he has seen of plans to turn the Chalet environs into(my words ,not his ) some kind of Lego Land crossed with Luna Park crossed with Northland's food court with some other monstrosities added on including a glass walk way that according to the plans seems to hover above the Gorge where rock climbers and paragliders will have to dodge people (lured by these things but not by the wonderful natural setting) , throwing fast food wrappers over the railings etc..
The park itself when the conditions are right is amazing for BC Nordic skiing. It is like The Prom. with its big rocks but with skiable snow, sometimes.
My impression is that bushwalking and XC skiing are not growing like trail running is in terms of outdoor activities and their attendant popularity.
As a regular winter visitor to Mt. Buffalo I see many new Australians( many from the Indian sub continent) visiting so that they can "see snow" without spending big bucks on gate entry at Hot Ham or Falls Creek.
This section of the visiting public could be lured into staying at The Chalet if it was refurbished and smart and clean and warm with good daal and rice available to eat .
There are one or two newbies trying Nordic skiing each time I go up there, and I see some others snow boarding at Cresta but the majority are rusted on classic and skating XC skiers.
We already have a café with nice toilets, heating , hot tea and cakes etc. at Dingo Dell. Why build the same thing again on the same hill?
I have been inspired by Mt. Buffalo to paint some of my better art work .
Mt.Buffalo watercolour painting1.2.cropped and contrasted..JPG
 

Bogong

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When he was more prominent 20 odd years ago, Phil Ingamells was notorious for being at the most hard line and extreme end of the conservation movement. I always try to have an open mind and be open to all viewpoints, but if he had his way we would revert to the stone age, but we wouldn't be allowed to live in caves because it would disturb the bats. As for his snobbery about Northland, well we can't all belong to the same superior class of people that he does. :(
Of course he may have moderated his views, but I doubt it, so personally I can comfortably disregard everything he says without being troubled that I'm not open to a reasonable argument. (That is about the only semi-partisan commentary you'll ever see from me here.)

Beautiful painting Mr Tee. I had no idea you had such a talent for that sort of thing.

One of the many contributing factors to the decline of The Chalet was that it was accessed by a toll road. The toll wasn't just levied in winter to help pay for extra costs like snow clearing, but uniquely of all mountain destinations in Victoria, the toll applied in summer as well. So casual visitors wanting to see the mountain were scared away and went to Hotham or Falls Creek for free as those resorts had no tolls in summer. Ironically they removed the Buffalo toll in about 2008, but by then it was too late to contribute to extra business for The Chalet which closed in 2007.

By all means make the Buffalo Chalet a friendly destination for Subcontinental people, or East Asians, or put a Maccas in the basement to attract the unfashionable working class Australian demographic and I'll pick up any discarded wrappers myself at no charge. They could even go with the proposal for a bizarre glass walkway over The Gorge. Personally I'll support anything that will restore this venerable old historic building to something approaching its former glory. :)
 
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Mister Tee on XC Skis

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When he was more prominent 20 odd years ago, Phil Ingamells was notorious for being at the most hard line and extreme end of the conservation movement. I always try to have an open mind and be open to all viewpoints, but if he had his way we would revert to the stone age, but we wouldn't even be allowed to live in caves because it would disturb the bats. As for his snobbery about Northland, well we can't all belong to the same superior class of people that he does. :mad:
Of course he may have moderated his views, but I doubt it, so personally I can comfortably disregard everything he says without being troubled that I'm not open to a reasonable argument. (That is about the only semi-political commentary you'll ever get from me here.)

Beautiful painting Mr Tee. I had no idea you had such a talent for that sort of thing.

By all means make the Buffalo Chalet a friendly destination for Subcontinental people, or East Asians, or even go with the proposal for a bizarre glass walkway over The Gorge. Personally I'll go along with anything that will restore this venearble old historic building to something approaching its former glory. :)
My facetious description of the proposed development/s for Mt.Buffalo should not be attributed to Mr. Ingamells. Equal rights for bats in caves ,man.I am a trained musician and visual artist.That means I will be poor for life.
 
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snowgum

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When he was more prominent 20 odd years ago, Phil Ingamells was notorious for being at the most hard line and extreme end of the conservation movement. I always try to have an open mind and be open to all viewpoints, but if he had his way we would revert to the stone age, but we wouldn't be allowed to live in caves because it would disturb the bats. As for his snobbery about Northland, well we can't all belong to the same superior class of people that he does. :(
Of course he may have moderated his views, but I doubt it, so personally I can comfortably disregard everything he says without being troubled that I'm not open to a reasonable argument. (That is about the only semi-partisan commentary you'll ever see from me here.)

Beautiful painting Mr Tee. I had no idea you had such a talent for that sort of thing.

One of the many contributing factors to the decline of The Chalet was that it was accessed by a toll road. The toll wasn't just levied in winter to help pay for extra costs like snow clearing, but uniquely of all mountain destinations in Victoria, the toll applied in summer as well. So casual visitors wanting to see the mountain were scared away and went to Hotham or Falls Creek for free as those resorts had no tolls in summer. Ironically they removed the Buffalo toll in about 2008, but by then it was too late to contribute to extra business for The Chalet which closed in 2007.

By all means make the Buffalo Chalet a friendly destination for Subcontinental people, or East Asians, or put a Maccas in the basement to attract the unfashionable working class Australian demographic and I'll pick up any discarded wrappers myself at no charge. They could even go with the proposal for a bizarre glass walkway over The Gorge. Personally I'll support anything that will restore this venerable old historic building to something approaching its former glory. :)

Tangent alert: perhaps it was Phil or his friends that prevented a Rocky Valley Trail from being completed?

If so, this was a great opportunity going begging as I understand there was funding for the trail extension plus support from FCARM.

I don’t really get fighting against a simple low intensity cycling, walking and XC ski trail to save the ‘pristine wilderness’ when there’s a major resort 500m away. Perhaps someone could explain one day??
 

Ziggy

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Under the Act the state is obliged to protect the ecosystems of Parks. This makes for a perennial tension with the enjoyment and use rights of citizens and there'll always be differences. No need to personalise it.

A glass skywalk seems to me to be impossible to reconcile.

It wasn't a toll road. Buffalo and the Prom were the only two parks that charged entry fees. That was eventually dropped. Other states still levy them - easy in an era of online purchasing - and there's good grounds for charging them in Vic. The funding process for Parks Vic is screwed.
 

Bogong

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Okay, technically it was an entry fee, but the perception of tourists was that it was a toll road complete with a toll booth and perception is what counts when it came to deciding if they would pay to visit Buffalo in summer or go to nearby Falls Creek or Mt Hotham where visiting is free in summer.

Surely built heritage and cultural heritage are just as important as natural heritage? The world heritage registered Royal Exhibition Building isn't far from my house and for what it's worth, that "outranks" any bit of the high country as far as conservation status is concerned. But the "ranking" assigned to a building or bit of land by a bureaucrat or opportunist politician looking for votes, shouldn't really matter. Personally I don't care if something is designated world heritage, national park or just plain state forest. There are wonderful and rather ordinary things about all of them and we should assess them on their own merits, rather than saying that just because something is in a park it is automatically more worthy than something that isn't.

Of course I love the environment of the high country, if I didn't, I wouldn't have spent over 1,000 days of my life hiking, skiing and just ordinary touristing in it. I've climbed the 33 mountains over 1700 metres, I've XC skied in the most unlikely and non standard places, I've been a member of the Fauna Survey Group on surveys of critters, I've sat alone in dank beech forests contemplating the environment, I've written award winning monographs on mountain history, I've run 15 package hiking tours and I've taught basic mountaineering skills and remote area navigation courses, so I reckon I know the mountains fairly well.

But I'm also fascinated with the cultural heritage of the mountains and the Buffalo Chalet is the pinnacle of that. So if one millionth of one percent of our vast tracts of snowgum woodland would be altered to make it commercially viable enough to save the Chalet from "demolition by neglect", surely there can't be many people who would seriously oppose that?
 

Ziggy

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There are multiple influences on peeps purchasing.
How strong is an attraction if 5 bucks stops folk from a day's enjoyment of one of the most remarkable parts of the state?
But it hasn't applied for years. Old history.
 

Ziggy

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As for the future of the Chalet, I'm agnostic.

It has no particular functional or aesthetic merit in my view (I've stayed there).

The previous operator envisaged an exclusive winter resort, between the Chalet and Cresta, but that was questionable in climate terms even back then.

What I'm not agnostic about is the use of public goods for private profit. Much of the current push to reopen the Chalet comes from rent seekers in the valley.
 

Ziggy

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Bogong, you're sniping at bureaucrats. That's become a populist past-time.

I'd say this, would you prefer the alternatives? Would you prefer the wealthy local property holder to make the decisions (plutocracy)? The town priest (theocracy)? The old and wise like us (gerontocracy)? All the locals to debate and then vote (democracy)?

Bureaucracy is the model for our public administration. It's about rational, fair and transparent action to achieve ends set by parliaments and councils. Imagine how schools, roads, public transport, hospitals and parks would look if they were based on one of those other models of power.
To use it as a term of abuse is lazy and wrong. Of course there are failures. Are there so many as to hand administration over to the priest or magnate?
 

teckel

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Bogong, you're sniping at bureaucrats. That's become a populist past-time.

I'd say this, would you prefer the alternatives? Would you prefer the wealthy local property holder to make the decisions (plutocracy)? The town priest (theocracy)? The old and wise like us (gerontocracy)? All the locals to debate and then vote (democracy)?

Bureaucracy is the model for our public administration. It's about rational, fair and transparent action to achieve ends set by parliaments and councils. Imagine how schools, roads, public transport, hospitals and parks would look if they were based on one of those other models of power.
To use it as a term of abuse is lazy and wrong. Of course there are failures. Are there so many as to hand administration over to the priest or magnate?
Gerontocracy sounds like a good solution. ;)
 

Bogong

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Sorry Ziggy, I meant to have a go at opportunistic pollys declaring parks of questionable value just before elections and only secondarily at city bureaucrats. I'm on a train heading to the distant outer suburb of Auburn, so I'll reply in more detail when I get home this arvo.
 

Xplora

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One of the many contributing factors to the decline of The Chalet was that it was accessed by a toll road.
My recollection from the one time I stayed at the Chalet many years ago was that I did not have to pay the entry because I was staying there so the 'toll' or entry fee would have had zero effect on Chalet business unless you were a day visitor. The chalet may have been old and dated but that was part of the appeal. My friends room was luxurious and spacious but I opted for a cheaper single room which still had an ensuite. Caves house at Jenolan has shared bathrooms but it does have other newer accommodation with ensuites. Both places had excellent dining which I would call 5 star.
 

Ziggy

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Neoliberalism means that the govt doesn't believe in providing services if there's any chance at all of the private sector making a buck out of it. They do it better, cheaper, quicker blah blah.

The era in which the Chalet was built was the reverse.

Now we have the problem that a lot of money has to be spent with no guarantee of a profit. To ensure patronage the natural environment isn't enough - all these hairy types seem happy to stay in tiny tents, their own! that they bring with them!

Attractions have to be built. Some kind of theme and branding are necessary. Public goods have to be turned into private goods. A free view has to be turned into a chargeable one. That takes real entrepreneurship. You get the the license to build the skywalk, pay it off in 10 years and let the profits roll in for the next 15. Tough about the natural values.
 
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