Mt Buller History

The 1800s

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Mt Buller was first sighted by white settlers Hume and Hovell who passed by the area naming it the Australian Alps.

1824
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Mt Buller was named by Major Mitchell in honour of Charles Buller from the colonial office.

1836

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The first recorded ascent of Mt Buller was made by Baron Van Mueller on March 22.

1853

First Tracks

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The Ski Club of Victoria was formed on June 2 as the first ski club in Victoria. Members made their first trip to the mountain on June 8.

1924
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Completion of the Shakey Knees ski run clearing.

1932
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The Ski Club of Victoria built its first hut on Mt Buller.

1933
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The Country Roads Board completed the road to the Mt Buller Village.

1946

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There were a total of 72 beds on the mountain at this time.

1947

When things got serious

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The Ski Club of Victoria rope tow was built on Bourke Street. It started operating at 11am on July 3 with 20 skiers. This lift operated until 1958.

1949
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The “Red Cross” Ski Patrol was started under the guidance of the Ski Club of Victoria.

1950
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Ernest and Aural Forras started the first commercial enterprise on the mountain - the Mt Buller Ski School and canteen.

1952
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John Hilton Wood founded Hilton-Wood enterprises, later to be known as Blue Lifts, with the installation of the Hilton-Wood rope tow. This lift operated until 1955.

1953
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Ernest and Aural Forras began operations of the Forras portable rope tow, which ran until 1961. Morris Selly installed the Tirol rope tow that ran until 1962.

1957

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Blue Lifts installed the Skyline rope tow, which ran until 1961, and Orange Lifts installed the Koflers rope tow, which ran until 1963. Also installed were the Bourke Street T-bar, which ran until 1968, and the Federation T-bar that ran until 1980

1959

The 60's and expansion

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Konrad’s rope tow was installed, which ran until 1963, and Orange Lifts installed the Bourke Street double rope tow, which also ran until 1963.

1961
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Blue Lifts installed the Bull Run T-bar, which ran until 1984, and the Skyline T-bar. Orange Lifts installed the Shakey Knees T-bar, which operated until 2004.

1963
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Blue Lifts installed the Bourke Street Double Chair, which was Doppelmayr’s first double chairlift in the world. Orange Lifts installed the Summit Poma, which ran until 1983, and the Summit Access Poma. In 1983, the Howqua end was shortened and in 1985 the Bourke Street end was shortened.

1964
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Blue Lifts installed the Chamois Poma, which was extended in 1969 and ran until 1987. On August 21, the Mt Buller Medical Centre opened on Summit Rd.

1965
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Orange Lifts installed the Boggy Creek T-bar, which still operates today.

1967
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Orange Lifts installed another poma on the Summit; Summit Poma No. 2 This was removed with Summit No. 1 in 1983.

1968

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Orange Lifts installed the Baldy Duplex Poma, which ran until 1985, and Blue Lifts installed the Whittaker Poma that also ran until 1985.

1969

Tough Competition

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Orange Lifts installed the Tirol T-bar. It was shortened in 1987 and still runs today.

1972
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The Beginners T-bar on Bourke Street was installed by Orange Lifts. It was known as the Ski School Platter Lift.

1974
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Orange Lifts installed a beginner’s carousel, which ran until 1977, and Koflers T-bar that is still operational today.

1977
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Blue Lifts installed the Enzian Poma, while Orange Lifts installed the Grimus Triple Chair which is still operational today. The Enzian Poma was removed in 1997 to allow construction of the World Cup jump site.

1979
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Orange Lifts installed the Burnt Hut Spur Triple Chair and Blue Lifts installed the Sun Valley Poma, which ran until 1985.

1980
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The Federation Triple Chair was installed by Orange Lifts, and it is still operational today.

1981
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Orange Lifts installed the Horse Hill Triple Chair, which was relocated in 1986 to Bourke Street, where it was known as the Abom Chairlift. Blue Lifts installed the Village T-bar.

1982
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Blue Lifts installed the Playground Poma, which ran until 1991. McMahon Holdings Limited purchased a majority interest in Blue Lifts and formed the Bourke Street Ski Lift company Limited.

1983

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The Bourke Street Lift company installed the Blue Bullets, two high-speed detachable quad chairs. Orange Lifts installed the Summit Quad Chair and the Howqua Quad Chair.

1984

High Speed Lifts and a United Mountain

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The Bourke Street Lift company installed the Blue Bullets, two high-speed detachable quad chairs. Orange Lifts installed the Summit Quad Chair and the Howqua Quad Chair.

1984
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The Bourke Street Lift company made a successful takeover bid for Mt BSL Pty Ltd, known as Orange Lifts, an arrangement with their first joint venture partners - the Hilton-Wood family. McMahon owned 75 % and the Hilton-Wood family retained 25 %. The Bull Run Quad Chair was installed and the mountain operated with one Lift company for the first time.

1985
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The Horse Hill Quad Detachable Chair, today known as Northside Express was installed and the original triple chair was relocated to Helicopter Flat.

1986
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The Novice Rope Tow on Burnt Hut Spur was installed.

1988

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The Ski Kindy Rope Tow No 1 was installed on Bourke Street and later relocated to the new Ski School Complex in the Magic Forest in 1991.

1989

New owners and the glory 90s

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McMahon Holdings acquired the Hilton-Wood family’s 25 % share of the Bourke Street Lift company. The Southside Quad Chair was installed.

1990
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The Grollo family purchased 80 % of the Bourke Street Lift company from McMahon Holdings. The Ski Kindy Rope Tow No. 2 was installed in the Magic Forest. The Clock tower Information Centre and Cow Camp Plaza day centre were built in the centre of the Village to BSL History of Mt Buller Snap Shot 3 cater for the thousands of day-trippers who visit Mt Buller each year.

1992
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The Grollo family purchased the remaining 20 % of the Bourke Street Lift company and changed the name to BSL Limited, now solely owned by Rino Grollo and family. The new Ski School building was opened. Mt Buller Alpine Chapel was built on a site overlooking the Village. This multi-denominational church is run by a committee of management comprising representatives of the Anglican, Catholic and Uniting Churches of Mansfield and the Alpine Resorts Commission. The Chapel is a popular venue for weddings and christenings.

1993
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The Wombat Quad Chair was installed and the Chamois Poma was replaced by the Chamois Double Chair. A snowmaking water storage dam was constructed on the Bluff near the Bull Run top station. The dam capacity is 75 million litres of water. A computerised weather system was installed in the Snowflake Factory. The new snowmaking system installed had 170 hydrants delivering up to 200 litres of water a second to snowmaking guns on Bourke Street, Baldy, Little Buller Spur including the Wombat extension, Skyline and Summit. The Australian Alpine Institute was established to teach recreational and vocational courses, hospitality and tourism programs, outdoor education, and as a provider of open learning. The snowmaking system was extended to include the new Wombat run extension, bottom of the Summit lift, Howqua area, Burnt Hut Spur and the Federation unload to the top of the Helicopter chair. Buller’s Medical Centre was demolished and a more adequate medical facility built on the site. A High-performance Training Athletics Centre was founded, including a gym, tennis courts, climbing tower and skating rink. The Ski Guarantee was introduced to provide money back insurance on prepaid lift, lift and lesson and accommodation packages in the event insufficient snow cover prevents any of the designated Ski Guarantee lifts from operating. The Spirit of the Skier statue was unveiled in front of the Ski School.

1994
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The Mt Buller Chalet Hotel was built, offering first-class accommodation and five-star service year round. The Australian Alpine Institute affiliated with Latrobe University. AAI facilities are to be used for Latrobe University courses. Rino and Diana Grollo unveiled the Mother and Child statue, signifying the “new life of the Village”, on May 7.

1995
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The Village Administration Building was removed and a new ticket office erected below Blue Bullet 1. The Mountain Cattleman statue was unveiled in the new Village Square by the Hon. Graeme Stoney MLC on June 1 in honour of the families who helped pioneer access to the Victorian High Country. The Mt Buller Fire Brigade relocated to a new Fire Station in the Village, after operating from the Ski Patrol base for many years. The volunteer brigade is managed and funded by the Country Fire Authority.

1996
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The Enzian Poma lift was decommissioned and the aerial jump site constructed in order to host Australia’s first World Cup Freestyle event. The Canyon Trail ski way and rope tows were built to provide access for skiers to the southern slopes of Mt Buller directly from the Village. In 1997, Mt Buller became the first Victorian ski area to assume responsibility for the operation of ski patrol services from the ARC. Latrobe University’s Mt Buller Campus was officially opened.

1997

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Australia’s first Tubing Park was established on Baldy, snowmaking was extended to cover the Tubing Park, Harry’s Trail linking Baldy to Spurs, and Burnt Hut. The ARC was disbanded and management of Mt Buller was given to the Resort Management Board. Snowmaking was extended down the Whiskey Creek Trail, and earthworks were completed at the load station at Wombat Chair. The Village T-Bar was shortened for construction of the new Summit Rd. The Summit Access Poma was decommissioned. Team member accommodation was built in the mid-level of Spurs restaurant.

1998

A modern ski resort and Australia's first 6 seater chairlift

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Mt Buller Ski Patrol celebrated its 50th anniversary. The Village Centre redevelopment started and a tennis court was constructed on Helicopter Flat.

2000
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The Village Centre redevelopment was completed including significant landscaping and the inclusion of an outdoor performance area, relocation of The Horseman statue, the building of a fire pit and the construction of Buller Sports Central. The Buller Sports retail and rental network was established. The Bluff View rope tow was installed and the Bluff View beginner area established.

2001
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Snowmaking was extended on Summit and Koflers. The second stage of the Village Square re-development was completed.

2002
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The Snow Kat Garage was commissioned. The Tubing Park was built at Spurs, andearthworks commenced at the Stirling site for future team member accommodation. Major refurbishment of the Ski Patrol Base was completed along with the expansion of the MagicForest and installation of the Cattleman’s Carpet lifts. Helicopter Chair was renamed the Abom Chair, the Ski School Platter was renamed the Chalet Platter and the Trainer Lift became Spurs Lift.

2003
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Cattleman’s Café was constructed at the base of Bourke Street. Lakeside Lodge team member accommodation was completed and Tirol team member accommodation was extended, along with the building’s public deck area. The Discobolous redevelopment was completed and the snowmaking diesel compressors were replaced with electric models. The Chalet Platter was replaced with a carpet lift and renamed the Bourke Street Carpet, and the resort introduced ticket scanners to prevent theft and fraud. An earth-formed half pipe was constructed in the Playground between Skyline and the Bull Run Chair, and snowmaking was extended to cover the new half pipe. Mt Buller became the first Australian resort to extend children’s pricing to secondary students up to Year 12, and the Buller Club, the resort’s loyalty program, celebrated its 10th birthday.

2004
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The Emirates Discovery Chairlift was built on the north side of the resort, replacing the Shakey Knees T-bar. The Ski & Snowboard School was extended to create a new Children’s Centre catering for 150 children aged from six months to under six years, and the Bob Bateup workshop was extended to accommodate lift maintenance team member and stores.

2005
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Automatic snowmaking system installed on Shakey Knees ski trail. A new compressor and electrical upgrade completed at the “Snow Flake Factory”. Lift maintenance facilities relocated to the Bob Bateup Workshop and the “Midstation” building converted to Racing Department base and team member amenities. Completion of The Village Centre development was completed incorporating the ”Hall of Fame”, “Sale Yards” ticket hall, “FoodWorks Supermarket”, “Altitude” and “Wok Worx” tenancies. BSL and RMB initiate the recovery plan for the endangered mountain pygmy possum.

2006
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Bushfires threatened Mt. Buller for 51 days and enter the resort on a number of fronts. The Summit snowmaking system is automated. The ultra filtration project is completed and Mt Buller becomes the first ski resort in the world to use recycled effluent for snowmaking.

2007
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Holden Express detachable six seater chairlift built on Bourke Street and Baldy. This is the first six seater chairlift built in Australia and replaces the Abom and BB2 which were decommissioned Stirling House team member accommodation building is completed. This purpose built accommodation house contains 42 bedrooms and accommodates approximately 100 team members Snowmaking on Little Buller Spur is automated and upgraded on Bourke Street and Baldy Buller Sports Mansfield relocates to larger premises previously occupied by Mitre 10 BSL achieves certification of its Environmental Management System to the International Standard ISO 140001

2008
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Mt Buller logo goes under a significant review and a new Mt Buller Brand and Logo is launched. Howqua and Grimus Chairlifts undergo major refurbishment Mt Buller Grand Mercure Chalet Hotel Level 7 is completely refurbished and renovated into luxury apartments.

2009

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2010 The 30 year old Burnt Hut Chairlift is decommissioned and removed prior to the ski season following extensive damage from a lightning strike and fire in February storms. Temporary carpet lifts are installed at Burnt Hut for the 2010 & 2011 seasons. Koflers T-bar undergoes conversion from diesel to electric power. Automated snowmaking installed on Wombat run and extended to Howqua Extension completing snowmaking operations on the entire Summit area. Buller Holidays, combining BSL advance sales and hotel reservations, is launched enabling guests to book a range of BSL products and services in one phone call. The Stables at Chamois demolished and a new residential development of luxury apartments of the same name constructed on the site. The Stables site was the original snowmaking facility, also home to Team Buller for many years.

2010

RFID Ticket System and snow making - key to a vibrant future

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BSL's investment in snowmaking is further increased with the addition of 40 more Borax DB6 fully automatic snow producers and expansion of the system to complete snowmaking on Family Run, Wombat and the Chute to provide access to Koflers T-bar at all times. A third pump was installed to increase snowmaking capacity to 600 litre per second and services approximately 78 hectares of terrain. The St Cristoph building, comprising of 12 self contained apartments is completed next to the St Anton team member accommodation complex on Stirling Road. The Bull Run Skiosk joins the BSL suite of on-mountain venues offering warming snacks at the base of the Bull Run chairlift. BSL develop and launch the myBSL.com.au intranet for team members and volunteers communicating news, updates, interactive features and secure access to HR records.

2011
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The Bonza Chairlift opens on the revitalised Northside, the only new chairlift built in Australia or New Zealand this season. The quad chairlift spans 530m in a new location safely off the ski run opening up more terrain on Burnt Hut Run and giving skiers access to tree-runs on the north side not accessed in recent seasons. Horse Hill Chairlift renamed Northside Express as part of the renewal of the northern slopes. Additional snowmaking added to Burnt Hut Spur and Little Bourke Street. Howqua Chairlift receives the final touches of a complete overhaul with 91 new Poma chairs replacing the old chairs. The RFID system is launched for lift access control and new B-TAGs replace old paper tickets. The new high-tech passes link to customer data, store photo ID and have capacity to store in-resort credit ‘snow dough’ for use in BSL outlets. Buller Sports Central unveil Australia’s first new HEAD BYS rental system streamlining boot and ski fitting with 800 new skis and 1000 new boots.

2012
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8 new SMI fully automatic Polecats installed on Little Buller Spur and complete automation of this area. Replace original polecats installed in 1994, which reloacte to Baldy and Koflers. An additional 3 SMI fully automatic Pumas installed on Chamois. Wombat Chair undergoes a major upgrade to install access control gates and increase its capacity by 30%. The Saleyards extend to consolidate Buller Holidays and Ticketing activities under the one roof. Altitude Mt Buller relocates to the Village centre and the Mt Buller supermarket expands its tenancy. The Buller Holidays mobile phone application launches, allowing guests to reload their BTAGs via mobile devices for the first time. YHA Hostel demolished to make way for a brand new development in the Village Square, Buller Central. Contains mid-range hotel style accommodation, apartments, restaurant/bar and retail space.

2013
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Six new fully automated Puma snow producers installed on Bourke Street, produce 8 times more snow than the previous guns they replaced. Five original Bourke Street snowmaking guns relocated to the Baldy and Koflers areas, significantly improving the reliability of snow conditions on these parts of the mountain. Mt Buller now has 223 snow producers covering more than 78 hectares and 19kms of trails. A new permit and pump located at Howqua, providing access to a further 30 Mega Litres per annum for snow making Tirol T-Bar mid-load relocats to just below the walking track from Spurs to the Arlberg, to help improve skier and boarder access from the North Side precinct, down to the Village. Holden Express chairlift re-named ‘ABOM Express’ – back to the original name of this lift prior to the 6-seater chair being built. The ski tune workshop relocats to a more prominent location in the Village Square adjacent to Altitude The Buller Sports Chalet store renamed Chalet Boutique to capture a different segment more suitable to the Chalet Hotel guests. Installation of new digital pricing screens throughout Buller Sports, Ticketing and Ski School outlets. Upper mountain buildings Midstation, Federation, South Side and Tirol Lodge undergo refurbishments. The FoodWorks supermarket expands in size by 60% taking over the space previously occupied by Altitude Mt Buller. Horse Hill ticket office refurbished along with the Village Square Plaza (previously named Cow Camp Plaza). BSL subleases these two hospitality venues to external operators to increase competition and to improve the visitor experience.

2014

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6 new full automated SMI Pumas installed on Bourke St and complete automation of this area. Further refurbishment to team member accommodation, with self catered kitchens installed in Spurs and Fawlty Towers. Fawlty also receives new cladding and roofing as well as new bathrooms.

2015

Guaranteed Snow from opening to closing weekend with new Snow Factory

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11 new automatic DB6 snow guns added to the snowmaking system bringing the count to 244. The new guns were added to The Chute, Family Run, Wombat and Shakey Knees. A new Pisten Bully 400 winch cat updated the grooming stable. 300 new pairs of Head BYS rental skis were added to the stock at Buller Sports in Ski School and Horse Hill along with 400 pairs of ski boots and new clothing and helmets to update the rental fleet. Buller Ski Lifts rolled out an emergency power supply system to all snowmaking pumps. This backup network supports consistent snowmaking even during power outages and has an important application supporting fire fighting resources for the resort in summer. The former Après Bar and Black Cockatoo underwent extensive refurbishment and relaunched as “Birdcage” Bar and new look Black Cockatoo restaurant. The old No 96 building on The Avenue redevelopment was completed over summer 2015/16 converting the staff accommodation building into 8 two and three bedroom prestige apartments. The Photo Shop opens next door to Freeride replacing the Fun Photos service closed in 2014.

2016
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Mt Buller shook up the snow industry with the installation of the SF220 SnowFactory and was the only Australian resort able to guarantee snow for the opening of the snow season for 2017. The TechnoAlpin refrigeration snow factory was successfully installed and tested with skiing on a sample area in March 2017. Twilight Sessions were also launched with weekend skiing and boarding under new stadium lighting on Bourke Street during peak July and August weekends. The resort also installed lighting on the snowplay park in the village to enhance a resort-wide Twilight Session experience for guests including village firepits and music. Ski & Snowboard School launches the first Twilight lessons in Australia with Discover and beginner level lessons offered. Buller Holidays launches a new centralised reservations service allowing easy online booking for a wide range of accommodation as well as snow products and bundled transactions to streamline the guest booking experience online. Earthworks in the Skyline area smooths out the old half-pipe area opening up more terrain for training and smoother access to Sun Valley and the Blizzard race course. A new race start hut opens at the top of Little Buller Spur.

2017

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Extensive slope works on Standard and Chamois improve a smoother ski experience and support better snow cover and durability. Adjustments on Chamois also allow better jumps for the aerial and mogul courses with less snow required to build these training and racing assets. Buller Ski Lifts invests in the state of the art SnowSat technology giving groomers precise data on the snow depth as they work using GPS to measure snowdepths to within 2cms. The technology helps evenly distribute the snow and spread more snow to more terrain efficiently and shares data quickly across the business. Resort entry and parking is added to the online booking platform and Guest Services team take on the information centre service in the Clocktower.

2018