In 2008, the Mt Buller and Mt Stirling Alpine Resort Management Board applied for permission to build a road through old growth alpine ash across the north side of Corn Hill from Mt Buller to Mt Stirling.
This was ostensively to provide a route for people to escape the mountain in the case of a fire blocking the main road. However, it would pass through a considerable area of dense forest and then across to Mt Stirling, which then requires a long drive down to the Delatite River, where the existing Buller road emerges from the forest. If there is a major fire burning out of the Delatite Valley across the northern side of Buller it is hard to see how a major evacuation would work above the same area of forest. It would be a huge financial investment for a road that would probably never need to be used. A much cheaper option would be to ensure the community gathering site on the mountain contains a fire refugee able to withstand an intense fire.
So, is there something else going on? The Victorian National Parks Association (VNPA) believes the real intent is to make it easier to build accommodation on Mt Stirling because it would greatly improve vehicle access to the higher sections of the mountain.
The VNPA says it would just require a ‘simple amendment’ to the current planning scheme to allow development.
The road was knocked back several years ago, but now the resort is trying to gain approval again.
There have been various attempts to develop ski resort facilities on Mt Stirling over the years, and this has long been resisted by many in the community. Mt Buller is already heavily developed, and Mt Stirling provides opportunities for cheaper, lower impact winter and summer recreation. It has recently seen the development of major mountain biking trails, and provides access to walkers, skiers, 4 wheel drivers, and horse riders.
The VNPA is tracking this issue. Check their website for updates.