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Great Alpine Valleys

Plan to re-open Buffalo Chalet emerges

Wildflowers, Buffalo Plateau, VIC

The resurrection of the landmark Mount Buffalo Chalet is a step closer to reality after the state government agreed to help a local community group develop a plan to redevelop the building.

The government will give it a 12-month deadline and $200,000 to develop a viable business model that will redevelop and operate the 100-year-old chalet. The building is Victoria’s first ski lodge and was a plum holiday destination for Melbourne’s wealthy.

The community group, known as the Mount Buffalo Community Enterprise, has 16 shareholders, including well-known local business figures such as John Brown of Brown Brothers Wines and Tom O’Toole from the Beechworth Bakery. But the biggest name among shareholders is former deputy prime minister and current ambassador to the Vatican, Tim Fischer.

The group pledged that if it revived the chalet, it would distribute 51 per cent of profits to a community foundation, with the balance to be shared between investors.

From the article Mt Buffalo’s ‘grande dame’ wins powerful new friends by Darren Gray, The Age, October 29, 2010.
For the full story, check here.

getting ready for climate change in the North East

As the Alpine Shire of Victoria’s north east continues with its bizarre ‘cart before horse’ approach to getting a major development going within the Buffalo National Park, it is also doing some useful and considered work on climate change.

Buffalo Plateau from near Mt Hotham

Just this week, Council accepted the final report of a study into the viability of a ‘skyways’ system on Mt Buffalo. Last year Council offered its active support for the proposal, with a community study which was conducted by the Buffalo Skyways Taskforce arm of the Great Alpine Valley Tourism Board.

Unsurprisngly, the study found 64% ‘support’ for the project.

See here for some of the issues associated with developing a major gondola/ skyway project within one of our most significant national parks.

Climate change and the North East

Meanwhile, Council has been working with the adjacent Towong Shire to consider what the expected rise in average temperatures, days of extreme fire-weather risk, drought conditions and a decrease in rainfall and snow will mean for the region, and how to best plan for these conditions.

According to the Alpine Council website:

“The councils assessed how their services and assets would be affected by predicted climate change, including increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather and reduced water availability”.

The CSIRO predicts that temperatures in north-eastern Victoria could be, on average, up to 1.6 degrees warmer by 2030 and up to five degrees warmer by 2070.

Snow fall is expected to be reduced by between 10 and 40 per cent by 2030 and between 22 and 85 per cent by 2050.

The number of very-high and extreme fire-weather risk days is also expected to climb by between four and 25 percent by 2020 and 15 to 70 per cent by 2050.

Alpine Shire Council’s Manager Planning and Environment Services, Heather Green said the findings did not recommend that councils fundamentally change the way they operate. This means that, sadly, there are no real mitigation measures included in Councils response – that is proposals to reduce the emissions of Council operations. Council has taken a  simple  ‘adaptation’ approach, which is generally seen as being insufficient as a strategy for dealing with global warming.

What is suggested is for Council to consider the likely future impacts of climate change on new developments within the Shire’s area. “For example, factoring predicted increases in flooding and storm events when upgrading urban storm-water systems will minimise the need to replace damaged infrastructure and reduce the risk to the community”.

The climate change risk assessments undertaken by both councils will result in the development of specific service area action plans to enable current services, assets and policies to adapt to the predicted climate variability.

The project has been delivered in partnership with the North East Greenhouse Alliance and funded with the assistance of the Australian Government Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency.

For further information on the Councils response and details on expected climate change impacts, see here.

call out for mountain poetry and songs

Young Alpine Ash, near Dinner Plain, VIC

Andy Kimber lives on the Warby Ranges near Glenrowan. He has a life long connection with the valleys and mountains of north east Victoria, and has written extensively abut the area, in various forms including songs, as well as helping engender a sense of place for many people in the region, especially students he has taught over the years.

He would be interested in any poems or songs about the mountain valleys of the North East. If you have some, or know where to find some, please email him: andykimber@netc.net.au

And stay tuned for a review of his daughters album ‘Sounds like Thunder’ soon, featuring some fine tracks, including about the Victorian high country.

Buffalo skways final “Open House” Information & Feed Back Session

This will be held on Wednesday June 16, 2010 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Alpine Visitor Information Centre, Bright, Victoria.

It is hosted by Council and billed as being a Public open house session.

This is your last opportunity to voice your support or concerns. Everyone is welcome to visit and comment. If you can’t attend, please send your thoughts to the Alpine Shire (the proponents for this proposed project) via their contacts page.

For details on some of the environmental problems of this project and how to voice your concerns, please check here.

Buffalo skyway proposal – community forums

The Alpine Shire Council  continues to push forward into its investigation about whether the skyway project should proceed (don’t mind the minor details like whether they could ever get approvals for a major infrastructure project inside a national park, or who is actually going to fund it).

There will be two information sessions in May:

  • an “Open House” Information & Feed Back Session on Wednesday May 19, 2010 from 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM. Alpine Visitor Information Centre, Bright. Public open house session. Everyone welcome to visit and comment.
  • and at Appin Park Rotary Club Wangaratta. Thursday May 20, 2010 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM. This will be an information and Feedback Session.
Looking over the Razorback towards Buffalo Plateau

For full details on the forums please check here.

Interestingly, the ‘media‘ section on the skyways website only contains positive reports on the skyway proposal.

Further (independent) opinion on the skyway proposal here.

Premier announces free entry to all Vic national parks

From the premier’s website:
“Entry to all of Victoria’s national parks and metropolitan parks will be made free of charge to encourage people to get active in the great outdoors, Premier John Brumby announced today.

Opening the international Healthy Parks Healthy People Congress at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Mr Brumby said the health benefits for people getting out and exploring the natural world far outweighed the benefits of collecting entry fees from parks.

“Victoria has one of the best park networks in the world and we want them to be as accessible as possible to all Victorians,” Mr Brumby said.

Buffalo Plateau

“From 1 July 2010 there will be no entry fee to any national park or metropolitan park in Victoria. Parks Victoria estimates that removing entry fees will increase visitor numbers by 25 per cent to 50 per cent at most sites.”

National parks that will be free are Wilsons Promontory, Mount Buffalo, Baw Baw, Mornington Peninsula, Yarra Ranges (Mount Donna Buang) and Point Nepean as well as Werribee Park, Coolart, National Rhododendron Gardens and William Ricketts Sanctuary metropolitan parks.

Surely this is a good thing… it means more people are likely to get out in the parks (and the premier has included a review to see if top up funds are needed to back fill loss of gate revenue). It should be especially useful in the case of Buffalo national park, which has been suffering because of loss or closure of key infrastructure in recent years.

Mr Brumby said encouraging people to get out and about in Victoria’s parks was good for community wellbeing and good for regional economies.

You can find the full release here.

a skyway on Mount Buffalo?

view of the south side of The Gorge, taken near one of the possible skyway routes

The Buffalo Plateau is a wonderful granite plateau that sits out to the north west from the main ranges of the Victorian Alps.
At present there is consultation going on about plans to build a ‘skyway’ up on to the Buffalo Plateau (no definite route has yet been selected).

Check here for details and a poll on whether you think it’s a good idea.

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