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Chockstone Forum - General Discussion
General Climbing Discussion
|Buffalo Chalet to
|close open? / Skyways Pjt |
An update of sorts (late!*), from an ABC radio session I heard on morning of 27 August.
(* Jotted some notes but have not had time to update here till now).
The Member for Benambra (Bill Sykes) was interviewed and said that gov't incentives for development in NP's now include 99 year leases as part of a range of incentives, with this applying not just to Mt Buffalo NP (which was a previous sticking point in the Chalet lease), but for all Vic NP's.
I got the impression that Bill Sykes is in favour of the Chalet being rehabilitated and reopened.
After this, one of the co-authors* of the book The History of Mt Buffalo, was interviewed.
(*I did not catch his name, but gather that he was a former Ranger and lives in Bright).
Anyway, he informed listeners that the Dingo Dell backpacker accomodation / year-round shelter facility, that burnt down when a controlled burn during the 2006/7 bushfires got out of control, was 100% (Bob Hawke Labour Gov't) Federally funded; and that the insurance payout was $4.6 million.
Enquiries by this author reveal that the money has been retained by Vic Gov and the interest earned on it amounts to a further $2 million dollars over the intervening years, with none of that money (ie total $6.6 million), spent on NP's anywhere!
He is appalled at the hypocrisy of the Vic Gov knocking back funding matching the Friends of Buffalo Chalet Community Group proposal, on the basis that the funds for rehabilitation of the Chalet had blown out from $2.5 million to $5 million ...
Another update of sorts.
Local ABC radio recently had a short segment about the Vic Gov't intention to demolish 40% of the Chalet.
Victorian Deputy Premier Peter Ryan was quoted as saying that it needed to be done "to make it a more viable interest". 'Broadly we can't keep it as it is, but will retain the facade and core.'
Paul Rosa; Manager of National Trust, said that the Chalet is a nationaly significant place and has been assessed as such and "sounds a big note of caution about speculative demolition of 40% of it's footprint".
He outlined it's ongoing problems in the present sense, and indicated it would cost 7 million dollars to restore the front to it's 1939 former glory, without the additional rear wing and accomodation at the back being swept away.
Heritage Victoria is currently in the process of assessment, and will only have a 2 week response period for any public comments to be put in. Any appeals to the Heritage Council will likely be heard within next month.
Interestingly a former employee called back to the radio station saying that in it's heyday it employed about 140 people, and maybe instead of demolishing the rear accomodation, they could market the Chalet experience as a 'period-experience', with staff dressed in period clothing etc, and serving patrons in the style that they used to...
One thing is for sure, the tardiness in process to date, has gone on for at least the time-length of this thread ie 2006-2014 !
The (relatively) modern back end of the Chalet is an eyesore and should be demolished
On 20/02/2014 JamesMc wrote:
>The (relatively) modern back end of the Chalet is an eyesore and should be demolished
I don't think that is what they are talking about.
I went past again yesterday and took a second look. There is quite a large section of original building back there too, along with the 'tacky-modern' add-on/s, plus assorted other buildings.
~> I just google-earthed it, and there is even more than I thought, ie that which is generally visible from the road, or wandering around after going through the tunnel/arch-way.
How far back do you want to go? There is no date for the first pic and the second is dated 1912
On 20/02/2014 IdratherbeclimbingM9 wrote:
>~> I just google-earthed it, and there is even more than I thought, ie that which is generally visible from the road, or wandering around after going through the tunnel/arch-way.
There's a bunch of interesting formations up near the stables out there. Would be interesting bouldering maybe if the rock was a little less crumbly and there was less broken glass.
Not really relevant, but my Grandmother met my Grandfather there at a dance, sometime pre-WWII. Only found that out at her funeral.
Some older information and some new...
Mt Buffalo Chalet redevelopment
May 2013: The development of the day visitor facility aims to open the Chalet again to the public and to make the site ready for further investment when the opportunity arises.
HERITAGE IMPACT STATEMENT FOR DEMOLITION OF
REAR WINGS AND CONSERVATION AND ADAPTATION
OF FRONT SECTION OF THE CHALET
By: MGS Architects and
McDougall & Vines, Conservation and Heritage Consultants
Parks Victoria is seeking expressions of interest from community representatives to participate in the Mount Buffalo Chalet Community Forum. The Mount Buffalo Chalet Community Forum is being established to provide opportunities to get involved with the Victorian Government’s $7.5 million commitment to the re-development of Mount Buffalo Chalet as a…
An interesting submission made recently by Victorian National Parks Association.
Reproduced here for information...
Victorian National Parks Association.
Level 3, 60 Leicester St
Carlton Victoria 3053
Phone 03 9347 5188
Fax 03 9347 5199
ABN 34 217 717 593
5 Feb 2014
1 Spring Street
Re: PERMIT APPLICATION P20081 – MOUNT BUFFALO
Dear Mr Smith,
Thank you for the opportunity to respond to the permit application for the partial demolition and repair of the Mount Buffalo Chalet.
The Victorian National Parks Association is an independent, member-based non-government organisation dedicated to the protection of Victoria’s great natural heritage. We have been the leading organisation advocating for good management of our national parks since 1952. We have a long history of involvement in the management of Mount Buffalo National Park. In 2001 we published Discovering Mount Buffalo, still the definitive visitor’s guidebook for the plateau. Our members are frequent visitors to the park.
We generally agree with the demolition of the ‘newer’ parts of the chalet and other outbuildings as identified in the recent EPBC referral to the Federal Government, and the restoration of the older buildings identified in that referral.
Importantly though, while we understand that the Victorian Government is allocating between $7- $9 million to prepare the site for commercial operations, we are concerned that recent changes to the National Parks Act allow a lease agreement of up to 99 years. A lease of that or similar length would effectively mean private ownership of the Chalet buildings, and that could greatly compromise future management of both the natural and cultural heritage values of the site, and indeed the park itself.
We support adaptive re-use of existing infrastructure in parks, but any lease arrangement should be affordable, not exclusively a commercial arrangement, and allow capacity for involvement of the park management agency (especially in relation to any information centre) and also allow for not-for-profit or community enterprises to be involved.
We strongly believe:
• Lease arrangements should be 25 years maximum.
• Any commercial lease arrangement should be open to public scrutiny before signing.
• Intended potential benefits to the community should not be interpreted solely as financial benefits.
• Any lease arrangements should clearly ensure that the operation of the Chalet, and any other activities associated with the lease, align with the prime purpose of the National Parks Act (ie the protection of the park’s natural values) for the duration of the lease.
We agree with the considerable reduction of the footprint of the Chalet complex, and we strongly advocate that that area be restored, as far as possible, with native vegetation.
We believe Mount Buffalo National Park has a very good future as a low-budget backpacker and school adventure camp destination, as well as family accommodation, and that the Chalet is ideally suited to that sort of accommodation.
We would like to see a well-resourced information centre included in the refurbishment of the Chalet.
We do not believe that Mount Buffalo has a viable future as yet another high-end tourism destination. We would be greatly alarmed to see any large scale building replacing the demolished buildings.
Importantly, when Mount Buffalo National Park was first proclaimed, it was in response to the notion that the remarkable natural values of the mountain were a valuable draw for tourists to the region. As the Bright Alpine club said in its 1887 guide to the ‘Buffalo Ranges’ (nearly 10 years before the plateau was first gazetted as a national park):
“…the exhilaration of the wildness and magnificence of the surroundings brings the tourist in close sympathy with nature.”
It is probably fair to say that those early promoters of the park would be dismayed by the great hotch-potch of buildings now littered around the original Chalet.
We believe Mount Buffalo National Park will always have great potential to draw visitors to the area, but that a lack of understanding of the nature of those visitors has been largely responsible for the failure of previous attempts to revive the Chalet.
We also believe that if the facilities on the plateau and any promotional material are appropriately targeted, the plateau can provide significant long-term health and economic benefits to Victoria.
Rather than trying to be yet another Victorian venue aimed at attracting high-end tourism, we believe there are two distinct park visitor groups in paeticular that any proposal for the Chalet should geared towards.
1/ Backpacker tourism
According to Tourism Victoria’s Backpacker Tourism Action Plan 2009-2013, the alpine region of Victoria provides a good focus for attracting backpackers, and it is well situated on the Sydney/Melbourne overland route.
Notably, according to the Action Plan:
• Around 260,000 backpackers currently come to Victoria each year, contributing around $500 million to the Victorian economy. Nevertheless this amount is substantially less than for NSW, which attracts some 440,000 backpackers annually.
• Even though backpackers generally stay longer than other visitors, and have a “higher propensity to disperse into regional Victoria” than other visitors, “of all backpacker visitor nights spent in Victoria in 2007, 84 per cent were spent in Melbourne and 16 per cent in regional Victoria”. It seems Victoria’s tourism industry has so far failed to attract backpackers into regional Victoria, even though that would be a preferred destination for most.
Also, according to the Action Plan:
• “Anecdotal evidence suggests that backpackers are more environmentally sensitive visitors, with travel patterns that are sustainable and less intrusive than other visitor segments”.
Mount Buffalo National Park is ideally placed to cater for this visitor group if a sensitive redevelopment of the Chalet is the clear objective. The larger alpine resorts of Hotham and Falls Creek have increasingly (though not very successfully) aimed at high end tourism, but in the process have largely scared off the backpacker ‘market’ by disregarding the Alpine National Park ambience they could so easily have been in sympathy with.
If the Buffalo Chalet embraced a plan of minimal infrastructure, efficient energy use and waste management, and restoration of the earlier parts of the existing building under sensitive heritage guidelines, it could be a mecca for backpackers.
• It is brilliantly sited at the top of the Buffalo Gorge.
• It is serviced by a strong contingent of local outdoor adventure tour operators, offering such things as abseiling, underground river tours, canoeing, cross-country skiing, snow-shoe shuffles, nature walks and the best selection of short (half day and one day) bushwalks in Victoria, most of which end in a spectacular view from the plateau’s edge.
• The Chalet largely has shared bathrooms and other facilities, which are acceptable for backpacker-style accommodation.
If carefully managed, the Chalet and Mount Buffalo National Park could become a ‘must visit’ for local and international backpackers.
2/ School adventure camps
While there are a number of school adventure camps in Victoria, none can offer the variety of adventures that Mount Buffalo offers, or the ready availability of many experienced and qualified instructors and guides, all in a relatively safe and contained plateau environment.
With accommodation options at both the Chalet and the Lake Catani campground, the plateau has the capacity to offer adventure camps year-round for a great number of school children who might otherwise be deprived of that experience.
Importantly, while school visits will also be economically advantageous to the region, there is a greater long-term economic benefit to Victoria. There is ample research showing that children with good access to outdoor adventure experiences, through meeting challenges, experiencing nature at its best and appreciating teamwork, are more likely to develop into constructive, less troubled adolescents and adults. The long-term benefits to the broad community can be incalculable.
An information centre
A well-equipped information and educational resource centre with accessible information on the remarkable natural and cultural heritage of the plateau would serve backpackers, schools and family visitors very well, indeed all park visitors. It is a great pity that the many stories associated with the plateau are not readily available to visitors to the park. They include:
• A long history of Indigenous occupation. Notably, Mount Buffalo is one of the few places in Victoria where you can still reliably see Bogong Moths hibernating. Moth feasting is one important part of the region’s Indigenous heritage.
• Early exploration by naturalists, including visits by Baron von Mueller.
• The early history of nature-based tourism, including the Chalet and its predecessors. This would include the remarkable life of ‘Guide Alice’, Alice Manfield, who brought visitors to the plateau at the turn of the 19th century, and many other characters.
• The early history of domestic stock grazing, and its incompatibility with the park’s natural values. (Sheep grazing was first removed from the plateau in 1923, when it proved to be polluting the Chalet’s water supply.)
• The natural history of the national park, including many rare and/or intriguing plants and animals as well as the remarkable geology of the granite plateau.
• Climate impacts on the plateau, including reduced snowfalls and the fact that Lake Catani used to be a popular venue for ice skating. Mount Buffalo, with its low elevation, is at the very fringe of reliable snowfalls, and demonstrates probable climate impacts more obviously than most other areas.
We would appreciate any opportunity to discuss aspects of this brief submission.
For further information, please contact:
Phil Ingamells, VNPA Park Protection Project: firstname.lastname@example.org Ph: 0427 705 133
Matt Ruchel, VNPA Executive Director: email@example.com Ph: 0418 357 813
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