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On Walkabout On: Mt. Buller, Victoria

A place a have gone to many times that is a day trip away from Melbourne and yet feels like a world away is to the lovely Mt. Buller:

Mt. Buller is about a three hour drive from Melbourne and the closest major ski resort to the city.  The mountain is about a 45 minute drive from the small, but historic city of Mansfield that lies on the plain at the base of the mountain:

Mansfield and the Mt. Buller area is well known in Australia for its stockmen heritage that keep The Man from Snowy River legend alive:

Besides it stockmen heritage Mt. Buller is also famous for its wintry weather that provides some pretty good skiing for a mountain so close to Melbourne.  Here is a picture from the top of Mt. Buller during the ski season just last year:

This year the mountain received so much snow that the ski resort opened the earliest in its history.  In fact it is not uncommon for Mt. Buller to receive a dusting of snow even in the middle of the summer on Christmas Day:

Mt. Buller is the tallest mountain in the area, taller than both the nearby Mt. Stirling and The Bluff, but it is easily the most striking peak in the region with its 1,805 meter summit rising abruptly up from the plains that lies to the west.  The best thing about Mt. Buller is that anyone can access the mountain due to the well maintained paved road that goes to the ski resort on the top of the mountain:

During the ride of the winding road to the summit of Mt. Buller it was good to see how much the bushland around Mt. Buller has recovered from the 2006 bushfires which devastated the mountain and even threatened the ski resort:

Something that is quite humorous when driving up the mountain is to see the animal warning signs with kangaroos and wombats wearing skis:

And yes that is an American license plate on my Jeep you see.  It is possible to get an import license to ship your American vehicle to Australia for a limited amount of time like I did.

Besides the animal warning signs there is a gnome crossing sign as well:

And even a gnome home built into this gum tree:

No one has never accused Aussies of not having a sense of humor, that’s for sure.  After about a 30 minutes of driving up the winding and twisting road we got to the top of the mountain wear the ski resort is located.  Unlike American ski resorts that are located at the bottom of mountains, in Australia the ski resorts for the most part have to be located at the top of the mountain.  The Thredbo Ski Resort in the Snowy Mountains is the only resort I can think of that is actually located at the bottom of a mountain in Australia.

Anyway I drove through the resort and pulled into the parking lot where the trail head to the summit of Mt. Buller is located:

As you can see it is only a 4.1 kilometer round trip hike to the summit of Mt. Buller so it is a pretty easy stroll with some great views of the surrounding high country such as Mt. Buffalo in the far off distance to the north:

The trail begins with only a slight ascent up the mountain and eventually gets high enough to where my wife and I could make out the 1,749 meter (5,738 ft) summit of Mt. Stirling:

We also had a great view overlooking the Mt. Buller Ski Resort:

Mt . Buller was first skied in the 1920’s which back then there was no ski lifts to take skiers up the mountain.  It wasn’t until the 1950’s that a first generation lift system was built to help take skiers to the top of the mountain.  Today there are ski lifts that access every corner of the mountain.

Along the way up the trail it passes right by a one million gallon water basin that was constructed to provide water for the resort back in 1965:

Between snowmaking and water usage at the village the Mt. Buller Ski Resort uses 400 million liters of water a year.  The precipitation that falls on the mountain every year is not enough to meet that need thus there is a pumping station further down the mountain that pumps water up the mountain from Boggy Creek.

Here is a view of the summit of Mt. Buller from the reservoir:

On the top of Mt. Buller like other high country mountains in Victoria, grass lands is abundant because the higher altitude is generally too cold for trees to take root.  This abundant grassland is what made the Victorian high country such a prime cattle grazing spot in the summer months for the region’s stockmen.  Though the top Mt. Buller is mostly grass that doesn’t mean a few hardy gum trees weren’t able to take root at this high altitude:

These gum trees known as Snow Gums can only be found in Australia and have been found to grow at altitudes as high as 1,800 meters.  Past the snow gums the trail then starts to make a steep ascent up the mountain where we could really make out the rocky features of the mountain:

There are stairs that help make the ascent easier and at the very top is a fire look out that has an incredible view of hundreds of square miles of bush land in the region:

It is believed that the first westerner to climb Mt. Buller was the botanist Ferdinand Von Mueller in 1853.  He climbed the mountain as part of his expedition to record flora in the region.  At the time much of the flora had never been recorded by western scientists.  Some readers may remember that Von Mueller was also responsible for planting the variety of species of plants in the Town Hall Gardens of the then gold mining boom town of Beechworth just north of Mt. Buller.

From the summit of the mountain easily the most striking mountain that can be seen is the rugged slopes of the 1,725 meter high plateau known simply as The Bluff:

The next most prominent mountain would be Mt. Howitt, which rises to the East of Mt. Buller:

Off towards the south we both could make out the 1,482 meter (4,862 ft) summit of Lake Mountain that was devastated in early 2009 by the massive bushfires that also destroyed the beautiful town of Marysville at the base of the mountain:

Here is the view towards the north with Mt. Buffalo once again off in the distance:

Also towards north Mt. Cobbler can be seen.  Here is a closer look at this scenic mountain that I need to get around to climbing some day:

Finally here is the view looking towards the west which is dominated by grazing land and a few rolling hills which the rugged peaks of Mt. Buller slopes down towards:

There is actually a trail from the summit to where you hike down to the bottom of the mountain from here, but I just didn’t have the time to do so on this day, but I would love to do it some day in the future.  Mt. Buller is just one of those mountains I just never get tired of visiting and I’m sure most other people probably feel that way to once they get a chance to experience this great mountain.

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