Buller day trips are a classic midweek mission from Melbourne. Depending which side of town you live on they are relatively quick, easy and fun. The pistes are empty, the lift queues non existent and there are plenty of free tables for lunch.
There’s also plenty of snow at the moment (81-147cm) with 20 lifts spinning and the resort’s staying open until Sunday, 6 October 2019. Adults can snap up the odd $66 lift pass online or ski free now with a 2020 Season Pass. That makes for a ripper and pretty inexpensive day on the slopes as my wingman, Jarek, and I recently enjoyed.
It’s 5:08am on a cold clear late August morning, my Jeep’s warming up and our gear’s stowed. In a little over 3 hours and 241km we’ll be clipping in at Buller to celebrate my 50th (a day early). The weekend snow is forecast to clear late Monday with Bluebird’s on the radar. “I think Tuesday’s still looking ok” confirms Jarek. So, with leave passes secure our plan was clear – first to arrive, go hard, last to leave.
The trip is quick and easy with little traffic on Punt Road, the Eastern, Maroondah and a couple of by passes and short cuts as we head North-East. It’s minus 2 as dawn breaks over the frost covered Yarra Valley. Heading to Yea the spring lambs stay warm next to ewe know who. We break for a 10 minute pitstop at Mansfield for a coffee and toastie before the final run up the hill.
To save time and money you can pre-book resort entry/parking and recharge your B-Tag online the day/s before. We zip past the gate, park at Horsehill and it’s straight onto the Northside Express. Presto, before we know it we’re warming up on Burnt Hut Spur.
The bureau’s prediction of sunshine and blue skies was bang on; so, we work on our tans and turns on the Northern slopes in the morning and hit the Southern after lunch.
Shakey knees skied beautifully as Jarek and I raced down the groomer skier’s right and bumped our way through the moguls skier’s left. Next, we head over to Boggy Creek and take on Summit Slide and SCV Hut Run. We’re loving the empty hill, sunshine and softening snow. “Time for a coffee”, says Jarek, so to Koflers we head. I down a double shot espresso and catch some rays.
We shoot up the Summit chair and do alternating laps down Summit and Summit Slide. Lap after lap we rack up the vertical as well as an appetite. Is lunch the best part of Buller day trips?
We have BBQ’d brisket, pulled pork, tots and a couple of Fat Jaks at the new Iron Maiden Smokehouse at Spurs. The meat’s BBQ’d for 6-8 hours in a 4 tonne converted steam boiler once used to generate power. Now generating calories and carbs.
We hit the Southern Slopes to burn off lunch. Summit (left and right), Slalom Gully, Chute and Boomerang ski hard, fast and fun as the sun slowly softens the cover. We scoot over to Wombat and Little Buller Spur for some speedy blue carving. Followed by some of my favourite runs – Yurredla, Men’s Downhill, Wood Run and Standard. And we throw ourselves down the Rider Cross course a couple of times because it’s there and we can.
As the day gets late, the snow softer and sun lower our thirst mounts and legs start to ache. We take a break at the uber cool Birdcage for some liquid refreshment (one light one for the driver), and a quick catch up with my mate Francesco Eri. Francesco’s been instructing at Buller for 17 years, living the dream chasing consecutive winters at Buller and guiding from his home resort Canazei in the Dolomiti, Italy.
I finish with some challenging thigh burners down Federation, Women’s Downhill and Funnel, netting me 32 runs, over 5.5km vertical and about 30km over snow – according to the Buller Live App. Meanwhile, Jarek loostens his boots (time for new ones old mate), enjoys a final coffee at the schmickley rebuilt Kooroora and waits for my eventual return shortly before the lifts stop turning; including the brand spanking Bourke Street Express $6m six-seater.
The free car park bus shuttles us back to our ride to commence our descent homeward. A delicious juicy steak dinner at the Country Club Hotel, Yea is the perfect end to another perfect Buller day trip.
Buller Day Trip tips
If you can lock in a day well ahead – handy for work/business requirements – then Buller’s airline style ticketing options allow you to score some great deals on day passes if you are just not going to ski the 6 or so days to make the ‘Membership’ Season Pass deal worthwhile.