What’s the best new development at an Australian ski resort for 2021 winter?
Last year hands down had to be the new Merritts Gondola at Thredbo. Between COVID restrictions and the snowmaking fail it never got to show its full potential, but in what will hopefully be a much more normal season in ’21 it should be a star when operating at full capacity to take pressure of Crackenback chair.
But this year there is nothing much in the way of headline developments around the big mainland Aussie resorts. Apart from the Selwyn Snowfields rebuild, which is a separate story in itself as it comes back phoenix like from the ashes of the disastrous 2020 bushfires.
But down south in Tassie the local volunteers at Mt Mawson are working hard on a very key bit of lift infrastructure. Between COVID and a lack of snow they couldn’t even open last winter.
“Unfortunately we didn’t manage to open last season” says Dr Peter Davis, President of the Southern Tasmanian Ski Association.
“We had a COVID plan all good to go, but then the snow gods didn’t cooperate! There was enough snow for snow play and cross country on a number of occasions, but not sufficient to safely run the downhill tows. We certainly plan to operate this winter, snow permitting.”
This year they should be able to do that with a bit less snow required thanks to the rebuild of the Uni Tow snow fence. Keeping what snow they get is imperative to getting things open, especially along the rope tow lines.
“Mt Mawson Ski Field is in a World Heritage Listed National Park, so no slope grooming allowed – hence the need for snow fences to capture any snowfall” Dr Pete says. “Amazingly we can operate with about a metre of snow once its packed down.”
So last Saturday’s big working bee to repair, rebuild and strengthen the panels along the snowfence, gets our gong for best new development at an Aussie ski resort this winter.
“Firstly a big shout out to the large group of volunteers from Wellington Ski and Outdoor Club who left their own club working bee to come up and move all the timber needed for the day’s snow fence construction up to the Uni Snow fence location. By the time the second wave of volunteers had arrived from Hobart at 10 am the Wellington crew had already moved all the timber to the site, as well as demolishing and removing most of the old damaged fence sections. Well done Wellington!” says Davis.
“With a good turn out of enthusiastic volunteers, excellent progress was made throughout the day. Rod Stolorz, Michael Potter and their team continued the task of repairing and strengthening damaged snow fence panels the full length of the Uni Tow, while Craig Larsson, Peter and Karen Davis tackled the construction of three replacement panels in the mid-section of the Uni Tow. They were joined later in the day by Rudy Kloser, Tim Whelan and Michael Potter, with the last slats being nailed on just after 6 pm!”
We asked Dr Davis if they got any outside support to help run things.
“We fund it all ourselves from income we make when we run the tows. No sponsors, no government grants. Given last season with no snow we are going to have to look at raising some additional funds through these sorts of external sources though.”
If you are in Tassie and love the snow you really should join the clubs and get involved. Best way to do that is by filling out the contact link on the Mt Mawson website and sign up to their informative email for what’s on.
As we have seen, when it’s on at Mawson it can go epic check out this report from our Tassie guru Sean Mittwollen: