How to Spend a Weekend Snowboarding at Mount Buller

The summit of Mt. Buller
The summit of Mt. Buller | © Alpha / Flickr
Joe Coates

Mount Buller sits about three hours’ drive – or 250 kilometers – from Melbourne, making it the natural choice for those who want to escape the city at the weekend and go for a mini winter break.

Dive into our guide and discover how to best utilize your time when you next spend a weekend up one of Victoria’s most enjoyable ski hills.

Getting there

First things first. We’ll work under the assumption that you’ll be travelling from Melbourne, and we’ll choose to believe that you’ve managed to get out of work early on the Friday by throwing the old tactical sicky. Now, you’re going to want to know a bit of basic info about how to get there in one piece, and the fees you’ll have to pay when you arrive.

Mt Buller is an easy and scenic three-hour drive from Melbourne, and there are a variety of options for getting there by coach, hire car, airport transfer and – if you’re feeling flush – even helicopter!

On the chair lift at Buller

Most of us, however, will be driving so:

– Make sure you check the snow-chain report on Mount Buller’s website to see if you’ll need them. However, it pays to be prepared and you’re actually required to have them in the car by law if you’re up there over night.

– To prevent your diesel from freezing, fill your fuel tank with Alpine Diesel before you head up the mountain – available at most service stations in the alpine region.

– Drive carefully and take it slow. Especially if you have never driven in the snow before.

Yes, snowboarding is an expensive sport. That’s just one of those depressing facts of life. There are a couple of fees you’ll have to pay before you even set foot on the slopes, which are a$55.00 AUD entry fee to the resort (which includes a car park) and a subsequent $28.00 fee for leaving your car there overnight.

Summit views

Hitting the slopes

Before you can strap on your board and get shredding you’ll need to purchase yourself a lift pass. At Mount Buller this is done using the B-Tag system. Basically, this is a re-loadable card on which you store your lift passes, lessons and other aspects of your stay.

Lift passes for two days over the weekend aren’t what you might call cheap. It’s going to set you back about $230 AUD, which might seem like a lot, but if you get up for first tracks and stay out all day until the slopes close it’s really not that bad.

Cruising the slopes

With over 300 hectares of skiable terrain, there is something to appeal to all levels of ability at Mount Buller. Their runs range from the wide beginner’s slopes of Bourke St and Burnt Hut Spur, to the challenge of black runs like Chamois. There are 22 lifts here, making it the most extensive lift network in Victoria, 13 of which are chairlifts (three of them being high-speed). The resort also features three terrain parks designed for all skill levels, with a dedicated snow grooming team to maintain their condition, giving you ample opportunity to perfect that backflip.

For the boarders

We’re concentrating on this being a weekend getaway for snowboarders, so here’s what Mount Buller can offer if you’re one of those who strap in rather than clip in.

Those who like their terrain with a side serve of steeps, should head for the summit and try to tame Fannys Finnish or Fast One, which are Bullers’ most notorious black diamond runs. If tree runs are your cup of tea then slip off the side of Standard and make tracks between the snow-guns. If you are early it is possible to get fresh tracks in the powder stashes in this area. When it comes to backcountry / off-piste, the best is reached by hiking out past the fire hut on the summit to a place known as Buller Bowls. The bowl is serious terrain that will avalanche if given the chance, so it is best to check conditions with the ski patrol.

If you’re in the mood for a little freestyle riding, practice your rails or work on your latest favourite trick, then head to one of Buller’s terrain parks. Bluff View has a beginners park, intermediates head to Baldy Park and pros do their jamming at the Summit Terrain Park.

Downtime

As much as you’ll want to ride all day, there will come a time during the weekend when you have to restore the tissues and fibers and take on nourishment. Here are a few of our fave places to grab something tasty to eat, as well as re-hydrate with an alcoholic beverage at the end of a hard day of shredding.

1. Koflers Restaurant

Restaurant, Australian

Laz
© stu_spivack / Flickr

Positioned high on the slopes next to Koflers T-Bar, Koflers offers the perfect setting to rest between runs and catch some sun rays on the deck. The lasagna is somewhat of a byword when it comes to quality food up the mountain, and there’s also the delectable Apricot Mogul that you should get on the outside of if you’re stopping for a quick coffee and a bite. When it comes to eating on the slopes at Mount Buller, this is an institution that shouldn’t be missed. Stay warm on those frigid days with a hearty soup or big bowl of pasta.

2. Birdcage

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Restaurant, Australian

Bloody Mary
© Susan Lucas Hoffman / Flickr

Perched perfectly at the end of the Bourke St run, The Birdcage is the first port of call before hitting the slopes, in between runs and after a long day of being out and about. Happy hour operates from 4pm – 6pm daily with a selection of the best beers, wines and cocktails, making Birdcage a no-brainer when it comes to a cheeky bit of apres-ski. The guys and gals at Birdcage have worked to form close bonds with their suppliers and to make sure that everything is sourced ethically and, when possible, locally.

3. Nooky's Restaurant

Bar, Restaurant, Australian

Pub Grub
© thefoodplace.co.uk / Flickr

Located at the Arlberg Hotel and overlooking Bourke Street, this chilled out bar has one of the best views on the slopes when it comes to finding a place for a midday beer and snack. Great comfort pub-style meals for all the family are on offer, as well as there being pool tables for when you need a little break from the action on the slopes. For those days when the cold is really stinging, there is also a cosy fireplace in the sports bar.

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