The Mount Buffalo Skyway Task Force has released reactions to its proposal, with backing for the attraction from North East residents strongly ahead of the support offered by those who have responded through the internet.
From 57 written answers, generated through meetings in the Alpine Shire community, 50 were positive towards a skyway, three negative and four unsure.
The online survey has drawn 157 responses with 87 positive, 54 negative and 16 unsure.
Alpine Mayor Nino Mautone said the strong community support justified the council’s support of the project with the feedback the first step in building a case for the skyway ahead of further shire approval and an approach to governments.
“This project is not only for the Alpine Shire, I firmly believe it will benefit the entire region,” Cr Mautone said.
“This will have an impact on Albury-Wodonga, Wangaratta, Benalla, with a project of this calibre it will entice people to stay longer.”
Cr Mautone believes the local backing reflects a desire to reinvigorate the dormant Mount Buffalo Chalet as well as an interest in boosting the economy.
“We’re battling to keep the chalet and we need to do something else to make sure it’s viable and integrating the two projects will give us that chance,” he said.
The chairwoman of the task force, Sabine Helsper, said 500 residents had heard about the project through meetings, including those with service clubs, and 3500 internet users had subscribed to an electronic newsletter via the website mtbuffaloskyways.com.au.
She said the main concern revealed in the survey results had been the environmental impact of the skyway.
“Most are afraid there’s going to be some intrusion into the Mount Buffalo park and also how it looks, the visual impact, and that will depend on the route and it’s far too early to make any comment on that,” Ms Helsper said.
The final survey results are due to be delivered to the council by June 30 with it likely to decide on its next step by the end of the year. "
Speak up on ‘skyways’ bid
17th February 2010 (Bright Observer)
Website calls for public feedback on Mt Buffalo gondola
A BID to construct a gondola at Mt Buffalo took a step forward last week, with the launch of a website calling for comments from the wider community.
Alpine Shire Council last year approved a move by the Great Alpine Valleys Tourism Board (GAVTB) to investigate the viability of a "skyways" construction on the iconic mountain.
The investigation slowed over the busy Christmas break, but the first stages of community consultation are up and running.
Mt Buffalo Skyways Taskforce chair Sabine Helsper said the most recent step was the launch of a website designed to gather both national and international feedback.
"This gives everyone, even if they’re on the other side of the world, the chance to have a say," she said.
"Anyone can access it and sign on as members and receive updates along the way.
"We want everyone with an opinion to share it...the more the merrier."
The skyways proposal met with a mixed reaction from residents and local business owners when it became public in November.
Some objectors were concerned over the project’s potential cost and impact on the environment, while supporters labelled it the ideal "hero" construction to define North East tourism.
Ms Helsper said GAVTB would listen to the community voice and gauge the next step forward.
"This project will only go to the next stage if the public gives it the go ahead," she said.
"We have already begun discussions with community groups, and so far the response has been positive.
"Any groups who wish to meet with us can register on the site and we will respond."
The taskforce is required to complete its final report by June 30.
The website can be viewed at www.mtbuffaloskyways.com.au.
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Buffalo skyway design backed
16th February 2010 (Border Mail)
US-based chairlift designers investigated the technical feasibility of the gondola late last year.
Ms Helsper said the resulting report backed the project.
“It was a desktop study but it concluded that, from a technical point of view, the project is possible with little or no impact on the environment,” she said.
“The report says that from an ascent and descent point of view, the project is achievable.”
Ms Helsper said the report was the catalyst to the launch of the skyways website looking for further community input.
She said the website provided an overview of what the project was trying to achieve, also asking people to complete a short survey to gauge their support for the idea in principle.
“The project was identified as one that, if supported, could provide the region with an iconic tourism development,” she said.
“So, we would like to hear from people whether or not they support the idea in principle.
“We value people’s feedback, whether they want more information or have something to tell us that may not have been raised yet.”
Ms Helsper defended the brevity of the two-part, online survey.
“This is about getting in-principle support; at the moment we don’t have a lot of detail so we have tried to give some answers to common questions and asked people to say whether they support the idea,” she said.
“The internet gives us access to those outside the region, regular visitors from Melbourne, and the younger generation who are more comfortable with online mediums.
“We want to consult as widely as possible on this.”
Ms Helsper said the taskforce had already spoken to four community groups about the project.
“The support from within the community and from those sessions has been overwhelmingly positive,” she said."
Bright Observer 11th January 2010 "Great Alpine Valleys Region Tourism Board (GAVTB) member and gondola sub-committee head Sabine Helsper said the group was putting the finishing touches on its public consultancy strategy. “We’ll start rolling out the public consultation process in early February,” she said. “The outcome of that determines where we go from there. “If any concerns are raised we’ll try to address them directly, or else they’ll become part of the wider viability study. “That will most likely be undertaken by an outside body.” The GAVTB announced its intention to study the viability of a “hero” gondola project last year. Ms Helsper said the consultation process would include communication with local organisations, such as Rotary and Lions groups and the Bright Chamber of Commerce, and community meetings."
11th January 2010
"Great Alpine Valleys Region Tourism Board (GAVTB) member and gondola sub-committee head Sabine Helsper said the group was putting the finishing touches on its public consultancy strategy.
“We’ll start rolling out the public consultation process in early February,” she said.
“The outcome of that determines where we go from there.
“If any concerns are raised we’ll try to address them directly, or else they’ll become part of the wider viability study.
“That will most likely be undertaken by an outside body.”
The GAVTB announced its intention to study the viability of a “hero” gondola project last year.
Ms Helsper said the consultation process would include communication with local organisations, such as Rotary and Lions groups and the Bright Chamber of Commerce, and community meetings."
Skyrail: Sustainable Tourism Leader
14th November 2009 (Skyrail website)
"Skyrail Rainforest Cableway is Queensland’s most sustainable tourism attraction, as recognised at the state tourism awards last night.
Skyrail’s Excellence in Sustainable Tourism Award affirms the rainforest cableway as an industry leader that minimises its environmental impact, conserves natural resources, respects local cultures and benefits its local community.
Skyrail General Manager, Max Shepherd said Skyrail was proud to receive the award: "Sustainability has been Skyrail’s fundamental principle from the very beginning; this award is fantastic recognition of our long term commitment to achieving sustainability through all areas of operation."
"Skyrail applauds the finalists in this category and encourages all tourism operators to embrace the principles of sustainability, for the long term benefit of the industry, our environment and our guests," he said.
"Visitors from around the world come to Queensland to experience our natural attractions, including the Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropics Rainforests, it is every operators’ responsibility to present these experiences in a sustainable way," he said.
"Skyrail is honoured to have won the Qantas Award for Excellence in Sustainable Tourism for the second year in a row, and encourages all operators to adopt the principles of sustainability in their daily operations."
As well as receiving Queensland’s Qantas Award for Excellence in Sustainable Tourism, Skyrail:
Skyrail’s commitment ensures visitors today and tomorrow can enjoy, appreciate and learn about the beauty and culture of the Wet Tropics Rainforests of Tropical North Queensland.
"Skyrail looks forward to providing its guests with The World’s Most Beautiful Rainforest Experience, in the Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage Area, for many years to come," Mr Shepherd said. "
Scenic 'skyways' on the cards for Mt Buffalo
11th November 2009 The Age
DARREN GRAY, RURAL AFFAIRS REPORTER
A SPECTACULAR gondola system carrying tourists up Mount Buffalo will be built if an ambitious proposal being investigated by the local tourism board gets the go-ahead.
The Great Alpine Valleys Tourism Board is considering the project in a bid to find an ''iconic tourism project'' for the region that could lift its national and international profile.
The president of a major American builder of gondola systems assessed the site last month, investigating five potential routes.
Rick Spear from the company Leitner-Poma - which built the Cairns Skyrail - told the board it would cost $20 million to $30 million to build and could attract up to 600,000 users a year.
A representative from an Austrian gondola construction company, Doppelmayr, will also visit this month to provide an assessment.
The tourism board will deliver a detailed report on the project's feasibility and viability to the local Alpine Shire by the end of next June.
At a meeting last week the council gave in-principle support to the board's research, and two councillors - including Mayor Nino Mautone - were appointed to a taskforce investigating the project.
Tourism board chairman John Kroeger said: ''We see this project as having the capacity, if it can be viable and feasible, to be the biggest tourism icon for the north-east region of Victoria.''
Cr Mautone expressed strong enthusiasm for the project but stressed that it was currently only an idea. ''I love that idea and I would like to see that project developed. It would be a beautiful outcome for the area there, that's for sure,'' he said.
Mr Spear, who is in Australia this week reassessing the proposal, told The Age a gondola system could be ''fairly easily'' built on Mount Buffalo. ''It has its challenges but nothing we haven't faced before.''
The engineering division of Mr Spear's company is now doing a detailed assessment of one route to determine a more accurate cost estimate.
But as the investigation gathers speed, the project, dubbed the ''Mount Buffalo Skyways Project'', is likely to generate some opposition - particularly as some of the route would be in the Mount Buffalo National Park.
Mr Kroeger said that if the gondola were built it would be likely to travel about three or four kilometres and would need a ''ground station'' close to accessible roads.
''We do however realise that it is a huge project and we have to take it step by step to determine feasibility first and viability second,'' he said.
''The reality is that the Cairns Skyrail system took 7½ years from the original concept to the day of opening. And therefore there was immense work that had to go into it including the community consultation, environmental studies, all of the issues that people want to understand.
''We wish to face all these issues head-on so that nothing is hidden and that the entire community, including those from outside the region, are able to have a say.
''If we find that there is total negativism, then we will obviously take note of that message.''
Public meetings and other forums will take place in north-eastern Victoria over the coming months to discuss the proposed project.
4th November 2009 (Border Mail)
That’s the initial assessment of a prominent US builder commissioned to look at possible routes for the chairlift and the projected costs.
Following a recent visit to the area, Rick Spear from Leitner-Poma of America, is expected to compile a full report by the end of the year.
The Alpine Valleys Tourism Board, meanwhile, is seeking “in-principle” support from Alpine Council for the project dubbed Mount Buffalo Skyways.
An officer’s report to be presented to a council meeting in Mount Beauty tonight says the Mount Buffalo Skyways would elevate the region’s status on the tourism map.
“While our local beauty is well known, it is clear that in order to increase visitation to the Alpine Shire an iconic tourism product is required,” it reads.
“This project aims at developing an iconic tourism product that would be unrivalled in Victoria and would be among the key destinations nationally.”
The report recommends two councillors be appointed to a taskforce aimed at pursuing the chairlift.
Alpine Valleys Tourism Board chairman John Kroeger hoped council would unanimously endorse the concept before it is presented to the public for comment.
“We’re wishing council in principle to approve the project knowing it is a very long road to prove the feas- ibility, viability and community support that’s necessary to build a gondola to the top of Mount Buffalo,” he said.
Mr Kroeger said Leitner-Poma, which specialises in the construction of cable transport systems, had identified five potential paths for the project.
He said it would be a long-term project like the skyrail rainforest cableway in Cairns which took more than seven years to plan and build.
The board has, however, discussed the project with Parks Victoria and the Victorian Government as part of its efforts to secure a 99-year lease for Mount Buffalo Chalet. "